10 Questions for Larry Winget, The Pitbull of Personal Development®

July 16, 2007

Here’s an email interview with Larry Winget, author and personal deveolpement guru. You can learn more about Larry by checking out his website and blog.

1. How would you define what you do for a living?

I make people uncomfortable for a living. But I do it in an entertaining way. I remind people that they could do better if they wanted to do better. I show them that they already know exactly what it takes to be successful but they are too lazy to do it. I point out that their life and their results are their own damn fault and it doesn’t do any good to blame anyone other than the person looking back from the mirror. I remind people that life and business is simple and encourage them to uncomplicate things. It makes people uncomfortable to be reminded of these things because it leaves them no place to turn except back to themselves. However, I think it is empowering because it is a reminder that anyone can be successful and that it is up to them to make that decision. And never forget, that I do it in an entertaining way – you couldn’t be this caustic or in-your-face and get by with it if you weren’t also funny!

2. What’s your favorite aspect of your job? What’s your least favorite part?

My favorite part of what I do is watching people lean back like I have just slapped them when I say something particularly caustic like, “If your life sucks, it’s because you suck!” They will literally lean back in their chairs away from me. Then I enjoy watching the line sink in, registering in their brains and see their positive reaction as they lean back toward me indicating their buy-in to the line and the idea. And they are usually laughing when they do it. People aren’t used to brutal honesty so they see it as abrasive at first take, then realize that they think the same thing and embrace the whole concept. It’s the shock and then the acceptance that is fun to watch.

Easily the worst part of my job is the travel. I have been on the road 250 plus days per year for the past 15 years. Travel has always been challenging but it has gotten really bad this year and frankly, I’m exhausted by it. Therefore, I’m cutting back some on the speaking schedule from this point on. I’m getting too old and mean to do a different city every day.

3. Who are some of your influences? What’s you favorite book on the subject of personal growth?

The person who influenced me the most is Jim Rohn. His teaching is about life principles, which is what I have tried to emulate in my career as well. I have listened to his audio series, Take Charge of Your Life over one hundred times. I don’t really see life as a tactical journey but more as a journey of principles. When you get the principles right, the right tactics follow naturally.

In the past eighteen years, I have read nearly 4,000 books. I have read books on every aspect of success. Most weren’t very good, but there were a few gems that influenced me greatly. And I have also listened to over 10,000 hours of audio and watched over 2,000 hours of video of the world’s greatest speakers and thinkers. I can’t really give you one great book, but I can give you a few that might surprise you. While I am a bottom line kind of guy, I tend to read stuff that makes me think, not things that just give me a list of do’s and don’ts. Here is a great little list for anyone who wants to change their life: Manifest Your Destiny by Wayne Dyer, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, The Science Of Mind by Ernest Holmes, First You Have To Row A Little Boat by Richard Bode.

4. What do you think is holding most people back from accomplishing their dreams?

You answered the question IN your question. Dreams are a waste of time. Dreams don’t come true, plans come true. I want people to forget their dreams and get some amazing plans. Plans are written down, with specific steps and time frames and actions.

5. You are known as the pitbull of personal finance. How did you get that nickname?

Actually, I have trademarked the moniker, The Pitbull of Personal Development®. Finance is just an offshoot of the personal development approach I have. Money is easy when you get the rest of your life right. I am actually not a finance guy or a business guy as much as I am a personal development guy. I got the nickname because I believe that most motivational messages come across like a really old pet poodle: sweet, cute and without teeth. Kind of enjoyable to be around but no lasting impact. My message is simple: personal responsibility. I believe that all human suffering can be traced back to this one simple concept. That is my message and I grab on fast and hold tight and won’t let go – like a pitbull. The name fits my style and sets me apart from the crowd.

6. Tell us about your show, Big Spender on A&E. What’s your mission on the show?

The show is about people who overspend their way into a financial disaster. They have wrecked their life and the lives of their family with their overspending. I ambush them in the midst of their shopping and in my warm, sweet, loving, nurturing way point out the error of their ways. (You can insert laughter right here!) I force them to confront their problems and put them on the right track and then go back a month later to check on their progress.

I show people that their real problem is misplaced priorities, not a lack of money. You spend your money on what is important to you. Period. If looking cute is the most important thing in your life, then you will spend your money at the mall and abandon your family and your other responsibilities along the way. When the fancy car is more important to you than your kid’s college, your money will go toward the car, not the savings account. See how simple this is? Life is like a crime novel, when you want to know the culprit, you simply follow the money. I also show people how simple it is to get out of debt.

