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General Tips and Thoughts from Dad

mark and serenanl Tips My Dad Says (Happy Father's Day to All of the MAKE Pops)
My dad used to tell me: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” -dscotthep

I’m not sure I can boil this down to a single phrase, but…

When I was very young, maybe 6 or 7, I told my grandfather that I wanted to dig a swimming pool/fishing pond in his backyard complete with an underground room with a window to watch the fish (I may not have all of the details right, but it was something like that). Instead of saying, “Sure, go ahead” (dismissively) or “That’s crazy” he said, “That sounds expensive and you need to have a good plan before you get started.” He sat down with me and made me draw up my idea, identify the materials and tools, estimate the costs, and figure out how long it would take. He even added up all of the costs on his big adding machine and stapled it to my drawings. He then said I could refine the plans and start saving my money and get started as soon as I could handle it. It sounds like he was just taking the long way around saying “That’s crazy” or “Yeah, right,” but he taught me to draw plans, make lists, and evaluate cheaper alternatives (“Maybe you could add the underwater viewing area later”). He also took me seriously and encouraged me to combine my creativity with basic engineering facts. -Chris Palmer

Whenever I’d got overwhelmed, my dad would say: “You know how to eat an elephant, Kevin? One bite at a time.” -Kevin Devaney

My favorite dad saying: “There is nothing more permanent than that which is temporary,” a reminder to do it right the first time. -Lou Amadio

If it’s stupid but works, it isn’t stupid. -Balloondoggle

My dad taught me to be patient, if something doesn’t work the first time, try it again. If it still doesn’t work, be creative about finding another possible solution. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! -Megan Durant

thermite200 Tips My Dad Says (Happy Father's Day to All of the MAKE Pops)Rust, fire and explosions are the same process, taking place at different rates. -Mark Crane

As we were remodeling my first house, a common phrase from my dad: “Good enough for this small town & the chicks we date.” -Nicole Seifert

My dad is not really a maker, but he did inspire me to work very hard at whatever task I set my mind to, and for that, I’m grateful. Teaching good work ethic, teamwork skills, and diligence is just as valuable as showing someone how to use a drill press or a soldiering iron. Oh, and he also taught me that mom was probably the better person to go to when things got broken. ;) –Libby Bulloff

One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “The Best is the Enemy of the Good.” This refers to the inhibiting power of perfectionism. When I find myself intimidated at the prospect of tackling something that I want to do, something good, I remember these wise words. -Paul Spinrad

Never point out a problem without providing a few alternative solutions. –Richard Gould

My father (a lawyer) told me that company culture is driven from the top — if it’s the people who make the product, you’re good; sell the product, you’re OK. If the accountants take over, look for another job, and if the lawyers take over, run as fast as you can the other way. –Alden Hart


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Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.

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