Episode #311: Adam Savage – Life Lessons From A Master Maker

Adam Savage was the co-host and Executive Producer of the hit show, MythBusters on the Discovery Channel.  Fourteen years, 1,015 myths, 2,950 experiments, eight Emmy nominations and 83 miles of duct tape later, the series ended in March 2016.

Today, Adam stars in and produces content for Tested.com, including behind-the-scenes dives into multiple blockbuster films (including Ghost in the Shell, Alien Covenant and Blade Runner). He also produces and stars in his Brain Candy stage show with Vsauce’s Michael Stevens.  He is the author of Every Tool’s a Hammer – Life Is What You Make It.

Picture credit Syfy

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The Learning Leader Show

“I don’t trust people who haven’t failed.”

Show Notes:

  • Leaders who sustain excellence =
    • “Obsession is the gravity of making”
    • Obsession towards the project — A “desire to see the thing they made to your satisfaction.”
  • Adam on failure:
    • “I don’t trust people who haven’t failed.”
  • What it means to be a great boss?
    • Give great opportunities… “The time, the facilities, reason, and logic.”
    • “Hey, you’re doing great.”  Let employees have the space they need.
    • “There’s nothing better than when someone leading a team project can just run with it.”
    • “Give total autonomy with narrow bandwidth.  Give ownership.”
  • Being a generalist — “The specialist wasn’t always helpful because answers are within the context of a wider story.”
  • It’s very damaging to ask a nine year old what they want to be when they grow up:
  • The WHO
    • “I think about my relationships all the time.”  The people you consciously choose to have in your life are everything
    • “Am I serving those relationships? Am I being present and non-judgmental with them?  Am I with them in the room?”
  • Stop getting mad at customer service — It’s not their fault.  And you’ll feel better about yourself.
  • Adam on his preparation process for a big speech:
    • It depends on the engagement, but it’s extensive.
    • There are 2 specifics:
      • Record yourself and listen to it — “It illuminates where you’re not hitting your mark.  It’s the transitions typically.  How you link them together as a narrative whole.”
      • Memorize conceptually — Practice, practice practice.  Get the reps.
  • Communication as a leader — “Story is completely vital to leadership in every way.”
    • “Language was invented to tell stories.”
    • Pay attention to how they people who move you tell stories
  • How playing quarterback is similar to a work of art
    • There is always something changing — You must adjust on the fly
  • How to become more self-aware?
    • Write everything down — Keep a journal of your thoughts.  Reflect.  Be introspective
    • Have someone on your team who will tell you the truth.  “It’s all about the team.”
  • How Adam lowered stress level:
    • Stopped drinking alcohol
    • Slept more
    • Started meditating
  • Increase your loose tolerance
    • Learn by doing — Take action — “Creation is iteration.” Being wrong isn’t failing
    • You don’t have to have everything in place to start
    • Be easier on yourself during the iterations
  • Share everything:
    • We love the myth of the lone genius, yet none of us make stuff in a vacuum.  Share credit, ideas, everything.  Increase generosity through sharing
  • Use more cooling fluid:
    • It takes more time on the front end, and forces time to clean up on the back end, but it gives more value to the final product — “It’s a reminder to slow down and reduce the friction in your work and relationships.”
  • Sweep up every day:
    • “A clean workbench gives energy.  It helps the future me.”
    • Leave a place better than you found it
  • The cultural malaise currently is based on the scarcity model.  Wrong.  There is enough food, be a giver.  Be generous.
  • Use the “Get To Know You Document
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea

“Creation is iteration.  Being wrong isn’t failing.”

More Resources:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership