Wednesday 11 December 2019

Irish business leaders get with the beat as Robbins wows the Pendulum Summit

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Mother Teresa, the Princess of Wales, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey... the list of Tony Robbins's clients is almost as impressive as his billionaire bank balance.

Part-guru, part-messiah, with an equal measure of rock star and celebrity - not to mention that pivotal role in 'Shallow Hal' - the world's top motivational speaker comes with a lot of expectations. Plus an entourage of around 10 'handlers'.

After 20 years of various figures pleading with him to come to Ireland, in the end it took an email introduction from fellow celebrity guru Deepak Chopra to persuade him to come to speak at the Pendulum Summit at the National Convention Centre in Dublin.

Within a week, Robbins had written to organiser Frankie Sheahan to say he would be honoured to attend. But it turns out that he had been here before to sample the "wonderful environment", he told us yesterday.

How on Earth had a 6ft7in celebrity with that unmissable minty fresh smile managed to slip into the country unnoticed?

"But I know you," he announced of Irish people in general and it's thanks to our global presence of around 75 million people around the world, he explained.

US motivational guru Tony Robbins in action at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin’s National Convention Centre yesterday
US motivational guru Tony Robbins in action at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin’s National Convention Centre yesterday

He described us as "humble" people who work hard, keep our heads down and don't seek accolades.

"You work really hard to do the job necessary," he told delegates, who nodded solemnly in agreement.

He praised our economic recovery, saying we were in a completely different place to where we were a few years ago and that progress had been made thanks to "someone" who foresaw a different future.

The really intriguing thing everyone was waiting to see was how Robbins's all-Californian, brimming-with-enthusiasm, no-cynicism-allowed approach would go down with an Irish audience.

Would the 2,300 delegates honestly be on for jumping up and down in one spot, while screaming empowering catchphrases in a bid to capture success?

You bet your life they would - and within the first 15 minutes of his five-hour 'master class'. In fact, there was no small fun to be had from spotting the solitary still figures in the crowd who clung stubbornly to their reservations and could not bring themselves to join in.

The audience - made up of a cross-section of business leaders, including Ivan Yates, Gavin Duffy, former presidential candidate Sean Gallagher and wife Trish - were urged onto their feet to jump enthusiastically into the air and ramp up their energy levels, "going full tilt".

As they jumped up and down, he then instructed them to turn to the person beside them and scream "I own you" - surely the anti-message to an event like this.

But Robbins explained this just meant they had more energy than the next person.

Readily, the audience went for it, hell for leather, screaming at one another like fans at a football match.

Afterwards, they were told to high-five their partner and say: "You rock, baby."

Later, they gave each other back massages, with Robbins shouting at them to "tell them if you want it hard or soft".

"Hard or soft," he roared again, urging: "Make a little noise if it feels good," as the audiences laughingly obliged.

People pay thousands to take part in Robbins's four-day motivational events - which must be pretty exhausting because this room was drained after a mere five hours with this 55-year-old powerhouse who reportedly gears up for these events by bouncing on a trampoline.

There was a bit of name-dropping - as Robbins told us how Bill Clinton called him the night before he was due to be impeached, looking for advice.

"I said 'You should have called me earlier'," Robbins revealed.

When he met Nelson Mandela, he asked the South African how he had survived in jail.

Mandela raised himself to his full height and an "ugly" look came on his face as he said: "I didn't survive, I prepared."

Robbins peppered his speech with expressions like: "positive thinking is nice but intelligence is nicer", "anyone can feel good when it's easy", "Socrates says learning is remembering" and "success without fulfilment is the ultimate failure".

His basic lessons are probably nothing that you wouldn't have learned at your mother's knee.

But it's the way he tells it.

Irish Independent

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