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Not My Job: Tony Robbins Gets Quizzed On Laziness

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Finally, we like this show to be useful. And since we are incapable of coming up with any good advice - after all, we ended up in public radio - we thought we'd talk to the most successful advice-giver of all time.

BILL KURTIS: Motivational guru Tony Robbins joined us in May of 2015.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SAGAL: How does one get into the business you're in of being sort of a global life coach to people? >>ROBBINS: It started with people wanting to lose weight 'cause I was - I'm 6'7" today, but I was 5'1" my sophomore year in high school, and I was fat. And so I turned myself around. And my buddies asked me. It started with that, and then it grew to helping people in their relationships. And I just - I became the go-to guy with it. And I got addicted to lighting people up, just seeing people so happy 'cause they rediscovered what they're capable of. And so that became my life's work.

LUKE BURBANK: Wait, wait, wait - do you actually claim that you willed yourself into being 6'7"?

(LAUGHTER)

TONY ROBBINS: No, I told - you know, I was 5'1," I'm 6'7." The difference is personal growth.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Tony, you're known for taking your preparation really seriously. That's what you teach. What is it like to just relax and take it easy?

ROBBINS: Really good. One of my boys is really good at what he calls chilling. I asked him for some advice today.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBBINS: Yes, I'm obsessed.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Jeez that's great. I just found a job that my son can go into.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: Yeah, chill coach.

SAGAL: Tony, you're obviously very famous for helping people. Do people out in public ever just come up to you and ask for help?

ROBBINS: I remember one specific time years ago - true story - I'm standing at the urinal doing the necessary, and this man starts looking at me and looks at me again and goes oh, my God, you're Tony Robbins. Oh, my God. He goes, I'm suicidal; I need your help. And he turns in the process...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No.

ROBBINS: ...Toward me. And I'm - I've got this stuff all over my legs, and I said, you know, I think I can help you with that suicide situation, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: Tony, do your kids take your advice?

ROBBINS: Yeah, well, they do. It helps to be 6-foot-7 and not take any [expletive].

SAGAL: Oh, wow.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You've mentioned - and I know it's true - that among the people you've helped are presidents. Is it true that, like, the people who - the presidents who call you for help or the major celebrities or the business leaders have the same kind of problems as everybody else, just on a larger scale?

ROBBINS: Yeah, everybody does. I mean, some people have problems that are on the world stage, but they're still the same problems. They have to deal your inability to perform at the same level you did before or loss of confidence or a situation where you’ve got to figure out how to influence people and break through a giant obstacle. So - and in sports it's, you know, losing that rhythm, you know, finding yourself in a place where you can't do what you've done well forever and you’ve got to change it right now. So I get the call when a Serena Williams is, you know, burning down, I’ve got to turn around right now or when the president of the United States, you know, President Clinton called me - true story - and said they're going to impeach me in the morning, what should I do?

SAGAL: Wait a minute, really?

ROBBINS: My first response was - yeah, he did. I said my first response was, could you have called me sooner?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You should've called me before you ordered that pizza two years ago, you said.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, Tony Robbins, we've asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: What? Sorry, I Was Resting My Eyes.

SAGAL: So you're all about turning people into go-getters, so we thought we'd ask you about three stories of incredibly lazy people - instead of go-getters, say, stay-putters. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Tony Robbins playing for?

KURTIS: Bill Childs (ph) of Austin, Texas.

SAGAL: All right, so...

ROBBINS: All right.

SAGAL: ...Bill's got it all riding on you. And by the way, Tony, we encourage you to unleash your power within here as necessary.

ROBBINS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: The power pose might help. I don't know. First question - some lazy people have at least tried to fight back into their lives against the forces of laziness, such as which of these? Was it A, in 2009, a Montana man put springs in a motor into his La-Z-Boy so it would vault him into a standing position when he pulled the crank, B, a woman in Illinois hired a genuine former Chicago mobster to threaten her life whenever she did not get her filing done, or C, in 2004, a Wisconsin man, fed up with lying around and being lazy, sued the cable TV company for making him that way.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBBINS: Oh, my God. Unfortunately, all three of these are very likely, A and C seem most likely. I'll go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A, he rebuilt his La-Z-Boy so instead of just standing up, he would be launched forward in an upright position. It's a good idea, but it was actually C.

