Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Blog Day Guest Post: I Almost Married Tony Robbins

Happy Leap Blog Day, everyone!  Leap Blog Day is a magical day when a select group of super-cool bloggers leap out of their own blogs and go do a guest post on someone else's blog.  You can find me today over at Mary Brown's aptly named blog Just Inappropriate writing about what life would be like if I had kids (for the record, it would be scary).  Guest-posting on my blog today, we have MOV (Julie Harrison) from mothersofbrothersblog doing something she rarely does:  a fully illustrated post!  And it is funny, you guys.  So funny.  You know what?  I'll just let you read it for yourselves.

I present, without further ado...

I Almost Married Tony Robbins
by Julie Harrison

Well, not really.  We were almost engaged though.  Umm … if you must know, the very next girl he met after me was “The One,” so if the roulette wheel of time had skipped back by just one space, it would have been me.

Let me tell you my story.
It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, not so much dark as “daytime,” and not so much stormy as “72 degrees and Southern-California mild.”

So it was a beautiful day and the temp agency had sent me to interview for my dream job:  Personal Assistant to Tony Robbins.

As I drove up to his mansion perched high above the Pacific Ocean …

I was realizing that this was the job I was born to have.  Travel?

Check!  First class travel?

Double check!  Get to hang out with celebrities?

Check mate!  And, I was confident that once Tony met me and spoke with me for a few minutes, he would see that I was a recent college grad, plus how detail-oriented and extremely organized I was …

… and that I would be the perfect candidate to assist with, uh, whatever he needed assisting with.  This part was a bit fuzzy.  Maybe I would have to make a few phone calls for him or fetch him green tea all day?

That would be fine.

Before being assigned this job interview, I had never actually heard of Tony Robbins.  The temp agency had said, You’ve heard of him, MOV, he’s the famous motivational speaker?  Teaches people to walk on fire?

Nope, not ringing a bell.

A few days before I-Day, I asked my roommate Lisa what I should do to prep for the interview.  She was always super-smart about things like interviewing (she had worked on a cruise ship) …

… and she recommended I go to a bookstore and get one of Tony’s books.  Books, as in plural.  I did as instructed, then locked myself in my room for a day and devoured his book.

By the end of the 749 single-spaced inspirational pages, I, too, was ready to walk on fire.  Or at least run quickly on lukewarm coals.

Now I knew his history, how he had grown up poor and struggling, and how he had turned himself around to establish his empire.  He was not just rich, but filthy rich.  This was my chance to learn his secrets or at least become rich by osmosis.

He met me at the door.  I had already interviewed with his wife Becky, a lovely woman, who (to me) looked much much much older than Tony (a quick Google search today reveals that she is only 10 years older than he, but to the 26-year-old me, that might as well have been one hundred).

At the time, I was 26, Tony was 36, and Becky was 46.

I did not understand how tall Tony Robbins was.  Tall.  Taller than tall.  Sure, he looked (in pictures) to be about basketball-player-ish height, but what is that in reality?  6’2”?  6’3”?  I am 5’8”, so I am actually pretty tall myself.

I was absolutely unprepared to see someone seven feet tall at the door.  He was a giant.

I suddenly knew how Alice in Wonderland felt when she shrunk to the size of a caterpillar.

I could think of nothing better to say than, “Hello!  Nice to meet you!  Wow, you’re tall!”  As the words were cascading out my mouth, I was internally berating myself, Say something intelligent!  Right now!
“And it’s a pretty day out,” were the next words that left my lips.

“Yes, it is,” he shook my hand, which now felt like a tiny doll hand in his huge bear paw monstrosity …

“Please, come in, MOV, let’s walk out back—we can sit by the ocean and have a little chat.”

I had spent the last few hours memorizing various parts of his book, like he might randomly quiz me on facts and details from his youth or from how he built his empire.  I knew the name of his mentor, how many children he had and what their names were, his theory for unleashing the power within.  However, I had not watched any of his myriad videos and actually listened to him speak.  Therefore, I did not know that he had a raspy voice—that this hoarseness was, in fact, his trademark.

“Just getting over a cold?” I inquired politely, as I reached into my purse to hand The Giant a cough drop.

“What?  No.  No.  Ha ha.”  He gave a fake smile, and I knew the interview was over before it started.
We walked out to his back patio which was about ten million thousand stories above the ocean.  To say that you could see for miles would be an understatement.  You could see for miles, continents, solar systems, years, and eternity.  
This was a view.  

