I cannot be happier that the likes of Mike Rowe, This Old House, and JLC’s Training the Trades have taken up the initiative to fill the training void being created by strong markets. We're up against a culture that mistakenly values white collar “occupations” over blue collar “trades”, and the preposterous cost of higher education.
However, when this was all starting—heck, I wrote about it back in 2004 or 5 or so for Tools of the Trade in an article we called Training Day that is sadly no longer online—there was no such thing as an “on-line echo chamber” or “confirmation bias”, and Zuck didn’t even have a driver’s license!
But now there is—and it is amazing. Facebook and the internet are the greatest communication tools since communication began. But it can also be counter-productive and maybe more to the point, reductive. Especially to young people for whom simple thoughts often resonate.
While I love the intent of this meme, it’s only a meme. It’s not all the thoughts. It’s just a few—unlike Mike and TOH and JLC; we’re trying to have them all. To solve a truly complicated problem.
While I had plenty of nights like the lame-o in the left panel of the photo (left)—both in school and struggling financially after—I had plenty of nights working my a++ off to complete a goal.
I also feel the need to defend my clients.
All—I mean ALL, as in 100% of my clients—are college educated. Not a single one of them can finish a basement or build a deck or install windows or tie a bowline knot. I can. And that’s cool. But I can’t do what they do—lawyering and administrating and doing things to people’s teeth or their insides—but I need to be able to communicate with them, to be a peer, to know things that make us personal matches.
And, to be blunt, none of that comes from knowing how to lay out a wall plate. It comes from life experience and meeting and dealing with new people, from travel and athletics, to living away from home—a huge part of what college is about.
I’m not saying the math adds up. Life-crushing debt is not worth having a cool roommate from Florida. Heck, I’m not even having all the thoughts here myself. I guess the point is there’s more to it than the binary of the meme and I think that matters to anyone hoping to own a business in their career.
Put another way, I cannot afford myself. My clients can afford me though. No tradesman has ever hired me. Ever. So part of serving them—and growing my business—is understanding them. Having things in common with them. It’s more than just about not splicing wires in the wall and continuous load paths.
I hope this serves to start a conversation so that all ships rise.