7. Regarding Big Spender, why do you think people get into financial trouble?

Money that is easy to get, is easy to forget. In other words, credit is easy to come by these days and no one is forcing accountability in the collections of that money. We have sadly reached the point where we view the consumer as the victim in the collection of money. I see it differently. When you sign the contract for the credit card or to open the store charge account, you agree to pay a certain amount on a certain date every month. When you do it, everything is fine. When you don’t, you have lied and shown you aren’t a person who keeps their word. The punishment is that the interest rate goes up and your credit report takes a nasty hit. Don’t do it for a few months and someone will get on the phone and ask for their money. And never forget, it is their money, not your money. They have every right to go after their own money that you agreed to pay them. This is one more evidence that most money troubles aren’t really money troubles but are bigger issues. The problem described here is one of a lack of integrity. People get in financial trouble because of a lack of integrity and misplaced priorities.

8. What was it like to be on an episode of CNBC’s The Millionaire Inside? Will you be returning on future episodes?

Filming the show was great and allowed me to spend time with other “Money Mentors.” It was a reminder that what I do is very different than what others in the finance business do. I can’t teach you how to get rich. But I can teach you how to stop being broke. That is my area of expertise. The others are investment gurus. I’m clearly not.

I have done lots of television. I’ve been on CNN and Fox News and The Today Show and dozens of local shows around the country. My A&E show, Big Spender is different in that there is no studio audience or even a studio, it’s filmed on location in stores and people’s homes. The Millionaire Inside had a big studio audience in a major television studio so it was a different experience for me. It was fun and exciting, especially for a kid from Muskogee, Oklahoma who grew up dirt poor.

I am returning for an all new episode on July 28th entitled, “Get Inspired” that will run through the month of August.

9. Can you give us a sneak peek of your upcoming book?

My next book, You’re Broke Because You Want to Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead, will be released in December by Gotham Books, a division of Penguin. The book is a short little how-to book with specific tactics to use when you are in real trouble. This isn’t an investment book or a get rich book. This is a “Holy crap, I am in trouble and I need to fix it TODAY!!!!” kind of book. This book is for people who are circling the drain and have no time for anything except a plan that will get them on the right track, right now. It is actually a work book with lots of exercises and worksheets to give people a clear view of just where they are financially. It has stories from the real world and from my own life that readers will find entertaining and valuable.

Most people won’t want to admit that they need the book but they will all admit to knowing someone who needs it. Trust me, if you owe money, you need this book. It’s practical, it works and it’s a short fun read. I’m a regular guy who grew up poor, got rich, lost it all, went bankrupt, and then worked his butt off AGAIN to become a multi-millionaire. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve done everything in this book.

10. Finally, Rush Limbaugh had a line of ties. Are there any plans for a Larry Winget line of shirts and boots?

I pride myself in my uniqueness and if I saw other people dressing like I do, then I would have to do something else! For now, I don’t think there are many who would be willing to dress like me, but you never know! So to answer your question, no Larry boots or shirts are in the works!

And that marks the end of the interview. I want to thank Larry for his time and wish him the best. I hope you (my readers) enjoyed this interview.

24 responses to 10 Questions for Larry Winget, The Pitbull of Personal Development®

  1. “People get in financial trouble because of a lack of integrity and misplaced priorities.”

    I believe this is absolutely correct. When you’re spending more money on rims for your car than you are your family or planning for your future (or the present!!), you’re asking for disaster.

  2. I like Larry, he is bruttally honest and that is what people need to hear!!! I cannot wait to see his new show Big Spender !

  3. Thanks for the interview. I may have to check his book out.

  4. Hmm I never read any of his books, but I saw him on the MIllionaire INside, and thought he was pretty interesting.

  5. After seeing your review on the Millionaire Inside episode he was in, I was interested in seeing if he had any real substance behind his “bulldog” schtick. This interview seems to show he really does have a well thought-out point of view.

  6. Larry’s great — it’s really unusual to hear someone speak about personal development in such a no-BS style. Most speakers are more “nurturing” or some such nonsense – Larry doesn’t care who he offends, but he’s totally helping people when he does it…

  7. All show and no substance. I think it’s quite sad that this is what we’ve come to. There is no reasoned discussion any more. Just people like Larry Wingnut yelling at others for our entertainment.

  8. Independent George July 17, 2007 at 8:12 am

    I’ve mixed feelings. A big part of Winget’s appeal is his willingness to say what so many of us feel, but would never say in public. The problem is there’s a reason we would never say it in public – it’s rude and obnoxious. I understand that the people on his show have needed that sort of thing for some time, and that they volunteer for precisely that reason. I’ve no problem with that, and, to a certain extent, commend it.

