Friday, March 9, 2012

702. I Almost Married Tony Robbins

I almost married Tony Robbins.  Well, not really. We were almost engaged though. Umm … if you must know, the very next girl he met after me was “The One,” so if the roulette wheel of time had skipped back by just one space, it would have been me.

Let me tell you my story.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, not so much dark as “daytime,” and not so much stormy as “72 degrees and Southern-California mild.”

So it was a beautiful day and the temp agency had sent me to interview for my dream job: Personal Assistant to Tony Robbins.

As I drove up to his mansion perched high above the Pacific Ocean …

I was realizing that this was the job I was born to have. Travel?

Check! First class travel?

Double check! Get to hang out with celebrities?

This is maybe Luke Perry and and Julia Roberts
Check mate! And, I was confident that once Tony met me and spoke with me for a few minutes, he would see that I was a recent college grad, plus how detail-oriented and extremely organized I was …

So organized!  So efficient!  The Virgo gene had not matured to the level it is at now.   
… and that I would be the perfect candidate to assist with, uh, whatever he needed assisting with. This part was a bit fuzzy. Maybe I would have to make a few phone calls for him or fetch him green tea all day?

That would be fine.

Before being assigned this job interview, I had never actually heard of Tony Robbins. The temp agency had said, You’ve heard of him, MOV, he’s the famous motivational speaker? Teaches people to walk on fire?

Nope, not ringing a bell.

A few days before I-Day, I asked my roommate Lisa what I should do to prep for the interview. She was always super-smart about things like interviewing (she had worked on a cruise ship) …

… and she recommended I go to a bookstore and get one of Tony’s books. Books, as in plural. I did as instructed, then locked myself in my room for a day and devoured his book.

By the end of the 749 single-spaced inspirational pages, I, too, was ready to walk on fire. Or at least run quickly on lukewarm coals.

Now I knew his history, how he had grown up poor and struggling, and how he had turned himself around to establish his empire. He was not just rich, but filthy rich. This was my chance to learn his secrets or at least become rich by osmosis.

He met me at the door. I had already interviewed with his wife Becky, a lovely woman, who (to me) looked much much much older than Tony (a quick Google search today reveals that she is only 10 years older than he, but to the 26-year-old me, that might as well have been one hundred).

Poor Becky 
At the time, I was 26, Tony was 36, and Becky was 46.

I did not understand how tall Tony Robbins was. Tall. Taller than tall. Sure, he looked (in pictures) to be about basketball-player-ish height, but what is that in reality? 6’2”? 6’3”? I am 5’8”, so I am actually pretty tall myself.

I was absolutely unprepared to see someone seven feet tall at the door. He was a giant.

I suddenly knew how Alice in Wonderland felt when she shrunk to the size of a caterpillar.

I could think of nothing better to say than, “Hello! Nice to meet you! Wow, you’re tall!” As the words were cascading out my mouth, I was internally berating myself, Say something intelligent! Right now!

“And it’s a pretty day out,” were the next words that left my lips.

“Yes, it is,” he shook my hand, which now felt like a tiny doll hand in his huge bear paw monstrosity …

Drawing is to scale
“Please, come in, MOV, let’s walk out back—we can sit by the ocean and have a little chat.”

I had spent the last few hours memorizing various parts of his book, like he might randomly quiz me on facts and details from his youth or from how he built his empire. I knew the name of his mentor, how many children he had and what their names were, his theory for unleashing the power within. However, I had not watched any of his myriad videos and actually listened to him speak. Therefore, I did not know that he had a raspy voice—that this hoarseness was, in fact, his trademark.

“Just getting over a cold?” I inquired politely, as I reached into my purse to hand The Giant a cough drop.

“What? No. No. Ha ha.” He gave a fake smile, and I knew the interview was over before it started.

We walked out to his back patio which was about ten million thousand stories above the ocean. To say that you could see for miles would be an understatement. You could see for miles, continents, solar systems, years, and eternity.

This was a view.

We sat down and I forced myself to focus on Tony and not on the view. After talking with him for 10 minutes, I could see how he got whatever he wanted out of life: he was pushy. He would ask a typical interview question like “If you only had six months to live, what would you be doing?” and I would hem and haw, knowing the right answer was Getting green tea for you but wanting to say Travel all over Italy.

So instead I said, “Gosh, I don’t know.”

“If you had to give an answer, what would it be?”

“I never really thought about it. Huh, six months? I would … uh, I don’t know.”

“But if you had to give an answer, what would it be?”

He broke me down. “I would max out my credit cards and travel all over Italy!” I blurted out.

I knew as I was saying it that it was not the most financially-sound plan to give someone in an interview. But if the doctors told me I only had six months, then I would be dead by the time the credit card companies caught up with me and cancelled all my cards.

Things went from bad to worse.

“MOV, what is the one thing you could not tolerate in a work environment?”

Gah, what was I supposed to say to that? I had not worked many places by this point in my life, I had only worked in a few hotels and for one year as a flight attendant for Continental Airlines. I tried to think what I did not like at any of those jobs. One time, a passenger had cussed me out when I accidentally dropped his carry-on bag on his head while I was trying to help him stow it …

… and I didn’t particularly relish that memory.

“Ummm, I don’t know. I like any kind of work environment.” I smiled a weak smile, thinking, Please hire me even though I give all the wrong answers.

“But if you had to say, if you had to, what could you not tolerate in a work environment?” he repeated, not surprisingly.

I said the first thing that sprang to mind, which was about that one random passenger that one isolated time swearing at me:

I bit my lip to stop the rambling.

“MOV, what was your major in college?”


“Ah, okay.” He scribbled something down in his notepad. I tried to read it upside down. It looked like “muck.”

This was in 1996.  He probably uses an iPad nowadays.
(When I replayed this part of the interview to Lisa later, she told me that Tony Robbins likes to swear. A lot. Like a drunken sailor in a bar in a swearing contest with other drunken sailors fighting over a girl.)

I glanced at my watch, knowing that there was no way I was going to get this job.

We had been sitting out here for one hour. A whole hour where not one of my meticulously pre-rehearsed answers was needed, a whole hour in which I could showcase to Mr. Tony Robbins that I was not good in interview situations with a raspy-voiced giant.

Even though every cell in my body knew I would not be getting a job offer, I still held onto the remote hope, like if the TV announcer was calling the winning Lotto numbers and I did not have the first four numbers, but I could still win a million dollars if I got the last two right.

Story of my life
“Let me walk you to the door.”

After I left Tony Robbins’s house, I drove to the vet to pick up my cat. I cannot remember now, as I tell the story, why the cat was at the vet, but it doesn’t matter. She was not happy to be in her cage and meowed fiercely for me to take her out.

"I hate you!"
As soon as I got her inside the car, I took her out of her carrier to calm her down. She promptly sat on my lap, the lap of my $300 blue silk interview suit from Nordstrom’s, and peed.

It was a metaphor for my whole day.

I called the temp agency a few days later to find out if they had heard anything. Not surprising, they mechanically informed me that the HR people at Anthony Robbins Inc. had hired somebody else.

I found out many years later that shortly after I had met Tony, he had divorced his not-quite-ancient wife, Becky, and run off with his newly-hired-much-younger-and-quite-beautiful assistant. Whenever I see a photo of Tony and his second wife on the Entertainment channel or in Oprah magazine, I muse That could have been me.

But then I hug my two beautiful sons and think, I’m so glad it wasn’t.

My happy ending
(I, MOV, wrote and illustrated this post. It was first published as a guest blog piece on Haley's Comic on Leap Blog Day. Reprinted with permission granted by blog owner, Haley. Thanks, Haley!) 


