The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Be Useful — Arnold Schwarzenegger on 7 Tools for Life, Thinking Big, Building Resilience, Processing Grief, and More (#696)

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Austrian-born bodybuilder, actor, businessman, philanthropist, bestselling author, and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger (@schwarzenegger). Arnold served as the thirty-eighth governor of California. His new book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, is out October 10th, and his daily email newsletter Pump Club recently hit more than 500,000 subscribers and continues to grow as a positive corner of the Internet. 

Arnold has made it his mission to give back. Since his time in the Governor’s house, he’s been working diligently to combat climate change, anti-semitism, ensure fair voting practices, help youth, work with Veterans, and inspire healthy living.

Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyOvercastPodcast AddictPocket CastsCastboxGoogle PodcastsAmazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. Watch the interview on YouTube here.

#696: Be Useful — Arnold Schwarzenegger on 7 Tools for Life, Thinking Big, Building Resilience, Processing Grief, and More


Tim Ferriss owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as his right of publicity.

WHAT YOU’RE WELCOME TO DO: You are welcome to share the below transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles (e.g., The New York Times, LA Times, The Guardian), on your personal website, in a non-commercial article or blog post (e.g., Medium), and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include attribution to “The Tim Ferriss Show” and link back to the URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above.

WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED: No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content or use Tim Ferriss’ name, image or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. For the sake of clarity, media outlets are permitted to use photos of Tim Ferriss from the media room on or (obviously) license photos of Tim Ferriss from Getty Images, etc.

Tim Ferriss: We’ve talked about a lot the last few times that we’ve spoken, but I’d love to chat maybe about the heart surgery and your recovery from the heart surgery, which I think might be perhaps a inspiring place to start for a lot of people. Would you mind just describing the heart surgery and what the recovery has looked like for yourself?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think that you’re referring to the most recent one, which was 2018. That was when I just went into a routine, non-invasive aortic valve replacement. But it goes through your arteries on your arm, neck, and then your growings into your heart, and then they replace your valve. It’s a standard procedure that they have now in the last 10 years, and you don’t have to perform open heart surgeries anymore because of it.

Just happens to be that in my case, they had a difficult time somehow and they poked through the heart wall with the cable. So I got internal bleeding, and they now had to perform an emergency open heart surgery. And I, of course, was not aware of any of that, because I was out.

The next thing, I wake up and I’m really happy and this is over, only to find out that I was having a breathing tube in my throat and I couldn’t talk. And I saw three doctors in front of me not smiling, but kind of having a concerned look on their face. One said, “Don’t try to talk, because you can’t. You still have a breathing tube in your mouth, and we’re going to pull that out right away now, so just stay with us. Okay, one, two, three.” And then I was — so I was breathing heavy and someone ripped the breathing tube out of my mouth.

And then the second doctor said, “We are so sorry, Arnold, but something went wrong with the valve replacement and we had to perform open heart surgery.” So I digested all that and also the breathing tube was just ripped out of my kind of throat and lungs. So I’m still kind of not saying anything, just look, staring at them. And the next thing the next doctor says, “Yeah, it’s like 16 hours later now since you were first put down. But so now we are keeping you awake and everything hopefully will be fine. The most important thing is now for you to make it through the first night, because that’s usually when you can have pneumonia and where things go south.”

So I was saying to myself, “I’ve just gotten out of an open heart surgery where it could have cost my life, and now they’re telling me that this next night or two is very crucial so I don’t lose my life.” So I said, “What the Hell is that? What kind of a deal did I get into here?”

So anyway, the bottom line is is that it was — I had to kind of connect quickly, shift gears, and realize what has happened. Which takes you a while because you’re on drugs and you’re on medication and you’re still on the anesthesia somewhat and you’re not with the program. So as I slowly started getting with the program, I had to kind of shift gears and realized that the simplest things weren’t possible to do. Couldn’t go to the bathroom, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t do this, do that. And then slowly I started getting with the program, started pulling out the tubes during the night, and they started adjusting this and adjusting that. And then eventually, I was able to go and get up a little bit.

So now the doctor said, “The key thing is to walk.” Because if you walk, then you exercise your lungs. And when you exercise your lungs, the danger of having pneumonia starts really slipping away and you don’t have to worry about that. But the key thing that kills you always is the least amount of lung activities that you have can create this problem, and you die with pneumonia.

So I was always setting goals for myself, “Okay, I’m going to go and walk around the bed. Right away I’m going to get up, have someone pull along the machines.” Then after I walked around the bed, I sit down again, relax a little bit. Then I went outside to do this thing. So I’ve got to make it outside the room, and I started going outside the room and back in again, and outside the room, back in again, and started doing exercises like that. Then eventually, I was walking around the nurses’ station. And then eventually, two days later, I was walking down the long hallways over to another building and back, which was like hundreds of yards. So I could really build up strength and get out of that hospital as quick as possible.

So after six days, rather than what they thought seven days, after six days, I got out of the hospital and I was exercising and I was walking. And I asked friends of mine that were working out with me to put the pressure on me, and my family, my kids, and everyone, put the pressure on me to make me walk and do not let me get away with not walking. So that’s exactly what we did.

Tim Ferriss: You’ve always seemingly been very good at setting goals, having a vision, and then setting these intermediate goals. I’d like to rewind the clock because I was trying to find some aspects of your life that we haven’t explored already. This is going to go back to age 10. So age 10, roughly, is it true that you were selling ice cream at the time? I think they were ice cream pops or some type of ice cream. You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but I did find that, and I’m wondering if that was one of your first experiences with entrepreneurship, or at least trying to make money by selling something.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Yeah, and you’re absolutely correct. And it was not that I wanted to become an entrepreneur or anything like this at that point. What it was was just really a necessity. I felt like I needed a training suit. Friends of mine had training suits in the winter and tennis shoes, and I didn’t, and my parents refused to buy it. They just would give me my lederhosen, the pants that they wore day and night, and in the winter and in the summer. And then some high shoes, boots, and just closed it with work all the time, but nothing fancy. So I wanted to have — and I’d go to the soccer field, I wanted to have a training suit. So they said, “Well, you go out and make your own money, that’s fine. You can buy your own stuff. But you definitely — you’re not going to get it fast, because that’s not the kind of money that you have,” and that’s exactly what I did.

