Total Recall - By Arnold Schwarzenegger

Date read: 
December 22, 2018
See My Collection of 50+ Book Notes

My Thoughts

Biography of the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Highlights his insane work ethic in the gym, in Hollywood, in business, and even in California politics. Entertaining and motivational read, especially if you're interested in fitness. Skip the politics-related chapters ones, though

Summary Notes

When I wanted to know more about business and politics, I used the same approach I did when I wanted to learn about acting: I got to know as many people as I could who were really good at it.

I felt like there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to play both sides: my very outrageous side, wearing motorcycle boots and leather, and my conservative side, with the elegant suit and tie and British wing-tip shoes. I wanted to feel comfortable in both worlds.

As Ted Turner said, “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise.”

No one gets up in the morning and says, “I’m going to be difficult today,” or “I’m going to derail the movie,” or “I’m going to be a bitch.” People just have their hang-ups and insecurities, and acting definitely brings them out.

No matter what you do in life, you have to have a business mind and educate yourself about money. You can’t just delegate it to a manager and tell him, “Half has to stay locked in investments so that we can pay the taxes, and I’ll keep the other half.” My goal was to get rich and stay rich. I never wanted to have the phone call where the manager says, “Something went wrong with the investment. We can’t pay our taxes.” I wanted to know the details.

We understood each other so well by then that I gave him just a few instructions. The first was my old motto: “Take one dollar and turn it into two.” I wanted big investments that were interesting, creative, and different. Conservative bets—the kind that would generate 4 percent a year, say—didn’t interest me. Offshore corporations and other gimmicks didn’t interest me; I was proud to pay taxes on the money I earned. The more we paid the better, in fact, because it showed I was making more money.

I also wasn’t interested in the investments that often attracted Hollywood business managers, such as trendy hotels and clubs. I could tolerate big risks in exchange for big returns, and I would want to know as much as possible about what was going on.

I always told Ronda and Lynn, “Never share my calendar with anybody,” and I would tell Maria only a few days in advance. I’m a person who does not like to talk about things over and over. I make decisions very quickly, I don’t ask many people for opinions, and I don’t want to think too many times about the same thing. I want to move on.


I was pushing all the time, and from the perspectives of Ronda, Anita, and Lynn, the work could be incredibly hectic. We were juggling projects in movies, in real estate, in bodybuilding. I was flying around constantly, schmoozing with people from all walks of life. Everything just nonstop. But they were not average workers with a punch-the-clock mentality. They became like members of my family. They looked out for one another and saw me as a challenge. They would accelerate to my speed, and when I sped up, they sped up.

To me the work didn’t feel intense at all—just normal. You do a movie or a book, you promote the hell out of it, you travel around the world because the world is your marketplace, and in the meantime, you work out and take care of business and explore even more. It was all a joyride, which is why I never thought, “Oh my God, look how much work there is. It’s so much pressure.”

If I heard somebody complaining, “Oh, I work so hard, I put in ten- and twelve-hour days,” I would crucify him. “What the fuck are you talking about, when the day is twenty-four hours? What else did you do?”

“Now that studios are coming to me,” I said to myself, “what if I go all out? Really work on the acting, really work on the stunts, really work on whatever else I need to be onscreen. Also market myself really well, market the movies well, promote them well, publicize them well. What if I shoot to become one of Hollywood’s top five leading men?”

You have to practice each move thirty, forty, fifty times until you get it. From the bodybuilding days on, I learned that everything is reps and mileage. The more miles you ski, the better a skier you become; the more reps you do, the better your body. I’m a big believer in hard work, grinding it out, and not stopping until it’s done, so the challenge appealed to me.

It all sounded great in the script, and it was doable—just a matter of reps, reps, reps. But the preparation was pure pain and discomfort.

I thought about what I had that those kids didn’t. I grew up poor too. But I had a fire inside of me to succeed and two parents who pushed me and taught me discipline. I had a strong public school education. I had after-school sports with coaches and training partners who were role models. I had mentors who told me, “You can do it, Arnold,” and then made me believe it. They were around me twenty-four hours a day, supporting me and making me grow.

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