Tony Robbins – Buffalo Content Maker

buffalo I had the good luck to spend a little time with Tony Robbins, who you’d think of as a motivational speaker, but who I know to be an inspirational thinker and accomplished business man. But, after doing a project with him (can’t talk about that yet), I know another secret: he’s a buffalo content maker.

All Parts of the Buffalo

Here’s how Tony sees things: “I need to know more about this online marketing world.” (Sure, we all do.) “I think I’ll contact a whole bunch of people who have been successful with online marketing.” (Still the way we’d do it.) “I think I’ll invite them to my place and record the conversation and turn it into learning for more than just me.” (There. That’s the difference.)

Tony needed the information. He knew who to call. He made media out of it so he could do something with the information more than once.

Leverage. He used “all parts of the buffalo” instead of wasting the opportunity to make good content. (This expression means that he uses everything and wastes nothing, in homage to Native American treatment of animals as sacred providers of many goods.)

Be a Buffalo Content Maker

This isn’t rocket surgery. Instead, just keep in mind what makes content. Think about this post. It’s me reacting to an observation I had while visiting with Tony. I made something that I could then share with you out of a brief interaction. And yet, there’s some value in thinking like this.

Now, take it further.

The book Social Media 101 is a collection of tidied up blog posts from []. It was a way to reuse my content.

In future projects, I’m going to make content that spans from a blog post into a longer ebook into a course, into a presentation, into a surrounding community. How do you do it? A bit at a time, but with the idea that you’re going to make something bigger from the project. Make sense?

Can you build content the same way? Can you find opportunities to create media when others might just absorb the information and move on? How are you doing this today?

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  • AJ Bombers

    Now there's a challenge! Love the idea of the collection of great minds and sharing it with others for the benefit of the group. Honestly, it sounds just like Third Tribe.

  • Adrian Swinscoe

    Hi Chris,
    Love the term Buffalo Content Maker and the insightful way that Tony Robbins leverages his contacts to benefit himself and others. Now, have to get my thinking cap on to see how I can leverage this idea.

    One thing I had already been thinking about was conducting a series of interviews with CEOs to asking them about their keys tips for retaining and building their customer base.

    Thanks again,


  • Mark Dykeman

    Godin's Small Is The New Big is another example buffalo content making, although I think it's really a bit more blatant in that it is very clearly republished blog posts.

    I'm going to gradually repurpose old content at Broadcasting Brain into new and improved posts at Thoughtwrestling (and have already started to do so), but in more relevant, focused, and applicable ways. From buffalo burgers to buffalo steak, I guess.

    In a way, it's kind of using the Archimedes principle, but with both content and the help of other people, no?

  • Lisa Newton

    That's exactly what I've done with my new series of walking tour e-books. I planned a walk, took lots of photos, and research the places I visited. Then I put them in a unique, flipbook style, e-book, Travelin’ Local Walking Tours

    It's buffalo content, Los Angeles style.

  • jenniferkeller

    Thanks for the term Buffalo Content Maker — now I know how to describe what I'm doing. At my work, it is just me doing communications, so I have to be especially cognizant of my time. I don't write a story/do a video/set up media op if I can't think of at least three ways I'm going to use it. I used to call it re-purposing, now I'm “Buffaloing.” Thanks.

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  • John Paul

    I take this idea to my posts… each post is then turned into a video, I then take the audio to submit to podcast sites., then every once in a while I will take a post and turn it into an article to submit to article dir.

    A post doesn't have to JUST be a post.

  • Rufus Dogg

    Around here, we call that Donut Hole-ing.…. Buffalos always reminds me of a story I was once told by an old sulky racer maker, a large fiberglass buffalo and a very startled truck driver in Oklahoma. Story for another day. :-)

  • wordandmouth

    Chris, you're not the first to say this to me but the way you said it resonated, truly. Maybe it's just because I had a picture of you with those ducks still imprinted on my mind, ha ha!

    Seriously, Dr Rachna Jain, a great friend of mine, has been preaching on the buffalo content theory for a fair old while and I was always pretty much on the fence about it. But using every opportunity you can to minister content is a solid strategy for growing your own personal brand equity: providing, of course, that content is good.

    Always been a fan of Tony's, too. Watching what you two are cooking up should be a blast.

    Best of luck as always,


  • The Franchise King


    That's exactly what I've done with my “university.” And, I like buffalo meat.


  • soultravelers3

    Love this! “all parts of the buffalo” Indeed!

    This is exactly what I am seeing I need to do ( on my much smaller scale) with all that we have learned and keep learning on our open ended world tour. We've been blogging since 2006 when we began our tour, but now we have so much information on our website that it's not always easy to find it all and I get so many repeat questions. Not to mention all the information that has not even made it up yet.

    Can't wait to hear more about what you, Tony et al were up to!