    At the same time, though, I just don’t see the appeal of watching someone get yelled at.

  9. So if someone earns minimum wage and they get sick and end up in hospital for several montghs and they can’t pay their bills because they can’t work and have lost their income, their priorities are misplaced and they lack integrity. Wow.

  10. I enjoyed reading the interview. I think Big Spender is a great show and love watching it when I get the chance!

  11. Where in the interview did he mention the link between minimum wage, not working, and misplaced priorities? Where in the article was the topic of minimum wage even mentioned?
    .
    What you lack is reading comprehension skills. No wonder you make minimum wage.

  12. Play nice Johnny…perhaps she should have phrased it backwards: became broke from illness b/c couldn’t afford health insurance b/c making minimum wage. Does that make more sense?

  13. You are right. I apologize Stacey. My comment was totally uncalled for.

  14. I wonder how many of these people suffer from OCD or bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder gives a person an insatiable shopping jones. I’ve seen it close up and it’s ugly.

  15. Larry ~

    Where do you get your awesome shirts that you wear on your show. I tune in just to see what you will wear next. I also get great ideas from you regarding saving and paying off my bills.

    Regards,

    Victoria

  16. Interesting comments about me and the show. Looks like some of you don’t appreciate my style. That’s okay – you don’t become successful making everyone happy and I admit, my brand of self-help is an acquired taste. Still good to evoke so much emotion though! My goal is never to make people happy but simply to make them think. Even if they only think I am rude and obnoxious.

    As for the question about where I get my shirts. I never tell. If I started seeing others show up dressing like me (like they would want to) I would have to change the way I dress. I will say this: that the manufacturer of the shirts is coming out with a special Larry Winget version based on a tattoo on my arm I designed that I call “Money To Burn.” In the next few months, you will be able to find it on my website at http://www.larry winget.com.

    Thanks for all the comments both positive and negative and keep watching the show and your television – I will be popping up in all kinds of places!

    Larry Winget

  17. You didn’t answer my question dammit! WHERE DOES LARRY GET HIS SHIRTS!!!! SURELY THEY ARE NOT INEXPENSIVE AS THEY ARE ONE OF A KIND…DOES A AND E PAY FOR THEM OR DOES LARRY DESIGN AND CREATE THEM HIMSELF????? DOES HE HAVE HIS OWN PERSONAL TAILOR SLASH DESIGNER???? IS HE SINGLE? IF SO, WHAT TYPE OF WOMAN DOES HE LIKE? I PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION….A SMART, MONEY SAVING, SWEET WOMAN….

  18. I read Tony Robbins books back in the 80s and Larry is just doing a “Tony Robbins” with more yelling and less hair. The secret of Larry’s approach as Tony would explain it is that Larry is forcing his audience to change their pattern of poor behavior using shock tactics. Once the pattern is disrupted, new ideas are more easily internalized. Larry is nothing new. We just haven’t heard it a while. But the message is still worth hearing if you are someone on the path of destruction.

  19. Larry Winget’s brand of self-help is hardly new and in fact, is part of a long tradition of American self-help advice peddled by religious leaders following the second world war.

    Some of what he says is true (common sense, to be more accurate) and there is certainly no shortage of irresponsible behavior on the part of individuals in this and every other society.

    However, like a lot of these “tough love” gurus, Winget conveniently neglects to consider how differing socioeconomic value systems or institutional injustices like racism, sexism and classism effect the average person.

    What Winget does is good for landing TV show deals and book contracts. Americans love nothing more than their indulgences and then “getting right” when things go horribly wrong.

    Winget is absolutely correct that people need to take responsibility for their credit. But he completely absolves the banking/lending industry of any responsibility for predatory lending practices -which are usually aimed at the people most likely to default.

    How often do middle class or upper class homebuyers purchase homes or property with variable interest rates? Rarely, if ever. The majority of people who bought homes with variable rates (who obviously bear some responsibility for their decision) were targeted by unscrupulous lenders who were encouraged to do so by Alan Greenspan when he was still chair the Fed – and who now admits that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

    At its core, WInget’s philosophy smacks of social Darwinism and the moral bankruptcy of right wing libertarianism. He may sell a lot of books and enjoy a measure of popularity, but he shouldn’t kid himself about how many people he is actually helping.

    While it is true that we must all be responsible for the predictable consequences of our actions, so too must economic and political institutions be held to account for their actions. To advocate anything less is a disservice to humanity.

  20. This is so funny; all the people who don’t feel close to Larry or what he does, how come you know so much about him? Truly amazing & impressive I must say 🙂

    Anyways, thanx to Larry for helping me out x

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