How Tony Robbins Was Inspired By A Turkey To Feed Millions
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Tony Robbins, The New York Times number one bestselling author, is working to feed 100 million meals to America’s hungry this year through a partnership with Feeding America –and they’re almost there. (You can donate here.)
Robbins explains the tragedy of hunger in America, saying, “It’s a tragedy that in the United States, the richest country in the world, 49 million people, including 16 million children, may go to bed unsure if they will have a meal tomorrow. These are some of the hardest working people on the planet, often people that we interact with each day, and are scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, just one unexpected expense away from not being able to put food on the table.”
It struck me as being almost out of character that the author of Awaken the Giant Within, a book that is all about teaching people to take responsibility for themselves to overcome whatever obstacles they may face, would be so engaged in this effort. So, I asked him why. His answer surprised me. This giant of a man, who is the very picture of success, relates to the hungry personally because he was once hungry.
“I know that those are more than startling statistics — those numbers are human beings suffering — and I came from one of those families,” Robbins confessed.
Then he shared the story of one Thanksgiving when he was eleven years old:
For me, money was always out of reach as a child. It was always a source of stress because there was never enough of it. I remember having to knock on the neighbor’s door to ask for food for my brother and sister and me. Then, on Thanksgiving Day when I was 11 years old, something happened that changed my life forever. As usual, there was no food in the house, and my parents were fighting. Then I heard someone knocking at the front door. I opened it a crack and saw a man standing on the steps with grocery bags filled with enough food for a big Thanksgiving dinner. I could hardly believe it. My father always said that nobody gave a damn about anybody. But all of a sudden someone I didn’t know, who wasn’t asking for anything in return, was looking out for us. It made me think, strangers care. And I decided that I was going to find a way, somehow, someday, to give back and pay it forward.
Robbins hasn’t given up on the principles of self-reliance. He notes that personal responsibility is the long-term solution to poverty and hunger.
“There are a variety of factors that play into food insecurity, poverty being one of the main ones. Growing up in a poor household, working my way up from a janitor to where I am now, I’ve always believed that working to improve yourself and your skill sets is a key component to ending hunger long-term with any individual or family,” he says.
In his new book, Money: Master the Game, Robbins credits Jim Rohn for teaching him key principles of success. “I asked Jim years ago, ‘What’s the secret to economic success? The key,’ he said, ‘is to understand how to become more valuable in the marketplace.’”
Robbins says, “[Rohn] looked directly in my eyes and said, ‘All you have to do to earn more money in the same amount of time is simply become more valuable.’”
On Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Robbins will join me for a live discussion about his goal to provide 100 million meals in partnership with Feeding America and about his new book. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.
Tony Robbins, NYT Bestselling Author, courtesy of Tony Robbins
More about Anthony Robbins:
Anthony Robbins is an entrepreneur, New York Times #1 best-selling author, philanthropist, and performance strategist. A recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, negotiations and organizational turnaround, he has served as an advisor to leaders around the world. Author of five internationally bestselling books, including the recent New York Times #1 best-seller MONEY: MASTER THE GAME, Mr. Robbins has empowered more than 50 million people from 100 countries through his audio, video and life training programs. He created the #1 personal and professional development program of all time, and more than 4 million people have attended his live seminars.
As a successful entrepreneur, he serves as chairman of seven privately held companies ranging from media production and business services to education and hospitality. Additionally, Tony recently partnered with America’s Best 401k, one the most disruptive solutions in the retirement planning space offering plan sponsors and participants freedom from expensive 401k plans and underperforming investment options.
He has been honored by Accenture as one of the “Top 50 Business Intellectuals in the World”; by Harvard Business Press as one of the “Top 200 Business Gurus”; by American Express as one of the “Top Six Business Leaders in the World” to coach its entrepreneurial clients; and Fortune’s recent cover article named him the “CEO Whisperer.”
As a philanthropist, Mr. Robbins has fed more than 42 million people over 37 years and he is working to reach 100 million total through his partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. His nonprofit Anthony Robbins Foundation provides assistance to inner-city youth, senior citizens, and the homeless, and feeds more than three million people in 56 countries every year through its international holiday “Basket Brigade.”
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