If you’re not familiar with author and life coach Tony Gaskins, now’s the time to stop and read. I will say this was by far one of the most impactful interviews I’ve had. Tony has worked with plenty of stars, while appearing on shows like Oprah and Tyra Banks. In this conversation we discuss how to identify real love, getting over your past relationships, and discovering how to become a better person.
You have to realize that just because you have love for somebody doesn’t mean that they love you back. It doesn’t mean that it’s real love, a lot of time we build on lust that becomes very strong.
Hip-Hop Digital: First, and foremost, thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Hip-Hop Digital. How’s the Real Love Tour going?
Tony Gaskins: It’s going amazing, it’s everything that I expected it to be, but even more. I’ve been doing this since 2012, as far as putting on my own tour; it’s all out of pocket, no sponsorship dollar or anything like that. Coming from having as little as 25 tickets sold, to touring and selling hundreds, it’s great. I get to see the growth and the opportunity to connect with the people, it’s just amazing.
Hip-Hop Digital: When you do your live events, what are some of the topics you like to touch on?
Tony Gaskins: I like to mostly focus on self love. Which is healing from the past, breaking soul ties, healing before dealing. Then preparing yourself for love. Focusing on the brain, the brand, and the body. Feeding your mind, getting in shape, and working on your brand; you then position yourself for love. Getting in the marketplace and being out there, knowing what a real man or woman is. You have to know what a real relationship is and what real love is. Then, if you’re in a relationship and you’re just trying to revive that love, or just getting back to doing the things you originally did to get that person to fall in love. Sometimes you have to just go back and understand the roles and lines in a relationship between men and women. It’s kind of like an A-to-Z seminar.
Hip-Hop Digital: Let’s get to know who Tony Gaskins the man is. When you’re not working or helping others, what activities do you like to do in your down time?
Tony Gaskins: I love spending time with my family, we do not like being in the house; we’re often at parks, theme parks, movies…just always out doing something. I love what I do but I’m waiting on the retirement days where I can just be with my wife and sons..
Hip-Hop Digital: Do you feel family is important when in a relationship?
Tony Gaskins: Yes, family for me is everything. I turn down thousands of dollars just to be at my son’s soccer games, birthday parties, and holidays. Immediate family has to come before work and everybody else.
Hip-Hop Digital: Speaking of work, you have multiple companies. Let’s discuss those businesses and what services they offer.
Tony Gaskins: The way I do business is, everything I’ve learned, I teach or offer as a service. I have for profit companies which offer everything from book publishing services and author consulting to event production and planning. As well as film, television, seminars, life coaching, and ghostwriting. Everything I do breaks down into 30 streams of income. I also have a non-profit organization which is setup like a church, but not quite – it will be a place you can come and get a good motivational word, bible based but also doing community outreach. We will have resources for the community to come and use freely. That’s pretty much what it is: I live, I learn, and then I teach.
Hip-Hop Digital: How did you originally get into motivational speaking and coaching the lives of others?
Tony Gaskins: I wrote my first book when I was 22 years old. I have a way with words and I love to write. I can write without getting writers block so I knew, it was a gift. My wife supported me and she paid for the publishing of my first book. It was $1600 and the book is called, “What Daddy Never Told His Little Girl”. It was basically about relationships and the things that I noticed 99% of the women I had met didn’t know about men. From the way we move, to the way we think, and even the way we act or behave. That book was just kind of giving away those secrets. From there, I started pitching myself as a speaker to colleges and organizations. Then I started pitching myself to television, just one thing came after another. I was very diligent along the way with putting one foot in front of the other. God has a hand on me and gave me some favor. I started in 2007 but, I didn’t really get serious until late 2008, after that, the rest was history. I did the Oprah Show, Tyra Banks, and some other media outlets. The speaking engagements started coming that next year, starting at $1500 an appearance. This eventually allowed me to leave my day job where I was making like $9.50 an hour, really struggling. Just being on social media and building my brand, I was able to walk away from my job and go full-time in what I call ‘ministry’.
Hip-Hop Digital: When coaching relationships, do you find that any one certain topic continues to surface through a majority of your clients?
Tony Gaskins: It’s the singles, asking ‘why am I single’ and ‘when am I going to meet the right person’? That would be the number one: singles just ready for love. Number two would be ‘how to get over my ex?’, people trying to let go of their past and heal.
Hip-Hop Digital: What is some basic advice you offer those to get over their ex-lover?
Tony Gaskins: We really take a lot of steps. The steps include cutting them off on all social media, and blocking their phone number, unless you have kids together. Even cutting off mutual friends or their family members that you keep in contact with, for at least a good period of time. Get rid of all pictures and memorabilia; shirts, clothes, and shoes, then continue to get coaching, try to read a healthy self -development book, over the course of a week or month. Talk about what you went through to try and recognize those mistakes, so you can learn new knowledge and pull the lesson from it.
Hip-Hop Digital: Do you think music/television today affects the way couples connect within their relationship?
Tony Gaskins: Yeah, I believe the media pretty much dictates the way relationships are handled, even in the way we handle ourselves. Abuse, cheating, threesomes, it’s inspired by music and television. Irresponsible artists and writers with a hidden agenda, just working against the moral fabric that God intended for us to have. A lot of it, to me, is borderline demonic, but we just give in.. We become putty in their hands and we suffer from it.
Hip-Hop Digital: What’s your advice on “unlearning” negative behaviors, like being selfish or controlling?