So I went downstairs to the lake, where I grew up and where I learned how to swim, and I asked — there was a ice cream and dessert kiosk in front of the big restaurant and right near the lake. So I asked him, I said, “Do you have anything where I can go and put ice in it and then carry it back there where the people are lying around in the middle of the grass and the bushes and all around the lake, that they’re too lazy, maybe, to come to the front here and buy the ice cream here and have it melt on the way back there and it’s gone already?” So I said, “There is some people, I think…” This was maybe the entrepreneurial kind of mentality, because I felt kind of there is maybe a need for someone to deliver the ice cream to those bushes and those different locations around the lake, rather than have those people go all the way to the front to get the ice cream. So I did not know, but I thought that maybe it would be interesting idea, let’s try it.

So I would just take a little box that the guy gave me with some kind of a container where you normally put water in it, some round kind of container and with a handle on it. And he put in ice from the winter that when they cut the ice in the winter on that lake. They used it in the restaurant below for keeping — because there was no refrigeration yet. Keeping the drinks, the beer, and the vegetables and everything cold. So they had huge amounts of broken ice in the bottom of that restaurant. So the guy had in his trunk, where the ice cream was, this ice in it. So he gave me a little bit for my container, and then he put in 20 ice creams. They were just icicles, those bars. He put those in there. They had a little bit of cellophane, this little kind of paper with.

So I ran with those around the lake, and I said, “Ice cream, ice cream, fresh ice cream, ice cream.” And then every so often, someone would pop up and say, “Yeah, I want some ice cream,” and then I would go over there to the bush and there would be three guys lying there with a girl. So they said, “Give me four ice creams,” I’ll give four. So the next, there were four. So by the time I was a hundred yards gone, I already was out of ice cream from my pocket. So I had to run back to the front again, get more ice cream and go back out again. And then eventually, I just took a hundred with me, and there was enough ice underneath so to keep it cold in that hot day. It was around 30, 35 degrees. So I sold this ice cream.

And then the end of the day, I ended up what this guy gave me, one shilling for each ice cream. So I sold like a hundred and forty five, a hundred fifty, a hundred eighty ice creams, and so made 180 shillings. So that got me enough money to buy myself a training suit. And then the next weekend, I would go back and I would buy myself with the money then some tennis shoes and stuff like that.

So this is kind of how I started to realize that if you work your ass off, you can really accomplish a lot of things. That’s why my book, Be Useful, I put in there — the main chapter is just “Work Your Ass Off.”

Tim Ferriss: Work your ass off. And we’re definitely directly going to segue to Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life. This title, Be Useful, could you explain — and that probably ties into similar chapters around the story around earning money and working your ass off in your younger years. Where did this title come from, Be Useful?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: It comes from my father. He would always say that. And his whole attitude always was, whatever you do, try to serve the people. Try to do something good for your community or for your family. Don’t just think about yourself. That’s why my father was so heavily kind of against body building, because he felt like that there — it was called Selbstfrönung, which means you are kind of glorifying and you’re treating yourself rather than worrying about others. So he just thought — like he says, “Instead of lifting for yourself, why don’t you go out and chop some wood? Why don’t you go and shovel some coal? This way, you help some older person that has coal delivered. Shovel coal into their basement so they have coal in the winter and they have wood in the winter, and you help an older person that is not able to do those things anymore. That’s what you should do. Then you get also muscles. Then you also get strong. Then you also can kind of look good.

Look at those guys like László Papp. László Papp is a boxer from Hungary. He was the European champion in boxing. How does he train? There’s pictures all over the place where he’s chopping wood in the forest. I said, “That’s how he trained. That’s how he becomes a world boxing champion. He doesn’t just think about his boxing, he thinks about other people too.” So that was his rap. So he says, “You’ve got to be useful. You’ve got to go and use your talent to help people.” So that’s where it kind of came from.

And it’s something that was really interesting because I think you and I, we talked about that in the past, that sometimes things come to you as a kid, but then later on in life, it kind of comes back. It’s like kind of you’re not dead. Six o’clock in the morning and you want to stay in bed and you say, “Wait a minute,” I heard this voice from my father screaming, “Be useful.” People have never accomplished anything. No country ever was built by people sleeping in. Austria was not built by people sleeping in. America was not built by people sleeping in. People struggled, people suffered, people worked their asses off to build this country. So you want to go now and sleep in. So then you start feeling guilty and you just jump out of bed right away, because you hear those sounds. They come back and it’s kind of motivational, because it really has driven me my whole life and has pushed me.

So that’s why I call the book Be Useful, because it’s kind of a nobler title. And then within that book, I put all the chapters in there, never think small, or work your ass off, or sell, sell, sell, and all of those kind of things. Shift gears. Or whatever it is, I’ve put this kind of lessons together which were very crucial lessons that I’ve learned throughout my life and throughout the various different careers, but especially in the gym.

Most of my lessons are learned in the gym, because there’s no better place than to learn in the gym, because this is where the rubber hits the road, right? I mean, this is where if you don’t do the forced reps and if you don’t work until it burns and until it hurts and then you go beyond that and do the forced reps, you’re not going to grow. So now you get this message that only through pain you can actually grow. Only through pain you can grow. And discomfort and misery, you can kind of grow also as a person. Not just physically, not just muscle-wise, but as a person.

Through comfort, no one ever grows. You only can grow through comfort and to going through things where you have to have discipline and where you struggle. If it’s in the military, if it is in a real good job or if it’s studying in the university, the more this kid struggle and study all night and goes through hardship, the further they’re going to go. Look at the students that go through medical college and all this stuff, how many sleepless nights they have and all this. So this is what it takes.

Tim Ferriss: How did your father say, “Be useful,” in German? What is the way to say that properly? Or how would he say it to you?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well, he would have different versions of it. He would just say, “Hart arbeiten.” Work hard.

“Hilfe andere.”

Tim Ferriss: Help others.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: It was always help others. Don’t just be interested in yourself. So it was kind of like a combination of all of those things that he threw together, and he would just always kind of be very critical of people that didn’t do that.

My father’s job was a police officer. He was with the gendarmerie, which was the country police. It was all about protecting people and keeping law and order. So that’s serving the people.

And the same is when you talk about music. Music is to entertain people. So his whole thing about learning to play music and to play six instruments, the trumpet, the flugelhorn, the saxophone, the clarinet. All of those different instruments made him a great performer. He wrote music, he conducted music. So it was all about what can you do for other people. So he would go to the city park out there, and he would have concerts. He would play concerts, he would play in funerals. Whenever a police officer died, he would always play at the funerals. And direct the music and conduct the music and all that stuff. So he was always interested in serving the people. So he was really into that.

