On March 23, 2016, this tweet from Tony strikes panic into my heart!
Are You An @TonyRobbins Super-fan and in New York next Tues? Get Tix to see him live
I am flying from Vancouver to New York the next day, my itinerary is full, and now I want tickets to see Tony live on March 29th!
But wait! I’ve never been to New York! I don’t know my way around, and I am staying in Brooklyn, not Manhattan, and “GMA” sets up before sunrise.
Focus on Where You Want to Go, Not on What You Fear
~ Anthony Robbins
Every day I do something that scares me, so I email Good Morning America for tickets.
“DECIDE!” I can hear Tony say in my mind.
A while back, I wrote down the five people I would most like to meet, and Tony Robbins was one of them. Tony always advises to take massive action and pursue your dreams.
I admire his work because he refused to let his pain define him, turned his life around, and used his knowledge to help so many others, including me and my son.
In the 1990’s I bought his cassette tapes at a library book sale and I wore them out listening to them. By association, I also wore out my youngest son’s tender ears. He has been listening to Tony unleash the power since age 3, during the long trips in my mini-van to visit his Nana. He turned 20 today.
“GMA” replies and asks me why I want to be in the audience. I write that I am a blogger, and my son and I have been Tony super-fans since the 1990’s, and it is my son’s 20th birthday today. They email me two tickets (the maximum)to print off! We are in! I am soooo excited!
But wait! The fine print says we are not guaranteed to get in. I don’t care! Even the chance of getting in is so exciting! I tell da birthday boy he has a chance to see da man himself! He is more excited about seeing Tony than The Lion King on Broadway later that evening.
This son started his own business at age eleven, teaching fourteen year old kids how to play drums. He began negotiating business deals with adults to produce music shows by the age of sixteen. I am convinced his confidence and ability came from all those hours of listening to Tony Robbins on cassette. Tony instilled an entrepreneurial mindset in him. We joke that he was raised by Tony Robbins.
“The only person holding you back is YOU. No more excuses. It’s time to change and take your life to the next level.” Tony Robbins
It feels like Tony is on the 102nd floor view deck of The Empire State Building of self-actualization, extending a hand down to me, on the ground floor, to pull me up to learn how to live my dreams like him.
We arrive in Times Square to scout out GMA’s location a few days ahead of the show so we are prepared.
“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” — Tony Robbins
We find a door marked stage door on 44th Street, but there is no Toys ‘R’ Us nearby.
At the Wax Museum, I ask where Toys ‘R’ Us is located and nobody knows, then I ask an employee at The Star Wars Exhibit, who says the store has moved, and there is construction where it used to be. My best guess is that we line up at the stage door across from the construction. I wonder why GMA hasn’t updated their tickets.
To look sharp for the show, I buy pants and a top at The Loft in Times Square and new make-up at Sephora. I will wear the sweater and shoes I have in my suitcase, and my son will wear the clothes in his luggage.
On March 29, we wake up at 4 am, shower, and catch the subway train to Times Square. We arrive at 6:30 am and are relieved to find a small line-up outside the stage door. Last check in for the show is 7:15 am. Nobody greets us, or checks us in, or asks to see our tickets or passports. We stand in line for two hours until 8:30 am.
In the shade of the high rises, it was 46 degrees Fahrenheit, but it was freezing in the narrow wind chill tunnel. My hands turn white from the cold. I push past the cold and imagine Tony immersing himself in freezing cold water. His morning ritual is to plunge into a cool 57-degree Fahrenheit pool of water upon waking. But I am dreaming of going to a Tony Robbins firewalk instead.
After an hour or so, the production assistant, I think her name is Julie, announces that anyone who received a special email from her can step to the side. I hear “What the?!” muffled in the crowd, as she ushers the VIPs into the studio.
Julie comes back out and says they are reducing the filming space and only half of those with tickets in line will get in. “If anyone wants to leave now, they can” she says. Her blasé tone, prompts the guy behind me to call out: “Welcome to New York!” He was wearing a long wool coat and ear muffs. My son and I name him the heckler. He told us he was from New York. Some people leave the line at this point.
The Assistant comes back out about 20 minutes later and says 20 people of the 40 who remain in line will get in, and we are mid-line. She leaves us dangling, however, when she says she might take the first 20 people in line or she may do a draw, she hasn’t decided. What??? This is a fast paced New York live television production where snap decisions are made faster than a ball can drop in Times Square. I imagine Tony in his deep voice, gone hoarse from talking, telling her to “Decide!” We take a leap of faith and stay.
A security guard with a K9 sniffer dog walks past the line and asks us to open our purses and empty the contents of our pockets into our hands. The dog sniffs all of us and finds nothing.