Tony Gaskins: I believe it’s important to identify somebody who’s gotten it right and to hear their story. Studies show that people learn best through stories. Really, you have to invest in yourself whether it be coaching, counseling, therapy, or reading a book. You have to get new knowledge and force yourself to really implement what you’ve learned. You have to set boundaries in place for yourself. The important thing is if you don’t know real love, someone will teach yourself hate.
Hip-Hop Digital: With communication being one of the main keys in a successful relationship, how do you get your partner to hear what you’re saying without being defensive and thoughtless?
Tony Gaskins: You first have to establish communication rules. Which means you and your partner both have to know the underlying rule; seek to understand then be understood. If both partners agree to that, then when a person speaks you are listening as if you’re in their shoes, and living their life. When you’re doing that you’re seeking to understand, and it makes it much easier to receive where they’re coming from. After that, you have more rules like; no yelling, no over talking, no name calling or cursing. When expressing yourself, use “I feel…” statements. Those rules have helped my wife and I, it’s been over five years since we’ve had an argument. That doesn’t mean we don’t have disagreements, but It doesn’t turn into yelling, fussing or cussing. We have agreed to seek to understand and then be understood. We respect each others feelings, wants and needs, then we do everything in our power to oblige. With healthy compromise, it’s helped us a lot.
Hip-Hop Digital: There is an old saying “Sometimes love is not enough to hold a relationship together”. What would your advice be for a couple who loves each other, but constantly has problems from financial issues to agreeing on parenting?
Tony Gaskins: That’s a great question. My advice would be to understand that you can love somebody and not be in-love with them. You can love somebody but not be the person for them. So, you have to realize that we are called to love everyone. Just like loving your neighbor as you love yourself. It takes a firm foundation, balance and compatibility. You have to be with somebody where both parties compromise, meet in the middle, and mesh. You have to realize that just because you have love for somebody doesn’t mean that they love you back. It doesn’t mean that it’s real love, a lot of time we build on lust that becomes very strong. Yet, when that lust wears off we think that love is running out, but really it’s the lust that has an expiration date. We have to know what real love is and if we’re really in-love.
Hip-Hop Digital: With eight years of marriage and history with your wife, how do you two work through the tougher times?
Tony Gaskins: The tougher times for us was the first two years, when she didn’t know herself and I didn’t know myself. We worked on ourselves first, we didn’t know love and what a real relationship was. I took the initiative as the man to learn real love and what a real relationship was, I began to change and implement those things. I started teaching her what I was learning, she obliged and agreed to it. We began to operate in real love. When we both sold out and went all in; we said we are going to be selfless and love one another the way we need to be loved. Not just the way we want to love. We agreed it takes two to make it happen. After those first two years, the tough times went away. Now, we don’t have tough times. Maybe a tough five minutes because you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, wanting to be babied or all in your feelings. We agreed to love the other person selflessly and that’s the biggest thing. You have to know that you’re committed in this relationship and want to be together.
Hip-Hop Digital: At one point in your life you stated that you were controlling and toxic, how did you come to realize that about yourself?
Tony Gaskins: I realized it when I met my wife, she wouldn’t accept those behaviors. When she didn’t allow me to overly question her, be insecure, or overly controlling about where she was or who she was with. Also, she didn’t allow me to yell at her, when I wanted to yell, she shut me down. She showed me that these things are not normal or acceptable. When I look back, I realize I learned these things from watching my parents fuss and fight. I watched my dad try to be controlling, ‘my way or the highway’. Then I watched my mom try to be controlling and stubborn. I realized those actions and behaviors didn’t produce happiness, they produced stress, chaos, and turmoil. I had to really check myself and realize this isn’t a part of real love.
Hip-Hop Digital: What are some of the main steps you took to change your behaviors?
Tony Gaskins: I stopped listening to music in the car and started listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I started reading two chapters a day in the holy bible. I was getting life coaching every week. I changed my input. See, when you change your input that changes your output. I changed what I was watching, what I was listening to, and who I was hanging around. It changed my life. It literally comes down to putting something new into your mind, getting new knowledge. That new knowledge becomes power and it builds your confidence in yourself and in love. When you implement the new things you’ve learned, you get new results. I started understanding that my strength is my gentleness. A leader isn’t a dictator, a leader is a servant.
Hip-Hop Digital: What is one source of material that helped you with your progression?
Tony Gaskins: It was one scripture that I read, Ephesians 5. It says, “Husbands love your wives like Christ loved the church”. I drew a parallel with that and I thought about the sacrifice that Christ made for the church. After drawing that parallel I said, “Wow, I’m supposed to love my wife that much”. That means I’m supposed to be selfless, understanding, giving, forgiving, and passionate. It’s just rung true to me, the parallel was so powerful and divine that it changed the scope of our relationship. When I started becoming compassionate, and laying myself on the line for her peace and sanity, everything else changed.
Hip-Hop Digital: If a couple wanted to see you for relationship coaching, what process would they need to follow?
Tony Gaskins: You can go to my website site www.tonygaskins.com, and go to the contact page. You’ll then see how to hire Tony as a life coach, and you can write in to us. We have coaches that have been through my coaching certification program as well. If you want to work specifically with me, we’ll see if there is room on my roaching roaster and we will get you in.
Hip-Hop Digital: Once again thank you for taking the time to talk with us at Hip-Hop Digital.