Tony Robbins on Connecting With 'Raw and Real' Friend DJ Khaled -- 'He's a Pure Love Bug'

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Tony Robbins photographed in March 2016 in Austin, Texas.

As DJ Khaled discusses in this week’s Billboard cover story, even a multiply blessed mogul struggles from time to time -- say, with a fear of flying. Luckily, Khaled has a great friend in the famed “life and business strategist” Tony Robbins, who leaves him voice memos every few weeks offering to help by taking Khaled up in his own jet. 

Robbins chatted with Billboard about what’s at the root of his and Khaled’s connection, and why Khaled’s message resonates with such a wide audience.

You've no doubt got plenty of people, famous or not, clamoring for your time and attention. What is it about Khaled that inspired a genuine connection?

I love him because he's self-made. He started with nothing -- he was living in his car when he first got started, and I relate to that, since I have the same background. He’s the ultimate underdog who found a way to succeed. I love his insatiable hunger and his desire to help other people. It's no bulls--t -- it's not positioning, which it is for so many people. His whole, “We gotta win more, we gotta live more, the more blessings you give the more blessings you get back” is a philosophy that we both share. And he's committed to progress. He knows as well as I do that you're either growing or dying, there's no plateaus.

How could you not love him? He's nothing but a pure love bug and he's sincere, he's playful, he's funny as hell, sometimes even when he's not trying to be [Laughs].

While there be may overlap in your philosophies and the message you each send out, Khaled has his own style. How would you describe his brand of speech and writing?

Well, I think at its core, his style is raw and real. We live in a world where everything is fake -- even reality television, we all know is fake. So when you get something raw and real, I think it strikes a chord with people. He's also good at making things so simple, which is perfect for an Instagram audience and environment -- if you grew up in this era, you want something quick and easy, and he makes it bite-sized.

He's also got a beautiful outlandish mix between his keys of knowledge, which range from mixing whole milk with Cinnamon Toast Crunch to, you know, using Dove soap, having more pillows. He understands what people really need to hear to improve their life and he's resourceful enough and hungry enough to keep coming at it in different ways.

Beyond the fact that he’s so clued into the power of social media, how is Khaled's message uniquely suited for 2017?

Well, look, we live in a world of such unbelievable uncertainty, no one knows what's going to happen next, politically, in the financial markets. We're divided as a country. People get lost and overwhelmed by everything they have no control over and they get stressed out about it. And I think Khaled's message is about focusing on what you can control, not what you can't. He just brings it back to the real simple things that anybody can pay attention to. That’s critical, because I'm a big believer in "complexity is the enemy of execution."

Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is potential power, and knowledge is trumped by execution every day of the week. So I really think making something simple so people can act on it is part of Khaled's strength. He's talking about keeping your eye on where you really want to go and don't listen to the noise out there, and when you stop making excuses and you work hard, you'll be successful. As fundamental as that is, it's great to hear that from somebody who works with some of the greatest musicians in the world, and he's been able to consistently produce results because he has an incredible focus.

And at the same time, he’s connected to God. He understands that it's not just about "me", it's about "we," and while we work our tails off, there's still grace involve. I love that about him. He’s meeting people where they are.

I know you've offered to help Khaled overcome his fear of flight, and he certainly seems to admire you a great deal. What has Khaled taught you?

I do 50-hour seminars in a weekend, 12-14 hour days, and watching him, it's good to remember that even a little tiny message of inspiration is still valued. I tend to, quite frankly, not value things unless there's a lot of strategy to it, but philosophy is what makes you enjoy or not enjoy your life. I tend to go very deep, and it's just a good reminder that even the smallest touch can really make a difference for people. And I think the other thing is his purity - that the world is not quite as ugly as some people think it is. I know that people go on the web and thrash people, I know we live in a world where there's no decorum. And yet Khaled’s out there, just this sweet soul, sharing a sweet message of love and growth and blessings.

If Khaled ever chose to leave music behind, do you think he could make it in your line of work?

[Laughs] Sure he could. I already told Khaled if he wants to do some things out there, he'd be able to. The way he does it now is more designed for Snapchat, obviously. He's probably not gonna get out there and do a 50-hour seminar in four days. But my bet is he could get up and do an hour, 90 minutes, and real add huge value, and have especially millennials really respond to it. I think he's the kind of man who can create any result he wants for his life. 


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