The Beginner’s Guide to Investing

Tony Robbins: The No. 1 lesson I learned from Warren Buffett and Ray Dalio is particularly relevant right now

Business strategist and bestselling author Tony Robbins knows the importance of surrounding yourself with leaders: That's why he pays attention to some of the world's most successful people, including billionaire investors Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio, Carl Icahn and Richard Branson.

There's a lot to learn from these business leaders, but Robbins says the most important takeaway might be that "none of them let the motion of the market control them," he tells CNBC Make It.

"Most people live with so much fear and anxiety in their lives and these people just learn to say: 'This is part of life. There's going to be ups, there's going to be downs, and my job is never to let what's happening in the moment define me.'"

In other words, they stay calm, and stay the course, even when the market is fluctuating.

This lesson is particularly relevant right now, given recent stock market volatility. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 800 points, bringing two-day losses to more than 1,500 points.

Business strategist and entrepreneur Tony Robbins
Mike Pont | WireImage | Getty Images
Business strategist and entrepreneur Tony Robbins

During these times of stress and uncertainty, Robbins learned from top investors, it's especially important to keep a level head.

Billionaire investors have another trait in common, too: They minimize risk.

"Most people think billionaires took these giant risks and they got lucky, and some did, but most of them don't do that," says Robbins. "Their secret is they know how to manage risk."

They live by a strategy called "asymmetrical risk reward," he says, which means they look to limit downsides even as they go after significant potential gains.

Robbins gives the example of billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, whose investment strategy starts with looking for ways to protect himself from losing money.

"Most people think billionaires took these giant risks and they got lucky, and some did, but most of them don't do that. Their secret is they know how to manage risk." -Tony Robbins

When Branson was first starting out, launching his airline company, Virgin Atlantic, in 1984, "he's going to go compete with British Airways," says Robbins. "He's going to buy these Boeing jets. These are unbelievably expensive. There's huge risk in that business. And everybody knows that Richard risks his life going in balloons, going in boats — but when it comes to business, his whole thing is, 'Where is the downside? How are we protecting against the downside?'"

Branson negotiated a deal with Boeing to make sure that he could send the planes back and wouldn't be liable if Virgin went under, says Robbins: "He could get all the planes back and not pay a dime and have no other liabilities, so he had zero risk and all upside."

Securing deals like that is "how people become billionaires," he says. "Don't fall into the trap of trying giant risks and hoping you're going to win. It doesn't work that way. Find where there is the least amount of risk with the most upside — do that again and again, and you're going to eventually win."

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