Dr. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 6 Rules of Success Full Speech (Transcript)

Dr. Arnold Schwarzenegger

We produce here the full transcript of the inspiring speech of actor and politician Dr. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Six Rules of Success at the 2009 commencement address for the University of Southern California.


Listen to the audio version:



You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”



  1. Trust yourself
  2. Break some rules
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail
  4. Ignore the naysayers
  5. Work like hell
  6. Give something back.



Mr. President, upon the recommendation of the appropriate university committee, I present for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, the Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You, Arnold Schwarzenegger, are a self-made man, ever a Californian at heart; you are a warrior for the Golden State — a tireless leader in seeking to protect the environment, to advance scientific discovery and to bring people together for the common good.

Your greatest strengths, our ambition, discipline and fortitude. You’re a devoted public servant and a philanthropist, a gifted entrepreneur and a statesman.

Here in your adopted country, your name has been immortalized in the annals of Hollywood and in the archives of our nation’s history.

For your inspirational realization of the American dream, your many accomplishments as a leader, actor, and sports icon, and your significant contributions in promoting the state of California, the University of Southern California now presents you with its highest honor.

By the authority vested in me by the trustees, I hereby confer upon you, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. Please accept our warmest congratulations.

And now it’s my great pleasure to ask Dr. Schwarzenegger to offer the 2009 commencement address for the University of Southern California.


Well, thank you very much.

Hello, everybody. What a great introduction, what a wonderful thing. What a great, great welcome I’m getting here, so thank you very much.

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I mean, I haven’t heard applause like that since I announced that I was going to stop acting.

But anyway, it is really terrific to see here so many graduate students and undergraduate students graduating here today. I heard that there are 4,500 graduating here today, undergraduate students, so this is fantastic. There are 2,200 men, 2,300 women and five have listed yourselves as undecided.

So this is really a great, great bunch of people here, I love it.

But seriously, President Sample, trustees, faculty, family, friends and graduates, it is a tremendous privilege to stand before you this morning.

There’s nothing that I enjoy more than celebrating great achievements. And I don’t just mean your parents celebrating never having to pay another tuition bill, that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about just celebrating the great accomplishments. So let me congratulate the Trojan class of 2009 on your graduation from one of the finest universities in the world.

Let’s give our graduates a tremendous round of applause. What a special day, what a great accomplishment!

Now, this an equally special day, of course, for the parents, for the grandparents, siblings and other family members whose support made all of this today possible.

And let’s not forget, of course, the professors, those dedicated individuals who taught you, who came up with exciting ways to share their vast wisdom, knowledge and experience with you.

And I must also say thank you to President Sample for honoring me with this fantastic degree. Thank you very much. Wow, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Doctor of Humane Letters! I love it.

But, of course, I noticed that it wasn’t a doctorate in film or in cinema or in acting. I wonder why? But anyway, that’s OK. I take whatever I can get.

But maybe now since I’m the doctor, I can go back up to Sacramento and maybe now the Legislature will finally listen to me.

But anyway, I stand before you today not just as Dr. Schwarzenegger or as Governor Schwarzenegger, or as The Terminator, or as Conan the Barbarian, but also as a proud new member of this Trojan family.

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Now, some of you may know that my daughter just completed her freshman year right here. One of the most exciting things for me has been to learn about the great traditions that make this university so wonderful and so special.

My daughter told me all about, for instance, the Victory Bell. She sat me down and she told me it weighs 295 pounds and how the winner of the annual football game between USC and UCLA takes this bell and gets to paint it in the school colors.

And I stopped her in the middle of talking, I said, “Wait a minute, Katherine, back up a little bit. UCLA has a football team?”

Now, of course, my daughter’s journey here at USC is just beginning, and yours is ending. I know that you’re a little bit stressed out right now as you start this exciting new chapter in your lives. Some people say it is scary to leave the comfort of the university and to go out into the cold, hard world.

But I have to tell you something; I think this is a bunch of nonsense because after all, this is America. This is the greatest country on earth, with the greatest opportunities.

It is one thing if you were born in Afghanistan or in Swat Valley in Pakistan where you’d be forced to join the Taliban or be killed. Now, then I would say yes, that is a little bit scary.

But this, this is going to be a piece of cake for you, trust me. You live in America and you’re prepared for the future with this tremendous education you have gotten here at one of the greatest universities in the world. This is going to be exciting, it’s a great adventure and this is a new phase in your life. This is going to be awesome.

Now, of course, this journey is not going to be without any setbacks, failures or disappointments. That’s just the way life is. But you’re ready and you are able, and you would not be here today with your degrees and with your honors if you wouldn’t be ready.

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So now, of course, to help you along the way, I thought that the best gift I could give you today is to give you a few of my own personal ideas on how to be successful. And parents, I just want you to know, maybe you should close your ears, you should plug your ears, because maybe there are a few things that you maybe won’t like in what I have to say.

But anyway, I can explain how I became successful and who I am today by going through what I call Dr. Schwarzenegger’s Six Rules of Success.

Now, of course, people ask me all the time, they say to me: “What is the secret to success?”

And I give them always the short version. I say, “Number one, come to America. Number two, work your butt off. And number three, marry a Kennedy.”

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