For over 20 years, we’ve all seen him somewhere on our television sets as we flipped through the channels. You couldn’t miss his blonde curly ponytail, his infectious energy, his signature Gazelle trainer, and most especially, his voice booming the most famous catchphrase in Infomercial history: “You can do it!”
Yes, indeed, there is more to product TV pitchman and fitness expert Tony Little, who has earned a reputation as a master motivator and proponent of healthy, positive living. After all of these years in the public spotlight, you might think we know all there is to know about him.
Today, he has built a massive business empire—selling more than $3 billion worth of products worldwide, with more than 40 million people owning a product bearing his name. Along the way, he’s also inspired millions to get in shape and live healthier lives. But few of us ever knew some of the very personal details of his life, which included overcoming adversity—growing up in poverty and his numerous brushes with death and disaster over the years.
Little recently published motivational business book, “There’s Always a Way” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). His attitude is refreshingly honest—the stories from his life are often hilarious, horrific and uplifting (sometimes all at once).
Late last year, he also became the father of twin boys, Cody and Chase. The babies were born three months premature and they struggled to survive for a long while. But they eventually rallied, even as Little and his wife encouraged them, never losing their faith. That’s the Tony Little way—always staying positive, while maintaining a single-minded determination to get through the dark times.
Despite his hectic schedule, Little took some time to talk to Pittsburgh Better Times to tell us more about how his perseverance and positive attitude have led to triumphs and successes in both his personal and professional life.
How has your past influenced you as the person you are today? My adversities have made me become a stronger person—a more goal-oriented person and someone who takes every “no” as an opportunity.
You’ve been through a lot in life, such as your struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, a physically abusive marriage, and the self-induced death of your father. How were you able to cope with these experiences? Everybody has challenges in life; everybody has mountains to climb at some point in life. You just have to believe that there’s always a way. Never go backward and never worry about staying where you are— always go forward.
You’ve had so much success as an entrepreneur. What drives you and how do you maintain this drive? The drive comes from being in a positive business. It’s a business that’s all about encouraging people to get more out of life. Also, I worked hard to get my son and daughter—who are now adults— through college. And with the birth of my twin boys, I have a goal and responsibility to take care of them and get them through college, as well. Fatherhood is a powerful motivator.
You have a recently published motivational business book, “There’s Always a Way.” Why did you write this book? Because I truly believe in the title— “There’s always a way.” Whether you’re talking about business, personal goals or life challenges, it really comes down to selling yourself on yourself. The key thing is to change your mental outlook on whatever challenge you’re dealing with. If you change your mindset, it can utterly change your life — and I’ve seen this happen with many people over the years. I’m extremely proud of the book and the overwhelmingly favorable reviews it’s received.
There are many motivational books out there…what makes yours unique? What do you hope readers can take away from it? Most readers will be able to readily identify with the stories and situations that I’ve written about. I personally hate workbook-style motivational books and went out of my way to create something that can connect with anybody. My goal was to provide real substance for readers and to give them the fuel necessary to ignite their passion, motivate them and change their mindset.
What advice do you have for those who are recently divorced, widowed, or separated to help them move on to the next phase of their life? When people are facing tragedy or other highly stressful situations in life, one of the most important things to do is to think of yourself. This may sound obvious, but it’s really easy to forget this. The first thing I recommend is to get into a workout program. It will not only make you look better, it’ll also help you to take more control of your life, while assisting in focusing in on what you want to accomplish.
Who has inspired or motivated you in your life? There are so many people who through their strength, courage and character have turned adversities into victories. Just to name a few, they would include people like Helen Keller, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt. I read a lot, so I’m constantly learning of individuals who have achieved remarkable things in their lives after overcoming enormous obstacles.
You must be extremely busy. So how do you stay active in your life and what do you most enjoy about this time in your life? I really enjoy staying busy — it’s definitely a positive choice I’ve made. With that said, I also value my personal time. Nothing is more important than my family and I enjoy talking to my son, daughter and our twin boys. Nothing can beat being a good father and doing the best I can for my family.
Late last year, your twin boys, Cody and Chase, were born three months premature and they struggled to survive for a long while. How were you and your wife able to cope with that? How are your boys doing now? We put all our faith and trust in God, and the wonderful doctors and nurses in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa. They were absolutely amazing. Thanks to them, Cody and Chase have gone from each being under two pounds at birth to over 18 pounds of joy today.
What are your future goals? What’s next for Tony Little? My line of Cheeks footwear is expanding in a number of categories, centering around fitness, wellness, comfort and fashion. I’m working with my business partner, Fitness Quest, to help expand the retail distribution of these products. We’re also continuing to focus on our very popular line of healthy buffalo meat products, called “Body by Bison.” We’ve sold two million hotdogs and just as many hamburgers!
Do you have any other tips or advice you’d like to share with our readers? Always believe in yourself.
“There’s Always a Way” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) is available on Amazon.com and at retail bookstores everywhere..