It’s a classic story of a self-made man.
Austrian immigrant Arnold Schwarzenegger hustled his bodybuilding stardom into a lucrative movie career, from which he launched a successful bid to become the governor of California, making millions along the way.
However, that’s a narrative that Schwarzenegger himself dismantled at his recent commencement speech to graduates at the University of Houston.
In fact, he told them to dismiss the idea of the self-made man entirely.
“I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want,” he told the graduates. “You can call me Arnold. You can call me Schwarzenegger. You can call me ‘the Austrian Oak.’ You can call me Schwarzy. You can call me Arnie. But don’t ever, ever call me the self‑made man.”
He told the graduating class that while they should be proud of their diplomas, they shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking they achieved their dreams without any help.
“It took a lot of help,” he said. “None of us can make it alone. None of us.”
Schwarzenegger went on to break down some of the help he had received over the course of his long and varied career. He said that to pose as a self-made man would “discount every single person that has helped me get here today, that gave me advice, that made an effort, that lifted me up when I fell.”
“I didn’t just materialize out of nowhere like the Terminator through a fireball in the streets of Los Angeles, and then all of a sudden I was there,” he said. “No. I would have never made it in my life without the help.”
Other members of the bodybuilding community had supported him in his quest to become Mr. Universe. Then, the creators of “Conan the Barbarian,” the film that would give him his breakout role and propel his career in show business, had to take a chance on casting him, he said.
“There’s 280 people that work on a movie that make you look great on that screen, so how can I say I’m a self‑made man?” he said.
Schwarzenegger added that supporters were the reason he was able to successfully campaign to become the governor of California. What’s more, he credited legislators with helping him pass some of his lasting environmental reforms.
“And I have to say that it is important to acknowledge that, because people make it always sound that you did all this yourself,” he said. “I didn’t. I did it with a lot of help. Yes, I was determined. Yes, I never listened to the naysayers. Yes, I had a great vision. Yes, I had the fire in the belly and all of those things, but I didn’t do it without the help.”
Watch the full speech below: