A while back, I read “Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins. Surprisingly, it was a fantastic read. Not only did I learn practical things about investing, but I also learned the value of money — and the philosophy behind money.
Tony Robbins has devoted his entire life helping others, and has become very wealthy (both personally and financially) from it. Not only does he talk the talk, but he walks the walk.
Below are some lessons I learned from Tony Robbins on money, and perhaps lessons which can help you:
One of the concepts that Tony Robbins introduces in his book is “V2MOM”, which stands for:
To break it down:
- Vision: What do I really want?
- Values: What is important about what I want?
- Methods: How can I get what I want?
- Obstacles: What is preventing me from achieving what I want?
- Measurements: How do I measure if I’m succeeding in what I want?
This isn’t a formula we need to follow in our lives for “success” — but it is certainly a framework which we can integrate into our personal life and thinking.
I feel that many of us forget the importance of having a big vision in life and values. We all start off young by having a dream. Yet when we get older, we become jaded, and stop seeking to achieve great things.
When it comes to our values, we often compromise on our values. We forget our personal code of ethics. Of course, many of us fall victim to the values of society — rather than following our own gut, intuition, and conscience.
Methods: you need to have a strategy or a plan to achieve what you want. Do you want to be more creative, to create more art, and to feel more alive? You can’t sit on your bum and expect things to happen. Think of how you can be active — how can you take an actionable step in your life to achieve what you want? Does that mean going out and making more photos, by connecting with other artists, or by attending a photography class, workshop, or by studying a photography book?
Obstacles: what is preventing you from achieving what you want? Is it your lack of time, finances, or your lack of confidence in yourself? Identify what you think is your obstacle, and figure out how you can overcome it.
Measurement: I think the best way to measure your “success” in life is by your own internal-measure of yourself. How do you feel about yourself? Disregard what others say, or your “success” in terms of finances, social media followers, or some other external measure.
2. It isn’t about the money
Being “wealthy” isn’t about having a lot of money. Rather, many of us seek money in order to create the lives that we want. We see money as a symbol of freedom.
The mistake we make though is that we think that having a lot of money will equal freedom. Not necessarily. There are many billionaires out there who are very financially wealthy, but essentially slaves to their companies or corporations. I doubt many of these billionaires can even take a nap when they want to.
How much money do you need to create the life, and lifestyle that you want?
Figure out what your ideal lifestyle is, then work backwards. Figure out how much you need to earn to achieve this lifestyle.
3. What is the worst investment?
The worst investment (according to Tony Robbins) is to trade your time for money.
Why? Because you can always earn more money. You can never earn more time.
“I can’t afford to waste my time making money.” – Jean Louis Agassiz
Unfortunately many of us work for corporations or have office jobs in which our time equates to how much money we earn.
But there are some ways you can control/change this.
For example, you might get a raise or a promotion at your company to earn more money. But if you’re currently earning $40,000 a year and working 40 hours a week, is it a good idea to try to earn $50,000 a year, but working 60 hours a week? To me that is the worst trade-off you can make.
“Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
No matter what, we will always feel anxious and insecure. No matter how rich you are, you will always feel like you need 10% more money to feel secure. Even billionaires say this.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Steve Jobs
Some practical ways you can liberate yourself from the time-money link.
By starting your own company, you can disconnect your time from your money. For example, if you sell products, you can reach a point where you literally don’t need to work anymore, but you can still earn money.
You can also prioritize time over money in your life. Rather than seeking to work more hours at your job, seek how to work fewer hours at your job — yet still make a similar income.
It also means that valuing your free time above money. Don’t take on that extra shift, if you can use that time to do creative work, or spend time with family.
Prioritize your time over money.
For me, I will always (whenever possible) trade my money for more time. I will spend money on getting an Uber to save me time to get to the airport or meeting friends, instead of saving a few bucks and taking public transportation. If I need to save time in terms of convenience, I will buy something at a local (more expensive) store, rather than wasting time going to a huge store (miles away) to just save a few bucks.
Think about how you can trade your money for more time. And never give away your time for free, unless it is for someone you really care about.
4. The secret of financial wealth
“That’s the whole secret: earn more, spend less, and automate it. “ – Tony Robbins
The concept is very simple: to become financially wealthy is to earn more money, spend less money, and learn how to automate the process.
To earn more money, figure out how you can create more value in the life of others. Then figure out how you can start to sell a product, sell information, or perhaps do some consulting work.
To spend less money, stop buying “new” things. Avoid buying new cars, new homes, new clothes, or new gadgets. Seek to live in a cheaper neighborhood, lower your lifestyle standards, or perhaps live in a cheaper city or country.
To automate the process, make sure your credit card bills automatically pay themselves in full at the end of the month. Also automate your savings, or your investments, or your 401K/Roth IRA, etc. A lot of banks offer this service, or often your workplace can offer it too.
“The best way to save is when you don’t see the money in the first place.” – Tony Robbins
When I worked at my old company, I found the best way to save my money was to automatically transfer some of my paycheck to the company stock option. This allowed me to save money, because it all wasn’t being automatically transferred to my bank account. By transferring 20% of my money to the company stock, I had less money transfer to my bank account. Therefore I learned to adjust my spending and expenses, because I didn’t see the money in the first place.
Just think to yourself, how can you do the following?
- Increase your income
- Decrease your expenses
- Automate it
5. What are our human needs?
According to Tony Robbins, these are some of our human needs:
- Comfort and certainty: Feeling secure (emotionally, financially, physically).
- Uncertainty and variety: Having some randomness, excitement, and fun in our lives. Not doing the same thing over and over again.
- Significance: To feel like our work is meaningful, and helping improve the lives of others.
- Love and connection: To feel loved by others, and to love others. To feel part of a community or something greater than yourself.
- Growth: To keep learning, improving, and growing. To not become stale and plateau. To have something to look forward to.
- Contribution: As Tony Robbins says, “The secret to living is giving.” What can you give to others, in terms of your wisdom, life experiences, finances, art, products, or information?
If we can fulfill our human needs, how can we ever feel anxious, sad, or poor? If we focus on all the 6 things above, we will definitely create value for others, continue growing, and as a result increase our personal wealth.
6. Create surplus value for others
“The only way to become wealthy, and stay wealthy, is to find a way to do more for others than anyone else is doing in an area that people really value.” – Tony Robbins
Wealth isn’t about being good at marketing, or tricking people through advertising. Wealth is about doing more for others than anyone else out there in the world. To gain wealth, you want to create surplus value for the lives of others. And the remainder of that surplus value will come back to yourself.
That means create more value than you take.
You can create value as an employee, as a parent, as a child, as an entrepreneur, as a creative, as a photographer, writer, dancer, or whatever.
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
Don’t think of how you can become “successful” — think of how you can continue to add more value to the lives of others.
One of the philosophies that has deeply influenced me is the “10x principle” which is popular in silicon valley. The concept is to try to create 10x more value for others than anyone else in your field. According to the entrepreneur Peter Thiel, this will allow you to gain a “creative monopoly” in a field — and therefore you will be able to gain profits.
“If you wish to become great, learn to become the servant of many.” – Bible
How can you learn how to serve others? If you become a servant of millions of people, and help uplift, motivate, encourage, and inspire others — how can you ever become financially poor?
7. Don’t compete
Money isn’t a competition or a race. The person with the most 0’s in their bank account when they’re dead doesn’t win anything.
“The day you stop racing is the day you win the race.” – Bob Marley
Only focus on yourself, your own personal financial goals. Don’t compare your bank account, possessions, or success to anybody else out there.
“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.” Anonymous
Be the architect of your own life experiences. Create the lifestyle you want for yourself (however much or little much that requires).
Compound your value for others, by aiming to increase your abilities by 1% everyday. Focus on long-term growth. First focus on growing for yourself, then figuring out how you can help improve the lives of others.
Stay focused on yourself, and you will never feel envy or jealousy to others.
8. Speed it up
“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti
Life is short. Why are we working so slowly? Because we are certain of the future. We think we will live to 80.
False. We never know when we will die— whether we will get hit by a drunk driver, whether we will get hit by a truck (while texting and walking), or whether we get some sort of illness or disease.
Speed up your life in terms of becoming “wealthy” by taking a shortcut.
If you want true wealth, it means to have less than you already have. True wealth is about appreciation for what you have, not about craving what you don’t have.
Of course, if you’re living in poverty and constantly stressed about paying the bills, you probably want to make more money. But if you’re living comfortably — what can a few extra 0’s in your bank account change in your life?
9. Happiness as creative effort
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Having more money won’t make us happier. Having more creative freedom will give us happiness.
There is a certain point where we will have “enough” money. And once you have enough money to give yourself freedom, spend the rest of your psychic energy in achieving great things— creatively and for the benefit of others.
Happiness lies in action and creative effort, not in having a lot of money. Just have enough money to build the life for yourself that you want, to give yourself the lifestyle to be creative. But once you’ve achieved that, give an all-out effort for your creative pursuits.
10. Keep moving
“Life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
If we become stagnant and stop moving, we will die. Kind of like a shark — when a shark stops swimming, it will sink to the bottom of the ocean and die.
When it comes to creating value for others, you have to keep moving. You need to keep innovating, coming up with new ideas, and creating value in the marketplace.
Being an employee is a grind at times. But we need to keep moving forward. We need to stay motivated to keep learning new skills, to expand our expertise, and to keep moving up. We don’t want to settle. We want to create the best out of what we are given in life.
11. Don’t lose
The secret to becoming wealthy is to not become broke.
As humans, we also tend to be risk averse— we hate losing money more than it comes to making money:
“I don’t gamble, because winning a hundred dollars doesn’t give me great pleasure. But losing a hundred dollars pisses me off.” – Alex Trebek
One of the biggest money mistakes we make is losing it and going bankrupt. We risk too much of our money in bad investments.
Before aiming to become rich, we need to avoid going broke:
“Invincibility lies in the defense.” – Sun Tzu
Avoid losing money, and never risk 100% of your money into one investment. Insure yourself against possible losses.
Focus on your defense, not your offense when it comes to money.
12. Keep giving
“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Life is about what we decide to give others, not what we decide to take:
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
There are a lot of psychological studies which have shown (in America) that if we earn more than $75,000 a year, we won’t gain any more happiness. Of course this money amount is different depending where you live.
The basic concept is that once we have enough money for paying our expenses, living humbly, and by feeling some sort of financial comfort— more money doesn’t equal more happiness.
Spending money can buy us happiness, if we use it wisely. This is how Tony Robbins suggests we invest our money:
- 1. Investing in experiences: Traveling, learning new skills, taking classes or courses, instead of acquiring more possessions.
- 2. Buying time for yourself: Trade your money for having more time, so you can pursue your passions.
- 3. Investing in others: Money brings us the most happiness when we spend or invest it on others. Buy your friends a cup of coffee, a beer, or dinner. Realize the more money you share with others, the more will come back to you.
The most important lesson I learned from Tony Robbins regarding money was this: true wealth is when we can give without worrying and without fear.
I don’t need much money to be happy. Just some money to pay the rent, to pay my bills, food, and a cup of coffee here and there.
What does “wealth” mean to you, and how can you keep giving?
That is true wealth.