If you’re looking for somebody to tell you that you’re a special little snowflake, that you should follow your bliss, that there’s no “I” in team, and that innovation is more important than imitation, you could call your mom or your therapist or your business guru.
Just don’t call Mike Rowe.
He’s done well over 250 “Dirty Jobs,” and he’s learned that it’s frequently just not so.
Tonight, at 9 p.m. ET, as part of the Discovery Channel 25th anniversary celebration, Rowe presents “Dirty Jobs: The Dirty Truth,” a special Rowe expects — perhaps even hopes — will ruffle a few feathers.
“I looked at the preference for innovation, because imitation is the great unloved of work,” says Rowe. “It’s only mass assembly, the thing that keeps us civilized. That raised all kinds of eyebrows and pissed people off, so I kept looking for other contrarian positions.
“So there’s a whole act on effectiveness vs. efficiency, the dangers of teamwork, the perils of following your passion instead of bringing it with you, and the danger of experts. It’s going to drive Discovery nuts, but it’s really going to be fun. It should be a hoot.”
Asked where the idea for “The Dirty Truth” originated, Rowe says, “The idea first came a couple of years ago, when I did a special called ‘Brown Before Green.’ I realized that I’d done enough of these jobs that I was able to look back and really extract some sort of the lesson for the aggregate. The more jobs we did, the more I was realizing, I could do this on any number of topics. So we did ‘Brown Before Green,’ and I got most of my environmental take out there.
“Then I did ‘Safety Third.’ I got a letter from Malcolm Gladwell’s office, and got my hands on a book called ‘Target Risk,’ which talks about something called risk homeostasis, which is another version of ‘Safety Third’ and validated the whole thing in a really interesting way.
“That’s when I thought, ‘If I can look at topics like risk management and environmental responsibility and run them through the “Dirty Jobs” lens, I ought to be able to do it with Steven Covey’s stuff and Tony Robbins or all of these (workplace) platitudes.’
“I think it started with “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” I just started basically poking fun at conventional wisdom. Then I got a list. Then I realized, I’ve got a ton of evidence to back up my spin on it.
“As I was organizing all these thoughts, Discovery said, ‘We need a special for the 25th anniversary,’ and I said, ‘OK, I’ll use 25 jobs to debunk a platitude in every act.”
Among the topics are: “Beware of Experts,” “Teamwork is Overrated,” “Pathetic Poster Platitudes,” “The Passion of Mike,” “Imitation Is Hot” and “Efficiency is for Robots.”
Explains Rowe, “This is basically me saying, ‘Look, I don’t want to pooh-pooh a college education, but all you precious little snowflakes have to understand that it doesn’t guarantee you anything at all. You really are just not being prepared for what the world is going to give you. Here’s some advice, not from me to you, but some areas where I got it wrong and have been gently corrected over the years by my friends in the dirt.’
“That’s how it plays, so you’ll dig it.”
On Tuesday night, Rowe also returns as the host of “After the Catch,” talking to the crab-boat captains of “Deadliest Catch” about the season, the loss of Capt. Phil Harris (at left) and, since the show coincidentally is taping in New Orleans, the Gulf oil spill and its effect on the fisheries.
Stay tuned to this space — and the From Inside the Box blog on Zap2it.com — for more on this and new episodes of “Deadliest Catch.”
(BTW, “Dirty Jobs: The Dirty Truth” repeats June 20th at 9 p.m. and midnight ET. Click here for other scheduled airings.)