McCool’s Significant Pushback with Tony Robbins

If you could hit the re-wind button and give him a chance to give a fresh response to Nanine McCool, the woman who calmly dared to challenge him on his stage, what would you have Tony Robbins say to her?  Think about this before you answer. What would you have someone with such a large presence, his 6’7″ stature aside, in the corporate coaching arena impress upon his followers? You’ll want to see the Today Show clip at the bottom of this page to see just who McCool is, what she represents and how Robbins later responded!

It’s possible that his challenger taught us more than Robbins possibly could have given his limited experience on this subject. That’s my main take-away, that McCool gave us something, a valuable method for responding, to use in a situation such as this. We should all focus on her strategy and how she undid even his PR team that couldn’t get this video off the web fast enough.

Initially, most people responded in disgust over Robbins’ callous and lame statements. What an opportunity he had, right here, to empower both women and men, but he blew it!  Is this the end of it, the noise being made about his deplorable remarks, or will someone – or a group of significant someones – run with the opportunity to make a positive impact on our culture?

Personally, I’m so glad – grateful – that The Good Men Project picked this up and ran with it in doing this interview with Nanine McCool. Excellent article!

Can we unite around McCool and other voices of reason?

It wasn’t just what she said to Robbins, but how she said it, calmly but firmly and with a smile on her face. That’s what I’ll remember.

How we respond to victims of abuse and whether or not we take a stand to stop harassment, exploitation and the destruction of lives matters in a big way. It matters so much more than how many books you sell or how big the stadium is that you pack out. But how do we get people to open their minds and change behavior when someone who is so influential speaks and behaves this way?

Robbins is facing backlash over this exchange, which was shown in a video clip than ran through Twitter like wild-fire over the weekend. The short clip managed to make it out to the public after his team had the longer version pulled from the web. The full version became available today, and can be viewed below.

“I’m not mocking the #MeToo movement, I’m mocking victimhood,” he told McCool and the audience, according the longer video from the event. “If you use the #MeToo movement to try to get significance and certainty by attacking and destroying someone else…all you’ve done is basically use a drug called significance to make yourself feel good.”

McCool stood her ground: “I hear you mischaracterizing the #MeToo movement. Certainly there are people who are using it for their own personal devices, but there’s also a significant number of people who are using it not to relive whatever may have happened to them, but to make it safe for the young women…And I think you do the whole movement a disservice by characterizing it the way you have.”

Robbins said he didn’t want to be misinterpreted, and invited McCool to join him at the center of the room. He then asked her to hold out her fist. When she did, he put his hand on her fist and pushed her backwards.

“So you’re telling me the the harder I push, the more you’re gonna comply, and I’m going to be safe,” Robbins said as he pushed McCool backwards. After a little back and forth banter between Robbins and the woman, he stopped and said, “When you push someone else, it doesn’t make you more safe. It just makes them angry.”

My first reaction to this is that he can’t possibly comprehend what he’s done, not fully, because he doesn’t know what it’s like to be mistreated because of being more vulnerable than someone else. The above exchange isn’t what fired me up enough to write about this.  Hang on…

The founder of the Me Too Movement gave a great response as seen in this Mashable article.

When I first saw the short version of this exchange that took place before this enormous audience, I was just in shock. How could he not recognize what he was doing and why it was so wrong, so offensive and backwards? When he used the story about male friends who have told him they are afraid of hiring that woman because she’s attractive, conveying the message that the voice of survivors of sexual assault is causing problems for women in hiring decisions, it set us way back. Way, way back. Many of us believed him to be enlightened, someone we wanted our corporate leaders to consult with and take advice from. No longer is that my opinion.

No more is my answer. That was my answer when I heard an executive I believed in 15 years ago say he couldn’t hire the attractive woman to be his direct report; he didn’t trust himself, so her career would suffer when he wasn’t honest about why he didn’t hire her. And this is my answer now: we must and can do better in helping our young men learn how to respect and treat women. Respecting others in general, learning empathy and finding better ways to communicate…lots to work on!

The challenge for Robbins posed by Destin Gerek of The Good Men Project is that he make amends. To do that in a genuine and meaningful way, he needs to be educated, not just coached by the TR team. Therein lies the opportunity for Robbins and others in his place of influence. If they take the time and use their resources to understand what victimization is and how survivors manage through injury and trauma to overcome it, if they invest personally and in public speech to reduce assault and exploitation in various forms, they can create a win for themselves and for the rest of us. It’s possible, and I hope many will watch to see how they respond, and talk about what happens next.

Only a few days later, this interview aired on national television. Take a look!

Nanine McCool was comfortable standing up and speaking against what she felt was wrong. It’s no surprise to learn that she was a fierce advocate for the truth in child custody matters. Also not surprising is the fact that she was invited to accept discipline in her state for her advocacy; declining to agree with a condemnation of her work which she knew would suppress the truth of the situation – the need to stand up to wrongdoing and further harm of a victim of abuse and the children involved – McCool surrendered her law license. This is the kind of oppression, the kind of false narrative, many are up against as they seek to protect themselves and their children.

Watch how Robbins responds after re-thinking his position:


What kind of opportunity do we have before us?

This is so much more than a news story or a social media trend about a major personality getting it wrong. Big foot in big mouth wrong. It’s a significant chance to influence how we treat others and especially how we respond to someone who has been harmed or is still in harm’s way. And, it’s a really exciting chance to change minds about the issues raised in this video and by the #MeTooMovement.  Thank you, Nanine McCool and Tarana Burke!

Take a chance and stand up for someone like Nanine McCool did here when she stood up for many.

I dare you!

Deb Beacham

Pushback Maven at My Advocate Center, Inc.


About Public Information Officer

Deb Beacham of Atlanta is the founder of My Advocate Center, Inc., a Georgia non-profit corporation created in 2011 to serve the rapidly growing needs of families and children caught in conflict.

What is Solutions-Based Journalism?
Researching and reporting are being leveraged in the development of creative solutions to help families preserve their time, energy, financial resources and homes for the benefit of their children.

Public awareness and engagement are key so Ms. Beacham launched programming for professionals serving families, reaching more than a million listeners across the metro Atlanta area. Pro Advocate Radio will be announcing its next series soon!