Tony Robbins: "Be the Chess Player, Not the Chess Piece"

Life coach and author Tony Robbins had entered the world of personal finance with his latest book.

Author and life coach Tony Robbins returns to Big Think today to discuss lessons conveyed in his new book, Money: Master the Game. You can check out the video embedded just below.

Robbins frames the discussion as a one-by-one dispelling of common personal finance myths related to investments. For example, he begins by explaining how too many people think you have to already be wealthy in order to make money through investments:

"The truth of the matter is the greatest investors started with very little. What they really learned to do is to use the power of what basically when I asked Warren Buffet I said what’s been your secret to wealth. He said three things. He said number one was being born in America. Number two is good genes so I’ve lived a long time. And Number three was compound interest. He said that’s it. And most people don’t understand you can tap that power."

Robbins calls this the first major mistake folks make when assessing their personal finances. The investment game isn't just a rich boy's club. It's open to everyone and anyone can succeed as long as they're smart with their money. This leads Robbins to his second point: you have to become an insider.

"You’ve got to know the rules of the game before you get in the game because the system is not set up for the individual investor to win. The system – it’s not evil – it’s set up by corporations and corporations’ number one priority is to maximize profits for the shareholders. It’s not to maximize profits for the investor. And that’s the conflict that we see happening over and over again."

One bit of insider information Robbins shares is that not even your savviest investor is going to be able to beat the market. Not Warren Buffett. Not Ray Dallio. Industry experts say it's just not going to happen over the long term. Ninety-six percent of mutual funds don't do it over a ten year period of time.

With that said, knowing that you're not going to beat the market if you're invested in a mutual fund, Robbins goes on to shine the light on the real cost of fees:

"If someone came to you and said I’d like you to make an investment and here’s how we’re going to do it. You put up all the money, you take all the risk. I put up no money, I take no risk. And at the end if you lose I make money and if you win I make money and if you win over the lifetime of your investments 30 or 40 years I’ll end up with about 60 percent of your total returns. Would you do it? You’d say that’s absurd. I’d never do it in a million years. That’s most mutual funds."

Robbins finishes his talk with a discussion about fiduciaries, who are finance experts that are obligated to look out for your best interest:

"If they tell you to buy Microsoft this morning and they buy the stock this afternoon and they get it cheaper than you they have to give you the cheaper stock. That’s how strong the rules are. They are only paid to recommend what’s best for you. They make no commissions. A fiduciary, somebody who’s a skilled fiduciary is incredibly valuable to your life. And by the way, they don’t have to cost you a lot of money. They cost very little or you can give a small percentage but you’re not paying all the commissions."

Echoing his earlier advice about familiarizing yourself with the rules of the game, Robbins finishes with a nice little button: investment success means learning how to be the chess player, not the chess piece. That's good advice for nearly all realms of personal growth.

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