Welcome to the Grit Nation podcast, I’m Joe Cadwell and in this episode I have the pleasure of speaking with logger, blacksmith, carpenter, and internet sensation Scott Wadsworth.
Better known to over 1 million YouTube followers as the Essential Craftsman, Scott, together with his son Nate, have created a wealth of entertaining and educational videos designed to help anyone interested in learning more about blue-collar craft skills.
Scotts laid back, straight shooting, and down to earth demeaner resonates well both on and off camera and I found this interview to be truly enjoyable.
We’ll start our conversation by learning how Scott got involved in the building trades over 4 decades ago and what he believes some of the bigger industry changes and challenges have been.
Next, Scott will share details of individuals he has met as a professional builder and what characteristics and attributes they possessed that made them so memorable and influential in his life.
Later, we’ll dig into the concept of “workmanship of risk vs. workmanship of certainty” and why a healthy balance of both is needed both on and off the job to achieve a career and life, full of meaning and reward.
We’ll then discuss why now more than ever a career as a building trades professional can produce the same or greater socio-economic gains as a college degree and investigate some of the factors responsible for shifting this paradigm.
And we’ll wrap up our conversation by discussing what it means to be a Craftsman and why Scott’s definition of success doesn’t rely solely on how many digits you have in your savings account.
The Show Notes
The Essential Craftsman
The Essential Craftsman Podcast
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Welcome to another episode of the Grit Nation Podcast. I'm Joe Cadwell and today I have the pleasure of speaking with logger, blacksmith carpenter and internet sensation Scott Wadsworth. Better known over 1 million YouTube followers as the essential craftsman. Scott, together with his son Nate have created a wealth of entertaining and educational videos designed to help anyone interested in learning more about Blue Collar craft skills. Scott's laid back, straight shooting and down to earth demeanor resonates well both on and off camera, and I found this interview to be truly enjoyable. We'll start our conversation by learning how Scott got involved in the building trades over four decades ago. And what believes are some of the bigger industry changes and challenges have been. Next, Scott will share details of individuals he has met as a professional builder, and what characteristics and attributes they possess that made them so memorable and influential on his life. Later, we'll dig into the concept of "workmanship of risk versus workmanship of certainty: and why a healthy balance of both is needed both on and off the job to create a career and live full of meaning and reward. We'll then discuss why now more than ever a career as a building trades professional can produce the same or greater socio-economic gains as a college degree and investigate some of the factors responsible for shifting this paradigm. And we'll wrap up our conversation by discussing what it means to be a craftsman a wise Scott's definition of success doesn't rely solely on how many digits you have in your savings account. After the episode, be sure to check out the show notes for more information about Scott Wadsworth, and The Essential Craftsman. And now on to the show. Scott Wadsworth, welcome to Grid Nation.Scott Wadsworth:
Man. Thanks for bringing me on. Joe. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. And here we are.Joe Cadwell:
Yeah. Well, thank you so much for taking your time to be on the show today. Scott, I'm I'm a big fan. As we've talked about, before we we hit record, I've been following you on YouTube for a while I started introducing my apprentices to your videos. And for those who do not know Scott, have yet to be introduced to who Scott Wadsworth is and The Essential Craftsman, can you give us a little bit of your backstory.Scott Wadsworth:
So first of all, I don't want to just take for granted the idea that you're using our content for your apprentices. Thank you for that. We didn't really see this coming when we started our YouTube channel, really almost six years ago, that it would actually be useful to people entering the trades we we started it mostly to carve out an internet footprint for marketing my blacksmith stuff, and then it morphed into something completely different. But the backstory is i I'm an Oregon native, born here in 1958. That officially makes me an old guy. I went all 12 years to the glide School District. I left when I graduated, I was playing with a Dixieland jazz band, a teenage Dixieland jazz band. And I went to Oregon State for a couple of terms thinking that I was going to be an engineer started that curriculum, and then was distracted by music we played, we were recording few albums. And we went back and played for President Carter at the White House. And then we booked a tour across the country. And so I remember thinking that oh, so lucid thought of then 19 year old, what do I need an education for? I'm going to be a star. And so I quit college it'd be to be a jazz musician. And then just about a year and a half later, I realized that wasn't going to work. And I had always liked to make things I and I had always like, I had always liked older approaches to doing things or I guess I had a respect for the efforts and the capacity of the generations before us that had that had built the foundation that everyone was standing and working on today. Right? I had always loved that I'd like being friends with older guys. And I've been building tree houses and little boats and stuff since I was a kid. And so I thought well, I'm going to be a carpenter. Because I had a girl I'd been dating through high school and I wanted to marry her and I knew I had to support her and the carpenter with a short step into something that I thought had value and would appeal to me. So I got a carpenter job. I'm probably forgetting some steps that aren't that important. I got distracted, I decided to build a portable sawmill. I did