Today's cuppa: PG Tips tea
He's on a mission to restore the respect and dignity to traditional work, so that one day in the future, welders, pipefitters, carpenters, pig farmers and heavy-machine operators can become the lead characters of glossy primetime network dramas, just like lawyers, doctors, cops, forensic investigators and spoiled rich teens.
Rowe is also the cover boy for this month's Outside Magazine — click here to look at that — proving that May is the Month of MikeRoweWorks.com.
Enjoy (and then get back to work, fer cripes' sake):
Mike Rowe pitches jobs, ‘Dirty’ and
By Kate O’Hare
If you go to www.mikeroweWORKS.com,
you’re going to see “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe, but he’s not going to be
talking about exploding toilets, chasing pigs or the intricacies of animal
He’s going to
be talking about old-fashioned work, the kind you do with both your brain and
your hands. The jobs may be dirty, but here, the dirt isn’t the point; it’s the
dignity of the job.
of dollars set to be poured into rebuilding America's
will exist, but will unemployed sales consultants, computer programmers, middle
managers and liberal-arts grads be able to fill them?
think the 3 million jobs that our leaders are going to pull out of thin air are
going to require a degree in music appreciation?” Rowe says. “It’s not going to
happen. They don’t need philosophers and English majors right now; we need
people that can build stuff.”
But first, a
Jobs,” airing Thursdays on Discovery Channel, Rowe travels the nation in search
of people who do the often tough, unpleasant and downright icky jobs that keep
civilization running smoothly.
As both an
on-site apprentice and TV explainer, Rowe also works very hard. But this wasn’t
what he wanted. His plan had been to avoid ideas that might become a big hit
and work only enough to keep the coffers filled.
Then Rowe came
up with the concept that became “Dirty Jobs,” which recently celebrated its
200th grimy occupation.
“It got away
from me,” Rowe says. “I’ve worked every day for the last five years in a
Along the way,
Rowe learned a lot about the hard work he’d been avoiding and about the vital,
important and often lucrative jobs that were increasingly overlooked by career
counselors in favor of higher education and jobs that didn’t require physical
Then he gave a
speech at Grainger Industrial Supply in Chicago, a Fortune 500 company with
$6.4 billion in sales in 2007.
“I spoke to
their employees,” he recalls, “about the changing definition of a good job and
my perception of how hard work was essentially under siege, that the
traditional notions of manual labor had taken it in the neck.
“I talked about
my granddad and the fact that he was this eighth-grade dropout who eventually
became a carpenter and electrician, a steamfitter and a pipe fitter, built the
house I was born in without a blueprint.
“I said, ‘Those
guys, they’re still out there. Many of them are probably in here right now. But
no one’s celebrating them, and they’re not the role models that my granddad
from Towson University in Maryland
so, he says, “It’s a strange thing for me, because I did the college thing. I
find myself in a weird spot, but I like it, because it allows me to be a fish
out of water.”
did the company face the usual economic pressures but that the pool of skilled
workers on which they and their customers depended was shrinking, with fewer
new workers and trade-school students.
talking,” Rowe says, “saying that it seems pretty obvious that hard work needs
a PR campaign, and that’s essentially what I said. He said, ‘That’s what I want
this company to do. I want Grainger to take a position in that exact area.’ “
If the company
did that itself, it would seem self-serving, so Rowe had an idea.
“I said, ‘Isn’t
there some neutral place, some third-party place, where somebody is championing
this cause?’ He just looked at me and said, ‘I’m the CEO of an $8 billion
company; why do you think I’m standing backstage talking to you? No one’s doing
this. No one cares.’
“And I said, ‘I
think I care. And I’ll spend some money, and I’ll start a site.’ “
The result is www.mikeroweWORKS.com, which
Rowe envisions as a public forum and resource center for those seeking
skilled-labor jobs or the training to get one.
the project may be ‘shovel-ready,’ ” Rowe says, “the larger question is, ‘Is
the shovel operator shovel-ready?’ Is he ready? Does he feel good about it?
“Or is it going
to become an opportunity that he avails himself of because he has no other
And like “Dirty
Jobs,” which gets its ideas from its viewers, Rowe’s new venture needs you.
“I built the
framework,” he says, “and I’m happy to blow the trumpet and make the calls, but
I need help. I’m too busy to do this by myself, so I need corporate help, and I
need you guys to think that fundamentally this idea is sound.
has been great, and so we just keep fumbling forward.”