How Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Autobiography Motivated My Pursuit of Financial Freedom

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My favorite stories are about those with big dreams who persevered until they achieved their goals. These characters have the mental and physical fortitude to do whatever it takes to get there. I look for ways to be inspired by these people whenever I can: by watching great sports movies, reading commentary from Warren Buffet, or listening to real-life stories. I’m personally inspired by their stories and willingness to share the experiences—the good and bad they’ve gone through to accomplish their goals.

I just finished listening to the book Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold is incredibly famous due to his movies, being a bodybuilding champion, his life in politics, and marrying into the famous and powerful Shriver family. But did you know that Arnold first became financially stable—and eventually independent—not from the movie business, but through real estate? He had a vision early on of what the end result would look like, and he was focused and driven to that end.

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A Relentless Pursuit of Goals

Arnold was an immigrant. His father was not the easiest to deal with, creating for a difficult home life at times. At a young age, Arnold was charismatic, creative, and driven. He had dreams of going to America and becoming a bodybuilding champion, a movie star, and financially independent through real estate. He became relentless in his pursuit.

This story is not unique. There are many incredible stories of immigrants who moved to the United States and built fortunes, businesses, and lives. But the thing that struck me about Arnold was how pragmatic he was in his approach, relentless in his learning, and driven to grow as a person and in business. He was able to lay out steps to get to each goal and quite literally check things off the list as he achieved them.

In previous blog posts, I’ve talked a lot about saying “no” to everything so you can say “yes” to the “one thing.” Arnold was a master. He trained in bodybuilding with vigor. He learned about the business, aligned himself with the best competitors, worked with the best trainers, and eventually becoming one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time.


Financial Freedom Allows for Options

He was eventually invited to America for a bodybuilding competition and was able to set his sights on his next goal of moving to America and becoming a movie star. While training and winning more competitions all over the world, he grew his small business out of his apartment—and also found time to attend acting school. Although others around him suggested he would not land good roles or that his accent and body would hold him back, he always believed he would be a leading man. He waited until the right part came along, and he took the opportunity.

Over time, Arnold became an instantly recognizable movie star and made an incredible amount of money. But the point here is all the while, he was buying, accumulating, and investing in real estate. His first purchase wasn’t a single family home; it was a small apartment building that covered his monthly cost of living. And he continue to invest his earning into real estate deals that made sense. He learned from mentors and partners in the business.

Today, it’s estimated his net worth is in the $300 million range. He has made millions in movies, but he was able to create his wealth through real estate by reinvesting the income into assets. While other acting and bodybuilding friends were working for an income, he started building his passive income early on to support him while he pursued whatever he wanted to. He understood how real estate would enable him to do what he wanted and not trade time for dollars in his life.

It’s OK to Struggle—and Get Help

Whether you are sitting at home, at work, in an airport, or on your cell phone, I want you to feel your hunger and desire to win. As I listened to Arnold’s story, I felt motivated to build my own unique story of growing my business and my life through real estate. I want you to visualize your story and pull from the stories and people that inspire you.

You’ll need to pursue your goal with patience and persistence. Understand you will have tough days. You will fail. You will likely lose sometimes. But be humble, learn, and grow. Seek out mentors and teachers who can help you. Review your goals each and every day, and let them become not an idea, but a part of your very makeup. Make the choice now, that when you do struggle, you will get up and remind yourself that it’s a part of the journey towards the goal you made.


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In one story, the book recalls when Arnold argued with James Cameron, the writer and filmmaker of the The Terminator, about whether to say “I will be back” or “I’ll be back” in that famous line. James was persistent about the language choice, which ultimately became the most famous line of the movie, a phrase quoted for decades after. Although Arnold thought it wasn’t the right line, James had written the film and knew the correct choice.

Ultimately, it took the effort of both of these guys (and countless others) to make this movie. We will never know if the line ultimately would have been as famous if they had changed it, but we do know this: Even as driven, focused, and talented as Arnold was, he still had many people who helped him reach his goals. Make sure you keep your vision, understand your goals, and seek out people who have like-minded plans.

What books have motivated you lately?

Leave your suggestions below!

