7 Career Lessons From Arnold Schwarzenegger

I am a big fan of the author Tim Ferriss. I highly recommend his work to anyone looking to improve both personally and professionally. If you not familiar with him, a good start is his excellent podcast and bestselling book "The 4-Hour Workweek" , it has had a major impact on my life.   

Last year Arnold  Schwarzenegger did an interview on Tim's podcast which I found very inspiring. Arnold was a hero of mine growing up, as is true for most of my peers. Certainly his story is the perfect example of the American Dream, showing how someone can come from nothing and go on to achieve great things.

I thought I would share a few takeaways from the transcript of their talk. I found several portions particually relevant as it relates to career advice. 

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1. Have a clear vision

My confidence came from my vision because I am always a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go then the rest of it is much easier. Because you always know why you are training five hours a day, you always know why you are pushing and going through the pain barrier, and why you have to eat more, and why you have to struggle more, and why you have to be more disciplined. And all of those things become much more clear. It’s not like, “Oh my God I have to do another, two hundred sit-ups.” It’s more like, “I can’t wait to do another two hundred sit ups because that will get me one step closer to the abs that I need to win the Mr. Universe.” That’s my goal. I see myself clearly on that stage winning the Mr. Universe.  

2. Carve out your niche

I never auditioned. Never. I would never go out for the regular parts because I was not a regular looking guy, so my idea always was everyone is going to look the same. Okay, how can I carve myself out a niche that only I have?

3. Learn when to take a break

I’ve learned is that there are many forms of meditation in the world. Like when I study and work really hard where it takes the ultimate amount of concentration, I can only do it for 45 minutes, maybe an hour. But then I have to kind of run off and maybe play chess. I play chess for 15 minutes and then I can go back and can have all the energy in the world again and jump right back and then continue on with my work as if I’ve not done it at all today. Right? It’s like I’m fresh. That’s another way that I think of meditation.

4. Focus on your strengths

I always felt that I should keep the two apart and that I should not invest and put money into films. This is a whole other business to be in, to finance movies. I think that my strength is to be a performer. I think there are people out there who are very good in financing movies and raising money for movies, or people that run studios and all this, and to let them do their job what they are doing and I do my job what I am doing.

5. Act like a winner

I felt that the mentality and the mental strength in sports and the psychology in sports is much more important than the physical thing because, in reality, I see when I watch a Mr. Olympia competition or Mr. Universe competition or any of those things, they all look pretty much the same, the top five guys. But what makes one emerge is the way he acts. If he acts like a winner, if he seems smiling, having a great time on stage and such. So I felt one should use the psychology; one should use everything in as far as food supplements are concerned, use your best posing trunks, try to use the sun out there and workout in the sun so you get tanned all around, use the best posing routine. When you give a 10 of everything then you have the best shot of winning and psychology was definitely part of that.

6. Master the art of negotiation

[Arnold worked as a bricklayer when he was just starting out in America]

I would go to the guy and say, “It’s $5,000,” and the guy would be in a state of shock. He’d say, “It’s $5,000? This is outrageous.” I’d say, “What did you expect? and he’d say, “I expected like $2,000 or $3,000.” I’d say, “Let me talk to my guy because he’s really the masonry expert, but I can beat him down for you a little bit. Let me soften the meat.” Then I would go to Franco and we would start arguing in German. [25:40 Content in German.] This would be going on and on and he was screaming back at me in Italian. Then all of a sudden he would calm down and I would go to the guy and say, “Okay, here it is. I could get him as low as $3,800. Can you go with that?” He says, “Thank you very much. I really think that you’re a great man and blah, blah, blah and all this stuff.” I’d say, “Give us half down right now and we’ll go right away and get the cement and the bricks and everything we need for here and we’ll start working on Monday.” 

7. Don't take things too seriously

I always have a tendency when things get really intense and when people start freaking out, I try to make a joke or something to lighten things up and just say, “Look, you know ten years from now we’re going to look at this day and laugh about it. Right now it’s very serious and now we have to really concentrate on this and we have to do something that we don’t feel comfortable, whatever the situation is.” This was the situation. It was a terrible situation and I thought it would loosen it up before the legislative leaders come down to my office and we start negotiating. 

I hope you enjoyed this fun little, um, exercise? Please checkout this episode for yourself, it is a good listen. 

To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

See also my posts on:

5 Architecture Career Success Tips For Millennials

10 Tips To Get An Architect Salary Raise

25 Things To Consider When Choosing An Architecture Job Offer

Good luck!

Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Have a suggestion for a future blog post? Please let me know in the comments below.

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