Tim Ferriss: Arnold, when I think about you, the adjective that comes to mind — I was asking myself this question earlier today. The adjective that comes to mind for me is resilient. Many people have seen the Netflix miniseries, Arnold. One of the lines, and I’m not going to get this perfectly right, that stuck out to me was that your upbringing made you but broke your brother. And I’m probably getting the phrasing off a little bit, but I’m wondering if you could just elaborate on that a little bit and speak to what the upbringing was like, and then also what made you different from your brother in that respect.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think that my brother was more in nature, more fragile. I never really realized that when I kind of grew up, but just the very fact certain things that kind of unfolded made me then realize that. There were two things. One of them was that he was more fragile, and the other one was that he appeared to be more fragile, and that I appeared to be strong.

The reason I’m saying that is because, for instance, when he was 11 years old and he was going to school in Graz, outside the village, and he had to go with the bus there, then they had to be picked up at the bus station a half an hour away from our house. And it was night in the winter, in the fall, and then he was afraid to go home. He would say, “I’m afraid to go home by myself.” So my father would turn to me, he says, “Well, Arnold, can you pick him up? I’ll give you a shilling every night that you pick him up.” So I’m going to end of the week, five shilling. Because on Saturday, it was only half day school, so he would go home at the time when he was still alive.

So I said to him, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll pick him up. No problem.” He says, “You’re not afraid?” I said, “You’re kidding me. No.” But in the meantime, I was also scared shitless. So I appeared tougher than my brother, but I was also afraid. But I was not afraid enough not to go. So I did go, even though I was afraid. My brother refused to go because he was afraid. So there was both, that I was a little tougher than him, but that I also pretended to be tougher than him.

So that kind of unfolded as time went on. So as we were punished and beaten and all of those kind of things that was going on, it was clear that my brother couldn’t quite handle the thing, because he ran away more often from home. Well, not only more often, ran away, because I never ran away. So he ran away and he would not appear sometimes for a week. My father would have to look for him all over the place, and he was scared. Did he get lost? Is he gone? Or what is going on? It freaked him out and we treated him for a while when he came back home, we treated him for a while nicer and then started getting to be again too much for him.

What happened was really when I look back was that each time a father punished us, it made my brother more and more vulnerable and weaker and it made me strong. I thrived on that kind of like — my mind started gearing up to, “I’m going to get back at him. I’m going to leave this house as soon as I can. I’m going to be out of here at the age of 18. I’m going to go to the military and then I’m going to go and get my passport. And then I’m going to go to Germany and then I’m going to go to America and I’m going to be out of here. This is it. I’m not going to take this any longer. And it will make me stronger and really set a program and set a goal and a vision of what I’m going to do in life.”

Whereas my brother crumbled. He got weaker. He started drinking. He started getting involved in alcohol. And I could see in his behavior that he didn’t behave well. He was abusive.

And eventually, he died because of a car accident, drunk driving with the age of — he was I think 24 and I was 23 when that happened. I was already in America at that time. But it was really sad. I could see that he just could not handle anymore the punishment. And I could. I was thriving on it. And I used it to my big plus and as a support system. And it was all about gave me the motivation, it created the fire in the belly. It made me a creative vision, a necessary vision. This is what I want to do. I want to get to America. I have to become a bodybuilding champion. I have to get away from home. I had to find a new father figure. My father was great to be the father, the official father, but there were others. The trainer in the weightlifting club, Kurt Marnul.

There was a guy that Kurt Marnul, that we also knew, that was in his 40s and 50s, that became a father figure, very smart guy that spoke English and was very worldly. And then there was a Jewish fellow there that became our kind of mentor and helped us with the weightlifting club.

This all became my new father figures in the way. And then eventually Joe Weider, when I came to America, and all of these people I looked up right away as an idol because they would treat me in a better way. And they would educate me and they would really usher me along and nurture me along.

But I never really rescinded my father because of it. I always felt that he served a really extraordinary purpose for me, not for my brother, but for me, which means to get me to America, to become a great champion, to have that will to be able to work no matter how many hours it takes to do no matter what it takes. And do not shy away from misery or from pain or from obstacles or from falling down and having to get up again and crawl on all four from nothing. That was the power and the strength my father gave me. And so I’ve always appreciated that.

And nothing comes in the perfect package because I knew that if he would’ve given me all the love and if he would’ve not done none of that, and if I would’ve had all the money in the world, I would’ve not grown up as tough. And I would not have been able to accomplish what I did coming to America and becoming this world bodybuilding champion and do all the things that I was doing. It was all because of that upbringing.

And so when I look at, for instance, my in-laws, when I see those kids, they’re very smart kids in the Kennedy family, but I always felt like they couldn’t have grown up like Maria or Maria’s brothers or anyone around them. They couldn’t have grown up. Or my children couldn’t grow up with the same desire and the same hunger, but they can get other qualities. And so that’s the key thing to focus then on that. But I mean, they could never have that quality of hunger and desire and deep inside kind of reach, being able to reach inside no matter what it takes.

Tim Ferriss: Let’s talk about one of the rules: Never think small. You seem like the walking archetype of not thinking small. You’ve lived multiple lifetimes compared to most people. How would you suggest people think of never think small or what stories come to mind that from your life exemplify that?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well, just the very beginning. I mean for me to go and say, “I want to compete in the Junior Mr. Europe competition,” rather than just in the Mr. Austria competition. I trained just as hard as everyone else in the gym. Their goal was just smaller. They said, “I want to be Mr. Austria. And I said, “I want to be Mr. Europe, so I’m going to start with Mr. Junior, Junior Mr. Europe, the best built man of Europe. I’m going to go to this competition.” And I was thinking bigger and I was training as hard as they were. Everything was the same. But then when I won that competition because I had a very clear vision, that’s what I want to win, that immediately launched me into getting a job to become a trainer in Munich in a bodybuilding gymnasium.

Now imagine how in Heaven is that. You’re a young bodybuilder. You’re 18 years old, you just won your first international competition. You win some local competitions in Austria, you win some power lifting competitions, some weight lifting competitions, but now you are Junior Mr. Europe, and you have this trophy, and now you’re getting a job to train in the second-biggest gym in Munich.

That was like absolute Heaven. With 19, I started training, become the trainer in the gym. Now I had the opportunity to train day and night. When I wake up, because I was sleeping in the gym. I was waking up and I was training. I was taking a nap in the afternoon. I was training. I was going to sleep before going to sleep at night, after dinner, I was training. I was training day and night. This is a dream. But it was all because I thought big.