ROBBINS: C, that's the other possibility.

SAGAL: A Wisconsin man sued Charter Communications…

ROBBINS: Wow.

SAGAL: …For making him fat, slovenly and lazy by giving him such delightful things to watch on TV all day.

ROBBINS: Welcome to America.

SAGAL: I know. It's a great place. All right, Reddit, which, as you know, is a user-edited website, once asked its users to name the laziest thing they had ever done. Which of these was a real answer? A, the man who tied his dog to his remote control car so he could use that to give his dog a walk from the comfort of his couch, B, the guy who drove in his car from the back of the garage to the front of the garage to get something, or C, instead of getting up and walking to the refrigerator to get a coke, he just picked up his phone and ordered one bottle to be delivered from Peapod, the grocery delivery company.

ROBBINS: Oh, my God…

(LAUGHTER)

ROBBINS: …These are horrible. I'll go with A. I’ve got to see this guy having his dog be walked by a car.

SAGAL: And that's right. It was A.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: The other ones we made up.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The anonymous Redditor with the RC remote-controlled monster truck and the dog says, quote, "don't judge me."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, if you get this - if you get this last one, you will win our prize for our listener.

ROBBINS: All right, Bill. I'm working for you out there, Bill.

SAGAL: All right, if you Google laziest person ever, you will probably end up with which of these stories? A, the Navy officer who ordered his ship to change course rather than move in his wardroom seat to get the sun out of his eyes, B, a man who was too lazy to get out of bed and eat breakfast every day, so he installed an enormous Hopper filled with Cap'n Crunch right above his bed, or C, a story about a man who was writing a quiz and did nothing more than Google the phrase laziest person ever.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBBINS: I'm going to go with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B?

ROBBINS: Yep.

SAGAL: So the guy has a huge hopper filled with Cap'n Crunch, specifically Cap'n Crunch, and instead of getting up to get breakfast, presumably he would just lay back and pull a chain that would release a flow of Cap'n Crunch in the manner of a granary, perhaps, or a silo into his presumably open mouth.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So really, you're going to go with B, is what you’re saying?

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: Tony...

ROBBINS: All right, I’ll change it to A quick before we get out of here.

SAGAL: All right, yes, it's A. Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The story, which can never be proven, is unbelievably detailed, and it concerns an unnamed officer on an unnamed ship, who, after what is apparently a rough night, decides it's easier to tell the ship to change course than to move from his seat in the wardroom as he eats his bagel. Bill, how did Tony Robbins do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Well, Tony's a winner, and he was here, too - 2 out of 3. Congratulations...

SAGAL: Well done, Tony.

KURTIS: …You did it.

ROBBINS: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Tony Robbins is a life coach and the author of many best-selling books. His latest New York Times best-seller is "Money: Master The Game." Tony Robbins, what a pleasure to talk to you.

ROBBINS: Thank you. I enjoyed it.

SAGAL: Thank you so much for your time.

KURTIS: Thanks, Tony.

POUNDSTONE: Thanks, Tony.

ROBBINS: Thanks guys.

KURTIS: You did great.

ROBBINS: Bye-bye.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That's it for today's show. We hope you liked it or at least you didn't hate it enough to write us a letter.

WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME is a production of NPR and WBEZ Chicago, in association with Urgent Haircut Productions - Doug Berman, benevolent overlord. Philipp Goedicke writes our limericks. Our house manager is Don Hall. Our assistant house manager is Tyler Greene. Our intern is (singing) Isabel Broccoli Robertson (ph).

Our web guru is Beth Novey. Special thanks to the crew at Chase Bank. B.J. Leiderman composed our theme. Our program was produced by Miles Doornbos. Technical direction is from Lorna White. Our CFO's Ann Nguyen. Our production coordinator is Broccoli Robert Neuhaus (ph). Our senior producer's Ian Chillag. And the executive producer of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME is Mike Broccoli Rob Danforth (ph).

Thanks to Bill Kurtis. Thanks to all of our panelists and the guests that you heard this week. Thanks to all of you for listening. I am Peter Sagal. We will be back with you next week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.