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Mike Explains Further

In the long history of bad advice, you’d have look pretty hard to find something dumber than Work Smart Not Hard. It first appeared years ago as part of a recruitment campaign for college. It was bad advice then, but today, it’s just plain dangerous. Google Work Smart Not Hard and you’ll see just how far this idiotic cliche has wormed it’s way into our collective conscious over the last forty years. It’s repeated daily by millions of people like some timeless chestnut of conventional wisdom. Is it possible we actually believe such nonsense? You bet it is.

Consider the reality of today’s job market. We have a massive skills gap. Even with record unemployment, millions of skilled jobs are unfilled because no one is trained or willing to do them. Meanwhile unemployment among college graduates is at an all-time high, and the majority of those graduates with jobs are not even working in their field of study. Plus, they owe a trillion dollars in student loans. A trillion! And still, we push a four-year college degree as the best way for the most people to find a successful career?

The evidence suggests we’ve taken some very bad advice, and tried to separate hard work from success. Consequently, we’ve become profoundly disconnected from a critical part of our workforce. The skilled part. The part that keeps the lights on. That’s just crazy. In a sane world, there should be posters hanging in high schools that reflect the reality the situation we’re in. Wouldn’t it make more sense to promote Work Smart AND Hard.

So…with a little creative license (and no respect for the original,) I’m pleased to present a new platitude with a different attitude. I think the image speaks for itself, but if you want to see how we made it, watch this. And if you’d like to help spread the word, I’ll try to talk you into buying one here.

Posters are $10 or as much as you want to give. All proceeds go to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which pays for trade school scholarships.

PS. If you’re bored, fascinated by behind-the scenes footage, and curious about the process that brought this poster to life, you might also enjoy this video. Then again, you might be left wondering precisely how much time I’ve actually got on my hands. And subsequently, yours. Only one way to find out…

The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge

Here’s a picture of me holding a copy of The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge. (Skill and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo.) I wrote The Pledge last year for three simple reasons:Mike-Rowe-SWEAT-Pledge copy

1. I believe what it says, and felt strongly the world needs one more acronym.
2. I wanted to raise some money for the scholarship fund. (We sell them for $12, and the money goes to the foundation.)
3. I needed something declarative that everyone must sign who applies for a mikeroweWORKS Scholarship. Something that reflected my own view of work-ethic and personal responsibility.

*You don’t have to apply for a scholarship to get your own signed copy. Each Pledge contains 2 signature lines – one for Mike and one for you. The poster is perfect for framing, and starting awkward conversations about personal responsibility.

You can buy Mike’s Work Smart AND Hard and The S.W.E.A.T Pledge posters and other great items on The Shop page. Check it out!

  • Pingback: No Jobs? Mike Rowe's Lament

  • Athena007

    LOVE the new one! Can we, also, buy the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge poster?

    *Nevermind! I see it listed along with this one. :)

  • Browncoat

    I tried college. Wasn’t for me. Too much partying and not enough patriotism kept me out of the military. So, in 1978, I opted to join the pipefitters apprenticeship (union). Loved it. Also learned about the seedier side of union power. Pretty much voted Republican ever since. But I finished the four year program as a journeyman pipefitter and did that until 1990. I’d taken a CAD course and became an industrial piping designer. Done that ever since… And for the last 10+ years, the money has been very good. God had a plan. And worked.

    • Big Jim

      sorry to hear you thought GOP was once worth voting for. Glad to hear you have now seen the light though!!

      • Browncoat

        At one time, not too long ago, it WAS worth voting for. Now I vote as conservative as possible whether GOP (rare) or Democrat (non-existent where I live). And when and if I have money for a race, it goes to the candidate, not the party or the PAC.

        • The MOSEPH!!

          Democrat and conservative rarely, if ever, can be found to be harmonious. Or apply to the same individual. Common sense & personal responsibility are not in the Democrat handbook. Race baiting & blaming everyone else are, however.

          I, too, have found that the Republican Party no longer stands for my conservative values. I left a few years ago, though I will vote for the most conservative candidates in each election regardless of party (unless we’re talking a lesser of two evils & the more evil choice shouldn’t ever be allowed near a fountain pen & a piece of legislation). Thankfully, in the area, the Republicans typically are conservative. It’s a shame that’s not always the case on a national level.

      • name429name

        When did he stop voting GOP?…”Pretty much voted Republican ever since. But I finished the four year program as a journeyman pipefitter and did that until 1990. I’d taken a CAD course and became an industrial piping designer. Done that ever since… And for the last 10+ years, the money has been very good. God had a plan. And worked.”

  • Queenbee

    I’m with Athena007! I want the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge poster! PLEASE!

  • jeefray

    I push all young people towards the trades and find many of them are very interested. Especially when I tell them that they need young people, right now, to start learning a trade. I come from people that were hard working, in trades, picking fruit or any other job that kept food on the table. Real work is very satisfying. I had the dumbest job on the face of the Earth, but I enjoyed it because I brought my enthusiasm, along with my desire to do quality work. I watched other people live large and do very little for the money they were paid. It never ceases to amaze me that people think it’s okay to screw their employer, for any reason. So there’s nothing wrong with working for a living and I have a weird feeling that the compensation levels on trade jobs are going to skyrocket in the the next few years. Never seen your show, don’t care about your politics but I like that you push people to work.

  • Mary F. Clay

    Working hard is good for you; believe it or not! I enjoy hard work, make the day go faster!

  • Jared Blackburn

    There is a dirty (no pun intended) little secret here: Though there’s demand for these jobs, most want experience and very few have on the job training / apprenticeships (meaning, basically all require technical / vocational school) — well, they’re not called “skilled” for nothing, but getting the skills can be a problem. I guess that’s what the scholarship program is for. Still, these jobs really are basically out of reach for a lot of people, no mater their career interests. Claiming there are opportunities for anyone willing to work and learn from employers that are desperately begging and pleading seems to be a bit of an exaggeration from where I’m standing.

    Then, I guess that’s the point of all this — to convince kids to get training for an actual career while they still have the chance, even if its often too late for the old.

  • TheRockHardWorker

    I have 2 college degrees and i cant find a job to save my life. I have applied to lower positions min wage positions and companies want young kids fresh out of college to fill their low paying positions. Its ridiculous. My friend was a deckhand rt out of high school he was making $30k /yr now he makes $130k/yr with paid expenses full medical 2wk paid vacations etc. Its hard work but he gets paid for it. Now he has enough money saved up to get into a less physically demanding career. His main reasoning to get out is not the job its the ppl. He often complained how dumb his co workers were. Just really simplistic low educated mindset. They dont carry themselves very well. Meatheads. That is the only reason the reason he wants to quit. At least he’s able too. Maybe that’s why a lot of ppl don’t want to get into blue color work. Too many simple minded ppl in the field. Change that and i bet more ppl would valie those careers.