This weekend I attended one of two Unleash The Power Within (UPW) Preview workshops in Manchester. UPW is a huge four-day group seminar, led by Tony Robbins himself, in stadiums around the world, and it’s coming to London Olympia this April. It turns out that a preview workshop is an energetic, whistle-stop taster of a group seminar like UPW London, only on a much, much smaller scale. Essentially, these are free, three-hour tasters sessions, delivered by an experienced Tony Robbins-trained speaker. It’s essentially a sales tool, whereby the organisers hope that participants will buy tickets for their event by demonstrating the power of a group experience, in the presence of a skilled, inspirational speaker.

Upon arrival in the hotel bar, I was pleasantly surprised at how many people had also given up their Saturday afternoons to sit in a hotel conference room. There were around 60 people, of all ages and cultural backgrounds, and a pretty even split of men to women. As the event unfolded, I learnt that that some participants were looking to UPW as a kind of “last-chance saloon” to turn their lives around. Others, much like myself, were there out of curiosity; drawn to Tony, having seen his work on YouTube, or from his many books and tapes, because of their passion for self-development.

Leading the workshop was a man called Allen Kleynhans; a very experienced speaker, teacher and coach, who had clearly modelled himself on the main man. When I first saw him, I was struck by his physical similarity to Tony, albeit on a smaller scale – even down to the same shiny high-tops Tony sports in the life-size cardboard cut-out, stage left! He couldn’t be more similar if he tried – and it was clear he’d tried very hard indeed. His presentation style also mirrored that of Robbins. Through carefully considered hand gestures, and changing the pace and volume of his voice, Allen told his compelling life story with the maximum drama and energy it deserved.

Over two and a half hours, Allen gave an overview of the practical psychology taught by Tony at his UPW event. Most material covered at this preview (and even much of that covered at the main event itself) is already “out there”, either for free or low-cost. If you really want to change your life under Tony’s guidance, you can follow his advice on the web (via YouTube or Soundcloud, for example) or by studying one of his many door stopper-thick books.

The workshop incorporated many of the audience participation techniques I’d seen Tony use in his seminars online, such as his famed “whoa clap”, and high-fives. Admittedly, this was awkward in a half-full room of Brits. Had I not already been in a receptive state of mind, I doubt I’d have been able to engage in this kind of activity. I’ve been implementing Tony’s Hour of Power ritual for a month now, and have already experienced massive positive changes to my day-to-day life. I know for myself that this stuff works – however silly it feels at first. Encouraged by Allen to “go all in”, I jumped, yelled and clapped with the best of them!

It seemed like the UPW workshop was intentionally crafted to resemble Robbins’ style as closely as possible to sell tickets. In my view, Allen delivered this successfully and this added another dimension to the experience for me. Allen’s perspective emphasised the vibrational transference of energy as evidence of universal interconnection. A little more “law of attraction”, a little less hard-hitting, I gained a new perspective on familiar material.

As expected, the last thirty minutes of the event was focused on selling tickets. A pleasantly soft sell, as promised, there was no pressure to buy. Ticket prices were the same as the best I’d seen online at £999 for the basic “gold” ticket. Expensive, but not totally unreasonable, when you consider it’s a four day, twelve (or more) hour program. Bonus gifts for preview participants included two tickets to the March 2018 Millionaire Mind intensive course; two CDs/DVDs and a £200 discount to help towards travel costs. The organisers value the total package as worth around £4,500. Whilst I’m doubtful of these calculations’ accuracy, if you’d already decided to buy a ticket, then it’s worth holding out to purchase it at a workshop.

The only point at which I felt a little uncomfortable was towards the end of the seminar. Allen urged us to sign up to one of Tony’s live events sooner rather than later, citing medical concerns with losing his voice through decades of speaking. I felt pushed towards making a decision, the unspoken assumption being that he may not be doing this for many more years and playing on our Tony Robbins FOMO.

Above and beyond what I learnt in the workshop itself, this was a great opportunity to observe an experienced speaker at work. I even saw him deal with a heckler! In this case, it was clear from both the way in which he accurately representative Tony’s brand, and in telling his own story as to how Robbins’ work impacted his own life, that Allen has a genuine belief and passion for this work. As someone keen to grow my own presentation skills, I felt inspired that speaking with integrity and openness comes across so clearly to the audience.

Committing to a Tony Robbins seminar is a huge investment, not only financially, but also emotionally, and time-wise, to be able to attend. I believe the real value of attending a UPW preview workshop is to work out if you’re ready to do this. It’s an opportunity to discover:

  • Whether the programme content meets your expectations,
  • Wether the American-style of delivery style works for you, and
  • Whether you feel that fellow participants will be like-minded; the kind of people with whom you’d like to share a potentially life-changing personal experience.

This also confirmed my belief that attending in-person live events is as much to absorb the inspirational atmosphere as it is to hear your role models speak out. Surrounded by thousands of like-minded people, learning together and supporting each other, this sheer mass of positive energy at an event like UPW is likely to induce major life changes in those who are truly ready.

I’d already decided beforehand that I wasn’t going to sign up for anything at the preview workshop. I’m not yet in a place to invest myself, having only discovered Tony’s work a few months prior, and with any spare money currently tied up in home improvements. Besides which, I’m not sure if I could go home and look my partner C in the eyes, having given into his fear of my giving away our life savings to worship at the Alter of Robbins.

So I walked away from the event, empty handed, but feeling empowered and optimistic. I may not have a ticket this time, but if I do choose to go see Tony speak live in the future, I’ll be making an informed decision to commit to investing in my personal development. After the Manchester UPW preview, I’m still a Tony Robbins acolyte.