that I ran that for a while. The Oregon commodity based economy of timber, timber timber, crashed in 1981. Unemployment in Roseburg was 23% Think about that for a second 23% Man that coincided with just about the time that I had stuck my toe in the water for a union apprenticeship here in Roseburg and I had I got the opportunity to go to work on a bridge job and I thought no I'm not just be I guess it was just before With a crash, I thought now I want to build houses. So I got a general contractor's license here and I ran that for a year or so and then the economy crashed and I had my sawmill and I decided move to Wyoming. So Kelly and I with a little baby, moved to Northwestern Wyoming where I worked for five years, building houses for a man named Wade Welch, a good guy, and he was a ground up guy, you don't blade off the sagebrush and stay right there till the doors in the case and the base and the cabinets and all of it. It was a great education. Then that commodity based economy, tanked oil and uranium and sugar beets and barley and everything that that corner of the world depended on, went down simultaneously. And Kelly's biological father lived in Las Vegas, and he had invited us to come down there and there was lots of work in Vegas. So as economic refugees, once again, I loaded up my then larger family we had, well, actually, Kelly and three kids stayed in Wyoming in our place, and I went to Las Vegas and carved out a spot there and went to work, worked a couple months, went back, sold the place, took them down to Las Vegas worked the Las Vegas pace of construction, which is maybe unique on the face of the earth. I mean, I think Los Angeles and Phoenix probably are much like it. And so I slipped into that in several different areas that we can talk about both Union and non union, both commercial sort of medium weight construction and housing, track piecework framing, and then exclusively commercial concrete. So I got kind of a good education there. And then it dawned on me that I didn't want to try to raise boys through their teenage years in a town that had posters of naked women on the taxi cabs. I thought, you know, I'm not, I'm not going to try that. And so I sold the place that I had recently built in Killeen. I moved back to Oregon in 1994. I logged with my dad again for a few years because I was frankly, tired of high pressure high paced construction. So I bought in with him, and we logged together. And then I realized no logging is changing so rapidly, and dad and I can't change with it. And so I got a contractor's license here in Oregon, and I've been a small general contractor here, since. And so it's given me an opportunity to do a lot of things as a little general here, I, I did a lot of stuff. I'm a variety junkie. And so everything from steel fabrication and an inground swimming pool and small bridges to lots of Kitchen and Bath remodels and additions and just suspended concrete decks and stainless steel, cable railings and whatever came along that was new and intriguing. That seems to be what I did. And then we morphed into YouTube. So there's the thumbnail bio.Joe Cadwell:
There you go. And I picked up on a couple of things, we'll definitely get to the YouTube in the in the essential craftsman a little bit later. But I picked up on a couple things there you use the term "economic refugee", and I was hoping you could elaborate on that a little bit Scott in regards to application to the building trades.Scott Wadsworth:
Building trades are, in my experience and opinion. And this I'm not. So I throw out a lot of stuff as if it's true. And I and without maybe substantiating every single thing. But it's true in my experience, right. And so building depends on the strength of the economy where you're building, if there are not dollars running around where you are, people are not prone to build things. And so when economies go through their typical cycles, to feast and famine, lifestyle, at least in the area of construction that I've lived in, when your neighbors have money, they want you to do work, and when they don't, they don't. And particularly as a person just getting a foothold in life. You know, you don't have savings, you're you have payments, you have barely enough of the things that you need for your infrastructure. When it turns down, you have to follow the work at least I had to follow the work because other areas will have work. And so I thought of myself in these two big moves from Oregon to Wyoming in 81. And then from Wyoming, to Las Vegas in 86. I thought of myself as a refugee we see the pictures on on the television, right of people streaming across borders, for whatever reason, either to escape persecution or violence, or just in quest of a better life. They're refugees. And that's exactly what Kelly and I were we were looking for a better life. And it depended on my ability to be productive and be paid to secure that better life. And so we got to new communities we met new people we found we establish ourselves in new circles of acquaintance and new areas of work and adapted however we need to adapt. And I recommend everybody be a refugee at least one It's in their life.Joe Cadwell:
I agree, I never thought of myself along those terms, but I definitely live that lifestyle is working commercial diver chasing the work all around the Northwest all around the world to some extent. And so I appreciate that that definition. The other the term that I heard you throw out there was variety junkie and it just sounds like your life has exposed you to a whole lot of different skill sets and environments. And, and and folks, and I think that is huge and in an inherent to a lot of people that that get into the crafts, because they're not satisfied with just, you know, the same old day in and day out. And, and having that variety junkier that desire to learn something new or be challenged on a day to day basis is really important to us. So along the way, what have you learned Scott, with all those words of wisdom now from a guy who's been around for a few decades, what would you say construction is brought to you?Scott Wadsworth:
It it, it has, I guess life probably does this for everybody. But it has certainly driven home the point that you can never tell what's going to happen next. And whatever plans you're so so I have, I have a profoundly religious worldview, it's been a blessing to me. And one of the things that comes along with that is if you want to hear God left, just tell him your plans. And boy, is that true in construction, you know, I mean, you think you know where you're going to end up or what kind of work you're going to be doing or who you're going to be working with or how long this job is going to last. You think you know, a lot of things. But turns out at the end of the day, you didn't really know much. But you learned a lot, if that if that makes any sense. And once again, I don't know about other lives. But if you are curious in construction, and if you're if you are intent on keeping your learning curve vertical, if you're not satisfied with what you know, and you're wanting to know more about even the things that you're doing, man, there are wonderful things that come across your path and you meet more people. So they're okay, let me go back to your good question. What What have you learned, I've learned that people are fantastic. And if you keep your eyes open, you're going to meet people on these jobs, that will make a huge impact on you. They'll teach you things, either as a positive or a negative example. And you remember better the things for the negative examples, you know, at least I do. You also learn that some people are just hopelessly combative, some consoling people are so locked into this, and this is the way I do it. It's the only way anybody's going to do it. You know? And if you keep your eyes open, and you recognize it in yourself, you can you have a chance of wiping that out of your personality, because nothing is a rate limiting factor in a life more than that. I tell young people that when you show up on a job, or you're working with somebody, the worst two words you can ever use is I know, I know, I know, if you're working with somebody that you want to learn from, never say, I know, say, got it, you know, because because I know myself if I'm working with a young person about the third time they say, I know I go well, okay, buddy, you know, I am done opening my mouth and pointing new things that you. So those are a couple of things that I don't know, I also learned that, that it is that the offsetting blessing for the curse of living in a feast and famine world and construction is the ability to look back at the end of the day and see what you've done. That satisfaction of having actually made a difference in that day is a bigJoe Cadwell:
Absolutely. I call that the stepback moment, you know, where you step back at the end of the day, you and your crew can put your hands on your hips or fold your arms and say, Look, this is you know, this is our accomplishment. This is something tangible and real that is going to be around I use the term a lot for you know, generations generational wealth has been constructed by by these by our hands. So pretty darn cool. So along the way, you said you made a lot of interesting people, I'm sure now as an influencer, I'll use that term, Scott. There must have been some people that had some key influence on your life. And I was hoping you could talk to one or two of those folks and why they they played such an important role and, and making you who you are.Scott Wadsworth:
Yeah, that's that's a great opportunity. It's kind of a long list. You know, in the Okay, so one, one of the first and you know, I've got to put out there my dad, my dad is a guy who lacks imagination about him. I can't my dad doesn't have any confidence in his ability to to conceptualize a project and a path and an outcome. He lacks that but boy, he was steady. He was always showing up for work. You know, I bet you could count on forefingers a number of times in his life. that he was late for work and every time was because he had a flat tire, you know. And so just as a steady work ethic, I learned from my dad and then I also learned, you know, from that negative example, man, sometimes you just got to take a chance and, and develop a plan and move so so dad would be first Kelly's granddad showed up when I was I met Kelly went out when we were 15. And I met her granddad when I was 16. And he was a retired sawmill man, Sam ball, and I have a video about this sawmill that he gave me that I rebuilt. He was a sawmill man in Southern Oregon, for 1935 to 1945. And in that period of time he yarded That is logged and sawed 69 million board feet of railroad ties with steam power. Wow. Think of that, okay, with a third grade education. He came west from Indiana when he was 19 years old by hopping of freight and writing in a boxcar across the country. And he almost froze to death going over South Pass and Wyoming in the winter, because he was trapped in this box car at 40 below. But anyway, so I met this this little old man tough and smart. And he had a workshop. And he let me come into his workshop and start making things. Hugely. hugely influential in my life. And then I started meeting the guys that I worked with and I worked for two or three good bosses. I mentioned weight Welch. I worked with a guy here in Roseburg, that was two years older than me. He graduated ahead of me, Steve hood, he showed up on my channel. He's been building spec homes here in Roseburg, Steve influenced me at an early date. And then moving to Las Vegas, the list of people on the on the job sites, if I thought about it would be so long. I had a partner piecework framing, John urban, man, he taught me a lot about production tricks and a production mentality to framing that your productivity absolutely depends on the system, you put in place. Much more than how fast you run from the lumber pile to the deck, Oh, you better be able to run, you know, but if you put the right system in place, and you handle your material efficiently, you're gonna produce more than the guy across the street. And, and then spiritually and emotionally and personally, I've had mentors that have just showed me a better way. So long answer to a great question.Joe Cadwell:
And the characteristics that a lot of these people have possessed, it sounds like tenacity, hard work, you know, the ability to, to see through the tough times and share the good times with other folks is super important. And, and morale is always a big one. And I noticed that, you know, you're a pretty upbeat guy all the time. And, and I think that really does inspire a lot of folks on the job.Scott Wadsworth:
You know, I think it is, but I have my YouTube channel is a hopelessly romanticized and sanitized version of me, right. I mean, my son will even take out my daughter Chin's you, I mean, you know, so, and I tell people that don't be tricked by our spec House series, where every day the sun shining, you never see me waiting in mud, and I never get a little shock out of my extension cord, and nobody's ever you know, it, all they're seeing is, is the best aspect of the construction. And, and I don't know that that's necessarily the way it is. But I do think is better to build morale than it is to tear it down. And it's better to find a way to cooperate than it is to find yourself rolling in the dirt with somebody because you're arguing about what you know, you know, there's so many, that's one of the downsides of construction is opportunities for interpersonal conflict between tough guys would be egos, it's the thing. Earlier generations when you and I showed up on the jobs, and we were kid, fistfights were common they were common. Now, I don't think they're as common now, as they were then. And I'm not saying there was anything good about that. But, but there are aspects of construction. It's kind of a prison mentality. Right?Joe Cadwell:
So what are your what are some of the biggest changes you've noticed in construction over the generations then?Scott Wadsworth:
As far as technology, man, what a list I mean, cordless drill drivers. Okay? Just that. When I worked for Wade Welch in Wyoming, he still had Yankee screwdrivers, and I used one for about six months with him before he showed up with his first 9.6 volt. McKee Actually no, we were using, he put a he put a brand new magnetic screw tip into the end of our Milwaukee hole shooter, and we were putting doors together with that, oh, it was better. And then six months later, here's this cordless thing. So that was first and for me as as big a game changer as a nail gun. Lasers showed up when I was in Las Vegas, the first Spectre physics laser that Dennis bunker brought out onto the job for Ms. Concrete I think in 1988 cost 5000 bucks, you know He said, Don't you knock this down? Yeah, I mean, it's a big deal. But of course, the the safety considerations, the productivity and the time sync of cell phones. I mean, they are a two edged sword. Modern construction couldn't happen now without instantaneous communication, the way we can schedule so tightly now that you could not do before you couldn't do it. I mean, if somebody didn't show up, you had no idea when they were going to be there and your whole day would collapse, right? And on the on the other hand, you didn't have guys hanging out in the in the Porta Potty on their cell phones for 30 minutes when they should have been out five minutes after they walked in. You know, so these changes are, it's there have been paradigm shifts everywhere you look in construction.Joe Cadwell:
For sure. And one of the shifts, I think, and I was prepping for this Scott by listening to another podcast and the conversation of workmanship of risk and workmanship of certainty. And you you picked up this concept from someone, I believe in England wrote a book and I was hoping you could elaborate for listeners a little bit more about the workmanship of risk versus the workmanship of certainty.Scott Wadsworth:
Yeah, David Pi Ken Jordan, my friend, Ken Jordan, that some of you who have watched the channel may have been introduced to on my channel. And if you haven't, you've just got to look at the video called The friend who revolutionized my thinking. But he introduced me to David pines, a little paperbound, thin book. The nature and art of craftsmanship, I think, is what it's called. And his idea, and I think this was an original thought, or at least an original way to describe something was that the Industrial Revolution, boiled down to taking the risk out of the work that was being done in order to get a consistent, identical outcome, get an outcome that was certain. And so he termed the work that is done by hand. And use it as an example of woodcarving. Or let's talk about Michelangelo carving. David hewing David out of a block of marble, the longer you work on a project like that, and the tighter and tighter that tolerances become, the higher and higher becomes a risk of a catastrophic failure, something going bad, and a moment that just can't be fixed. And all of the effort that's been expended until that moment, is thrown away. I mean, you can visualize it, as David was finally taking shape. If whoever it was that was chiseling off and sanding off and making perfect the shape of David's eyebrows, would have knocked the eyebrow off of there. Sorry, you know that two years effort is throwing away that's workmanship of risk, workmanship of certainty. Think of a table saw with a fingerboard or featherboard, whatever you call it, clamp to the table. So you're getting ribs of exactly the same width just as fast as you can jam it down that saw, you know that every one of those boards is going to be exactly the same way or a router, you take 100 down the edge of a nice mood board, you know that that Roman OG shape is going to be perfect. If you do a a client cut and an undercut coming back. It's smooth, it's perfect as root workmanship, of certainty. And so the idea of keeping track of how much of your work is workmanship of risk that is subjected to catastrophic failure or being made much more expensive by having to fix whatever happens versus workmanship of risk. And that is if you stage it right and if your tools are in good shape. And if your operator is trained even a little bit, you know what the outcome is. And then in the in your construction system, you push it push as much as you can for risk to certainty. You're going to be doing a better job in less time, and you're going to be a more productive employee. It's a great it's a powerful concept,Joe Cadwell:
I think, yeah. And it has to be somewhat kept in balance. Because if all we did was work in a workman ship of certainty, you'd become pretty routine pretty boring, we'd lose the I don't know the thrill of what we're doing. You're you're almost like a factory worker in the field. And that that element of risk is necessary in order to at least in my opinion, that's maybe one reason why I chose a more of a high risk occupation with commercial diving was because I really liked being out you know, on the edge a lot of time doing work that involved an element of danger just kind of always made it more interesting for me I could go down and at least shoveled gravel underwater for hours on end be happy as a clam just because I was underwater doing it. Whereas if you had me move three yards of gravel on the surface, I get bored with it pretty darn quick. I don't know I I listened to that concept. And I thought it was really interesting.Scott Wadsworth:
That is that's really interesting. And I think that's entirely and exactly why I was a variety junkie. Because if you're learning something and doing something for the first or second time you're just liable to wreck it and so you really have to concentrate. And when you're concentrating, it's the whole you you We're not just that part of you that's on autopilot. And that feels wonderful. And then when you get that moment that you described, where you stand back and put your hands on your hips and look at it, when you knew you did it, even though you could have wrecked it, and you didn't wreck it, it's a different level of satisfaction. Absolutely. So so this introduces one of my rants that people don't understand. So I love it when I hear Mike Rowe say safety third, and love to hear him say that because he's got oxy enough to say it, sir. And most of the rest of us don't. Because that element of risk is part of what convinces us that we're still alive. You know, the possibility of either not being alive or not being healthy, as a result of our choices, is why people do extreme sports. It's why we make heroes and idols out of people who leap off of cliffs on snowboards than Alex handled, who claims El Cap free solo,Joe Cadwell:
doing things now that that seem to have been washed out of society, you know, everything's been so sterilized and, and risk adverse that people really are, are hesitant to or not hesitant, but don't live in a life that challenges them physically and mentally on a day to day basis. So we then we have to turn to these people that are doing that and pushing the envelope give us satisfaction,Scott Wadsworth:
or young men turned to causing trouble, because they can cause trouble and have risk. And they have to have that feeling of risk and reward exposure and an accomplishment, I think, to ever become fully human. And so since we fenced it out of most lives, sometimes people have to jump over the fence to get it. You know, my friend siteswan I don't know if you've met siteswan on my channel.Joe Cadwell:
I have seen ty i think it is he's a fellow sits in the chair quite a bit.Scott Wadsworth:
No, that's Ken Jordan. siteswan is a guy who makes cannons and makes knives and he's an 89 year old cowboy and he he still loves and he runs his cats and his equipment. He is the renaissance man. Okay, he's it. And sigh as I work he's blacksmith, he he mentored me in blacksmithing. And didn't take me long to figure out that if what we were doing didn't have an element of risk. And its I was going to input an element of risk, either to the outcome of the job, or to the health and welfare of our bodies. And so if you don't get a look at him on the channel, that is one amazing old dude. He's had 16 Major reconstructive surgeries in his life. And 12 of them were not voluntary. They were because he's a risk taker baby. He's an amazing,Joe Cadwell:
but he's lived a full life and fullScott Wadsworth:
life. And when he dropped him in the grave grave, it's going to be in a beat up worn out much abused body instead of something pristine that might have made it another year or two, you know, it just he's an amazing guy.Joe Cadwell:
Right. And like you say, the I think a big part of it, of why young men push themselves. There's no real rite of passage that anyone has to achieve now and for myself, I guess my rite of passage I typical kid, you know, going through typical American high school, but when I volunteered for the for the Navy, and then actually had the challenge of US Navy deep sea diver second class school. To me, that was a rite of passage, I earned that, that role, that position that I then you know, embraced as a as a US Navy Diver. And I think so many people don't have that, that ability to truly challenge themselves both physically and mentally. And especially in an environment that's very non conducive to your health and well being the water environment. I really felt like that was a significant milestone in my life. And I was like, I can always look back on that with pride.Scott Wadsworth:
That had to be incredibly formative. So theJoe Cadwell:
craftsman, and I know your show is the essential craftsman and I'm hoping to find out in your opinion, Scott, what what is the definition of a craftsman? What What sets a craftsman apart from just a laborer?Scott Wadsworth:
So you've already figured out that I'm not good at short answers. Okay. And I apologize for that. And nobody's asked me that. But the first thing is, I think it's someone that produces that is obsessed, not with perfection, but with excellence. And there's a world of difference. Because sometimes perfection is too expensive. You know, sometimes percent perfection is either not attainable, or whoever's is paying for this just can't afford it. And so the idea of being able to identify what is excellent right now, and how do I get excellence? I think that's a big characteristic of craftsmanship. I think craftsmanship has to include what we were just talking about a risk that there if there's not an element of risk to what you're doing and it is just manufacturing and manufacturing is not craftsmanship, no matter how perfect the items on the shelf at Home Depot or they're not craftsmanship They're just manufactured perfection or they're not perfection, you take it back, you get your money back and get one that you know. So that's not craftsmanship. I think that craftsmanship implies and requires some passion there, when it becomes mundane. When there's no longer when you don't feel us, when you don't feel satisfaction and fulfillment in what you're doing, it's time to change gigs, because it's not going to be craftsmanship anymore. It's going to be just production or a life a livelihood. And there's nothing wrong with things being a livelihood, and not every livelihood has to be craftsman ship. But doggone it, every livelihood should be something that involves an opportunity to to be excellent. Or try to be excellent. I think that'sJoe Cadwell:
that probably nailed it right there. You know, your your constant attempt and and effort to perfect your craft makes you a craftsman as opposed to someone who's just going through the motions of pumping something out. But really putting, again, that heart and soul into it, I think is what separates a craftsman you can tell those people I mean, they they just stand out they shine when they when they show up on a job. And you can tell that they really know what they they're doing and that they care about what they're doing, I think is a big part of of just being a craftsman.Scott Wadsworth:
I think I think you're exactly right. And I think the first one of the first ways you can spot that person, even as a kid, even as a a first period apprentice is if he's there a little early, and if he stays a little late. And so speaking to whoever is listening to this, that is just beginning the trades. It's the biggest advantage that you can give yourself and your competition with all the people around you for recognition and accomplishment on a jobsite is never, never never be late to work. And late means less than 10 minutes early. If you're not 10 minutes early, you are late. And if you are 10 minutes early, you are going to be standing there ready to work and the person who's responsible for the job is going to identify you as someone that can be relied on. And then the corollary to that is, if you're not the first guy in your truck heading down the road, when the day is done, you're going to be identified as somebody who cares about the outcome, and is going to you're soon going to have an up position of trust and responsibility. And your opportunity for fulfillment will be higher.Joe Cadwell:
Absolutely. So speaking about people who are listening to the show right now, we may have some people that are sort of on the fence about you know, getting in investing in a career in the trades or perhaps going to college or the military. What What's your thoughts on on college versus the trade, say, college versus the trades in today's modern era?Scott Wadsworth:
So my thoughts on that have changed over the last 10 years, maybe some people are appalled when when I touched some people are bugged when I tell them that I had three sons and I very deliberately did not teach them to be carpenters deliberately. Because when I was a young man in the trades, perhaps it was the same for you, Joe, although you came in through the military and into a very exclusive club, I'll say club very exclusive. underwater welding deep sea diving. I mean, it's a tiny fraction of a percent of the people in construction or in that niche. But in the in the perhaps most common construction niche that there is, which is carpenter. When I was coming of age, we were thick on the ground, carpenters were everywhere. And they didn't command much respect or money. Okay, so I'll try not to get too far into the weeds here. Let me just say this, the trades have become a much more viable route to a successful, financially successful life now than they were when we were young. Because there is a trade gap. There is a profound shortage of people who know how to build things. It can't be outsourced. It can't be sent overseas, you'd have to be standing on the ground ready to do the work. And we've come to a point now where if you have trade skills, and you're halfway savvy at all, and and you have the integrity to push yourself and produce produce a full day's work for a full day's pay, you're going to be well compensated. And so it's very viable. On the other side, higher education has been co opted to the point where degrees that have no commercial value whatsoever and provide no real education, even our sort of dangled out in front of kids at something to borrow money for. And then you emerge with a credential of no value with a lifetime of debt. And that's indentured servitude, with no light at the end of the tunnel. So the roles have kind of swapped a little bit for the people like me that were just in the middle of the road in the middle of the pack, not fight not spectacularly gifted, not spectacular ly challenged. The trades are a viable and fulfilling way to a good life now, and they were not always that.Joe Cadwell:
Yeah, for sure. It seems like Got a real supply and demand equation is happened and there's less people that can do that the skilled labor that it takes to to do anything from from home remodels to commercial construction, you know, it's an ever emerging gap. And we're trying to shore that up. And again, the socio economic gains that are, are brought forth by folks who are getting into the building trades especially I'll give a little tip for the unions for people that find themselves in a union trade can find that there's livable wages and benefits, medical, dental vision for their families, and pensions and safer working conditions. And yeah, it's, it's great to see and I think a lot of the folks that are in the business the career counselors and high school guidance counselors that are just blindly continue to push they're, they're the folks are in charge of their futures towards college and again, like like you said, a degree that can be outsourced overseas or are rendered obsolete overnight are doing their these folks a disservice by not even entertaining Hey, something in the trades. So, so much of education does is pretty costly. As he said, you know, you can come out of University of Oregon or Washington State or with