They were still stuck working for some bathhouse in the Austria or for the government or being a trash collector or being a teacher or something like that. They were still stuck in the same job. I was already moving on to Munich and I was already a trainer in the bodybuilding gymnasium, making this the launchpad to America, which was my ultimate dream.

This is what I’m saying. It didn’t take more work to think big. It just thinking big. Just thinking big makes you bigger. And what my point is just it takes just as much effort. I, my whole — and I learned again from bodybuilding. From that kind of thing, I learned that don’t hold back. When I went within age of 19, I was the youngest Mr. Universe competitor. I competed in a Mr. Universe contest and I placed second. I placed runner up. So that a year later I went back with the age of 20 and won Mr. Universe, the youngest Mr. Universe ever. But this is all because I was thinking big.

I wasn’t saying, “Oh, maybe in a few years from now I go there.” Or “I shouldn’t go there right now,” or something. Or, “It’s too early,” or this. And then it’s just third thing right away, “I’m going to go for the second Mr. Universe next year. I’m going to go to America. I’m going to go and make Joe Weider aware of me and make sure that I win another competition indoors.”

I was driven bigger and bigger and bigger. And even when I got into acting, I didn’t look at it as like, “I’m going to get some character roles.” I wasn’t interested in character rolls. I wanted to be another Steve Reeves or Reg Park. They were the stars of the Hercules movies. Clint Eastwood was the star. We always — Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars. Clint Eastwood in [For] a Few Dollars More. Clint Eastwood in this movie, whatever it was. It was like, that’s what I wanted.

Charles Bronson. I want to be like Charles Bronson. I want to be like Warren Beatty. I want to be like this guy. They were the top stars. And that’s what I saw myself. And they said, “Well, this ladder is very hard to build or to climb up to.” I said, “Well, then I build my own ladder. I build my own ladder and then I know exactly how to get up there.”

That’s exactly what I did. I created my own way of getting up there. I took five hours that I learned in bodybuilding. I took five hours every day of working my ass off to train and to train and to train and to pose and to pose and to do all the stuff that I needed to do. I said, “I’m going to do the same five hours, but I’m going to go and learn English. I’m going to learn acting, speech lessons, voice lessons, accent remove lessons,” or I should get my money back for those.

But in any case, I took all of those lessons one hour every day and I was grinding it out. And then I remember eventually it happened. People started hiring me, and the great thing was that I felt that I should not be financially vulnerable. I first got into real estate and I worked my ass off in real estate. My first million I actually made in real estate before I really got into acting.

And that helped me because now when they came to me with stupid parts and says, “Do you want to play a bouncer?” I said, “Fuck no. Why would I play a bouncer?” He said, “Well, what about a Nazi officer? You have the German accent.” I said, “No, I don’t want to be a Nazi officer.” I said, “I want to be a star. I want to be a leading man. I want to get rich and famous.” Just looking at these people, Charles Branson. And they said, “You’re crazy. It will never happen.”

Well, I applied the other rule, which is don’t listen to the naysayers. I worked my ass off. I did exactly what I did in the bodybuilding I did in the movies. Eventually it happened. I started doing The Jayne Mansfield Story. I started doing it with Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margret, The Villain. I was doing Streets of San Francisco. I was doing Stay Hungry and Pumping Iron, all in the ’70s. And even with Lucille Ball, doing Happy Anniversary and Goodbye. I did all of those kind of things. And then that led to the big role. And now I’ve arrived, starring role in Conan the Barbarian.

When John Milius saw me, he says, “If we wouldn’t have Schwarzenegger, we would’ve had to build one.” All of a sudden the body that everyone said would never, ever become famous in the movies because the movies, no one has seen muscle movies anymore. All of the opposite came true. My accent became very welcome. When they determinated they loved the German accent, they did what Jim Cameron called, “Schwarzenegger is talking like a machine. That’s why it worked, like The Terminator.” Things like that.

All of a sudden the things that they said would never make it in Hollywood, the accent, the name, the body, all of the things became big pluses and it made it. That’s my own ladder that I built. That’s why it’s important. Don’t just worry about climbing a ladder that someone else has built. No, build your own ladder. Just don’t wait for anyone else. That’s what I did.

Tim Ferriss: I wanted to underscore a few things for folks. Number one, the building of many ladders was not haphazard, it was systematic. You had the real estate as a financial buffer, which gave you then the ability to pick your shots. And you’ve been very good at doubling down on betting on yourself in many different areas. But could you speak to Twins and what that looked like with that particular film to bet on yourself?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well, Twins was a little bit out of nowhere because I had certain goals, but comedy was not one of my goals when I got into movies. And I felt like I can be funny in the movies. In Conan, there were funny moments and all that stuff. But only when I started doing one action movie after the next, my hunger, the whole philosophy of staying hungry, came out a little bit. And I said to myself, “Well, I wonder if we ever could sell the idea of me doing a comedy.”

And then all of a sudden I started getting obsessed with the idea. And I started talking to everyone. I said, “Have you ever thought about me doing a comedy?” And of course, every studio executive said, “Are you crazy, Arnold? I mean, what do you think? I’m making them millions of dollars of you being an action hero. You finally build you up to be this international action hero, not only in America, but all over the world. Why would I go start spending money on something else that is not sure? I love the action movies. We’re going to give you all the scripts for action movies.”

And so I said, “Yeah, but I understand, but what about me doing an action movie for you and then the next one we do is a comedy?” “No. Why would I do that? You tell me. I mean, would you do it?” I said, “Yeah.” I said, “But here’s the thing, what we need to do.” 

Then when we finally formed a partnership, Danny DeVito, Ivan Reitman and myself, we got together and I said, “I can sympathize with the studio. Why would they take the risk? For what? Why don’t we all take a risk? Why don’t we go to them and say, instead of us getting the big salaries, why don’t we just say we do the movie for nothing? Just give us a backend. You don’t have to pay us any salary whatsoever. If the production costs 16 and a half million dollars, that’s all you use. Not one penny more for us. Fuck us. Don’t worry about us at all. We have plenty of money. And if the movie goes in the toilet, we all go in the toilet. Everyone takes the risks. Not just you, the studio. Wouldn’t be fair, would it?” 

They said, “Hey, this is my thinking. What do you want in return?” We said, “All we want is just you give us three 37.5 percent of ownership of the movie, and then we all go to the bank together. If the movie goes through the roof, we all make money. The movie goes in the toilet, none of us make money.” They said, “We are in.”

