“Seven Dirty Habits of Highly Effluent People” by Mike Rowe

Feb 19 2008

Mike Rowe - Dirty Jobs

I’m a HUGE fan of Mike Rowe and his show on the Discovery Channel, Dirty Jobs. For those of you not familiar with this show, Mike starts each show with this narrative: “My name is Mike Rowe, and this is my job: I explore the country looking for people who aren’t afraid to get dirty—hard-working men and women who earn an honest living doing the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us. Now… get ready, to get dirty.” Pretty much sums it up. (Dirty Jobs on Wikipedia gives you some more background.)

Fast Company featured Mike on their cover last month, and had a great article about his life’s journey to hist current position as the host and creator of Dirty Jobs called The Dirtiest Mind in Business.

As a sidebar to that article, Mike wrote the Seven Dirty Habits of Highly Effluent People. (And in case you missed it, Effluent is not the same as Affluent. Affluent = Rich. Effluent = Dirty)

So here are Mike’s 7 habits, and my commentary on each one and how my experiences have shown them to apply to entrepreneurship:

“Obviously, I’m ripping off Stephen Covey, whose seven better-known habits got my attention not so much for their content, which I find suspicious, but for their surprisingly modest number, which I find manageable. Here then, are my “Seven Dirty Habits,” each from a worker I met on the show, and bolstered by true stories of personal enlightenment and lingering humiliation.

  • Never follow your passion, but by all means bring it with you.

Love this one. Passion drives you. But passion is close to emotion. And following your passions and emotions can lead you the wrong way. Let your passion influence and support you, but don’t follow it blindly. Great advice.

  • Beware of teamwork.

Another kick butt one. Teams are a problem with entrepreneurship. A team’s role is to edit, not create. Individuals create so much better than teams. Someone needs to take the lead on the creation, the innovation. Then the team comes in later to do that last 25%. But individuals do the first 75%.

  • Vomit proudly and whenever necessary.

In the context of Dirty Jobs, I think what Mike means by this is that sometimes, you see something that makes you want to vomit. And his advice is to just do it. As often as necessary. It’s part of the job. I apply this to entrepreneurship by thinking, why wouldn’t you vomit on a dirty job? It’s because of the other people around. You’re embarrassed. If you were alone, you’d hurl away. As an entrepreneur, you can’t worry about what other people think of you. If you do that, that’s about all you’ll get done. And you have to tell people what you think, whether you work for them or they work for you. So vomit away entrepreneurs. Do it proudly and you’ll be a better leader.

  • Be careful, but don’t be fooled–safety is never first.

I think what Mike is saying here is that ‘safety first’ is just a cliche. Just a buzzword. And that in reality, if safety were truly first, very few dirty jobs would ever get done. So keep your wits about you and use caution, but avoid cliches and hot topic ideas that really just fool you and distract you from getting jobs done.

  • Think about what you are doing–never how.

If you start worrying about how you are doing, you loose focus. Sometimes I think entrepreneurship is like beating your head on a wall. Eventually, the wall will break down. But it will take a very long time. And if you worry about how your head is feeling along the way, you’ll never knock down the wall. Just focus on beating your head on the wall, that’s what you’re doing.

  • Ignore advice such as “Work smart, not hard.” It’s dangerous–and moronic.

I have said this very thing so many times. It’s related to the safety-first one. Cliches and ideas that really just distract you from getting things done. In the end, you better just work hard. Give me some hard workers and I’ll beat smart workers every time.

  • Consider quitting.”

If you’re an entrepreneur and have never considered quitting, you’re not attempting something that’s hard enough. Entrepreneurs are out to change the world. And beating you head against a world-changing wall will make you want to quit sometime. Consider it. Then get back to work.

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I hope these ideas help you out. They’ve helped me realize that although I’ve seen Mike on some very DIRTY (in the sense of dirt, muck, grime, dust, excrement, etc.) situations on Dirty Jobs, being an entrepreneur is dirty in its own right, and these 7 habits can be applied pretty nicely.

 

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  • http://www.fiftystudio.com/ Russell Page

    Great post. I love the way he breaks down the dumb business cliches that are constantly spread around.

  • http://www.fiftystudio.com Russell Page

    Great post. I love the way he breaks down the dumb business cliches that are constantly spread around.

  • Josh DeRosa

    Dirty Jobs is one of my favorite shows. My girlfriend says I have a hetero-man-crush on Mike Rowe. He is just a generally like-able good guy, which is rare to find on TV these days. I liken Mike to Ferris Bueller:

    The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.

  • http://www.myspace.com/scotalexander scot alexander

    Amen. I think you’re pretty much spot on with what I’ve expierienced. I wonder what you mean by the content of S. Covey’s Habbits as “suspicious” though. haha!
    -scot

  • http://www.myspace.com/scotalexander scot alexander

    Amen. I think you’re pretty much spot on with what I’ve expierienced. I wonder what you mean by the content of S. Covey’s Habbits as “suspicious” though. haha!
    -scot

  • http://stuthewise.com/ Stu

    I’ll agree with you on the “Work smart, not hard.” However, the saying I always heard was, “Work smarter, not harder.” Sadly, people have had a tendency to twist its intended meaning.

    If there’s a smarter way to do something, then by all means! Otherwise we wouldn’t have the cotton gin. However, I have seen plenty of people put off working at all in an attempt to figure out a “smarter” way to do it.

    If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be work. When it comes right down to it, hard work is the only way to get something done, whether it’s smart or not. Either way, I’ll take the hard working smart guy.

  • http://stuthewise.com Stu

    I’ll agree with you on the “Work smart, not hard.” However, the saying I always heard was, “Work smarter, not harder.” Sadly, people have had a tendency to twist its intended meaning.

    If there’s a smarter way to do something, then by all means! Otherwise we wouldn’t have the cotton gin. However, I have seen plenty of people put off working at all in an attempt to figure out a “smarter” way to do it.

    If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be work. When it comes right down to it, hard work is the only way to get something done, whether it’s smart or not. Either way, I’ll take the hard working smart guy.

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  • Josh DeRosa

    Dirty Jobs is one of my favorite shows. My girlfriend says I have a hetero-man-crush on Mike Rowe. He is just a generally like-able good guy, which is rare to find on TV these days. I liken Mike to Ferris Bueller:

    The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.