Another twenty minutes pass, and a black SUV pulls up, and David Hasselhoff steps out! The line erupts into cheers and my son takes a selfie with “The Hoff.” David signs autographs, chats to the crowd, and poses for photos. He is super nice, tanned and flashes a big white smile. My son will gloat later about seeing The Baywatch star to the four people back at our apartment in Brooklyn who are asleep.
Then Geraldo Rivera’s black SUV drives by, and he waves at us from the passenger’s seat! I watched him so many times on the show 20/20! My son doesn’t know who he is. He was on GMA talking about getting ousted from Dancing With the Stars. My adrenaline is pumping so fast I want to dance, but like Bob Dylan’s Tamborine Man: my toes too numb to step.
Then Tony Robbins steps out of a silver SUV, and criss-crosses the sidewalk towards us. Some Wall Street types brush him off their shoulders as if he is a pest. Tony is unfazed. He seems humbled by the little scream that erupts from the line-up. He smiles warmly, and bows his head almost bashfully. Then all 6 foot 7 inches of him confidently enters the studio wearing a sharp blue suit. No time for a selfie with him, but great to see him.
Tony’s humble presence and warm smile deliver up the essence of why he does what he does — he cares about the people he helps. The little guys like us, braving the cold, leaving home in the dark to stand on the sidewalk to see him. Helping people fires up his soul more than fire walking. I saw it all on his face. He loves the people in line with all his heart. And, they love him back ten times more.
I am so happy we came! We have already seen Tony and the show is going to be great!
ALL LOVE TONY
I am showing my bloodless fingers to my son, when the heckler gives me a hand warmer. He is friendly and engaging, and asks us to play Tony Robbins trivia.
His first question is: “what is Tony’s wife’s name?” “Sage!” I say, and then share my own trivia that she is from Langley, BC, next to Cloverdale, where we live.
Then the heckler answers that Tony’s step dad was a semi-professional baseball player. In a New York nano second, my excitement about the show turns to a sinking feeling in my stomach. I remember the quote: “never mistake an at-bat for a hit.” We are only “at bat” to see Tony on the show, no guarantees.
I can’t put a numb finger on it, but something is wrong. GMA’s ratings are down this year, and I see the desperation from ratings pressure in Julie’s eyes. I Google GMA’s target audience, and it is measured by AGE. It is age 25–54, much younger than what I suspect is their actual audience of 45–65 yrs old. Their actual audience is nostalgic for the good old GMA days when they got their children up for school, and sat them down to eat a bowl of Fruit Loops in front of the TV to watch GMA.
Fox News Reports:
“Television’s top morning show is in its first prolonged slump since overtaking NBC’s “Today” in popularity three years ago. “GMA” is losing viewers, most rapidly among a younger demographic that advertisers eagerly seek, where NBC has wrested back the lead from its rival.”
They have 3 great guests on the show today, all baby boomers. Tony is 57, The Hoff is 63, and Geraldo is 72. The Production Assistant is 30 ish, and she picked a studio audience aged 35–40 years old. No one in the studio audience is even as old as the average age of the guests.
25–35 year old millennials watch their phones more than their televisions. The generation that watched GMA since 1975, is aging faster than their marketers know. They are bucking the headwind of the aging baby boomers in search of younger fans. Their actual fans are now grandparents who are retiring, and tuning back in to the show more regularly.
The Assistant comes out again: “I’m picking some really CALM people to go in,” she says.
I feel like my frozen hands were slapped with a wooden stick. We are all calm, we have been sedated by the cold. She chooses 20 people between 30 and 40 years old — ten from in front of us, then she passes right by us, and picks another ten from behind us, including the heckler, and a lady who recently cut in line beside us from the back of the line. They all go into the studio.
Then in a glacial tone the Assistant says: “The rest of you don’t get in. That’s it!”
I observe that GMA issued 80 tickets for 40 spots, picked 20 local media/bloggers, then cherry picked from the line-up.
I feel like a giant ice sculpture of a fist has punched me in the face. It stings doubly as a parent, because it is a one two punch, one for my son and one for me.
My son is an adult, but a mother’s love doesn’t age.
His disappointment amplifies mine. I am supposed to bandage his wounds, not salt them, especially for his birthday! I am sorry for getting his hopes up to see Tony on the show, and I hope he doesn’t get bronchitis from exposure to the unrelenting cold.
Then I imagine what Tony would say to us if he were walking beside the line:
“Give me a break — You’re not in Somalia — Get over it already!”
I scramble for something to be grateful for, to instantly change my emotions.
“We saw Tony!” I say.
“Seeing ‘The Hoff’ was a total bonus for me,” my son says.
“We learned how to do a live TV show,” I say.
Then my son speaks the truth, as always: “we learned how NOT to do a live tv show”, he says.
Then we bust our guts laughing!
