At this point, Tony Robbins is the very embodiment of financial freedom. The best-selling author, who grew up “dirt poor” in California, is now worth an estimated half-a-billion dollars. He has a waterside mansion in Florida, a resort and spa in Fiji, plus a few other homes—and a private jet to travel between them and his regular business, philanthropic and speaking engagements.
So, these days Robbins spends a good portion of his time trying to help other people achieve financial freedom.
He interviewed more than 50 of the world’s top investors for his 2016 New York Times best-selling advice book “Money: Master the Game.” (You can read our earlier interview with Tony Robbins here.) Now, Robbins is back with the updated version to his follow-up bestseller, “Unshakeable,” written with financial planner Peter Mallouk, president of Creative Planning.
Robbins says he was inspired to write the book by the bull market—now the longest in history. (A bull market happens when the stock market rises 20 percent from its bear market low and keeps climbing.) “Everyone knows it’s going to have a correction at some point,” he told me. “And I thought, I want to protect people, but I also want them to see how this could be an opportunity for the greatest growth.”
He spoke with us about how to take advantage of that—and how to avoid the mistakes that trip a lot of investors up.
What is the main message you hope readers get from “Unshakeable”?
We live in a world where most people don’t believe they can achieve financial freedom because there’s so much volatility. They are fearful of what’s to come. What I am trying to do through ‘Unshakeable’ is deliver a comprehensive message that takes away the fear—not a message that’s based on enthusiasm or passion, but one that’s based on century-old facts.
When you are really unshakeable, you come back to the truth. You don’t let the emotions control you. You redirect the ship and find a way to take advantage of the volatility.
We're in the longest-running bull market right now, but at some point it will go down. What should investors keep in mind when it does?
When we hear about the possibility of a correction or a crash or a crisis, it’s easy to become anxious because it sounds like the sky is about to fall. And we’re in our ninth year so there’s going to be a correction. But corrections are just a routine part of owning stocks. Instead of living in fear of them, accept them as regular occurrences.
Historically, the average correction has lasted only 54 days—less than two months! Most corrections are over before you know it, and they’re relatively painless. In fact, less than 20 percent of all corrections turn into a bear market. When the market starts tumbling, people let their fear take over and begin to sell. But the biggest danger isn’t a correction or a bear market, it’s being out of the market. When the next crash comes, it truly is an opportunity for investors to leapfrog from where they are to wherever they want to be financially.
How do you do that?
Take advantage of compounding. One of the most startling statistics that blows people’s minds is that in the last 20 years, we’ve seen about an 8.2 percent compounded annual return for the S&P 500. But if you missed the 10 best trading days in that 20-year period, your returns drop to 4.5 percent. If you missed the top 20 days, you only made 2.1 percent (based on an analysis by the Schwab Center for Financial Research). What are your chances of getting that timing right? The most important thing is to just be in the market.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about investing?
People think that they can predict the market. Nobody can consistently predict whether markets will rise or fall.
In fact, Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard—which has more than $3 trillion in assets under management—has said that while it would be great to get out of the stock market at the high and back in at the low, in his 65 years in the business, he has not only never met anybody who knew how to do it, he’s ‘never met anybody who had met anybody who knew how to do it.’
What would you would tell people who are still nervous about investing in the stock market?
Being out of the market is one of the riskiest things you can do. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer who thinks that you’ve started too late or a millennial who has so much educational debt that you think you will never get out of it, literally anyone can start with very little and achieve financial freedom over time.
People wait, wondering when it’s the right time to get into the market. It’s never the right time. And it’s always the right time. You just have to get in.