Hello to all of you!
It's my 74th birthday today, and a lot of people ask me what I want for my birthday. I don’t need more stuff, so please don’t send anything. But here’s what I will ask from you. Do one thing every month this year, not for yourself, but for others. Once every month, instead of just thinking about "me," think about "we." Just give back once a month. That would be the greatest gift.
This can be anything from reaching out to a neighbor and telling them you’re there if they need something, volunteering at an after-school program, tutoring a kid in a subject you excel at, helping someone with their groceries, picking up trash in the park or a beach, to helping a friend through a tough time. Just one thing. Hell, right now, it could be as simple as getting the vaccine if you haven’t yet because you might not be worried about COVID, but I promise you that you cross paths with elderly or immunocompromised people or kids who can’t get the shot yet and they care. Do it for them.
Now I don't want to limit you to one act of kindness, you can do as many as you want, but one is a good place to start.
That’s a gift I’ll be truly grateful for, because we need to start coming together. And I think you’ll love the joy you feel when you do a good deed.
In fact, I want this gift so much more than I want more artwork or cigars or shirts, I’m going to do something I’ve wanted to test for a while. Email me your act of kindness, and I’m going to jump on a Zoom call to thank the first 10 of you that reply. Make the subject of your email ‘Birthday Gift’ so it’s easy for me to find.
I also hope you had a great 4th of July weekend with your friends and family, no matter where you might be. I was in Graz, Austria during the holiday, after our environmental summit. I went on long bike rides, stopped in the town square to see the store where I bought my first bodybuilding magazine decades ago, and had a schnitzel eating contest with my friends. I have never been a big eater so I can’t keep up with the schnitzel eating contests. I normally just have one while enjoying watching all of them go crazy.
My Austrian World Summit was a huge success. We reached over 2 billion people worldwide and hosted some of the most powerful voices in environmentalism. We heard from Lisa Jackson, Chief Sustainability Officer at Apple, Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley, Greta Thunberg, Secretary John Kerry, the list goes on. I am so proud of what we have built over the last 5 years with the Austrian World Summit and I can’t wait to see all of the amazing work we will continue to do to save the planet and terminate pollution.
Speaking to a Brick Wall
We host these large conferences every year, with hundreds of environmental leaders from all across the globe to accomplish one goal, stopping pollution. Too often, politicians talk and talk but don’t act. They will tell you that they want to make sure that some environmental policy doesn’t crush the economy. I know that’s wrong because since I signed California’s environmental policies in 2006, our economy has literally DOUBLED from 1.6 trillion to 3.2 trillion. To give you an idea about how much that is, if the United States economy grew as much as California’s, our national GDP would be 27.6 trillion today - it is 21.43 trillion.
We have the fastest growth rate in the United States, and our economy is now the 5th largest in the world, behind only the US, China, Germany and Japan. California has its share of problems, from homelessness to income inequality, but our environmental policies did not hurt our economy. We have proven that green businesses can boom, because our green jobs grew last year by 35%, four times the global rate, but we have also proven that all businesses can boom, because we lead the nation in manufacturing and agriculture.
That is also why this year it was fantastic to highlight some heroes of the private sector like Jim Farley of Ford Motors and Lisa Jackson of Apple. Lisa and Jim aren’t worried about getting reelected, they are worried about a sustainable future and getting their companies ahead of the curve. They know that going green means making money. Pretty soon other companies will follow their lead, and we won’t need to worry about the politicians failing to act because people like Lisa and Jim got off their couch and did something about it.
Now this month I wanted to talk to you all about the importance of staying in touch with old friends. Some of you have friends who you have known since birth, since high school, or since college, and some friends you have met recently. I have always had a special place in my heart for those friends I’ve known my whole life. Recently, in Vienna, all of my friends from Kindergarten came to visit me during my Austrian World Summit and we could not stop laughing and thinking of all the fun times we used to have growing up in Styria. It was like nothing had changed, we were all back in the classroom making trouble again, and we even almost got my friend Karl to crack a smile! He was always the stoic one. Take a look at a picture of us together in Vienna a few weeks ago!
There are things in this life I would not change for the world, like my family, my career, or the friends I’ve made along the way, but something that has always been strange to me is fame. I love meeting fans, I love signing autographs and taking selfies, but sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I could go to the grocery store without being recognized. I have been so recognizable for so long that sometimes I forget what my life was like before, back when I was just starting in bodybuilding and didn’t even know what an autograph was the first time a fan asked. That is why I love hanging out with my old friends, because they remind me of those old days. They remind me that I am still just Arnold from Thal, and that is important for me to remember. My friends don’t care who I am or what I’ve done, they may think it is really cool that I’ve accomplished so much, but they knew me before all of that, and they were my friends because of me, not my money or my career. We just talk about normal things like our kids and grandkids.
The bottom line is that it is always important to keep in contact with your old friends. Those same old friends that knew you when you were just a kid running around getting into trouble are the friends who you can count on to bring you back to Earth, and remind you that you are still the same person you were all those years ago. All the money in the world won’t change that.
