In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty welcomes his guest, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-born bodybuilder, actor, businessman, philanthropist, bestselling author, and politician.

He served as the thirty-eighth governor of California. In this episode, they discuss Schwarzenegger's new book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life.

The Early Days

Arnold Schwarzenegger reflects on his early life experiences and how they shaped his mentality and drive. He tells Jay Shetty about being born in 1947, post-Second World War, where survival involved dealing with starvation and his mother begging for food. He had a strict upbringing, where discipline meant physical punishment. He even needed to perform physical tasks like push-ups to earn breakfast.

Schwarzenegger also recalls the influence of the British military on his childhood, as they occupied his area in Austria. This instilled in him a fascination for military vehicles, which continued into adulthood. As a result, he now owns and drives the very tank he operated in the Austrian army.

Schwarzenegger describes his father to Jay Shetty as a complicated man, a victim of the Second World War who was conscripted as a Nazi officer. This war experience, combined with physical ailments from injuries and the defeat's emotional toll, likely led to his father's depressive state and drinking habits. Schwarzenegger also recalls the normalized violence of his childhood, where adults often hit kids.

Speaking on his military involvement, Schwarzenegger praises it despite its challenges. He believes it offers invaluable life skills, from self-sufficiency in ironing and cooking to building toughness and confidence. While acknowledging certain punitive aspects were excessively tough, he credits his youth and physical strength at that time for helping him endure.

From Austria to the U.S.

Arnold Schwarzenegger recounts his initial experiences upon arriving in America. His first touchpoint was in Miami, Florida. In Miami, he was taken aback by the high rises, luxurious hotels, and the canals where almost everyone seemed to own a boat. He shared with Jay Shetty memories of bodybuilders like him being invited on boat rides, allowing him to observe the affluent lifestyle and the people's happiness there. 

His subsequent journey to California, however, was less glamorous. He expected Los Angeles, particularly Hollywood, to match the high-rising structures of New York. Instead, he found low buildings in Venice and a less-than-stellar Hollywood Boulevard. Despite his initial disappointment, he grew to love L.A., attributing much of that affection to the kindness of the Americans he met.

Schwarzenegger reminisced about being invited to Thanksgiving dinners, even when unfamiliar with the holiday. Strangers would offer him dishes, blankets, and even a wooden radio that he still keeps as a symbol of American generosity.

From his bodybuilding era, Schwarzenegger fondly remembers Kurt Marnul, Mr. Austria, his first inspiration and mentor. At age 15, Schwarzenegger was deeply inspired by Marnul and visualized himself achieving similar feats. He became dedicated to bodybuilding and began to model his training regimen after Reg Park, a British bodybuilder and his idol. Schwarzenegger shared with Jay Shetty the importance of having a clear vision to achieve success.

Having a Clear Vision

Jay Shetty discusses the importance of having a clear vision in life. He highlights that people can either feel helpless because of their circumstances or feel envious when comparing themselves to others. Arnold Schwarzenegger reflects on his early life and his unhappiness with reality, including challenges such as strict parents and financial constraints. He speaks about the significance of visualization to escape his reality. He emphasized the power of daydreaming and creating your world. 

Schwarzenegger recalls his ability to visualize his dreams vividly, which eventually became his reality. He shares with Jay Shetty the importance of hard work to achieve your vision; knowing your purpose makes work pleasurable and challenging. Yet the former governor laments that most people lack a clear vision, leading to job dissatisfaction. He believes that having a clear idea early on gives a purpose to education and career choices. To him, it is vital to set explicit goals to avoid becoming part of the majority unhappy with their careers.

Discipline and Determination

Arnold Schwarzenegger reflects on his past, where many perceived his rigorous training and daily routines as products of extreme discipline. To him, it wasn't about discipline but passion and looking forward to the process. He shares with Jay Shetty the contrast between people who work out due to doctors' orders and those who genuinely enjoy it.

Schwarzenegger also recalls the sacrifices he made when he ran for governor. His responsibilities meant he often missed family events, causing distress to his children, who were used to being with him on movie sets. Running for office brought challenges, including facing criticism and adjusting to the world of politics.

Schwarzenegger also reflects on his move to America, leaving behind family, friends, and a certain future in Austria for an uncertain one in the U.S. Despite the challenges and sacrifices, he never viewed them negatively but as steps towards becoming the greatest bodybuilder. He told Jay Shetty that aiming high requires just as much energy as settling for less.

