#52) The 52 Skill Rube Goldberg Machine

Posted on Posted in Badassery, Best of Season 1, Blog, Season 1

Time: 1.5 Months to Build, 1 Year to Conceptualize

Cost: $500

Difficulty: The Most Difficult Thing I Have Ever Done

Level of Neetness: Pretty Friggin Neet


1 Year, 12 Months, 52skillz

After a year of learning, growing, building, doubting, creating, imagining, doubting some more, creating some more and one or two near death experiences…so comes the close to the first season of 52skillz.

I’ve been nervous to write this post. Mostly because how I have framed this year puts A LOT of expectation on how incredible the “52nd Skill” is going to be (or maybe I just put that expectation on myself…). Either way, if you’ve watched the video, I hope that it has so far lived up to that.

The next section of this post is going to be a bit more philosophical, in which I will attempt to synthesize all the information I gained this year into the first ever Rube Goldberg Machine Metaphor for Life.

Wish me luck, and we’ll see you on the other side.

Why Building a Rube Goldberg Machine is a Lot Like Life

Specifically doing really really REALLY hard things in life. Things where halfway through you feel like burning down the entire project and moving to Cambodia to shoot RPG’s at propane tanks designed to look like said project. And then taking the ashes of said propane tanks and shooting them into space with a trajectory aimed directly at the sun

You are the solution to all of my problems.

In case this sounds appealing to you, here are 5 other things you should prepare for when building a Rube Goldberg Machine (And Life).

#1 | Planning Is Important, But F*&$ING Doing Something Matters More

About a month before the build, I spent about 20-30 hours planning out how 90% of the machine would work. And when the build began, I followed through on 10% of it.

Though it was important to lay the foundation for the project, it was much more important for me to get out there and experiment over and over again until stuff worked.

The original starting plan for the video.

Similar to life, if you’ve been planning to do something for a long time and are just waiting for the right time start, or for X thing to become perfect (whether its your body to talk to that cutey pie, a business you want to start, or just doing Standup Comedy) …put down your pencil, shut your laptop, turn on your pump up mix…. AND JUST F*%&ING DO IT.

You will learn more taking action through, failing, trying something new, repeating that 10 times and finally succeeding… than you ever will creating that highly polished “perfect thing”.

#2 | Expect Compromise

You have a vision for how the RGM is going to look. You watched that OK GO video a few years ago, and you thought it was pretty darn cool. So you decide you can make one better.

And it totally doesn’t follow through on your expectations, because holy shit that was amazing.

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 9.52.31 AM
I would’ve been more impressed if there were potatoes in those cannons.

But that’s okay, because even if you can’t pull off your vision to a T, neither could pretty much every other artist out there. Creating is about accepting compromise, and if your vision can be cool enough that hitting 70% of that vision is super badass, then…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0.

#3 | Pain is Mandatory…But it Doesn’t Have to Hurt

-Jane Fonda, Actress and Aerobics Instructor, who Coined the Term “No Pain No Gain” in 1982.

As cliche as it is, Jane has a point. Building this machine was mentally, emotionally, and physically painful. The three days preparing for the shoot I had a total 8 hours of sleep, caught some sort of fever cold nausea thing, and was in a constant state of “Am I Insane?”.

But it didn’t hurt. It didn’t hurt because I knew exactly:

  1. WHY I was doing it and,
  2. WHO I was doing it for

Even though I was in a lot of pain, it didn’t prevent me, or the people helping with the build, from being able to pull this off. Speaking of other humans!

#4 | You’re Going to Need Help

Asking for help is hard. Especially when you don’t have money to pay people, what you’re asking them to do is super difficult and the place you’re asking them to go is an hour away in the middle of BF nowhere.

Sometimes it feels easier just do everything yourself, but if that was true, I would probably still be building the machine right now. And I would probably be a crazy person wearing my underwear as a hat, and etching #the52ndskill in red into every corner of the shop.

Like this, but in red and with popped balloons everywhere.

But it is so so sooooo important. And as long as what you’re asking people to do provides them with some sort of value, then ask away!

Whether that value is seen through:

  • Hanging out with you
  • Helping a Cool Project
  • Collabing with another Youtuber
  • Getting a Chance to Make art
  • Or Free Food for the Day…

if you ask, someone is bound to show up.

#5 | Satisfaction Through the Process

“After, 1.5 months of building, and 9 Hours of Shooting…. with 20min left before everyone had to go…. we got the shot. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life”

The last few hours of shooting, were probably some of the most stressful, and frustrating of my life. Getting so close to finishing the Machine, and having this one little effin thing mess up and having to reset the entire process was infuriating.

Especially when it was your bad.

But with 20 min left to go before everyone had to leave… WE GOT IT. AND HOLY SHIT DID IT FEEL AMAZING.


But it wouldn’t have felt so good, if it wasn’t for all the blood, sweat and tears the went into it. In retrospect, this made the process an absolute joy to be a part of, even if it kinda sucked at the time.

So What’s Next?


The one thing that I can say for sure…is that this isn’t the end. 52skillz in some form will be continuing in the months following this post.

I have some ideas, but I would love your input.

If you would like, comment below with what you would like to see from 52skillz? What do you want more of? What do you want less of? Should I feature more cats? Maybe an explosion or two?

Either way, I would love to hear from you.

Anyways, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed, and happy learning



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