  1., the whole time, I thought she was talking about TONY ROBERTS! And I thought...he's OLDER THAN DIRT! And WHEN DID HE BECOME A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER? So I guess the dementia has finally begun. I was hoping it would wait a little longer, dammit.

    1. oooh, mistaken identity! I understand. People think I am Charlize Theron, like, all the time*.

      *"all the time" = never

  2. Aaaand...I just saw the list of illustrated posts in the sidebar. Yay! Coming back later to read them!

    1. ha ha! can't wait to get your opinion!

  3. Replies
    1. thanks! that is my favorite part too. :)

  4. My ex-husband;great guy, but a total dreamer. I was married young, and he was 5 years older so I believed him and the stars in his eyes.He had some of Tony Robbins tapes,books,etc. He would sit and listen about Tony's success, and then recite it all back to me.

    We live a couple of cities north of where Tony's Castle/House was(is? does he still live there? I don't know, but it is always a focal point when I am driving south down the 5 freeway) So one day we went for a drive.My ex wanted to show me what we could possibly have one day, because he was following Tony's guide to success........

    I am re-married, I do not live in a castle, neither does my ex.
    And those tapes and books belong to another dreamer that purchased them from our garage sale!

    SUCH A FUNNY POST MOV!!!!!! Would you like a cough drop?
    I really enjoyed this one, and will definitely click on the other illustrated posts. I think interview's give great comedic writing material.

    1. thanks, J.R.! so we were apparently neighbors. I also do not live in a castle. But I like to wear my rhinestone tiara around the house where no one can see me................

  5. I read this as you having a bad day, and then ending up with a cat on you. Yes, it peed, but still. A cat. On you. That's a good day, no?

    1. ummm, I do love that little cat, but did you miss the part where the cat PEED on me????????

  6. I just love this story! I think Tony Robbins would be totally intimidating in real life -- as you so aptly demonstrated in this epic tale. :-)

  7. Oh but the really important thing is - were you able to save the dress? Cause I mean cat urine - GAG. It probably ate a hole in the silk.

    1. *cries* I will answer this question in the next comment below........

  8. Why aren't you on twitter? How can I pimp for you if you are not on twitter?

    How much was the dry cleaning bill?

    1. I do not know how to do twitter, it seems hard. Another thing that seems hard is: taxes. I pay someone my tax refund to do my taxes. Maybe I could pay someone to say brilliant things and twitter them for me???

      The dry cleaning? The short Chinese lady/ owner of the cleaners took one look at the silk skirt and threw it in the trash. She told me she was doing me a favor, and at least I could wear the jacket part of the suit with maybe a black skirt. *sigh* (She was of course right.)

  9. Girl, this was an awesome story! Your illustrations were so great! I am in love with you LOL!

    And you should totally try twitter. I get a good bit of traffic from there...

    1. Wow, Tracie, this is a huge compliment coming from you because YOU are a great illustrator! thanks!!!

  10. Brilliant !
    Even though I have no idea who he is, but then if he's the kind of man who dumps his wife and runs off with his assistant you probably had a lucky escape.
    Because once you are the wife he is going to be hiring a new young assistant....

    And CYW is right about Twitter, although I have a habit of forgetting I have one.
    That reminds me....

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Dirty Cowgirl! I really appreciate it! :)

  11. I don't know who tony robbins is, but enjoyed this non-the-less :D

    1. thanks! he is a motivational speaker, and people seem to love him.

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  13. Oh my God-you're hillarious. Just listened to his program on CD and did a Google on whether he is a fake and now you've got me rolling! Love the metaphors-if only you had the right incantations before your interview you would have been the Mrs-lol

  14. cackle. i've been trawling through tony robbins etc for two days straight. this has been the most entertaining thing i've read so far.
    he's really tall. like really.

    how fun for you to have met him though.
    i don't think i'd like it if he whispered in my ear like he does with some people.
    he's obviously good at what he does... but needs to calm it down a little. take some magnesium. relax.

  15. Cute. Funny. Entertaining. Honest.


When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)