We sat down and I forced myself to focus on Tony and not on the view.  After talking with him for 10 minutes, I could see how he got whatever he wanted out of life:  he was pushy.  He would ask a typical interview question like “If you only had six months to live, what would you be doing?”  and I would hem and haw, knowing the right answer was Getting green tea for you but wanting to say Travel all over Italy.

So instead I said, “Gosh, I don’t know.”

“If you had to give an answer, what would it be?”

“I never really thought about it.  Huh, six months?  I would … uh, I don’t know.”

But if you had to give an answer, what would it be?”

He broke me down.  “I would max out my credit cards and travel all over Italy!”  I blurted out.
I knew as I was saying it that it was not the most financially-sound plan to give someone in an interview.  But if the doctors told me I only had six months, then I would be dead by the time the credit card companies caught up with me and cancelled all my cards.

Things went from bad to worse.

“MOV, what is the one thing you could not tolerate in a work environment?”

Gah, what was I supposed to say to that?  I had not worked many places by this point in my life, I had only worked in a few hotels and for one year as a flight attendant for Continental Airlines.  I tried to think what I did not like at any of those jobs.  One time a passenger had cussed me out when I accidentally dropped his carry-on bag on his head while I was trying to help him stow it …

… and I didn’t particularly relish that memory.

“Ummm, I don’t know.  I like any kind of work environment.”  I smiled a weak smile, thinking, Please hire me even though I give all the wrong answers.

“But if you had to say, if you had to, what could you not tolerate in a work environment?” he repeated, not surprisingly.

I said the first thing that sprang to mind, which was about that one random passenger that one isolated time swearing at me:

I bit my lip to stop the rambling.  

“MOV, what was your major in college?”


“Ah, okay.”  He scribbled something down in his notepad.  I tried to read it upside down.  It looked like “muck.”

(When I replayed this part of the interview to Lisa later, she told me that Tony Robbins likes to swear.  A lot.  Like a drunken sailor in a bar in a swearing contest with other drunken sailors fighting over a girl.)

I glanced at my watch, knowing that there was no way I was going to get this job.

We had been sitting out here for one hour.  A whole hour where not one of my meticulously pre-rehearsed answers was needed, a whole hour in which I could showcase to Mr. Tony Robbins that I was not good in interview situations with a raspy-voiced giant.

Even though every cell in my body knew I would not be getting a job offer, I still held onto the remote hope, like if the TV announcer was calling the winning Lotto numbers and I did not have the first four numbers, but I could still win a million dollars if I got the last two right.

“Let me walk you to the door.”

After I left Tony Robbins’s house, I drove to the vet to pick up my cat.  I cannot remember now, as I tell the story, why the cat was at the vet, but it doesn’t matter.  She was not happy to be in her cage and meowed fiercely for me to take her out.

As soon as I got her inside the car, I took her out of her carrier to calm her down.  She promptly sat on my lap, the lap of my $300 blue silk interview suit from Nordstrom’s, and peed.

It was a metaphor for my whole day.

I called the temp agency a few days later to find out if they had heard anything.  Not surprising, they mechanically informed me that the HR people at Anthony Robbins Inc. had hired somebody else.
I found out many years later that shortly after I had met Tony, he had divorced his not-quite-ancient wife, Becky, and run off with his newly-hired-much-younger-and-quite-beautiful assistant.  Whenever I see a photo of Tony and his second wife on the Entertainment channel or in Oprah magazine, I muse That could have been me.

But then I hug my two beautiful sons and think, I’m so glad it wasn’t.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The 4 Stages of Success

This is what happens when something even remotely positive occurs in my life. 

Stage 1:  I jump up and down with joy.

Stage 2:  I most likely have an asthma-panic-attack from all the excitement, and also the pollution in Western North Carolina, but mostly the excitement.

Stage 3:  As the initial high wears off, I am consumed by self-doubt and self-loathing.

Stage 4:  Then somehow, I turn the self-doubt and self-loathing into a post.


Fun Fact:  Ari originally drafted this post for me because I had been complaining about knowing I was procrastinating but still being unable to stop procrastinating.  I added the drawings and changed the wording to be more in my own style.  For Stage 2, this is what he wrote: 

"Have an asthma attack and immediately retreat to my Neti."

How do you retreat to a neti pot?  Now I'm imagining myself living in my neti pot like some sort of genie.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Did You Guys Know I Could Time Travel?

To celebrate my dad's 57th birthday this week, I decided to time travel back to 1995 and surprise my parents with tidings from the future.

I arrived at the little blue house on Clarke Ridge Road at 11:00 AM, allowing plenty of time before seven-year-old me would get home from school.

They looked so young, as though my childhood photos had come to life.

Perhaps I had revealed too much.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012