But our laughter is silenced by loud shouting ahead in the line-up. A couple in their 60’s who were first place in line, didn’t take Julie’s news delivered coldly as well as we did.
They are shouting at her in British accents: “We’ve been standing here since 6 am!” said the lady.
“We were the first in line! And you pick people from the back of the line!!!?” she said loudly.
Julie’s face started turning as red as the rest of ours. I felt bad for her. She was only doing her job, the way she has always done it, and getting the same results and not understanding why. GMA wants to improve their ratings, but they are “too busy sawing to sharpen the saw” as Steven Covey would say.
I feel worse for the British people than I do for anyone, including my son or myself. They are older than us, colder than us, and have stood outside longerthan us. As Tony says: “pick someone who is ten times worse off than you and help them.” I wonder how I can help them. The couple are part of GMA’s global audience, and Tony’s global audience. The show airs in Canada, so it likely airs in Britain too. They aren’t GMA’s target audience, they are theiractual audience. This is too weird.
New York is not only an American city, it is a global city, where 171 languages are spoken. The guests on GMA are global stars. Back in 1984, when I was in Ireland, I bought a ‘Knight Rider’ car for my young nephew in Ireland who was a huge fan of the show ‘Knight Rider’ (starring David Hasselhoff).
Nobody cares about your little problem in the BIG APPLE. Everyone is moving forward. Stop on the sidewalk to salt your wounds and you will get trampled.
But we learned in kindergarten how to treat people better than this.
A girl on The Brooklyn Bridge yesterday was wearing a donut t-shirt that said:
I Donut Care
We traveled 3800 miles from Canada, and the Brits traveled further, and lined up in the dark, but they donut care that we braved the wind and didn’t get in.
To Be #1 You Gotta Care
I learned how resilient my son is. He waved me over to the front window of the studio. We are stunned that we can see the show being filmed from the front window in Times Square.
Tony Robbins and David Hasselhoff are being interviewed 20 feet in front of us. I hear Tony say:
“I have failed a million times, but it’s not failure if you ask — what can I learn from this experience?”
On the subway back to the Airbnb, we discuss what we learned from the experience. We think of ways GMA could improve:
- They could omit the Toys ‘R’ Us reference from their tickets.
- If they ask people to arrive early and line up, they shouldn’t surprise them by picking people from the back of the line. The people at the back aren’t expecting to get in, the people at the front are.
- Pick the audience members once the deadline to line up has passed. Don’t drag out the suspense for two hours. It isn’t wise to release frustrated customers into the world to tell their friends about their bad experience.
- This is show business, not the justice system, and life isn’t always fair, but in the race to the top, GMA is missing out on marketing opportunities. They could connect with their fans and the line-up on social media. Tweeting Tony trivia would have equaled ratings gold. They could have held a draw for Tony’s new book ‘Money-Master The Game’(see link here:http://goo.gl/LI1fTF), or handed out swag bags to be photographed for Instagram, or offered cups of coffee with a GMA logo on them.
As Seth Godin says: “your best customer is your best marketer.” He also says: “People don’t like surprises…if you give them your word, keep it.”
I wonder what Tony would say to us about the experience?
I think he would chunk it down into parts. We took action and were prepared. We planned our trip from Brooklyn and arrived early. We dressed as sharply as we could from a suitcase, and we didn’t give up.
We did our best, and found something to be grateful for and learned something.
We saw Times Square at dawn.
My son got a picture of David Hasselhoff. I saw Geraldo Rivera.
We both saw Tony Robbins up close and he smiled at us.
We stuck it out despite the odds. We committed, and we learned something about ourselves.
And as always, my son got an education from this Tony experience. He dreams of one day being interviewed by a show like GMA as a music producer. The experience crystallized for him: the goal is not to line up outside the arena, but to work so hard that people line up outside the arena to see you. “Well said, Tony Jr.”
My son and I have a great amount of respect for those who are in the arena — whatever their arena is. They have faced a million disappointing experiences, and they keep rising higher and higher above them, and set a better example.
I was proud to be part of the line-up to show Tony our gratitude. He has given so much of himself to so many for so many years, that showing up, and showing our appreciation is the least we could do to thank him. We are the reason he does what he does.
Tony says to find someone worse off than you and help them. To honor that, I dedicate this story to the couple who were first place in line. I hope it makes them feel better, whoever and wherever they are.
They were true Tony fans. Tony says: “you get what you tolerate,” and they refused to tolerate what happened in line. They bravely expressed what twenty other people were feeling, but didn’t express. “If you want something better than what you are getting, you have to raise your standards,” says Tony.
Tony’s fans were exactly what GMA needed. He has taught his fans to expect something better, and to take massive action to make the change. The Brit’s actions may lead to changes in the way they treat their future line-ups. If Good Morning America can put down the saw for long enough to listen.