  • superdumb

    I sat next to a woman on a plane recently who is one of a very few female executives in the meatpacking industry. Her specialty was offal and she told me about how business is booming since what's considered scrap in the US is quite desirable in other markets. It wasn't a huge surprise to me since my mom is Asian and they tend to use all the parts, too, but it got me thinking about how we, as a culture, perceive value and usability. Too often we underestimate what it is that we have to give. Time to reevaluate and spread the wealth.

  • Stephanie Moewe

    Hi Chris! I haven't heard the buffalo expression before now, but it makes lots of sense! I have been “using” Tony Robbins over the past couple of years to inspire and motivate me. And have been more recently “using” you to help educate me in the social media space…can't wait to see what comes from the collaboration of you two.

  • Emily Geizer

    Love it, Chris. Thanks for teaching and inspiring.

    This post may motivate me to try an new idea for my parenting blog. I brainstorm my own parenting and kids' needs with my husband often and have recently thought how illuminating those conversations could be for other parents. I always learn something or make a new connection. My husband often does too. Maybe other parents could benefit as well. The conversations capture more breadth and depth than I can in a blog post.

    Great lesson.

  • Annemieke

    I keep running into those Native Americans. I just recently found some other interesting things about them. It seems that their language was much more dynamic than our modern western languages.

    I was fascinated by David Bohm's experiment with language. He was looking for a language that could describe what was going on on the quantum level, so he developed a language that was more dynamic and less static. With an emphasis on the verbs instead of the nouns.

    But at the end of his life, he found out that the Native Americans had a language that looked a lot like what he was searching for.

    Very interesting to see now how you make that buffelo comparison. There must have been much wisdom there and a knowledge that everything was connected.

  • Marjorie Clayman

    This is a really neat way to describe what I usually call integrated marketing. I wonder how many definitions of integrated marketing there are now. You can integrate traditional media with traditional media, Social Media with Social Media, Social Media with books…crazy amount of mixture.

    Coming from the perspective of a B2B marketing firm, I have to put in a plug for ways to integrate the “traditional” media side of things into the equation beyond putting together a book. For example, why not record the video to CD in addition to posting to YouTube or another video sharing site. Send the CD, with a nicely designed label, via a classy direct mail piece. Include a form or a lead back to a special landing page on your site. Easy to measure ROI, multiple uses for your video content.

    Similarly, I think it's important from a company perspective to think about how content can be generated for online purposes but then re-tooled for use in completely different ways. Can a great shot from a video be recreated via photography and used for booth graphics or an ad? Could a positive comment or LinkedIn review become a case study that gets published in a trade publication?

    The possibilities are endless and I think people have only just begun to scratch the surface.


  • Mike Stenger

    Great thought on leveraging content. There's so much one can do that it's mind boggling. For example, turning a Skype or IM chat into a blog post or an interview of sorts. I've done that before myself and it's worked out pretty well.

    One thing that's worth remember is if something is valuable to you and in your niche and your area of learning, chances are it might be for others.

  • dougrawady

    Love the Buffalo analogy, Chris. Tony's brilliance was in recognizing that a huge percentage of his audience was probably also relatively ignorant about the ins and outs of online marketing and would gobble up a well-produced subscription product delving deeply into the subject. I've seen a few of the interviews in this series and they're uniformly GREAT! It's to Tony's credit that he knows how to put his guests in a relaxed and open state and draw out the best they have to offer.

    To your point of getting maximum mileage out of one's content I can only say, “Right On!” It's a strategy everyone should consider when creating content. Think about all the different ways it can be leveraged and deployed. Certainly not for the sake of redundancy, but simply to provide your audience with multiple ways of consuming your stuff; each one presenting it in such a way that it takes on new life and meaning.

    I'm only a few chapters into Social Media 101 and I'm really digging the way its ideas are organized. Having never been exposed to most of this material when you originally blogged about it I'm glad you decided to repackage it. And it's a great example of the Buffalo Content strategy in action!



  • tonymeister

    Good stuff Chris! It's nice to glean these tidbits. I can already think of ways to leverage this concept right within our team and I'm sure more opportunities will arise since it is in the forefront of my mind.

  • georgekrueger

    This post couldn't have been more timely, Chris. It's fuel for the fire. One question Mary-Lynn and I have been discussing lately: Do you begin with the end in mind (i.e. a finished product which you write posts around to promote)? If so, what do you post about in the mean time? Or do you post about what's inspiring you now and then accumulate posts with a common theme (plus some premium content) into a product? If so, don't you still need some plan at the beginning of the series? Or maybe it's both and I'm just belaboring a useless point?!

  • David Finch

    Chris, brilliant thinkers and communications like Les Brown, Brian Tracy and Mark Victor Hansen have also mastered the art of producing a product from everything. Every piece of content that we produce can be packaged in a different format to reach a broader audience.

