Over the past 30 years, life coach Tony Robbins has reached millions of people through his books, audio programs, and speaking events.
He’s worked with powerful people like media mogul Oprah Winfrey, tennis legend Andre Agassi, and star investor Paul Tudor Jones.
It may not be surprising to hear that actors, athletes, and even hedge fund managers would fork over thousands or more for guidance on how to get to the next level in their careers, but what about the President of the United States?
In an interview with Business Insider, Robbins says on Christmas day in 1993, Bill Clinton personally called him from Camp David as he relaxed at Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber’s home in Aspen, Colorado. Robbins explains:
[W]hen he first called me, it was Christmas, and I was in Peter Guber’s house in Aspen, and he says, “The President is on the line,” and I said, “President who?” He goes, “The President of the United States!”
I answer the phone, and President Clinton came on. He was having a very tough time, and it was his first year in office. He had run on “it’s the economy, stupid,” and he had kind of lost his way with the public. And he said, “People told me I should talk to you. Would you come to Camp David and have a meeting with me?”
And I said “When?” and he said, “Tonight!” And I go, “Tonight! Mr. President, I’d be happy to do it, I’d be privileged to serve you, but I want to you to know I’m not a fan.” I’ll never forget, Peter Guber looked across at me, and he was mouthing to me, “You’re talking to the President of the United States!” I said, “I’m not being disrespectful with you, but if you want someone to tell you what you want to hear, I’m the wrong guy.” He says, “No, I don’t want to hear that.”
Robbins took the job, of course. While he wouldn’t go into details about his private conversations with Clinton, he says he fulfilled his promise to the President about not going easy on him. “The structure was the process of very quickly going deep. No soft talk. Just penetrating, provocative questions to get to what the real challenge is, and what the real opportunities are.”
The two quickly became friends, and Clinton met with Robbins multiple times throughout his presidency, including during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
At a speech in 2007, Clinton spoke after Robbins. In his speech, he said of Robbins:
As you can see, he has a great gift. He has not only the gift to inspire, but he really, from my point of view, teaches the most important lesson that every individual has to learn about living day to day, which is that you have choices in every circumstance. And you have to make up your mind how you will respond to whatever it is that happens, as well as how you will make new things happen.
In return, Robbins has kind words for Clinton. “While I may not have started as a fan, it was hard not to become one. Because regardless of politics, he sincerely cares about human beings,” he says.
Robbins also respects Clinton’s intensity. “He is one of the politest, most scary human beings you’ll ever meet in your entire life.”