Book Notes

Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It

Book cover for Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It
Adam Savage

One of my favorite shows on the Dis­cov­ery was Myth­Busters. Adam Sav­age and Jamie Hyne­man were a real­ly fun duo as they host­ed the show and led hun­dreds of exper­i­ments and tests. I was delight­ed when I saw that Adam was writ­ing a book shar­ing life lessons he’s learned through mak­ing” over the years. 

Adam is a mas­sive sup­port­er and advo­cate of the mak­er world. I’ve loved fol­low­ing him on Twit­ter and see­ing projects and orga­ni­za­tions he’s work­ing on beyond Myth­Busters. I fig­ured I could learn a thing or two from him and I was right. If you’re into cre­at­ing things” — whether they’re dig­i­tal or phys­i­cal — I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Know­ing that miss­ing a dead­line wouldn’t be the end of me as a mak­er freed me to chan­nel all the stress tied up with a tick­ing clock into a focused per­spec­tive on productivity.

I list­ed to this book rather than read­ing a phys­i­cal copy, so my notes are sparse. I still want­ed to share some stand­out quotes from my listening.

Notes & Quotes

When we say we need to teach kids how to fail, we aren’t real­ly telling the full truth. What we mean when we say that is sim­ply that cre­ation is iter­a­tion and that we need to give our­selves the room to try things that might not work in the pur­suit of some­thing that will.

On enthu­si­asm, pas­sion, and shame in our making:

The things we love tend to make us quite vulnerable. 

Reflect­ing on pulling all nighters try­ing to meet dead­lines to cre­ate things:

There is no skill in the world, I have since dis­cov­ered, at which you get bet­ter the less sleep you have.

Learn­ing new skills of lead­ing and man­ag­ing others:

When you’re the boss — when the buck stops with you — then you need to be able to deliv­er the right feed­back at the right time.

On list mak­ing and deadlines:

Know­ing that miss­ing a dead­line wouldn’t be the end of me as a mak­er freed me to chan­nel all the stress tied up with a tick­ing clock into a focused per­spec­tive on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. It gave me the skills to solve com­plex prob­lems while keep­ing my eye on the ulti­mate goal of the project, what­ev­er it might be that day.

On sketch­ing and draw­ing ideas and plans before get­ting to work on them:

Know­ing that you can build some­thing isn’t the same as know­ing how you’re going to build it.

Sim­ply about shar­ing what you know and learn:

Shar­ing infor­ma­tion is the fuel for the engine of progress. 

All excerpts © 2019 Adam Savage

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