Icon: Tony Little
Fitness entrepreneur, born 1956, Tampa
[Video: Brook Pifer | Interview: Art Levy]
» Some people say I don’t have a filter. I say it like it is. You’re not going to make everyone happy, but if you’re saying the truth and what you believe, why is it wrong?
» I’ve built myself into a brand. There are three business books out there now, maybe four, and they each have three or four pages on me.
» During a bad economy, you have to be able to change quickly. You have to diversify. If you know that a category is going to be going down because it’s a luxury item, you better friggin’ change.
» In the early ’80s, I won Mr. Florida and won Junior Mr. America and was chosen kind of as one of the big prospects for Mr. America, and then I was hit by a Pinellas County school bus. I got back damage and shoulder damage. I entered Mr. America four weeks later, even though I couldn’t train, which was not a good thing, but I still placed fifth. Then, everything fell apart. I was out of work for probably about two years, went ‘Why me? Why me?’ and got addicted to painkillers. I saw Jane Fonda on television, saw her doing her new high-impact aerobic dance type stuff, and I immediately saw an opportunity to come back in a new profession as a personal trainer.
» I like cars. I gotta get out of driving these sports cars, though. I’ve been lucky — ’97 was my last big crash.
» Billy Mays could sell anything. I can’t sell anything because I can only sell things I truly, truly believe in and I’m involved in. Billy, he was an endorser. Half the stuff I have I take from concept to development. I don’t go on and endorse a product unless I own part of the product.
» I’ve turned down at least six reality shows over the years. They want the bad things. They want the dysfunctional. Everyone ends up in a divorce. I don’t want that.
» My son was overweight when he was young. He was a big kid and people would say to me all the time, ‘Are you helping him lose weight?’ I wasn’t going to push my son. I can be a good role model, but I’m not going to make the kid cry or anything like that. Now, he’s like the leanest, meanest jock around and he did it himself.
» I’m a believer that you’ve got to speak up. You’ve got to go for it. I can take a lot of no’s to get a yes. All you ever need is one.
» You do have to realize that on television it has to be very simple to understand. You can’t go into technical things. You’re not buying a pelvic pillow. You’re buying the idea that you can sleep better. It has to serve a purpose. It has to be life changing.
» Most people think I’m hyper, but I am very low-key and hardly speak at all during the day. Obviously, a couple cups of coffee and an energy drink every once in a while helps stimulate that central nervous system for a better presentation.
» I’ve failed a lot in my life. I just also have a shotgun marketing technique. I find a lot of things and, if I love them, I do them all at once and I just need one to work.
» I hit a tree at 55 mph. I was getting ready to do the Gazelle infomercial — and everybody knows the Gazelle was a huge hit for me — and the company in Ohio let me go because I had 200-some stitches in my face and we were three weeks out from shooting the show. But I didn’t take the ‘no.’ I got on a plane and I went to Ohio and I talked to the president of that company. I said to him that I felt that the American public would be more impressed with my infomercial with me having the problem. It was a huge hit. It did $66 million on that one show.
» Passion is the big thing. People understand passion.
[Photo: Brook Pifer]
» I continually have to sell myself. Nobody else can sell me.
» Being 53, it sucks. The worst thing for me about getting to be 53, other than the pain and stuff that I go through from the accidents, is I don’t feel it. I look at other people my age and go, ‘Do I look like that?’
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