I had heard about Tony Robbins for years and paid little attention to the massive man with giant teeth who had a penchant for jumping around and clapping with hordes of people. I think I’d seen him run across fire with Oprah once when her show was on network TV.

So you can imagine my ambivalence when one of my best friends from college asked if I wanted to attend the “Unleash the Power Within” seminar taking place in Chicago. We had shared many adventures as young college kids traipsing around NYC, cheering in the streets of Vegas on New Year’s Eve, or landing in the middle of Urban Beach Week in Miami. The fact that she was telling me about a self-help guru as something she’s wanted to do for ten plus years, was…surprising. I half-heartedly said yes, and before I knew it she emailed back to say she had bought the tickets and found us a hotel. Crap, there was no turning back. I was stuck. I was going to see the massive man with the big teeth who jumped and clapped.

I figured it might be a slightly good idea to get some knowledge about this 4-day event I was getting into and so I watched the Netflix documentary “I Am Not Your Guru” and thought, “cool, helping to find your inner self, that will be interesting”.

But then I joined a Facebook group for the event and people started mentioning some alarming details: there are no lunch breaks, you walk on fire, you go until 1 in the morning, and you cry a bunch. Now, I started trying to figure out a way to get out of this because this sounded crazy.

We arrived Wednesday night and the line to pre-register consisted of hordes of people spilling out of the United Center, as throngs of Tony Robbin’s volunteers held their hands in your face to high five you constantly and yell, very loud, affirmations. “Yes! Welcome!!! Awesome!!” It was an assault on my senses.

Thursday started off in a way I didn’t imagine – this was no seminar where a man lectured you as you quietly sat in your chair. No, this was jumping up and down, club-caliber dance music and a tons of hugs. When Tony asked who got dragged to this event, I raised my hand, along with a bunch of other people. I quickly went from, “This is weird, I’m joining a cult” to jumping and down saying “Yes!, Yes!, Yes!” However, I thought to myself, I’m still not doing this “Firewalk.”I don’t do extreme sports, I hate the outdoors, I’m not a joiner, you get the point. But once you realize that changing your body, your focus and the words you use can transform your mind, your will, and your outcome, you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t have done before. Before I know it, I’m slowly approaching the hot, neon red embers and then I’m across, my feet are being hosed down with cold water, and I’m officially a “Firewalker.” I.was.hooked and now I knew I would go full out for the next few days.

Then came Day 2 with Tony’s long-time partner Joseph who’s like part Oprah, Energizer Bunny and drill sargent. He pushed us so hard because as he kept ominously reminding us – he was preparing us for, Day 3, Transformation Day. Da da dummm. Transformation in one day? On a Saturday? At the place where the Chicago Bulls play basketball? Okay. But as he talked, he gave me my new morning wake-up mantra, that is now going to be hung in my hallway – ”I’m freakin awesome”, only to be rivaled by the soul-stirring, “Shake that ass.” We also got to hear the amazing story of Mike Miello, where you actually get to see what happens when you get out of your own way, give more than you take, it will change your life in stunning and beautiful ways.

Day 3 came and it was called Transformation Day because it’s true – the person I was when I walked into the United Center wasn’t the same one who walked out. In a state of complete darkness, Tony urged the audience to physically feel the weight of not making a change, a needed change, and what that weight would feel like 5 years from now, 10 years from now. Men were crying, people were wailing, shouts from 9,000 people filled the United Center. You ever cry so much that your legs shake? It felt like being trapped in some circle of Dante’s Inferno, a circle akin to hell. But out of that, came a slow change in tone. Tony urged us to let go of this emotion, and replace it with something better, gentler, kinder, and more exciting. And slowly the room transformed from a dark abyss of wailing and pain, to a starry filled stadium glazed with purple light. People began to cheer. The raised their fists in the air. We raised our heads up and let go of those limiting beliefs and the awful voices in our heads and said yes to something better.

After all that, Day 4 eased up on intensity and centered on how to take care of the temple that is your body and I resolved to get my body to the level of temple instead of garbage middle man. A beautiful state is an energized state, as said by Tony.

As an entrepreneur, I don’t often make time for myself but that changed this weekend. Nothing can be done well without honoring and understanding yourself first. And not only that, but caring about yourself first as well. With this new focus, I know I have unleashed previously untapped power, and I’m unstoppable.