Embrace what makes you different
Lessons learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger's career pivot from bodybuilding to acting
I’m obsessed with the new Netflix documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger. The 3 part series is a deep dive on how he went from being a bodybuilder, to movie star, to the governor of California. Part of the reason I’m so into the documentary is because Schwarzenegger’s story gives us lots of great lessons for successfully making a career pivot. In short, you’ve got to embrace what makes you different and patiently wait for the world to change in your favor. Let me explain what I mean.
From bodybuilding to acting
When Arnold Schwarzenegger first pivoted from bodybuilding to acting in the 1970s, there was no precedent for big, muscular men playing leading roles in movies. According to the documentary, during that time, Hollywood favored small and skinny actors like Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino, making it difficult for Schwarzenegger to break into the movie business.
However, instead of trying to change himself, Schwarzenegger embraced his physique and took on small roles while exploring different opportunities. There were lots of ups and downs during this time. Work came sporadically.1 He wasn’t a very good actor, and his English wasn’t great. But Schwarzenegger never strayed away from what made him different. Instead, he leaned into it.