When I was in Graz, I was also reminded of my great friend and mentor Fredi Gertsl. Fredi was a really smart guy and encouraged his son Karl and I in our workouts, but also reminded us that we needed to train our minds as much as our bodies. He was always recommending books and maybe more importantly, letting us sit in when he had discussions with other adults, from philosophers to professors to politicians. He would always make sure we were paying attention and learning. It was his birthday on July 3rd, and to celebrate I went to the local synagogue that was destroyed during Kristallnacht, when the Nazis demolished synagogues, destroyed Jewish businesses, and terrorized Jewish people. The synagogue was then rebuilt after the war on the original brick foundation. Fredi always taught me about history and tolerance, and that if we don’t remember our history we are doomed to repeat it. The amount of anti-semitism and racism in general that has gone on in this country lately is disgusting. Synagogues are being vandalized with swastikas, Congresswoman Greene is saying our wildfires are caused by Jewish space lasers, Asian Americans are being viciously attacked, and of course Black Americans are still fighting for their equality and justice. All of this is inexcusable.
I will not sit here and keep quiet about this kind of hatred. If the next generation of Austrians can rebuild a synagogue that was destroyed by Nazis, then the next generation of Americans can create a more inclusive and equal America for everyone. Ask yourself every day, what am I doing to make this world more tolerant and equal? Progress is not passive, we all have a role to play. What’s yours?
Every single person on Earth is unique. We believe in different religions, have different skin colors, practice different traditions, and wear different clothing, but we shouldn’t see these differences as bad or threatening. That is what makes our world great. I love going to Asia and seeing the incredible architecture. I love going to Africa and seeing the wonderful savannah. I love the jungles of South America and the beautiful European alps. I love that everywhere I go, I have something new to learn. We need to cherish our differences and continue to learn and make a better world for the next generation.
Now, on a less serious note, I thought I would share with all of you a funny story about my best friend, Franco Columbu.
As you know, Franco and I were always together. We were training partners, we were business partners, but more importantly we were best friends. One thing that we always loved to do together was play tennis, so Franco would always come over to play at my house, and most of the time we’d eat and schmooze afterwards. So one day, Franco and I head over to the tennis court to play. The game was going well, very back and forth, when all of a sudden I hit the ball over the fence. Franco told me not to worry and that he would go get the ball. So I’m sitting there waiting for about 5 minutes, when all of a sudden I hear a car starting up and zooming down the driveway. I am standing there on the court like a total idiot when I realize Franco has just gotten into his car and left in the middle of the game. I just stood there and shook my head, but that was just Franco! I mean this wasn’t the only time something like this happened when we were supposed to play tennis.
Another time, Franco and I made plans to play the next day and he said he would see me in the morning. I was sitting in my living room the next morning waiting and waiting for Franco, and it had been about 2 hours since the time he said he would show up, so I decided to call his wife Debbie to find out what the problem was. She picked up the phone and I asked her where Franco was, she responded “What? Franco is on a plane to Sardinia right now, I don’t know why he told you he’d play tennis!” These stories are Franco in a nutshell, always unpredictable, always making me laugh. I miss him every day, so please make sure to enjoy all of your time with your friends. Here is a photo of the two of us:
While we’re on the topic of friends and training partners, here is a video of my friend Doug pumping me up at Gold’s Gym the other week. The guy does not let me get away with anything.
Now, I saved the best training partner story for last. Back in the day, Ed Corney and I would always compete with each other during training. We had so much fun in the gym, and once a week, we would train with really heavy weight, so one day I loaded up 500 pounds on the squat rack and started repping it, really pushing myself. Sometimes we would have an oxygen tank by the rack when we did this because it really wiped you out. After I lifted, it was Ed’s turn, and he wanted to beat me so badly that he gave it all he had, rep after rep, until he stood back up, racked the weight, and fell over from exhaustion. I naturally saw an opportunity, so I kept doing my reps, and on every rep I was almost low enough that my ass would hover right above his face. The guys in the gym thought it was hilarious, and once Ed got back up he thought it was pretty funny too. The memories and laughter we had in those weight rooms never seemed to end. There was always something going on in there.
I want to also share with you all two interviews about saving the environment that I did recently on Fox News with Steve Hilton and on CNN with Chris Cuomo. I know some of you may be saying “I can’t stand Cuomo!” or “I can’t stand Steve Hilton!” but it is important that we keep an open mind and listen to different perspectives. It is so important for me to do both CNN and Fox News because I know that I will bring my message to the widest audience. My goal is not political, my goal is to help educate people. Take a look at the full interviews below, and if you would normally watch Cuomo I encourage you to watch Hilton, and if you normally watch Hilton I encourage you to watch Cuomo. Open your mind!! Go to Twitter to see my interview with Cuomo!