No Plan B

Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't believe in a Plan B. He told Jay Shetty that having one might indicate a lack of faith in your primary goal. Despite facing skepticism about his ambitious dreams, Schwarzenegger always remained steadfast. People doubted his prospects in America, his aim to become a bodybuilding world champion, and his foray into movies. 

Yet Schwarzenegger believes that entertaining the idea of a Plan B might lead one to question their capabilities and the viability of their primary plan, making them their own biggest skeptic. Jay Shetty agrees, pointing out how easy it is for individuals to become their own biggest doubters, especially when considering fallback options.

Arnold Schwarzenegger used the no-plan-B strategy when he ran for the Governor of California. While many believed his candidacy was a far shot, Schwarzenegger was confident about his vision. He felt that the Californian people were disillusioned with traditional politicians. They needed someone who could understand and address their concerns directly.


When running for office, Schwarzenegger didn't want to be seen as another political pawn, so he declined endorsements from influential political figures. Instead, he wanted his campaign to be a direct conversation between him and the voters.

Jay Shetty introduces a lesson from Arnold Schwarzenegger's book about the concept of "sell, sell, sell" and how many view selling negatively, associating it with inauthenticity. Schwarzenegger acknowledges the negative connotations associated with "selling" and offers alternatives like "promotion" or "communicating." He underscores the importance of informing people about a product or service, regardless of its quality. 

Sharing a personal anecdote, Schwarzenegger talks about his early job at a construction company, where he learned the importance of targeting the right customer. A married couple was looking for tiles, and he observed that the wife was the primary decision-maker. This experience taught him the necessity of recognizing and catering to the actual customer.

After moving to America, selling and promoting remained integral to Schwarzenegger's endeavors. He talks about his book Education of a Bodybuilder. Initially, his publisher planned a six-city promotional tour, but Schwarzenegger pushed for 30 cities in 30 days. This ambitious promotional effort paid off, with the book becoming a bestseller and defying the publisher's expectations.

Global Superstar

Jay Shetty discusses with Arnold Schwarzenegger the idea of marketing oneself and reaching an international audience. Jay references a story where Will Smith shared that meeting Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Jean-Claude Van Damme inspired him to aim for global stardom. Schwarzenegger shares his own early experience with film studios, mentioning how they initially limited promotional tours to major markets like the U.S., Japan, and Germany. 

Determined to make a mark internationally and promote himself as an actor, Schwarzenegger visited more countries, including France, Finland, Sweden, the Middle East, and Australia. He explained to Jay Shetty the need for actors to personally engage with journalists and audiences worldwide. Schwarzenegger believes that while actors might find self-promotion sleazy, it is essential for success. Selling, he notes, is an art, just like acting. Whether you are a painter, musician, or actor, promoting your work is crucial for its success.

Wearing Multiple Hats

Jay Shetty questions Arnold Schwarzenegger on the audacity of visionaries and their ability to see their dreams as reality when others can't. Schwarzenegger reflected on his varied life, expressing gratitude for his unique experiences. He went from his career in bodybuilding to acting, politics to interacting with numerous icons, such as Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali, and political figures like Ronald Reagan and Nelson Mandela.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stressed he would never trade his life with anyone, given the breadth of experiences he's had across multiple domains. He shared his philosophy on the necessity of teamwork in politics, emphasizing the importance of uniting Democrats and Republicans to work for the people. Schwarzenegger highlighted that America comprises not just one party but a collective of diverse voices. He believes that genuine leadership lies in bridging divides, invoking a sense of unity, and avoiding partisanship.

Self-Made with Help

Schwarzenegger shared with Jay Shetty the misconception of him being "self-made." He credited his achievements to countless influences, from family to mentors, signaling that success is a collective effort. 

Moreover, Arnold Schwarzenegger emphasized giving back to the community. Inspired by his father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, he believes that helping others is a fundamental human responsibility, regardless of status or wealth. He cited his charitable efforts, such as donating to causes after significant tragedies and involvement in after-school programs and the Special Olympics. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his message with Jay Shetty: life is more than personal accomplishments; it's about service, giving back, and recognizing the collective contributions that lead to individual success.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Arnold Schwarzenegger ON How to Make Your Visions a Reality & Stop Having a Limited Mindset” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

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