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Tony Robbins: 4 Traits the Most Financially Successful People Share

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Tony Robbins may be best known for his popular personal development seminars and books—over the last three decades, he’s written five best-sellers and reached an estimated 50 million people through his audio, video and live programs. But the 2008 financial crisis prompted Robbins, whose net worth is estimated at nearly half a billion dollars , to turn his focus to helping other people build theirs.

“I realized I had unique access to some of the smartest financial people in the world,” says Robbins. “And I thought, what if I could interview them, take the information and simplify it to help anyone—no matter where they are now—get to where they want to be?”

Robbins spent years interviewing more than 50 of the world’s top investors, asking for insights into their successful strategies, and turned it into a 688-page book, “ Money: Master the Game ,” which became a New York Tim es #1 best-seller last year. It was released in paperback this week with an additional chapter that features financial tips from Peter Mallouk, whose wealth management firm, Creative Planning, Robbins recently joined as chief of investor psychology. (He is giving away free copies of the paperback book at www.moneymasterthegame.com .)

Robbins, who has also just launched a financially-focused podcast , spoke with us about some of the surprising lessons he learned doing research for his book, and the mistakes he’s made on his own financial journey.

You talked to some of the world’s most successful investors, from Warren Buffett to Steve Forbes . What was the biggest surprise or discovery you made during those interviews?
Did they agree on anything?
They’re also all obsessed with asymmetrical risk reward. That means instead of taking huge risks to get huge rewards that can also have huge losses, they ask: What’s the least amount of risk I can take to get the most reward? Third, they’re all tax-efficiently oriented. In financial markets, you hear about returns. But it’s really about what you get to keep after tax. I always say, tell me the net-net number after taxes. You can cut the time it takes to accumulate money in half if you are tax efficient. The fourth is diversification, which is the key to avoiding losses. That way you can win even when the markets are doing poorly. Can you expand on that?
And keep in mind if you have 50-50 bonds and stocks, that’s balanced dollars but not balanced risk because stocks are more volatile than bonds. What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve made?
You didn’t diversify! What’s the best investment you’ve made?
What’s the first investment you ever made? Was it the penny stocks?
So between that and the experience with penny stocks, I can relate to any millennial who says, I don’t want to invest. It’s too dangerous. How do you counter that?
How do you start?
Do you have specific advice for new investors?
You’ve also spoken out about excessive fees.
What money lessons did you learn growing up, and how did they inform your approach?
It changed my life. What it meant to me was that strangers care. And I promised that one day I would give back. I’ve helped to provide 42 million meals to people in my lifetime so far, and I want to help feed a billion. All of that grew out of that one experience. How were your parents with money?
What role do you think psychology plays in being financially successful?
So how does your mindset influence the financial choices you make?
One day, I said, this is it: I am going to earn enough money so I can not only do what I want, but take care of anyone I want to—whether it’s family or friends. When you commit to someone else, you can’t walk away. How does that differ, in terms of motivation, from just wanting to take care of yourself?
I was so inspired by them; they were so dedicated. So I bought them a soup kitchen . I am able to do something like that at this stage in my life. That is a privilege. This is an investment that will live on. It’s a permanent force of impact. That is very different than, I have to be able to pay my bills. If you are trying to take care of something that is bigger than yourself, you are going to have a different level of insight, motivation and solutions.