Community Action Heroes:
I wanted to share with all of you a profile of Los Angeles resident, Pastor Kathy Huck. Pastor Huck founded a group called AMFB or “About my Father’s Business”, a homeless outreach ministry that helps homeless people in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Kathy and her team visit homeless encampments, provide residents with meals, water, tents, sleeping bags, seasonal clothing, personal hygiene products, and also help them register to vote. Pastor Huck is a total powerhouse. Not only does she provide these services for the homeless, but she also takes the time to get to know them, give them advice, and be their friend. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone in tough times is someone to talk to. I think my favorite part of Pastor Huck’s mission however, is helping with voter registration. It is so important that we all register to vote so we can be involved in the conversation and have a seat at the table. I believe the homeless population deserves a seat at the table too, so thank you Pastor Huck for taking such initiative. If you want to learn more about her and her organization, go to https://www.amfb.org/
Do you think life can be fun and great as an adult? I’m a 19 year old, and I see so many adults, just depressed with life, stuck in jobs they don’t like with no social life and no goals or aspirations? I was talking to my mum and she just said “That’s life” and it’s just ugh I hate how accepting they are of it.
Well, I can tell you that accepting life as boring or unfulfilling is nonsense talk. You alone have the power to make your life as exciting or as boring as you want it to be. If you want to leave your home and move somewhere else, save the money and go! If you want to quit your job and follow your passion, do it! Just because you have seen adults give up on their dreams, doesn’t mean you should give up on yours. You are 19 years old, when I was 19 I was still in Europe dreaming of making it to America, and I did everything I could to make sure that dream became a reality.
I think the key thing for leading a great life, and I end up saying this in every newsletter because it is so damn important, is having a vision. Sit down and really figure out who you want to be, not just what you want to be. I don’t mean sit down and look at Instagram and think “I want to be an influencer like this person.” Put the phone down! Be with yourself, read books, try hobbies, and find what makes your passion click. Then you can build a vision, and I can promise you, whether your vision is having a normal job and being a great dad or mom or becoming a great artist, if you know who you want to be, life will never be boring. Because every step will mean progress toward your vision.
Let me explain what I mean when I say decide who you want to be, not just what. If you just think “what do I want to be?” and you decide to be a lawyer because that makes you money, you’ve decided what you want to be. If you decide to be a lawyer because you’re passionate about criminal justice, or constitutional rights, or maybe even business law, you’ve decided who you want to be. So many people chase their parents’ visions of themselves, or they chase money despite not caring about how they make it, and I don’t think that will ever lead to fulfillment. Find your vision. Find who you want to be. And chase it. I promise it won’t be boring, even when you’re old like me.
Hell, I have had friends who worked into their 90s, whether it was Dino DeLaurentiis, the great film producer, or Jack LaLanne, the fitness expert, or Jim Lorimer, my friend who built the Arnold Sports Festival with me. The one thing they had in common was that their job wasn’t just a job - it was part of their identity. It was who they were. It was their vision.
What is your bench press max?
I don’t bench press heavy these days because I have had so many injuries. I do light weight for high reps to get a good pump and get sweating. But my best bench press was 525 pounds.
There is a lesson in setting a goal and hitting it that is unbelievable, so if you’re young, set yourself some big goals and work on a sustainable plan to achieve them. What you learn is simple: failure is not losing, failure is part of growing. Before I lifted 500 pounds, do you know what I did? I failed to lift 500 pounds, not once, not twice, but tons of times.
One of the best lessons the gym can teach you is that failure is not an end - it's a means to an end.
I want to get my son Rocco into some resistance training but he is only 12, how do I make it entertaining so he will stick with it for life?
I think you are on the right track here, you have to make it fun. Since he is only 12, you might want to start with body weight exercises like pushups, pull-ups, knee-bends, and crunches.
I learned a lot from the way I was parented, which was incredibly strict, and the way Maria and I parented our kids, which was much more encouraging. When I grew up, a lot of times, we didn’t do things because we wanted to, we did things because we were told to, like when my dad made us do pushups before we could play. That method of parenting worked for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone. It can break some kids.
It’s much better to do the encouraging route, and use rewards. So maybe when Rocco wants to watch TV, make the commercial breaks your time for some exercise. To make it more fun, get a deck of cards, and deal yourselves both a card, and decide whatever number on each of your cards is the number of pushups you will both do during that commercial break. That’s also a key - to make it fun, you need to be doing this with your kids, so they see that you enjoy it and you aren’t just making them do something you wouldn’t do yourself. I think a big reason my kids love exercise is that they grew up hanging out with me in the gym. You have to be part of it. You have to enjoy it, or why would your kids?
Sometimes a little discipline is ok. When I wanted my kids to learn to ski, and they would complain about the cold, I would tell them they just need to ski with me for two hours and then we would all get a big hot cocoa with marshmallows. Now that they’re adults, they love skiing and they thank me for making them ski to earn their cocoa. Now enjoy this photo of Christina and I in the gym from when she was a little kid, and then the other day when we painted together!
I hope you and Rocco have a great time.
Here are a few of my favorites from last month:
Pump of the month: Bent over rows.
Song of the month: Atlantic City- The Band
Book of the month: Out of many, One: Portraits of America’s Many Immigrants By George W. Bush
Joke of the month:
Movie of the month:
Archive Shot of the Month: