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Article  •  5 September 2023


Arnold Schwarzenegger shares the surprising truth about audiobook recording

'This recording was something totally new for me.'

No matter how successful, wealthy, or accomplished we are, all of us will have struggles in life. And part of health and fitness is finding a way to keep moving forward when things get challenging.

Today, I’m going to be honest with you. I just finished recording my audiobook for Be Useful. I finished writing the book a few months ago, but this recording was something totally new for me. The publisher told me that since the last time I wrote a book, audiobooks have grown and grown, and people would expect me to read the whole book for them. In the past, I read a little bit, and a professional handled the rest. That wouldn’t be enough this time.

I could tell you it was a fantastic new experience for me reading my own book.But that would be a lie.

Here’s my secret: I’m a terrible reader. They didn’t talk about learning disabilities in Austria in the 1950s, so most of the time, when I was asked to read out loud in class, it was just a disaster, and I got smacked with a ruler. 

But now I know that I’m dyslexic.

I have found ways to make sure it doesn’t hold me back. It’s why when I prepare for a movie, I read the script over and over in the months before until every line is memorized, and when I give a speech, I do at least 20 practice reps so I can get my brain around the words. Reps save me every time.

But this was a whole book, over 200 pages. And they told me that most people record their books in 3 days in a studio. When I heard that, I just filled with dread. Reading for that long every day without time to practice was my nightmare. I could already see the teacher holding the ruler over my head.

I gave myself a second to complain and ask what I got myself into, and then I told myself it was time to deal with it. So I called Daniel and told him I had an idea. I wanted to get the recording equipment at my house, start earlier, and plan to do morning and evening sessions every day until I finished. That would give me time every morning to practice the next 20-30 pages, record, and then practice again until my evening session.

It worked, but only because I also had a fantastic team. Eric turned one of my rooms into my own recording studio, and Nithya, Danny, and Kris were there every morning and evening when I recorded on Zoom. I am not exaggerating when I say I couldn’t have done it without them. When my mouth got ahead of my mind, they corrected me. When I went too fast, they slowed me down. When I stumbled, they were patient.

Now I can be honest: I can’t wait for you to hear the finished product. But I also want you to know that it wasn’t easy. I dreaded it. But I put my own advice into practice, and so can you.

I started early and just did it instead of putting it off (we all put things off when we worry about them, right?). I did constant reps to prepare. I broke it into small pieces instead of trying to bite off more than I could chew. And I had a fantastic support network.

I’ve shared these lessons with you in this space many times, but it is important for me that you know that I also live by them.

When I tell you no one is self-made, and we all need help; or to celebrate your small wins because they build up into big victories; or that if you do the reps, you’ll feel more confident, those aren’t abstract ideas for me. They’re the rules that make my life work, every day.

So if there’s a challenge you’ve been dreading, be like Arnold. Get your complaining out of the way and tell yourself the only way to get through the struggle is to get moving. Prepare. Break it up. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.

When you hear my audiobook in the fall, remember that it isn’t just a recording – it’s me putting all the advice I’m sharing into practice.


This letter was orginially shared in Arnold's daily newsletter Arnold's Pump Club. Sign up here!

Feature Title

Be Useful
Seven lessons from the international icon on how to live a meaningful, purposeful life, for fans of Atomic Habits and Wim Hof
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