That’s exactly what we did. And it happened to be with Ivan Reitman’s genius directing. And with Danny DeVito, great, great acting, and everyone else around us, Kelly Preston and everyone else, and me being involved, we made the movie a huge hit. As a matter of fact, that movie made more money than any action movie made up until that point for me.

My action movie made always to 70, $80 million. And that movie made $128 million domestically and worldwide, $250 million. Now imagine the budget being 16 and half million dollars, and your box office is 250 million. Now we own 37 and a half, almost 40 percent of that chunk. We all cleaned house. They were so fucking funny. We’d go around.

As a matter of fact, Tom Pollock, who was a fantastic studio leader and great producer and lawyer, he after the deal, he just basically said, he went around the desk in his office. And he bent over and pulled out his pockets and he says, “You guys fucked me and robbed me blind.” And so, it was like we all were laughing because we all were very good friends. He was right. We really, because they were so worried about the risk taking that we said, “We take the risk.” And sure enough, we did, and the risk paid off. And so we just really cleaned the house.

I made I think $70 million on Twins or something like that in the end. And Danny made a fortune that he bought two houses and built two houses. We all got a lot of money, and Ivan Reitman. And so, that’s what deals that we did then in the future with Kindergarten Cop, we did it with Junior. It became a model that no one is going to do today anymore. The studios got smarter than that, so no one was doing those deals anymore.

But anyways, it was historic kind of a deal. But it was, I had the confidence that I could pull it off, and Ivan had the confidence and Danny had the confidence. And so, together, we all did it. And Universal Studios then had the confidence and they promoted it really well. We hired Annie Leibovitz to do the photo shoot. And she took us on top of a bus against the blue sky and just photographed Danny and me leaning against each other. And that became the poster. And it was really genius. Everyone worked together to make this a brilliant movie and a successful movie.

Tim Ferriss: Why have an entire chapter/rule dedicated to sell, sell, sell? Because for a lot of people, they think of selling as a dirty thing. I don’t happen to think of it that way, but why is this so critical that “Sell, Sell, Sell” would be one of the primary sections in the book?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well, you can imagine the reason why I called it “Sell, Sell, Sell” is because it does raise eyebrows. It does make people say, “Wait a minute, selling normally is a no-no.” I mean, if you think about it that most of the actors in the ’70s and ’80s refused to sell their movies. They said, “This is not my job. I’m an artist. I don’t sell. I’m not a salesman out there,” and all this stuff. And I, this was my strength because I studied selling. When I was in career education, I studied to be a salesman.

And so I realized then the importance of selling. That no matter what you have — if you have a podcast, if you have a movie, if you have a painting, if you have a car, a technology, a medicine, whatever it is — if people don’t know about it, you have nothing. The more people that know about your product or about your talent, the more you can go and be successful. Therefore, this idea of selling, publicizing, marketing, communicating, convincing, all of those kind of things is an art. And there’s art agencies that make millions and millions of dollars to just figure out what the language should be in order to really sell to the right people and have the right customers and sell a product the right way. So it’s an art to do that and I’ve learned it way back when I was 15 years old. I learned how to sell. I remember when my boss said to me — he says, “Now watch me carefully when I sell. There’s this couple coming in.” This couple comes in and I worked in a store that had wood products. It was like a lumber yard and the hardware store. It was like a hardware store type of a thing. This couple comes in, and they wanted to have tiles. Immediately the guy started talking and then my boss started talking to the guy and said, “What kind of tiles do you want? Do you want the black tiles, the pink tiles, the white tiles?” The guy said, “Well, I don’t know.” The woman said, “We want white tiles. And for the bathroom we want to have pink tiles.” The guy looked at her and he says, “Okay, fine. Let me take you over there.” He said, “How much space? How much tile do you need?” Again, the man didn’t answer and the woman answered. She says, “I need something — I’ve written down the measurements here. I need two meters by a meter 80 tall.” And blah, blah, blah. The guy then all of a sudden realized that she’s the customer. He started really paying attention to her and asking all the questions and taking her around, but included him also.

And then on the end when they were satisfied and we wrote up the order and we then told him that they will be all delivered on Thursday. He came to me after they left, he said, “So what did you learn?” I said, “Well,” I said, “That you really sold the tiles well and the colors and the difference between real tiles and fake tiles and all of this?” He says, “No, no. There was one other thing. I switched who I thought was the customer.” He says, “She was the customer, not him. He paid for it, but she was the customer, so I had to talk and address her because that was the important thing. She needed to be convinced. So I had to sell to her.” 

And so I realized then that selling is an art, that you have to improvise and adjust all the time. That if you go in front of a children audience, for instance, you have to speak a totally different language when I talk in the class, in the school, in afterschool programs, than I talk in Washington when I talk to legislators. I have to talk to differently when I talk to a crowd of fans at the movie theater than I talk to a bunch of lobbyists. It’s always different. So you have to learn the art of selling. And this is why selling is so important.

I remember that when Andy Warhol, when I was being painted in his warehouse down in Soho, and Jamie Wyeth was there and Andy Warhol was there. And that he always talked about that the most important thing is that you don’t just sell the art, but you sell yourself. You have to sell yourself. You have to become an interesting person with what parties you go to, who you hang out with, the photos that you take, the recordings that you make, the magazine that you publish. All of this together makes me a character and makes people fascinated to write about me, and therefore they write about my art.

Sure enough, it worked because in no time Andy Warhol’s art became worth millions and millions of dollars. I used to buy it for $50,000, $30,000. I have the big Indian that is hanging in my office that is now 10, $15 million. I bought for $30,000. Imagine the value that Andy Warhol gained by being just a different character, and being just strange. That people with a wig on it and the glasses and all of these different things. He ran around with a little tape recorder.

Tim Ferriss: What is the significance of shifting gears? People can think of it, of course, in an automotive capacity. But shift gears, what does that mean to you and are there any particular stories that stand out related to that?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: To give you an example. I talked about it earlier. You wake up from a surgery that you think is two hours, they replace your heart valve and then someone tells you, “We poked through your heart wall and you now have been out for 16 hours and now you have to stay here six days or seven days, and you’re not out of the woods yet. We have to do everything we can to keep you alive and you almost died on the operating table. And it could still happen next night if you don’t really get going with the walking and if you get pneumonia.” So that, you have to shift gears very quickly.

