How Can Marketers Learn From Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the soldier, the body builder, the actor, the political figure and more, is a household name all around the world. But how did he get to where he is now? How did he reach the dizzying heights of his success, and more importantly, how can we as marketers learn from him?

In 1964, at the young age of 18, Schwarzenegger was sent to join the army at the time when all males of that age were required to complete a year of service for their country. He trained as a tank driver but this wasn’t the future that he had dreamt of as a young teen. He knew he was meant for something bigger and better, bigger being the operative word. In fact, in a podcast with Tim Ferris(great podcast, check it out) he mentioned that when he was in the army, his aim was to be “The Most Muscular Man in the World”

He went on to do just that. Not once, not twice, but a whole 7 times. He won the title of Mr. Olympia in 1970, at the age of 23, which made him the youngest bodybuilder to ever win the title, a record that still stands to this day.

But as mentioned earlier, bodybuilding was a stepping stone into what he was to become in later life. He said he saw bodybuilding as his way to make it into the

U.S. He wanted more. Something that I really like about him, is the fact he had no worries with coming out and saying he wanted to be a millionaire. He wanted to be rich and famous. A lot of people nowadays tend to shy away from putting a monetary value on success, but it is why we work, it is what most of us dream about and it is after all what makes the world go round.

Honesty and passion like this, in my eyes, is lost in today’s world.

His passion moves me nicely onto the start of how we, as marketers can apply the 5 traits I think defines him, into our work.

  1. Passion
  2. Drive
  3. Determination
  4. Dedication
  5. Competitiveness


The passion Schwarzenegger has shown throughout his careers is second to none. There’s no doubting that. His passion for bodybuilding while in the army is a prime example. He used to march 20 miles a day, carry out all the mandatory work required of him, and then afterwards he would work out for hours with what tools and equipment he could find, borrow or build himself. All because he loved what he was creating and he loved what he could see developing in front of his eyes.

I believe that to truly excel at something you have to be passionate, you have to care and you have to honestly want to do it. While looking for inspiration and research for this blog, I stumbled upon this:

True happiness comes when you do what you are most passionate about — Oprah Winfrey

I don’t think this could be any truer. In marketing, you generally find that people are passionate about what they do and the work they carry out, as it is such a hard industry to break into. But, I’m finding recently that some campaigns do seem to lack that creative flair and ultimately the passion to getting it right.

Take Insurance for example. A few weeks ago Bryan published a blog about how he thinks the insurance industry is lacking that marketing edge, how it is missing a trick on disruptive, engaging and truly effective marketing. And I completely agree.

From my own research, it seems that most insurance companies are scared to take the first step in disruptive marketing in their industry. It seems that the companies are almost hiding behind the regulations set. To me, the whole industry is lacking real powerful passion that could be the gateway to take it onto the next level.

Passion is one of my biggest motivators. My passion comes from seeing the clients I work with hit their targets every month. There is no greater feeling knowing that your hard work has contributed to helping a business grow. I urge any agency out there, to really ask your marketing team, if they are passionate about the accounts they work on. If your team aren’t passionate, ask them why? The best thing about passion is that we are all passionate about something. And if that passion has been lost, who’s to say it can’t be reignited?

Every new employee who comes into an agency is excited and passionate, as a leader it’s your job to keep them that way.


Drive played a massive part in Schwarzenegger’s journey to fame and fortune. Without it, he’d probably either be still in his homeland of Austria, retired from the army or in a mundane job that ate away at him from the inside. He drove himself every day to be better than the people around him, especially in his acting days.

As a 6’2”, 260lbs with a strong Austrian accent, he had to fight for his place in the lineup. He had to be driven enough to go for the acting roles that others told him he wouldn’t get. Drive is something that we all have. Whether it’s buried deep down inside us or is pouring out, we just have to harness it.

The drive, desire, urge and appetite he showed to get to where he is today is motivating in itself. He wasn’t only hungry for his next meal, but he was hungry for his future, hungry for the bright lights of the big city.

Above all, he was hungry for success.

