Tony Robbins finds himself accused of vague sexual misconduct allegations, and it’s helpful to sort through the three main categories of alleged misbehavior.
Before we do, what is truly bad behavior is the aggressive litigation posturing Robbins’ used. He used bottom-feeding lawyers to silence his critics. Based on what I’ve seen in the article, Robbins was being too sensitive. The allegations against him aren’t approaching the worst or “#MeToo.”
Category 1. Tony Robbins would have his security find him female fans and he would use his status to meet women.
This is well-known, and was discussed in the Tony Robbins Playboy interview.
PLAYBOY: Why didn’t you think one woman could?
ROBBINS: After my divorce, before dating Sage, I was at a stage where I thought that would be totally impossible. I was a single, successful man. I’d taken my company public, and I was pretty intelligent—and humble, as you can clearly tell. [laughs] When I started dating again, I’d tell women, “I don’t want to be married. I’ve been there.” But I was crazy enough to bring women to my resort in Fiji for five straight days instead of going out and having lunch. I was so stupid. What most guys think would be their ultimate fantasy was the worst experience of my life. I was miserable because these women wanted to marry me after a week—my idea of hell on earth.
PLAYBOY: And did your women fans express interest in you?
ROBBINS: [Laughs] More than that. They’d send me their panties and show up at events in limousines to get through security, or turn up at my house to convince me they had an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Of course Robbins was having orgies and hooking up with women regularly. As long as these activities were consensual (and even the Buzzfeed article doesn’t suggest they weren’t), who cares?
Category 2. Tony Robbins would sexually harass his employees.
The workplace sexual harassment allegations seem vague.
Two former followers who went on to work for Robbins provided BuzzFeed News with signed statements swearing under oath that they felt he had sexually harassed them by repeatedly pursuing them after they made clear they weren’t interested. Two more women who worked as his assistants said Robbins expected them to work alone with him when he was naked in his hotel room or in the shower. And another former employee said she was fired after having a consensual sexual relationship with Robbins. The events described by all five women took place in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Robbins’ fame was skyrocketing and before he married his second wife.
If you work closely with people, there will be various times when someone is taking a shower. There’s nothing to indicate Robbins flashed his employees or sexualized the experience.
Was he weird? Probably. Most people in the self-help world have their eccentricities and non-conformist lifestyles.
Outside of the prudish United States, men and women are often naked together in non-sexual situations.
Category 3. Tony Robbins would bully abuse victims.
Buzzfeed’s article shows a misunderstanding of mindset work and Robbins’ work, citing this as an example of emotional abuse:
One woman had told him through tears that she had been raped. Robbins recounted how he had “cut her off” in a “warm” and “elegant” way and informed her that she was “fucking using all this stuff to try and control men.” “I don’t support anybody fucking raping her or taking advantage of her,” he said, according to the transcript, “but I don’t support her fucking manipulating herself, men, and other people by trying to use that tool when it’s really not the primary experience of her life now.”
The following truths can exist simultaneously:
You were victimized.
You are not a victim.
A person who is victimized can let this low point in life define himself or herself.
We see this every day. Something bad happens to a person, and their life freezes.
Robbins’ work is focused on helping people overcome what has happened to them by refusing to define themselves as victims.
Ironically, one person who Buzzfeed calls a victim has posted a response video to tell them to stop using her in the story about Robbins.
Realizing the Buzzfeed article (which wasn’t even that bad) was going to hit, Robbins’ team uploaded a video to YouTube.
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Robbins’ showed that “the fear of the thing is greater than the thing.”
The Buzzfeed article wasn’t even that bad.
No one who likes Robbins will read the article and think, “That’s it. He’s cancelled.”
And the people who read the article and hate Robbins are not mindset material, anyway.
Robbins like most celebrities has been coddled by the media for decades, and any criticism leads to an overreaction.
Take a deep breath, Tony, and unleash the power within.
thank you for this article. Tony Robbins has changed SO many lives for the good and to see buzzfeed take aim at his is frustrating. Glad your article exists.