    Every piece of content we produce can be repurposed as an ebook, a podcast, a video, an audio series, a book, a system (packaged audio and print material), The possibilites are endless. It's just a minor adjustment to start thinking more like a distributor than just a content producer.

    Thanks for sharing the insights you gleemed from your time with Tony Robbins.

  • rob white

    Tony Robbins is a great motivational speaker because he has spent his lifetime paying attention to his own inward self-talk. When you train your mind to support you with whatever you are up to, you learn the universal laws of success quickly – one of which is: Use all the parts of everything; throw nothing away …. and give a lot (of what you have) away. The Law of Multiple Returns kicks in and takes care of the rest. I cannot say to often, 'what we sow we reap'. Tony wins because he is very aware of sowing. You win because you are very aware of sowing, Good lesson; Chris.

  • Mike Dougherty

    Thank you for a motivational post on a Friday! It forced me to remember that at last years Blogworld & New Media Expo Jermaine Dupri talked about making everything circular so they all support each other. I am officially in love with the idea of no wasted efforts or content. After reading this post, I started jotting down different ways to be a Buffalo Content Maker (wonder how long till that appears on someone's business card) and the ideas began to pour out. Friday's are usually lazy..ish. Thank you for inspiring that change.

    It is awesome that two great voices of passion got to sit down and exchange ideas. Thank you for sharing this post and I can't wait to see the media that comes out of it.

  • robbievorhaus

    “You can count the number of seeds in one apple, although you can never count the number of apples from one seed.” anonymous. when we come from our head, our thoughts are limited to what we know. when we come from our hearts, we are open to endless possibilities. thank you, chris, for continuing to show us the new business model of creativity vs. competition; expansion and value, vs. contraction and protecting our property and assets. make everything better than you found it, and everyone benefits, including your business and profits when you allow yourself to share.

  • Lori Hoeck

    “He used 'all parts of the buffalo' instead of wasting the opportunity to make good content.” — Reminds me of this old, old story:

    When Samavati, the queen-consort of King Udena, offered Ananda 500 garments, Ananda received them with great satisfaction. The king, hearing of it, suspected Ananda of dishonesty and asked what he would do with the garments.

    Ananda replied, “Many of the brothers are in rags, I am going to distribute the garments among them.”
    “What will you do with the old garments?”
    “We will make bed-covers out of them.”
    “What will you do with the old bed-covers?”
    “We will make pillow-cases.”
    “What will you do with the old pillow-cases?”
    “We will make floor-covers out of them.”
    “What will you do with the old floor-covers?”
    “We will make foot-towels out of them.”
    “What will you do with the old foot-towels?”
    “We will use them for floor-mops.”
    “What will you do with the old mops?”
    “Your highness, we will tear them into pieces, mix them with mud, and use the mud to plaster the house walls.”

    That's what I call squeezing the use out of something. At my blog, I try to download onto the page everything about self defense I can, and someday I will transition to video, books, and perhaps DVDs.

    Everyone has a story to tell, an experience-set to help fill in the gaps, a motivational butt kicking to give, a supportive heart to offer, or an idea someone can explore more fully.

  • Ryan Erisman

    Very cool observation Chris. Reminds me of the chapter in Rework that talked about “selling your by-products”.

  • David Siteman Garland

    More importantly, what the heck is rocket surgery? :)

    Seriously, though. Great point. Repurposable content is gold. One thing I've learned I can share (and of course this depends on your style), but I love repurposing video especially if you write like you speak and speak like you write. Once you have video, you also have audio. And you are one transcription away from text.

    One thing I learned from Josh Shipp when I interviewed him (who is a really innovative guy) is half your audience is deaf and the other half blind. Repurposing, changing, different mediums is a winning formula.

  • Adam Di Stefano

    Hey Chris – here's a question for you… When you spin blog posts into a bigger project, were you writing those blog posts with the object of spinning it into something else from the get go, or did it evolve more organically? You wrote a bunch of posts, and then said, “Hey, this would make a great book.” Which do you think makes more sense?

    I ask because I run two blogs, and I'm writing each one differently, and I can't decide what's going to work best long-term…

  • srinirao

    Good stuff. It really makes you realize that if you have been doing this for over a year, then you probably have more than enough content to repurpose and turn into a product. I've seen so many ebooks that really are just based on old content that is available on people's blogs. It would be interesting to see how much of your content you could repurpose for various ideas. Sounds like a worthwhile experiment :).

  • SynapticLight

    That's a great idea. For me- I want to know more about film making and how I can use social media to make connections and realize dreams in this area; now I need to get some people involved in film making (much more so than me, even professional) and then talk about it. There after to break out the discussions into blog post series – discussing the findings and thoughts, hopefully garnering more discussion online. Actually filming it is a seriously “next level” kind of thing. Definitely something to think of

  • Erica

    I have been curious about the 'business man' part of you. Do you invest in anything that doesn't require your constant attention so that you can rest once in a while? Ideas about what to do with money while you're making it would probably be helpful to your cubicle-free readers. And to you. Everybody gets tired eventually.

