There was no fire walk or Oprah Moment, but Tony Robbins did unleash his trademark hunger and energy to thousands on the opening night of Dreamforce, technology’s biggest event in San Francisco, dissecting everything from relationships to software to Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The king of self-help had the crowd of 7,000 inside Moscone Center yelling, laughing, dancing, hugging each another in joy, crying even, as he imparted life lessons during his three-hour keynote session: “The Power to Break Through: Your Ultimate Edge.”
The massive four-day Dreamforce conference was expected to draw at least 170,000 attendees this year and will also feature appearances from Mark Cuban, Melinda Gates and U2.
Even before Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, himself a huge Robbins fan, welcomed the celebrity life coach on stage, the crowd was already energized, giddy with excitement for what lay ahead.
“How many of you have a relationship with a human?” Robbins asked, as he bounded up on stage in his signature black shirt and trousers, his 6’ 7” frame billowing over the audience in almost superhuman fashion.
Robbins, who went from being a janitor to advising billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn, and considers Richard Branson among his good friends, spent a good part of his session, or “event,” as he likes to call them, dissecting human relationships – what works, what doesn’t, who is engaged, who is disengaged, etc.
Robbins even used Donald Trump’s tax return leak as a case study for engagement levels at workplaces. “Somebody at his company was obviously disengaged,” Robbins said, while discussing how the documents were sent to a reporter at the New York Times.
As the giant screens in the room lit up with thousands of faces – nuns, monks, billionaires, geeks – it felt as if you were in a church listening to a sermon, in this case the Church of Tony Robbins.
“What is your idea of an extraordinary life?” Robbins asked the audience. “Some people’s extraordinary life is a billion-dollar company, some people’s extraordinary life is writing poetry, and some people’s extraordinary life is helping people in the Tenderloin.”
His talk was peppered with remarks like, “Reality TV is bull___,” and to a fan sitting right in front: “Come here little ba_____, I want to hug you.”
Robbins went over the history of modern technology, what worked (Apple), what didn’t (Yahoo), trying things like body shaking and jumping to get everyone pumped up about the future.
In a series of rapid fire interactions with the audience, Robbins discussed the pros and cons of innovation, marketing, social media, advertising, basically everything that makes a business tick in this day and age.
"Feel the energy - yes or no?" He asked the crowd. "Make sure the person next to you in the chair has as much energy as you now."
He didn’t make anyone walk on hot coals, but he did make the audience work. “Stand up, sit down, shake your body,” and then every 15 minutes: "Who's with me on this? Say aye."
Earlier this year, Robbins was in the news when about 30 people suffered injuries after walking on hot coals at one of his sessions.
At one point, Robbins asked everyone, “Who in this room has failed?” and proceeded to answer his own question: “We've all failed.”
With the help of crowdsourcing, Robbins listed some of the most common reasons for failure on a giant screen:
- No Time
- Didn't take action
- Lack of money
- Lack of technology
- Lack of education
- Not enough research
- Terrible people
And then he left everyone with these famous Tony Robbins words of wisdom: “Failure is never a lack of resources; it's a lack of resourcefulness.”