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Adrian's personal mailing list
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Dear <<First Name>>,

Writing like Ernest Hemingway requires a standing desk and a Royal Quiet de Luxe typewriter.

Playing guitar like Hendrix requires a Fender Stratocaster.

Taking photographs like Ansel Adams is simply a matter of tracking down the right camera. 

You’d be a fool not to wear the exact same shoes as Lebron James and swing the same racket as Roger Federer. 

Because as long as you have the right equipment there is no failure that can’t be excused. The only unforgivable sin, the only one, is to get caught endorsing unproven tools. We all hide behind our tools because it’s safe, much safer than experimentation. With the right technology, failure is easily deflected. You’ve paid for the right to say...

We may not be able to put the ball through the hoop, but you can’t blame our shoe selection. 

Our startup ran out of money but you can’t blame our tech stack, we use the same platform as Facebook. 

Our users may not like the product we built, but you can’t blame our design, we follow Apple’s HIG religiously.

Sure, most people abandon the app we built, but you should see the amount of analytics we have access to. If somebody farts in Hoboken, silent or otherwise, our CEO gets a notification alerting him to the air pressure change. 

We’ll pay any price to avoid the I-told-you-so stigma that comes from being caught with odd equipment. Which is why for every prodigy in every field you’ll find a market that springs up to profit by selling the tools used by the few who seem to have figured out the key to success. We only get one Michael Jordan but there are millions of kids who can’t hit a lay-up despite their hundred dollar sneakers. Tools can be costumes that conceal incompetence. And as our tools become more and more digital, it is almost impossible to tell the competent from the clowns. It has never been easier to mistake the tools for the craft. And there have never been more imposters in sheep clothing.

How do you avoid being fooled by tools? The best answer I can think of is to be skeptical of new technology. Be cautious when evaluating bullet points on resumes. When you see someone performing at a high level try to look past the tools and understand what they are thinking. What principles remain the same despite changes in fashion? Work to understand your tools as deeply as possible. Better yet, design your own tools. Because when you inherit other people’s tools wholesale you inevitably limit your ability to experiment. Instead of creating art you’ll end up measuring the air pressure in Hoboken.

I’ll write again next Sunday. Stay creative.

Your friend,
Adrian
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