Q and A with Tony
- Q: On TV, you’re a ball of energy. But what are you like when you’re away from the set?
- TONY: Quiet. Even though most people find that hard to believe, it’s true. I was getting ready for the Jay Leno show one time and one of Jay’s assistants came in and said, “Are you all right? Jay said he saw you back here and thought you might be sick or something.” I told him that I just hadn’t gotten ready for the show yet.
- Q: How does the quiet guy become the hyper guy?
- TONY: For starters, I take a couple of energy drinks. But really, it’s mostly a mental preparation thing. I realized long ago that energy and enthusiasm are infectious. And when you’re trying to get somebody off the couch to open their wallet for something that’s for their health, you have to be pretty energetic to make it happen.
- Q: Okay, fess up … is the hair real?
- TONY: Absolutely. And it’s more hair than I can handle. I guess I’ve got some pretty good genes because it just continues to grow at an incredible pace. I did a comedy skit once for G-4 Television and they put in it that I spent $75,000 a year on hair care. It isn’t that high but it’s up there.
“His creative marketing techniques should be put in a time capsule for Harvard Business School”
The New York Times
- Q: You’re parodied on TV a lot. How do you feel about that?
- TONY: Honestly, I love it. And I’ve always loved it. I love comedy. And the thing is, if you’re not being talked about you’re nothing.
- Q: You’re a guy who reads a lot, particularly mystery novels. What’s the allure?
- TONY: I love the escapism. Books take you away to places you could never go. I’m on the plane so much that I probably read about 200 novels a year. It makes the time go by pretty fast.
- Q: How many times a week do you hear somebody yell out, “You can do it” when they recognize you?
- TONY: At least 50. But probably more. I’ve even seen a Hare Krishna guy say it. Most of the time, though, I see people pointing at me and doing the Gazelle movement with their arms.
“Tony Little is an unbeatable combination of know-how and inspiration.”
- Q: You were already pretty well known, but what did the Geico commercial do to enhance your profile?
- TONY: It helped me reach a whole new audience. Most infomercials don’t reach a lot of the broadcast stations because they’re mostly on cable. But this ad was on broadcast TV, which means you’re on FOX, CBS, NBC and ABC.
- Q: Ever get heckled?
- TONY: Not really. I’m lucky. I really am. Hecklers don’t go after me because even they love energy.
- Q: Word is, you’re on Myspace. Is that true?
- TONY: I have two accounts. But they’re not really me. They’re just people acting like they’re me. One of them has me with 360,000 friends or something like that. And I think he’s linked to my website because he has all my products on it. If you go on there, it’s amazing. There’s even a bio about me that says I live in California and have a girlfriend named Janet. The whole thing is hilarious.
“I see him more on TV in Europe than CNN.”
- Q: Even with your enormous success, you never seem content with what you’ve already accomplished. Why is that?
- TONY: I’ve always been like that. The way I look at it, you can either go backwards, stand still or move forward. To me, it’s an easy choice. You’ve got to go forward.
- Q: What’s the one thing you haven’t done yet that you’d like to accomplish?
- TONY: I’d love the chance to be the bad guy in a movie … a psycho killer or something like that. I think I could do it. I’ve got so much energy that I know I could really channel it into that type of role.
- Q: Where did your obsession with cars originate?
- TONY: I’m 50 so I grew up with the muscle cars. My first car was a ‘67 GTO. I also drove Corvettes and things like that. Even back then, I knew I wanted to someday start collecting cars. It became more of an obsession when they became an investment.
“He can sell ice to Eskimos if he believes in it.”
- Q: Who was the greatest influence in your life?
- TONY: My mother. My dad left us when I was 14. My mom was a very strong single mom. She put herself through college and provided for four kids by herself. When I was a teenager, I was hanging around the wrong crowd and my mom didn’t put up with it. She sent me to live in Florida with my uncle, which was a strong move. I thought it was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
- Q: But it wasn’t was it?
- TONY: No. It was actually the best. After I moved to Florida I became even more focused on myself, my grades went up, I started working out and I became a bodybuilder. I basically got more into my own world. My mom was an art teacher for thirty-something years and when she retired we had a big dinner for her. I got on the microphone and said, “Many years ago, my mom sent me away. And now I’m sending her away.” I had gotten her an 18-day artists-only tour of all the artists’ homes in Europe. So she got a chance to go and see all the homes and museums that she had taught about her whole life. That was pretty cool.
- Q: You don’t look or act 50. Do you feel 50?
- TONY: Not at all. I can’t figure out where the time went. I really feel like I’m 30. I might be 50 but I can still outrun my kids.