Leadership

How Tony Robbins helped Kanye West regain his confidence

Tony Robbins
Getty Images | Jim Spellman
Tony Robbins

Self-made multimillionaire and bestselling author Tony Robbins is known for being a motivational speaker and coach to a long list of high-profile clients. And for rapper and designer Kanye West, Robbins has been a life-changing influence over the past year, the artist told The New York Times.

West has been busy lately — producing and releasing five new albums through his record label, G.O.O.D. Music, over the past five weeks; tweeting his excitement over Elon Musk and his new Tesla; and making much-scrutinized comments about everything from slavery to his support of President Donald Trump.

But West has also faced a couple of challenging years: In 2016, his wife Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint and he was later hospitalized after abruptly canceling a tour.

Kevin Mazur | Getty Images

Since then, West has been vocal about improving his mental health, and he says one of his biggest turning points came when Robbins appeared at his home in 2017 to offer guidance. Robbins instructed him to do something unexpected: scream.

“I was so self-conscious about the nanny and the housekeeper that I didn’t want them to hear me screaming in the living room,” West says in a recent interview with New York Times reporter Jon Caramanica. “I think that that’s such a metaphor of something for the existence of so-called well-off people that they’re not really well-off — they won’t even scream in their own house.”

Kardashian-West, who read Robbins’ book “Unshakeable” as part of her book club and took her family to one of Robbins’ seminars, had invited the bestselling author over for “something like an intervention,” Caramanica writes.

West recalls how Robbins looked at him and “he could tell that I was very low.”

While sitting at his home with Robbins, West tells Caramanica, he was “really medicated, shoulders slumped down, and my confidence was gone, which is a lot of the root of my superpower, because if you truly have self-confidence, no one can say anything to you.”

After looking him in the eyes, Robbins instructed West to stand up, get into a warrior yoga pose and scream. West, still self-conscious, said, “I didn’t have my confidence back," but as Caramanica writes, it was a start. The rapper even said Robbins' speaking style and method of delivering messages was an inspiration for his songwriting.

Robbins, 58, says he has felt called to help others since he was a teenager. He grew up in a family that was “totally broke," he told Reuters, and did what he could to change his circumstances.

"When I was 14 years old, I said, 'In my 20s, I'm going to learn to help anyone change their lives'. If they are committed, I'm committed, I should be able to do it and have the skill," Robbins told CNBC during last year's Iconic Tour.

At 17, Robbins worked as a part-time janitor, earning a mere $40 a week, and saved that money to attend a $35 leadership seminar. That was the best investment he says he has ever made. Though he never set out to be rich, Robbins made his first million dollars by the age of 24 and went on to form a billion-dollar empire as a founder and partner at over a dozen different companies.

Earlier this year, Robbins faced criticism for downplaying the impact of the outspoken voices of the #MeToo movement at one of his arena-packed events in March. A month later, he issued an apology and reiterated his own goals as a motivational speaker: "For 40 years I’ve encouraged people to grow into the men and women they dream to be," Robbins wrote in an apology note on Facebook. "I am humbled that others have looked to the path I have taken in the decades since as lessons in their own journey," he added. "But sometimes, the teacher has to become the student and it is clear that I still have much to learn."

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