  • Andrew J. Gay


    I am honestly envious of the way your imagination works! You always seem to find an interesting way to make analogies and have them make sense to regular people. I know I could definitely learn a lot from you… guess that's why I read your blog.

    In terms of using the entire buffalo, I have finally found interesting ways of doing this in my business over at Social Video Labs.

    At first, we began making cool videos for clients, doing animated intro's, and other neat graphical branding stuff. Since then, we have been able to use what we do there to teach the community how to do better videos. Sometimes with videos that we make, other times by finding good video's on Youtube that have good content and then provide tips to the reader on how they could improve the technical mishaps in the video. This gets continued through our social interacitons, then through a book I am writiing, onto a course planned for this summer and so on. I am quite sure I still haven't used the entire buffalo, but we are always looking for ways to continually build on the content we in new ways.

    This is good stuff!

  • Andrew J. Gay

    Film making, especially with online video is a huge market right now. There are so many facets to it that creates many, many spaces for people to use it in new ways. We should talk!

  • Andrew J. Gay

    Another thought I just had, actually another great example of what you are talking about. Look at what Darren Rowse at Problogger did with his 31 days book. The book was actually created using somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of stuff he had already done on the blog. This book sold, and is still selling like hot cakes.

  • Susan Milligan

    Do you take from everything you experience, Chris? And do you keep it in your head or make note of it for later? Have you ever wondered how much you have let go?
    My grandparents used all parts of the buffalo…. literally. Then my family always tied up loose ends (usually with butchers string ;) and used the pieces to make one new thing that either worked well or didn't work at all. But they wasted nothing.
    The below poster, Lori Hoeck, tells us a story about the ultimate in recycling. I found it perfectly rational. Never throw away useful information and ideas that would dazzle if recycled and taken just one step further. Thanks to you both.

  • mikekirkeberg

    This idea – it;s been around for a while – is another good reason to continue to create great content. When a track record is created over time, an eye on re-purposing the information into an ebook. In a way, it's like cloning your own information. Cool.

  • Drew Burks

    Hey Chris … how exciting, a project with the great Tony Robbins. I have had the pleasure of attending a few of his live events and he is worth every penny & minute of my time invested. You make a great point … it just makes common sense to leverage your existing content to create new & relevant products for others to learn from. Keep up the great work.

  • Judy Helfand

    Your reference to Native American treatment of animals reminds me of my three years living in Alaska. The Eskimos and Indians make it a point to use every part of every animal that they hunt. As I sit here writing I am looking at beautiful carved walrus ivory, seal mittens, wonderful maks made out of animal fur, a piece of baleen from a Baleen whale that has been etched and it a piece of art. I am also thinking that I just worked for an hour + to write an email to a client about how to manage their new Facebook page. After reading your post, I am going to take my email and tidy it up to write a blog post, that way I will build content for all of our clients. Talk to you later.

  • SynapticLight

    I saw your video, classic :)

    • Andrew J. Gay

      That was one of our just for fun videos. We do them from time to time. We did another one Called how to sell online, re-did the Fray song how to save a life. Its a complete social media guru parody. Very funny.

  • SynapticLight

    yeah, I think problogger did that quite well.

  • Chris Groscurth

    This is great advice for those who get writers block, but want to keep blogging.

  • Judy Helfand

    Ok, just posted to our blog, building content for all of our clients. Thank you, Chris, for the inspiration.

  • Ricardo Bueno

    I know that this is an area where I can improve. Back in 2008 (if I recall correctly), I wrote an ebook titled: “How to Build A Community Around Your Blog.” It was a collaborative piece drawing on insights from both inside and outside of the real estate industry (my niche). It was received very well!

    Since then, I haven't followed up to produce something of a similar nature. I know that I can (I've done it before). Just needed a little push and I guess reading this might be it…

  • Kathy Sena

    Chris, this is so smart and we all know it on some level, but do we do it consistently? In my case, no. I love the example of how Tony is going to do this. And the buffalo analogy will stick in my head. I may just stick a photo of a buffalo on the bulletin board in the office as a reminder. Great post! Thx.

  • Chris Brogan

    I like this thinking, Susan. I'm not sure about myself. Some days, I do it better than others.

  • flash drive

    As I sit here typing I'm beautiful carved ivory walrus, seal maks wonderful mittens made from animal skin, a little beard baleen whale, which was burned and a work of art.

  • Nahyan

    thats a great concept

  • cartes r4i

    Yep, I agree with you. This look great idea. Would like to read this book. As I want to start my courier in Marketing so it will surely help me.

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