Again, drive is another key skill marketers can use to their advantage when marketing their business, services or products. One of the definitions of being driven is “being strongly motivated to succeed.” We should all be driven; we should all want to succeed in whatever we’re doing. And don’t forget, success doesn’t mean who has the most money in the bank, although it would be nice.

Drive is a contributor to what makes a person succeed, or ultimately, fail. Like a few of the key attributes, drive ties in a lot with determination.


This is another attribute Schwarzenegger possesses that has made him the “machine” he is today.

He was determined to be the most muscular man in the world. He was determined to go to Hollywood and he was determined to be rich and famous. And look what happened?

“Yes its painful, yes it’s gonna hurt, the consequences wont scare you”

Determination is another key attribute that I think marketers need in order to make it work. By “it” I mean your marketing strategy. Are you determined to make it work? You should be. Determination can play a big part in how motivated you are when trying to fulfil your goals and expectations.

Not only that, but you need to be determined enough to succeed above and beyond what you have already achieved so far. Constantly reassess your performance at every possible stage and never give up.


Throughout his career, Schwarzenegger came up against a number of obstacles. But one of the biggest and most important difficulties that he faced was people. People telling him it couldn’t be done. People telling him he was “living in a dream world”.

Now the word “Dedication” can mean many different things. According to the dictionary, there are about 16 different synonyms that actually define the word. Unsurprisingly, he ticks them all.

A true example of how dedicated he was to his dream was the consequences he was prepared to face. He went AWOL to compete in his first ever body building competition knowing full well what his punishment would be. A week in solitary confinement. The dreaded four walls. This is true dedication to his dream. Knowing he would be punished, he still went for it because he truly believed in himself.

To succeed in marketing, dedication is a trait that needs to run inherently through every single member of your marketing team. Of course, you need to be dedicated to your vision and your objectives in order to succeed, but you need to make sure that your team are sharing in this with you.


Competition surrounds us all, whether it’s a direct competitor of a client or your business. It’s something that drives us all to do better and in the long run, be better.

One of the reasons why I wanted to write this blog about Arnold Schwarzenegger was because there is so much to learn from him in all aspects of his life. I thought you needed to be made aware of some of the things he’s achieved over the years. But, while writing this, even I have learned things about Schwarzenegger, and it ties perfectly with “competitiveness”.

I recently came across a number of blogs that went into detail about how competitive he was. What I wasn’t expecting was how far he went in order to win. In the blog, it talked about the biggest bodybuilding rivalry to ever hit the sport. Arnold Schwarzenegger VS Sergio Oliva. The pair had a rivalry like no other. In 1970, Arnold came up against Sergio Oliva in the final of Mr Olympia. After several minutes of posing on stage, the pair agreed to walk off and call it a draw. Sergio stepped down first and continued to walk backstage. This is where the real Schwarzenegger came to light, while Sergio walked off; Arnold turned around, looked at the booing crowd, and decided there and then to make it look like Sergio had walked off knowing he had been defeated. Arnold went on to win the Mr. Olympia competition and it was a milestone in his career.

Competiveness can be an ugly trait to have. But proven by this, it’s a winning attribute to have. Our competition can help us drive forward in terms of both personal goals and company/client goals. Your competitors should motivate you to become the lead in the marketplace. Competition also helps us to adapt and differentiate our approach to the audience. It pushes you to think of new, creative ways in reaching and ultimately delighting the users.

These 5 characteristics contributed to the success of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He put 100% into everything he did, whether it was a plate of protein packed chicken and rice followed by a raw egg or twelve in his bodybuilding days, or the time he was elected Governor for the State of California.

The aim of this blog was to motivate you into becoming the best marketer you can be, and to also give you an insight into exactly where hard work, grit and true determination can get you.

Hopefully this blog/book (lengthy one I know) inspires you to become that successful marketer one day. I know it will help me.

I’m always open to suggestions, so if you think I have missed out any key qualities that Arnie holds, that we as marketers can use to push ourselves forward, then give me a shout.

Tweet me at @PhCreativeRob or @PhCreative