easily $120,000 Bill, you know what you're trying to get out from behind. And yet YouTube, or social media is a plethora of information that is for free. Yeah, that's where we're folks like the essential craftsmen come in. And they fill in these huge gaps. And I've learned so much last week, I was trying to figure out how to how to wine the court on my new Milwaukee weed weed trimmer and I just for life, Mm hmm. Trying to do it the old way, you know, and, and finally, I just got so frustrated. So I got to YouTube the crap out of this. And sure enough, I found the guy says you're doing it all wrong. You know, dude, within three minutes, I knew how to wind something that seemed very simple the way I used to do it. And the essential craftsman, man, I mean, from from how to sharpen a carpenter's pencil to how to lay out a spec home, you run the whole, you know, breadth and width of carpentry. And and how did you come into that? Scott?Scott Wadsworth:
It? It was because So, I work union for two years in Las Vegas. And they were two great years. And I watched the guys that I worked with, and they had more comfortable lives, okay, their lives were more comfortable, and their retirements are better. The flip side of that is my sort of hunter gatherer approach to construction, which was, particularly as a small general contractor, which is pretty much always going out finding something, killing it, dragging it home and eating it, and then go out and find something new to kill and drag it home. That force of very broad and deep education, construction education on me, it forced it, I was continually having to learn something new in order to feed my family. And now I see that that was its own compensation. At the time, it just felt like high wire without a net. And it was a high wire act without a net. So that would be one thing that I would tell young people that when you're in that situation where you don't know how to do something, and you have to start doing it in order to make that house payment. Don't be fooled. You're buying education. And you're being paid to get education, which is part of the beauty of the trades, right? So I don't know exactly how I stumbled into what it is that I bring to the table now. But it has to be understood in terms of the number of people that I worked with in the number of different situations. And the number of scary things I had to tackle even though I didn't know how.Joe Cadwell:
And and you have a son who's a millennial, and he's the one who sort of pushed you along with the with the adoption of YouTube, isn't it? And I think at first you were sharing some skills that you had learned about blacksmithing and eventually that started to morph into the humble origins of the of the essential craftsman YouTube channel and now podcast and I understand you also have the essential craftsman Academy.Scott Wadsworth:
So this is Nate is my partner in our social media venture nature. Yeah, he's my oldest son 2016. He was up here from he and his bride, and their kids lived in Mesa Phoenix area, and they were up here for Christmas. And about it around the New Year. He said Dad, I think we should film something in your shop. Why son? Well, we'll put it on YouTube. Isn't that where you go to see funny cat videos and, and base jumping? Yeah, yeah, but but they also there's there's construction stuff or blacksmithing stuff. And so we thought that it was going to carve out an internet footprint for marketing, my blacksmith stuff, my architectural iron work and swords. That was the intention. And he was trying to help me with that and So we did that a few blacksmithing videos. And after a while we did a, I built a little garden shed for my other son in Mesa and uploaded some carpentry stuff. And wow, people liked it. And oh, wow, I guess we need to do more carpenters stuff. And so that's kind of how the road forked. It's to include blacksmithing and carpentry. And then it's forked again, to include the logging that I've done and still do. What was your question? Exactly, I got derailed onJoe Cadwell:
Oh, how you got into being such an influencer? I mean, and, you know, for someone who's we think about influencers and the term is just bandied about all over the place influence influence as well, it's but usually, it's, it's younger folks, so to speak, you know, not in our demographic. And here you are in your early 60s, and you are hugely influential on a lot of people's lives. And I'm just wondering what you owe that that to and, and, you know, I enjoy watching your videos aren't just educational, but they're also very entertaining, as well.Scott Wadsworth:
That was Nate's that was the the talent and the brilliance that Nate brings to the effort. Once we decided we had to try this full time. He's, I can't even imagine how many hours he spent making these videos, and keeping track of the difference between education and entertainment. And when people do YouTube, whatever they think they're doing, they're really there to be entertained, to stay on the screen, you know. So anyhow, he's good at that. But as far as becoming an influencer. I have had the advantage of doing a lot of speaking and teaching in church all these years, I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and we, we all teach in and preach. And that's kind of how we roll in our religious community. And so there's that opportunity to learn that I've done that for a long time. I've read a lot, oh, man, I need to double down on that, to the young people are listening. So eBooks are great. But if you haven't already got it, get the habit of reading, read some biographies, read whatever you want, but read, and you're going to learn how to use language. And when you learn how to use language, you're going to be able to convey your ideas and you're going to become persuasive. And people will have a reason to listen to you because you learn to read. So that's been a big thing for me. And I guess maybe the last thing I'll mention is that I love people. I love the friends that I have, I've been blessed. You know, a lot of people say they have one or two good friends, or maybe three good friends. I don't know how many good friends I have. But the incomprehensible blessing of this channel is I feel like now I have a number of good friends that nobody else has. I mean, Joe, the fact that you've been drawn to blank my channel and that you have this advantage of feeling like you know me now even though I've just met you, it provides a sense of of familiarity, and a basis for friendship that maybe is imaginary, but I don't think so, I think that we probably would get along well. And then I extend that to the anyway, friends are a big part of becoming an of having influence that's allowing people to have influence in your life gives you the capacity to have influence in other lives.Joe Cadwell:
Yeah. And in the construction trades, you know, you you're gonna meet people now that maybe you won't see for 1015 years. But if you work shoulder to shoulder with someone, and you put in the hard work together, there are a lifelong brother or sister out there. Yeah, you can make those connections. Scott Wadsworth, your definition of success.Scott Wadsworth:
Oh, you love easy questions, don't you? So and you can edit this. So if I take a long pause here and catch my breath and make a couple of notes, because this is this is the big question, isn't it? So first of all, whatever else I've learned, I've learned that the worst possible way to measure your success is by the number of digits in your savings account. That is the worst possible way. And it's the way that people are seduced into thinking about success. So if anybody's interested in listening to anything that I say here today, you gotta give that idea up. That your success as an individual, I'll just say as a man, even though that's such a that's such a 20th century way to say anything, right? Well, I'm a 20. I'm a product of the 20th century so you got to deal with that. But men are more seduced by this than women are I think that their idea of the in the game of life you win the who has the most toys wins. Pure baloney. That is unadulterated baloney. Give it up, no matter how many times that message is reinforced on the television and everywhere else you look part of success. So let me just boil it down to this. From one perspective is success. So having a family, for me is a big part of what constitutes success. And then being able to hold that family together during the course of your life, because families, that familial entropy, right, I mean, entropy does not just happen in nature, or things tend to break down Coolock become go from a state of being more organized, being less organized. It's a second law of thermodynamics. And it's everywhere in nature. And it's everywhere, and families to families, for some reason, are prone to fracture. Success. As a father, as a patriarch, that's not a dirty word, by the way, success. The second has to be at least partially defined by your ability to resist familial entropy. Don't let it break apart. And don't, don't ever take your eye off that ball. And whether you're a young person just starting that family, or whether you're an old guy like me, it's always possible to let your family fracture. And at the end of the day, you will have been more successful if you didn't let that happen. Well, that's a very partial description, but you have to include those things. Being able to receive and extent friendship, being able to speak love, when love needs to be spoken, which is quite often, being able to success is being able to endure some pain for a while in order to make something worthwhile happen. But anyway, success is not what the world the world, the television the internet is telling you it is. It's something else and think real carefully about it.Joe Cadwell:
Absolutely. Scott, this has been a fantastic conversation, where can people go to find out more about Scott Wadsworth, the essential craftsman and everything in the central craftsman universe?Scott Wadsworth:
Well, YouTube is our biggest footprint. Us. But if you go to Google and search central craftsman, we're going to pop up, it'll take you to, to one video or another. Instagram, we're there. I don't think we're very big there. So that's, that's the easiest way. And Nate has made over 500 videos. That's a ton of work. And there's something in there for for probably whatever question you're thinking of. And if it's not, our channel is going to be somewhere. All right, it's gonna say in response to an earlier thing, you said that, I'm glad I'm not in the higher education business. Because Youtube is changing education for ever. And I just love the things we can learn from this. From this media.Joe Cadwell:
I do as well. Well, thank you so much for taking your time to be on the show today. It's been a real pleasure.Scott Wadsworth:
Thanks, Joe. Great to meet you. And I'd love to learn more about underwater welding.Joe Cadwell:
Anytime, Scott. My guest today has been Scott Wadsworth, host of the hugely successful Essential Craftsman YouTube channel. For more information about the essential craftsman Be sure to check out the show notes for this episode, or visit the grit nation website at grit nation podcast.com Well, that wraps up another edition of the grit nation podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, please be sure to share with a friend co worker or family member if you haven't already done so please take a minute to leave a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify really does make a difference. As always, thank you for your support and until next time, this is Joe Cadwell reminding you to work safe, work smart and stay union strongScott Wadsworth:
you know one thing that that I you know we didn't mention it doesn't have to be mentioned but when I was beginning to run work I realized that in order to be a leader you had to be able to work and and so my niche is a job Foreman became to take my bags off and stock material everybody you know and carry as much material and shovel I couldn't shovel good and you're locked in one spot, but carry the material and deliver this and make sure they've got this and then you're and so just the idea of demonstrating to the people around you that that you're in it just just as far and just as gritty and just as dirty as they are. is a game changer in your ability to be a leader