Success is only 20% skill, says Tony Robbins - here's what makes up the rest
Graham Flanagan/Business Insider
It's during a time of sudden and rapid success that startup founders can lose everything.
The winners of Shopify's Build a Bigger Business competition, the founders of eight online retailers that are making a profit and bringing in millions in revenues while scaling, are in this dangerous position.
That's why Tony Robbins wanted to mentor them.
Business Insider met Robbins, the world's most famous life and business coach, at his Fiji resort Namale, where he was hosting the Shopify winners. In a podcast interview, which you can listen to below, Robbins told us that his one-on-one coaching sessions with these entrepreneurs would have a common theme.
"Business requires an unbelievable level of resilience inside you, and I tell everybody, the chokehold on the growth of your business is always the leader, it's always your psychology and your skills - 80% psychology, 20% skills," Robbins said.
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Robbins has worked with billionaires like investor Paul Tudor Jones and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, as well as with hundreds of entrepreneurs who have gone through his Business Mastery seminars. He has found that regardless of experience, mindset is more important than skills.
For example, at Namale, Robbins told Fanjoy founder Chris Vaccarino that he was confident that Vaccarino's marketing skills helped take his business from $1.2 annual sales last year to an expected $35-40 million this year; but he could tell from their conversation that Vaccarino needed to rethink what it meant to be a leader, or else the success his talents brought him would overwhelm him and drive the company into chaos.
Robbins helped Vaccarino see that he had to abandon his need to be constantly liked by all of his employees and clients if he was going to be a successful leader.
Similarly, Deeanne Akerson of Kindred Bravely told us that in her mentoring session with Robbins, he helped her realize that owning a successful business was linked to her happiness, but that running this business at what she felt was the expense of her family was having the opposite effect. Basically, she understood that she possessed the skills to continue growing her business, but was losing the passion that compelled her to do so in the first place.
Robbins told her that she didn't have to make a decision between family or business, but that she should hire a CEO with the same skills she possessed, so that she could continue to be the brand's visionary without sacrificing the things that made her happy.
That said, the 20% importance Robbins gives to the skills side of things is still essential. "If you don't have the marketing skills, if you don't have the financial-intelligence skills, if you don't have the recruiting skills, it's really hard for you to lead somebody else if you don't have fundamentally those skills," he said.
When he approaches a coaching session with a business owner, he's pinpointing their strengths and weaknesses, with the understanding that their mindset takes precedence over skills. And where there are gaps in the latter, he's happy to pass on what he's learned from decades of running his own businesses.
"My life is about teaching those skills and helping people change the psychology so that they live out of what's possible, instead of out of their fear, and they produce the kind of certainty inside themselves so they really execute," Robbins said.