Adam Savage (Host of Mythbusters) Tells Sarah Lawrence Grads to Think Broadly … and Don’t Work for Fools

Adam Sav­age was born in New York City, not far from Sarah Lawrence Col­lege, the lib­er­al arts school where he deliv­ered the com­mence­ment speech this past week­end. Sav­age nev­er went to Sarah Lawrence. Nor did he fin­ish his own degree at NYU. But he had plen­ty to tell the grad­u­at­ing class. On his own web site, Sav­age calls him­self “a mak­er of things.” As a kid, he made his own toys. As a young adult, he began exper­i­ment­ing with spe­cial effects for films, then served stints as an “ani­ma­tor, graph­ic design­er, rig­ger, stage and inte­ri­or design­er, car­pen­ter, scenic painter, welder, actor, writer, and tele­vi­sion host.” (Per­haps you have seen his pop­u­lar Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel show, Myth­busters.) In short, Sav­age is a “col­lec­tor of skills, a poly­math. How did he get this way? By cast­ing his intel­lec­tu­al net wide­ly and by con­tin­u­ing to learn through­out life — which is pret­ty much what we’re all about here. There’s a lot of good advice in this short, feel-good speech. Some of my favorite bits include:

“Don’t work for fools. It’s not worth it. Get­ting paid less to work for peo­ple you like and believe in is much bet­ter for you (and your career) in the long run.”

“Stay obsessed. That thing you can’t stop think­ing about? Keep indulging it. Obses­sion is the bet­ter part of suc­cess. You will be great at the things that you can’t not do.”

“F. Scott Fitzger­ald wrote The Great Gats­by and is one of our nation­al trea­sures. A true giant of writing.The sil­li­est thing he ever wrote is the quote, “There are no sec­ond acts in Amer­i­can lives.” This is insane. If there’s one thing that typ­i­fies the Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence it is that rein­ven­tion and rebirth are intrin­sic to it. Ray­mond Chan­dler did­n’t write a sin­gle word of any con­se­quence until his 40s. Julia Child learned to cook at 40! Clint East­wood direct­ed his first film at 41. Don’t be afraid to be a late bloomer. Repeat­ed­ly.”

Good thoughts, all of them. You can find the full tran­script here. H/T @opedr

More Com­mence­ment Speech­es: 

‘This Is Water’: Com­plete Audio of David Fos­ter Wallace’s Keny­on Grad­u­a­tion Speech (2005)

Conan O’Brien Kills It at Dart­mouth Grad­u­a­tion

J.K. Rowl­ing Tells Har­vard Grads Why Suc­cess Begins with Fail­ure

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