Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs and Following Your Passion

My friend Varun Torka pointed this out to me after I wrote that other post about “creative professionals”. This is one of the most awesome TED talks I’ve ever seen. You really, really have to watch the video to get a sense of what he’s talking about: this extract, while relevant, doesn’t come close to doing it justice. I would embed it, but WordPress doesn’t let you use Flash or upload videos other than from some sites without a video upgrade.

So I started to wonder what would happen if we challenged some of these sacred cows. Follow your passion — we’ve been talking about it here for the last 36 hours. Follow your passion — what could possibly be wrong with that? Probably the worst advice I ever got. (Laughter) You know, follow your dreams and go broke, right? I mean, that’s all I heard growing up. I didn’t know what to do with my life, but I was told if you follow your passion, it’s going to work out.

I can give you 30 examples, right now — Bob Combs, the pig farmer in Las Vegas who collects the uneaten scraps of food from the casinos and feeds them them to his swine. Why? Because there’s so much protein in the stuff we don’t eat his pigs grow at twice the normal speed, and he is one rich pig farmer, and he is good for the environment, and he spends his days doing this incredible service, and he smells like hell, but God bless him. He’s making a great living. You ask him, “Did you follow your passion here?” and he’d laugh at you. The guy’s worth — he just got offered like 60 million dollars for his farm and turned it down, outside of Vegas. He didn’t follow his passion. He stepped back and he watched where everybody was going and he went the other way. And I hear that story over and over.

Matt Froind, a dairy farmer in New Canaan, Connecticut, who woke up one day and realized the crap from his cows was worth more than their milk, if he could use it to make these biodegradable flower pots. Now, he’s selling them to Walmart. Follow his passion — the guy’s — come on.

…we’ve declared war on work, as a society, all of us. It’s a civil war.  It’s a cold war, really. We didn’t set out to do it  and we didn’t twist our mustache in some Machiavellian way,  but we’ve done it.  And we’ve waged this war on at least four fronts, certainly in Hollywood. The way we portray working people on TV,  it’s laughable. If there’s a plumber, he’s 300 pounds and he’s got a giant buttcrack, admit it.  You see him all the time.  That’s what plumbers look like, right? We turn them into heroes, or we turn them into punchlines.  That’s what TV does…

Really, just watch. There’s a lot in there. I am SO going to start watching his show.

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