So this is the art of what I call the art of improvisation. I usually call it the art of improvisation. That you have to be very good in improvising because there’s a lot of things that come up to you in life but you have to be really good in improvising. And this happened to me all the time when I was governor. I had to quickly shift gears. And it happened also in show business where you have to shift gears where the unexpected is happening and you have to be ready for that and confront that. That’s the most important thing. So it’s just so many people get stuck on certain things and the track and they then cannot get off that track. I just always felt like I was very good in shifting gears.

Like going from bodybuilding to show business. You really had to shift gears because all of a sudden certain other things became important. Think about it, you go and you do bodybuilding. Every athlete always tells you that you got to go and keep the emotions out of the way because it’s the emotions that’s going to kill you. You cannot go and train and compete and train for a competition for a world championship or the Olympic games or whatever it is and be emotionally involved in whatever it is. Because it can derail you. So, okay, so you do that and I become a master in that. I became cornerstone.

But then all of a sudden you go and you start taking acting classes and you start hearing from the acting teacher, “Arnold, you talk like a fucking cold fish. There’s no emotions there.” I’ve got to go and find the emotions. So think about that for a second. All your life long you hear now that this is bad and now all of a sudden you hear you have to be more emotional. You have to be in touch with your emotions. “Have you thought about lately the smell of a rose?” I said, “The smell of what?” “A rose.” He says, “A rose smells a certain way, it’s a beautiful smell.” I said, “What does this have to do with acting?” He says, “Ah.” He says, “If you sit there in the scene and you start thinking about that smell of a rose, you have a totally different facial expression. You close the eyes. Let’s assume that you want to compliment the woman, the perfume she wears. You can’t go and say, ‘I like your perfume.’ Stupid. But if you go and say, ‘What are you wearing? Oh, it smells wonderful,’ you have good taste.” He says, “That’s a totally different tone.” He says, “It would change your voice. If you smell the rose, it would change your voice. But you only can do that if you really smell it and be in touch with that.”

So that’s what I’m talking about shifting gears very quickly. So from one year to the next, I had to all of a sudden have all the emotions kick in. Make everything work that didn’t really work in the past.

Tim Ferriss: So I’m curious to ask you about how that re-accessing of emotion maybe has informed how you experience grief yourself. Since we last spoke, you lost Franco, Franco Columbu, and I’m just wondering what that grief was like for you to experience.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well, I have to say I react a little bit differently to those kinds of things than everyone because to me it’s not so much the shock as it is the ongoing missing a person. Because there’s certain friends that have become part of you. And so if they pass away and they die, something dies in you. And so when I imagine every day when I walk into my living room and I see this chess board where Franco and I played chess in the last 10 years, two, three times a week and drank wine, smoked a stogie, and just talked. Talked like 65- and 70-year-olds talk, rather than the way 20-year-olds talk, like in the old days. And because Franco, I’ve known since I was 18 years old. So then our conversations were differently than they were as of the last 10 years where we talk about kids, where we talk about family, where we talk about where we grew up and about the past and more deeper conversations and more emotional conversations. And now all of a sudden, you’re — every day when you walk into your living room, you see this chest table down the corner, but Franco is not sitting there anymore. That, to me, is heartbreaking.

And when I go to the gym in the drive down with the bicycle and Franco came on the bicycle, he was not good in bicycling riding. He was all over the place. So that was funny. And I had people sometimes videotaping just to show how goofy he looks on a bicycle. I think the bike seat was maybe too high up, but we couldn’t know what the problem was. It was just hilarious because he was 5’3, according to him. I think he was 5’1 or 5’2 at the most. But anyway, he always said 5’3. And then working out with him, the fun of working out with him. Then I had him in so many movies. I remember when I directed the movie The Switch, for Tales [from] the Crypt, I had him in there Conan the Barbarian, I had him in Terminator. I had him in all those movies in there.

So he became kind of part of me. So to me, it’s not just the initial shock when someone tells you, “Oh, Franco just passed away on the beach in Sardinia.” It is also then a daily thing, a weekly thing amongst this.

Every day, every time I go to the Arnold Classic and we hand out the — I have a trophy that is the Franco Columbu posing trophy of most muscular man trophy. And we hand those out with Franco’s body on it that got made by your great Italian sculptor, the double bicep pose. And the double bicep pose intentionally because Franco was really never known for his biceps. Because he was known — he had such overpowering back, his lats, his chest, his deltoids. It was so overpowering that people sometimes didn’t even see the arms. So I, on purpose, wanted to do a double bicep pose so in the future, people also remember him for his biceps. But it’s just a great, great sculpture.

And so, to me, Franco will live on forever. So is Joe Weider and Ben Weider and Dave Draper and Sergio Oliva and Bill Pearl and Reg Park. To me, I see them all sitting in front of me when there’s the Arnold Classic. And I see them all sitting there laughing and having a great time and watching the Arnold Classic and watching how body putting is progressing, how the cash prices are going up, how we have bigger and bigger sponsors, how we have a bigger and bigger convention and expo and all of this. How they enjoy all that. So that’s what I see out there now. But it’s in between kind of like, should I have tears in my eyes when I’m out there and looking at all those faces of those bodybuilding champions and promoters of bodybuilding, or should I smile? It’s this combination.

Tim Ferriss: I would love to get your thoughts on aging and relating to aging, because a lot of people struggle with relating or thinking about aging. I, for the first time in the last nine months have had chronic pain for the first time due to a spinal issue, which is the first time in my life I’ve ever experienced that. And I’m wondering if you could share anything about what you’ve learned or decided with respect to aging, just getting older as we all do.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Well, the first time at all I experienced something similar to that is when I had my open heart surgery. I was not even 50 years old. It was in April and in July I’m 50. So it was just a few months before I was 50. And it was the first time where I woke up after two heart surgeries. The first one didn’t work so they did the second one within 48 hours. And after that, I felt like I was damaged goods. I didn’t feel any more invincible. I didn’t feel like I can handle anything. All of a sudden there were limits put on me where the doctor said, “Don’t train as heavy. Every time you force your reps, you put pressure on your valve unnecessarily. We have to replace those valves again in maybe 10, 15 years from now. So the more you put pressure on it, the faster we will have to. It’s like a tire. It’s 30,000 miles per tire. You can use it up in one year, you can use it up in 20 years. It’s up to you.” It’s that kind of a thing. It was the first time where I started thinking about when I did stunts. I remember that, right after that, was a stunt in End of Days, where the woman that was possessed by the Devil takes the piano and runs it against my chest, wanted to kill me. And normally, you can run a piano into my chest, doesn’t make any fucking difference, I don’t care. But because of the heart surgery, and having been, now, cut open in the chest, I did not know how vulnerable the rib cage is. I told them to measure out the distance with a rope. And then, the rope comes to an end. And it stops, an eighth, or a quarter of an inch, before my chest. It looks, still, like it’s smashing foot in the ice-cold solid, but you start planning on your vulnerability. 

And this then continues on, because all of a sudden — you used to hop up stairs, and hop down stairs, in a squatting position, to just get out of breath, so that when you start a scene, you’re exhausted. You’re cutting in, in the middle of a fight scene, so that you’re — and you have to — big breath. All of a sudden, you start jumping up and down, and your knees start hurting. Now, you realize, “Okay. Between 50 and 60, it’s the knee punishment, so I have to watch my knees.” Then after you’re 70, you said, for the first time, saying, “I noticed myself walking less. Why am I walking less? I used to love hiking, four or five hours, up the steep mountain, and all of this I love, why am I walking less?” Then I realized that I got back pain when I walk a long time. I started getting cramps in my back, so I started walking less. I started doing stretching exercises for the back. Things like that start creeping up. Then you have to start, really — be disciplined and say, “Okay. I still have to walk so many miles a day, so many steps a day.” Blah, blah, blah.

But now, you have to make yourself what came, normally, natural. You get one thing after the next. Then you have shoulder surgeries in both shoulders. Like yesterday, I had elbow surgery, because my nerve had to be relocated. Because, where the nerve was, it created pressure on my nerve. And therefore, my little fingers started getting numb. Now, that comes in — it’s in the late 70s. All of a sudden, what’s up with nerves? And someone talks to you about the neuropathy, about your legs and feet. And this is how it just creeps up on you, all this stuff. And the interesting thing is, it’s like weightlifting. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how young you are. It doesn’t matter how rich you are. It doesn’t matter what color you are.

It doesn’t matter from where you’re from. 200 pounds is 200 pounds. It’s the same fucking thing for everybody. And the same as, also, when you get older. It makes no fucking difference who you are. You can be the biggest celebrity in the world, but you still get your back pain. You still get your hip pain. You still get your shoulder pain. You still get your elbow pain. You still get numb fingers. You still have to watch your heart. You still have to watch the diet. You still get fat if you don’t watch the diet. If you eat three times a day, a full meal, you get fat, you have to cut one meal out. All of this kind of stuff you have to start doing. It’s just that simple. And this is all so that we stay alive longer. The time you’re born, your time cut is set. It’s set. The only thing that changes it is you, right?

Tim Ferriss: Mm-hmm.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Let’s assume I’m set for 85. I can decide, do I want to go to 90? Yeah, I can do that, but then you have to live really healthy. Someone else has said, for 90, you can live to 100. You can stretch it a little bit. And you can also fuck it up big time. You can be set for 85, and be wiped out with 70. My dad wiped out with 66. He was in pension for one year, and then he wiped out. He died because of too much smoking and alcohol, and all of those things. He cut himself short. He maybe was meant to be 80, but he definitely wiped out with the 66. My mother, she died with 76. She did it herself, because she had a congenital heart disease, which is what I have, which is the valve. But she had the choice to get surgery or not. She says, “No. If God wants me, he should have me.” She resisted any surgery.

There’s some people, when you watch the shows, in Sardinia, they live to 100. Because they have no problems. They sleep in the afternoon. They take their naps. They eat well. They walk around for miles and miles every day. They still walk and work. The women are still in the kitchen, with the age of 90, making food for the whole family, and all this stuff. They push it. They push the envelope beyond of what they were meant for. This is the way we can do it. But I think there is a reason, when you get to certain age, to be concerned about it. I don’t know if it’s the age that you’re in now. You’re still a young punk. 

Tim Ferriss: I can hope.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: You have your whole life ahead of you. You could be my grandson!

Tim Ferriss: You’ve been an athlete, as it was laid out in the three chapters in the miniseries. Athlete, actor, American. You’ve had this arc. How do you think of yourself now? What is your identity now? And how do you hope to use the time that you have left? Of course, you have this book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life. You have the newsletter, which has done very well. You have more than half a million people for Pump Club. You have the Pump app. But how do you think of yourself now? And what do you want to focus on, in the next 10 years, if you have, let’s say, 10 years left, something like that?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: I don’t really think of myself, now, any different than I thought of myself when I was governor, when I thought of myself as an actor, as a bodybuilder. I’m very rarely in the moment, where I just appreciate what I’m doing right now, because I always think about the future. I don’t like the past. I appreciate the presence, but I really live for the future. I always just live about where I want to go. Because there’s a lot of things I want to accomplish environmentally. There’s a lot of things I want to accomplish when it comes to public policy. There’s a lot of things I want to accomplish in show business. There’s a lot of things that I want to accomplish in the promotion of health and fitness, and bodybuilding. All of those different worlds I, hopefully, can manage, to combine them and create a certain synergy, some words that [inaudible] one can help from the other, so that bodybuilding can help — from the show business, my success in show business, that the show business can get helped with the success of the fitness movement. Then my newsletter that I have, which is going through the roof right now, the Pump Club, all that is playing into this whole thing.

I’m very happy that, all of a sudden, now, it is like an unexpected new era for me, which is the era of motivational speeches, the era of motivational books, the era of motivational newsletters. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think about they don’t want to create a positive corner on the internet. And that was only because there was so much negativity out there. I started thinking about, “Maybe I should say some nice things, and some positive things.” And it became a huge hit beyond my expectation. Now, I do speeches every so often. If it’s the Ukrainian war, the Russians wanted Ukraine, or if it is the insurrection, or if it is prejudice, or whatever the issues are, I tackle those. As I said to you earlier, I’m the guy that climbs up Mount Everest and sees another bunch of peaks. And therefore, I say, “Oh, my God, I didn’t even know they were there.” And I climb them. That’s what I do, just a continuous climb. Nothing changes. I would climb to 20. I’m climbing now.

Tim Ferriss: What do you hope the impact of Be Useful will be? What would you hope people to gain from it, or use it for?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: I think that the whole thing is about helping people live a better life, and be able to fulfill their dreams, whatever those dreams are. It’s just simple things like that. Don’t listen to the naysayers, or create a vision. And I know that, because I ask my kids, when they were 18, 19 years old, “What do you want to do? Why do you want to go to college?” They couldn’t answer me. I could answer that question when I was 18, 19. I’m concerned about that, because I said to myself, they’re looking too much in the computer, too much on the iPhone, and on the iPad, and they get ideas from someone else.