About Author

Nathan Brooks

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey properties per year. With over a decade of experience in real estate, Nathan is a seasoned investor with a large personal portfolio and a growing business portfolio. Just last year, through Bridge Turnkey Investments, he helped investors add over $12 million in value to their real estate portfolios. Nathan regularly produces educational content to fuel his passion for helping other people learn about and find success in real estate investing. He has been featured regularly on industry podcasts such as the BiggerPockets Podcast, Active Duty Passive Income Podcast, Freedom Real Estate Investing Podcast, Fearless Pursuit of Freedom Podcast, Titanium Vault, The Real Estate Investing Podcast, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, the Good Success Podcast, FlipNerd, Wholesaling Inc., The Real Estate Investing Profits Master Series, Flipping Junkie Podcast, Flip Empire podcast, Think Realty Radio, and more. He is a sought-after speaker and writer and can be found on stage regularly at events across the country.


  1. Jami Lynn

    The books that have resonated most with me lately are “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber, “Bold” by Peter Diamandis, “Work Clean” by Dan Charnas and “Stealing Fire” by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal. There’s such a wealth of inspiration, amazing information and thought-provoking ideas in each.

  2. steve chu

    Great insight Nathan. I’m currently reading, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s helped me start to remove superfluous activities so that I can focus on what’s crucial.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Steve – that’s a great book, and I really enjoyed it (as well as Millionaire Real Estate Investor and HOLD by those guys). The other one that really helped me with the activities and the relationships with clients was the beginning stories in “4 Hour Work Week.” Awesome book there too … thanks Steve!

  3. Erik Orozco

    Incredible book Nathan. I don’t read many biographies, but I really enjoyed this book start to finish! When I see stories of great perseverance like Arnold’s I can’t help but think the possibilities are endless if you just believe in yourself! I recommend this book to everyone who aspires for more in their life.

    • Nathan Brooks

      ERIK! Yes – I couldn’t agree more. It was a long 28 hours even on 1.5 speed 🙂 … wonderful story, interesting guy, and an inspiration to really be relentless in your pursuit of whatever you are after. If you are down with the long books, check out “Snowball” … its about Warren Buffet. It’s great and fascinating too.

  4. Josh Collins

    I just listened to “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future”. Wow. Talk about laser-focused. Mr. Musk may be the epitome focus and perseverance. It’s inspirational that he has his goals and will stop at nothing until they are realized. He’s doing stuff that has never been done before and is succeeding. Yes, he has brilliance that many of us wish we had. However, good old fashioned perseverance is really the reason for his success. And perseverance is something that everyone has within themselves.

    • Nathan Brooks

      I LOVED that book too Josh. And I couldn’t agree more, what a focused and incredibly brilliant guy. I’m not sure how much I’d like working or being around him but he is changing the world – and doing it in style for sure. AWESOME BOOK!

  5. Ben Raygor

    What a great story to share, Nathan. You highlighted it well that Arnold invested in real estate early so that he could work for dollars however he chose later. And it would have been OK for him to fail.

    I hear many people tell young folks to simply pursue what they enjoy and that the rest will work itself out. Yeah, that might happen. But for many, the stars don’t align and finances fail in their passion work and they are forced to give up and quit. Rather, we should be quick to encourage the masses to do what makes sense financially to begin with, like Arnold, so that down the road (hopefully sooner then later) you can do whatever you want, whether it makes big pay or little pay.

    • Nathan Brooks

      I couldn’t agree more Ben. Align the stars, set the sights, and just keep after it. Things don’t “work out” as you expect them all the time, but that doesn’t mean they DON’T WORK OUT. Create the goal, visualize it, believe in it, and be relentless with getting after it. Thanks Ben!

  6. Christy Browning

    Thank you for the great post, Nathan! I enjoyed reading it, and agree it is motivating to learn others’ stories and find inspiration in the overcoming of adversity. I am currently reading Miracle Morning and am also floored by Hal Elrod’s journey from the devastating car accident and recovery. While many people could be consumed by anger and depression at the unfairness of it all, Hal’s attitude towards it is awe inspiring. Instead of focusing on the past and how awful things were after, he had the laser focus on his recovery process and how to become the best he could be. Thanks again for the thoughtful article.

    • Nathan Brooks

      Hi Christy! I am very much motivated by others stories and experiences too. It shines a light on experiences we often I think feel are our own burdens, not realizing so many have had the same struggle before.

      I love Miracle Morning and thought it was a wonderful and inspirational book. Hal’s story is certainly a serious kick in the teeth when you think about everything he has been through, and even to this day his struggles from the car accident and other health issues.

      Thanks for reading my post Christy, and taking the time to write a comment!

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