Adam Savage's Ten Rules for Success

Originally published at:

The inimitable Adam Savage, co-host of Mythbusters, co-founder of Tested, and BB contributor, closed our Boing Boing: Ingenuity theatrical experience yesterday with ten rules for success that we would all do well to follow.

1 Like

#7 had the typos fixed but is missing a “want”

Regularly assess where you are and where you want to be in terms of them.

*11. Pretend to be a scientist and blow things up on TV.


“Get good at something” and “Have goals”?

1 Like

Well, #9 at least puts me at 1 of the 10 I’m accomplishing, and I make a good try at #8.

The fact that Savage has spent the last decade making that show is a measure of his success, not the reason he is successful. They don’t just hand out TV crews and production budgets to any jackass who has an ego that needs a-strokin’.*

*MTV excepted


Yep, thank you!

These rules sound good, but they also sound like a whole lot of work.

Where are the rules about relaxing, taking it easy, smelling the flowers, leisurely enjoying nature, and chilling out? Does being REALLY GOOD at being lazy count?

If Adam won’t make rules about this stuff someone should… but I’m not going to bother…


With all due respect, if you had said these were Walter White’s rules of success, I would have bought it! Except maybe the be nice part, though I think he would have included that too.

the problem with Adam’s rules as a list is that by themselves the 1-10 is out of context. you really need to hear about 5 minutes of lecture before they are presented. the idea behind the rules is the borked thinking, “follow your dreams…” this is what every (err, most) parents, teachers and adults tell children. it’s like the hollow promise, “someday you can be president!” either phrase makes for entitled people who think that showing up is 100% of the path to success.

Bob Ballard who ran something called “the Jason Project” required good grades from students for them to participate. his example was driving the ROV. yes, it’s fun to drive. but unless you have the training to know what you are looking for it’s not a very useful skill by itself. you might fly over something interesting ignoring it out of ignorance. and that’s not good science.

maybe the video of the talk will find its way to linkable.


Agreed, I’d love to see the video for full context here!

We hope to post the video in the very near future.

I liked the interview where Jamie explained that he and Adam don’t really like each that much, so if Adam comes up with idea that might get him hurt, Jamie encourages him.

1 Like

Glad to hear that! The actual presentation, with the focused asides was fun, engaging and provided the framing that the list of rules doesn’t. His stress on room for failure was appreciated, as was the emphatic need to practice what you do. Missing from the points are how he got started making, and his interaction with students and workers that he engages with professionally. The video will help.

  1. Come from a class and support network that allows you to spend all that time tinkering and practicing without having to worry about putting food on the table.
1 Like

I’ve long wondered that about them, they really do have a kind of oppositional relationship, one will cheat to win, but not always in a fun way. It really reminds me of what happens with my brothers and I sometimes. I’ve seen Adam Know he was going to lose a contest, so he intentionally fucks with Jamie’s effort.

Indeed. “Everyone at the top of their field is obsessed with what they’re doing” leads me to wonder, are any of them happy? To which some will respond, “They’re rules for being successful, not for being happy!”, which in turn leads to “Do we really have to choose?”

Do something well and thoroughly and be obsessed and work your ass off and fail repeatedly, but don’t forget to be nice to everyone!

  1. Be nice. To EVERYONE. Life is way too short to be an asshole. If you are an asshole, apologize.

Frankly, I generally try very hard to be a very nice person. But if someone is genuinely shitty to me, that pretty much goes out the window.

What do you people think? Should I still be nice to them? Frankly, regarding his quote, I feel that life is too short to be AROUND assholes; and if people are dicks, do you just let them walk all over you and go around being dicks to other people?

I dunno, maybe I’m just over-thinking this.

1 Like

Sometimes the best way to be nice to someone else, and yourself, is to politely but firmly avoid contact.

there’s nice and then there’s being a doormat


haha fair enough