But this is their ideas, but not their ideas, not my kids’ ideas. They need to be by themselves, and sit in the jacuzzi, or sit in somewhere in the mountain, or out there by themselves, and start thinking. Let the dreams come into your mind. Let the deep inside come out, and give yourself time. Don’t always look at the machine. I’m trying to tell people, these are simple rules, that I talk about in the book, where you learn, that here’s how I create a goal. Because without a goal, without a vision, you have nothing. Where are you going to go? It’s like you have an airplane pilot that doesn’t know where to fly, and he has the best airplane. You can fly around, around, around, and it’ll eventually crash. That’s what happens to you in your life. You crash. You’re not going to go anywhere. You need to have a direction. You need to have a goal. Why you get up in the morning? What are you struggling towards? What it is.

Why are you happy to go to bed at night, if you need some rest, to get up in the next morning, and have the energy again? All of this has to have purpose. There has to be purpose. This is what I try to do, is kindle a little bit of this light in my book, and say to people, in a casual way, “Have a goal. Here’s how you can do it. This is how I did it.” Don’t be afraid of big course. Big course are just as easy as little course is. By the way, I know that every human being is afraid of failure. But you can overcome that by accepting failure. In bodybuilding, we go until failure, with our reps. Every single day, when we train, we experience failure. We are not afraid of it because — like Muhammad Ali said, he said, “Hey…” —I used to be in the stadium. I said, “How many reps do you do in sit-ups?” He says, “I don’t start counting until it starts hurting, I start failing. That’s when I start counting.”

In lifting, you can only know how much you lift if you’re willing to fail. Michael Jordan, when he talked about his 5,000 shots that he missed in basketball, and, how many, 280 some games he missed in basketball, and all of this stuff, “That’s what made me great.” Wow. That’s an eye-opener, when you hear that. That’s really powerful. The greatest basketball player talks about failure that made him great. People should look at that. They should start thinking about that. Don’t start approaching everything with, “Oh, I’m afraid. What if I fail? What if he doesn’t like it? What if I make a fool of myself?” People are afraid of speaking.

Public speaking is the biggest fear that people have, because they’re worried that they may fail or sound stupid, and stuff like that. You get all that. Better get rid of all of this, and the worry about failure, and you will be, then, free. And I’m not saying you will be able to get rid of it completely. You can never change 100 percent, but you can change somewhat, so that you’re not as afraid, anymore, of failure, and that you’re actually looking forward to that, and that you’re saying, “Okay, I’m going to go out and do a failure.” That you approach it differently than the way you look at failure. Look, I’ve always pushed myself — “What do you think when you run for governor?” It would be the highest embarrassment if you would’ve lost, right?

But I took the chance. I was not afraid of failure. I could see my vision very clearly. “This is how I’m going to sell it to the California people, what I’m going to do for Californians. And that’s how I’m going to approach the governorship.” And blah, blah, blah. And if they buy in, great. If they don’t, then they’re lost. Then I move on with something else. But I’m not going to freeze now, and say, “Oh, my God, that if I lose…” But then, I would’ve never run in the first place, if I would be afraid to run, right? You never know how far it’s going to take you. Simple rules like that. I wanted to have those people take away those rules, or, for instance, giving back. As soon as you realize that you’re not a self-made man, and you realize that we all were created by your parents, and that you were created by mentors, teachers, coaches, and many other people that none of us know, but you yourself know — those are the people that have created me.

Just alone, if I wouldn’t have had Joe Weaver to bring me over to America, how could I have come to America? How can I say I was self-made? How could I have become governor, if not 5.8 million people voted for me? I’m not a dictator. I was voted in the Democratic process. Did I make myself governor? No. I’m not a self-made man. I have to recognize that my training, my money, everything comes from a lot of different people. And therefore, that means, when you recognize that, that you now have the responsibility of going out and help others. “There are so many people out there that need help,” like my father-in-law said. Sargent Shriver, who created the Peace Corps, Head Start, Job Corps, and all of these great programs, in his 60s, he said to a bunch of Yale students at the graduation class, he said, “Tear down this mirror that you always look at yourself. Tear down this mirror, and you will be able to look beyond that mirror. And you will see the millions of people that need your help.” That’s exactly right.

As soon as we stop for a minute, looking at ourselves, then you will be able to look beyond yourself, when you see that there are people out there that need help. There are poor people out there that need help. There are fire victims right now, out there, that need your help. There are earthquake victims out there. There are homeless people out there. There are war veterans out there. There are kids that come from poor backgrounds that are out there, that need to learn how to speak English, how to write English, how to do math, and all the stuff. Immigrants that don’t even speak English. There’s so many areas where you can be helpful, that takes money, or takes no money, just effort. Never, ever think it’s all just about you. Someone helped you, where you are today, so now, you go out and help someone else. This is another one of my lessons, is just break that mirror in front of you. Those are the different lessons that I teach people, that really had a profound impact on me, and made me successful, and the “No Bullshit” rules. And anyone can follow it. That’s what it is.

Tim Ferriss: People can find the new book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, anywhere fine books are sold. They can go to The newsletter can be found at And we’ll link to all this in the show notes at Arnold, is there anything else that you would like to say? Any closing comments, or other requests of the audience, suggestions? Anything at all, that you’d like to add before we come to a close?

Arnold Schwarzenegger: No, no. I just wanted to say to the people — I want to thank them for having been such great supporters of mine. Without them, as I said earlier, I will be nothing. If it wouldn’t have been for the bodybuilding fans, as I grew up, they would cheering there, and screaming, “Arnold, Arnold,” motivated me, I will be nothing. If it wouldn’t have been for the movie fans, that went to run to see Conan the Barbarian, and made it the number-one box office that then gave me all the headlines, I would’ve been nothing.

All the Jim Camerons, and the Ivan Reitmans, and all of these people, and the people that are not following my newsletter, the Pump Club, and all of these people that are even interested in a book like Be Useful. And they’d go to my seminars, and listen to my speeches, my motivational speeches. I just really love that I have had such an extraordinary following, and that some of my speeches have reached five and a half, six billion people. That’s really extraordinary. I want to say thank you. Without them, I will be nothing. And thank you to America, for giving me everything.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you, Arnold, for the time, yet again.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Absolutely. Thank you, Tim.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

One Reply to “The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Be Useful — Arnold Schwarzenegger on 7 Tools for Life, Thinking Big, Building Resilience, Processing Grief, and More (#696)”

  1. I greatly enjoyed the transcript and the insight into Arnold’s drive. Thank you for the great interview Tim.