Tag Archive for: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Influencers from Around the World – Three Lessons from Arnold

This month our “Influencers from Around the
World” post comes from Marco Germani. Marco is a native of Italy, originally
hailing from Rome. He’s been a fan of influence for decades and wrote a book on
the subject in Italian. The father of two youngsters, he now gets to apply his
influence skills outside of his business pursuits. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his
post on lessons he’s learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Three Lessons from Arnold
I have recently given a second go at the
spectacular Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography, Total Recall – The Truly Unbelievable Story of My Life, which
didn’t fail to impress and inspire me, as it already did last year when I first
read it. You may or may not  like the man,
but it is undeniable that what Arnold has accomplished in his life thus far is
nothing short of incredible. Arnold was a legendary bodybuilding champion, a
record-breaking Hollywood action movie actor, and an accomplished real-estate
investor who made his first million from this business. If all that wasn’t
enough, he was also the “Governator” of California.
I thought Arnold’s story would fit well in
this blog because in order to accomplish all that he has, Arnold had to develop
the capacity to influence millions of people.
I’ll try to extrapolate a short, actionable
lesson from each phase of his career, which enabled him to accomplish such
extraordinary things and maybe each of us will become a better influencer
because of it.
1: Focus on your strength
Since he was a teen, Arnold had a clear vision
in his mind: Go to the USA and become famous. He had no idea how to accomplish
this, not even the field of endeavor. He then started his quest, his search for
his unique talent, which would bring him fame and fortune.  As he realized that nature had gifted him
with a body built to grow and become incredibly muscular, he put all of his
heart and soul into a single project; becoming the most muscular man on earth
and winning all the existing body building competitions around the world. It
didn’t matter if it meant endless hours in the gym lifting huge weights, it
didn’t even matter if sometimes it meant fainting or vomiting in the gym out of
All that counted was getting to the top. And
he made it! Not only that; he set new standards for his sport and made bodybuilding
famous to around the world, becoming the international ambassador for the
He worked on the mental aspect of competition
(the “Pumping Iron” documentary is a great testimonial of this), he even went
to ballet classes to perfect his posing; in other words, he did whatever it
took to become outstanding and make his dream come true. Thanks to bodybuilding,
Arnold finally got to the USA. He was penniless, with no other skills under his
belt, but ready to pursue his second lifetime goal: to make it big in Hollywood.
2: Persistence in spite of obstacles
When Arnold, already a celebrity in the bodybuilding
circuit and on his way to financial independence thanks to real estate
investments in Santa Monica, started to pursue his acting career he had all the
odds against him. He spoke English with a thick Austrian accent, he had below
average acting skills, no particular artistic talent and he was even told his
name was too long to fit on movie posters! Thanks to his body, he managed to
get a part in a B-movie called “Hercules” in New York where he first had to be
dubbed due to poor English pronunciation. The movie itself was never released
due to production financial issues but is now a cult movie because of Arnold’s
In spite of this, he did not get discouraged,
he kept the vision clear, he simply ignored everybody else around him advising
him to open a gym and to let go this impossible dream to become a world-famous
actor. He patiently waited several years, turning down dozens of parts, even as
a leading actor, in movies which would have not benefited his career in the
long run. His big movie break was “Conan the Barbarian.” Arnold knew this movie
would be a game-changer and, once again, he put his heart and soul in
preparation for this part, taking care of every single detail. In the first
scene of the movie, he was actually bitten by a real wolf and had to have a
dozen stiches on his leg, but this didn’t discourage him a bit to give his best
and make this movie into a cult classic, which he did.
The rest is history. Conan brought Arnold into
the firmament and just a few years later, with movies like “The Terminator,” “Total
Recall” and “True Lies,” he was paid as much as $25 million per movie, becoming
the highest paid action movie star in Hollywood…as he originally planned.
3: Expand your expertise
After becoming a Hollywood superstar Arnold
was ready for a new challenge and decide to enter politics. Though married to a
Kennedy family member, Maria Shriver, he was never afraid to express his liking
for the Republican Party. He got close to the Bush family and openly supported
them. When he saw the opportunity to run for governor of California, he
understood he had to massively expand his knowledge and expertise in order to
become credible and have a serious chance to win.
Almost anyone who spent his life in body
building and acting probably would have be intimidated by the massive amount of
information, in many different subjects an aspirant governor must assimilate.
That was not the case for Arnold. He established the “Arnold University” instead.
He gathered notable experts in each of the fields he needed to learn such as
economic, public health, the environment, etc. He worked long hours taking
notes and learning everything he needed to learn. When it was time to debate on
national television with seasoned and shrewd politicians, ready to attack his
weak points with no mercy, he used humor as his best defense, having a set of
punch lines written by professional comedy authors and memorized in endless
preparation sessions. His motto was, “It is just reps, reps, reps,” in
bodybuilding and in life. That is what made a farm boy from a small village in
Austria the Governor of the richest state of America.
Of course Arnold had his lows as well – like
his divorce from Maria due to a secret child he had with an housekeeper 20 years
ago or admitting using steroids in his competition days – but he was not afraid
to expose these in either of his books. However, his life remains a shining
example of what a human being is capable of, when ready to pay the price.
Arnold was able to touch many lives and influence many people along the way, for
which he deserves, in my opinion, the highest recognition as a master influencer!
And who knows what he will accomplish more in the next 20 years…