Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe Gave One Guy The Best Life Advice Ever

Todd-Spence by Todd-Spence on Jun. 28, 2014

Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, seems like he's a pretty genuine guy.  The show has been off the air for a couple of years now, but despite his lack of TV face time, he still manages to encourage some of his fans whenever they write in to his facebook fan page. He holds a Saturday Mail Call where he replies to readers and one guy in particular received the best advice anyone could ever receive:

Hey Mike!

I’ve spent this last year trying to figure out the right career for myself and I still can’t figure out what to do. I have always been a hands on kind of guy and a go-getter. I could never be an office worker. I need change, excitement, and adventure in my life, but where the pay is steady. I grew up in construction and my first job was a restoration project. I love everything outdoors. I play music for extra money. I like trying pretty much everything, but get bored very easily. I want a career that will always keep me happy, but can allow me to have a family and get some time to travel. I figure if anyone knows jobs its you so I was wondering your thoughts on this if you ever get the time! Thank you!

Parker Hall

Mike Rowe's reply:

Hi Parker

My first thought is that you should learn to weld and move to North Dakota. The opportunities are enormous, and as a “hands-on go-getter,” you’re qualified for the work. But after reading your post a second time, it occurs to me that your qualifications are not the reason you can’t find the career you want.

I had drinks last night with a woman I know. Let’s call her Claire. Claire just turned 42. She’s cute, smart, and successful. She’s frustrated though, because she can’t find a man. I listened all evening about how difficult her search has been. About how all the “good ones” were taken. About how her other friends had found their soul-mates, and how it wasn’t fair that she had not.

“Look at me,” she said. “I take care of myself. I’ve put myself out there. Why is this so hard?”

“How about that guy at the end of the bar,” I said. “He keeps looking at you.”
“Not my type.”

“Really? How do you know?”
“I just know.”

“Have you tried a dating site?” I asked.”
“Are you kidding? I would never date someone I met online!”

“Alright. How about a change of scene? Your company has offices all over - maybe try living in another city?”
“What? Leave San Francisco? Never!”

“How about the other side of town? You know, mix it up a little. Visit different places. New museums, new bars, new theaters...?”

She looked at me like I had two heads. “Why the hell would I do that?”

Here’s the thing, Parker. Claire doesn’t really want a man. She wants the “right” man. She wants a soul-mate. Specifically, a soul-mate from her zip code. She assembled this guy in her mind years ago, and now, dammit, she’s tired of waiting!!

I didn’t tell her this, because Claire has the capacity for sudden violence. But it’s true. She complains about being alone, even though her rules have more or less guaranteed she’ll stay that way. She has built a wall between herself and her goal. A wall made of conditions and expectations. Is it possible that you’ve built a similar wall?

Consider your own words. You don’t want a career - you want the “right” career. You need “excitement” and “adventure,” but not at the expense of stability. You want lots of “change” and the “freedom to travel,” but you need the certainty of “steady pay.” You talk about being “easily bored” as though boredom is out of your control. It isn’t. Boredom is a choice. Like tardiness. Or interrupting. It’s one thing to “love the outdoors,” but you take it a step further. You vow to “never” take an office job. You talk about the needs of your family, even though that family doesn't exist. And finally, you say the career you describe must “always” make you "happy."

These are my thoughts. You may choose to ignore them and I wouldn’t blame you - especially after being compared to a 42 year old woman who can’t find love. But since you asked...

Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don't waste another year looking for a career that doesn't exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.

Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you.

Good luck -


PS. I’m serious about welding and North Dakota. Those guys are writing their own ticket.

PPS Think I should forward this to Claire?

Share with someone you think could use this same advice. @Todd_Spence

Laeadern User

I've always liked Mike Rowe and felt he was a genuine man who had a good grip on life in general. His advice proves that i was right in that belief.

Johnq Smith
Johnq Smith

Dam I just learned something about my own job situation. That was well written and insightful. Solid wisdom. But I still dont wont to do a dirty job

Anne Reeves Todd
Anne Reeves Todd

Forward to Claire. Then not have drinks with her for awhile, I love you Mike, don't want to see your mug on the back of a milk carton.

Dave Super
Dave Super

Wow! Broke it down in words have a good affect on me, lesson learn :) thanks for sharing post.

Shane-Olsen-10 User

wow wish someone told me thats 25 years ago

Ryan Wong
Ryan Wong

I read about this a few weeks ago and I shared it with one of my good friends. Something that resonated with me the most was the very last sentence " What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you." Let that be your tl;dr

Mir Cat
Mir Cat

When I read this response, instantly I thought Mike must be a Piscean because of the advice he gave to Parker, and I google his birthday and bang I was right. I can sense Piscean advice a mile away.

eldystar User

but but the welfare pays more because i pooped out 2 kids by random guys why would i work?

Tickyul User

Leave that SCUT-WORK to the MEEEEEGRANTAYS!!!!!!!

Tickyul User

Leave that SCUT-WORK to the MEEEEGRANTAYS!!!

Valeasaz User

I have a lot of respect for Mike Rowe. His opinions and ideas, I think, are highly undervalued in our society today. 

whatinitheworld UserTop Commenter

I need to find a way to send this to my future wife so she smartens up and calls me

NewUser2014 User

I agree with every word he wrote.Sadly, the guy who wrote him the mail seems to be the kind of person who doesn't follow advices they are given

libra8 User

I like Mike even more now.

Scooby24 User

Mike Rowe is the ultimate Man's Man.  

apewty User


ZHVirago User

man everyone needs to read this.

zawooop User

reading his reply I could hear his voice in my head. top notch stuff!


Proper advice fro a stand up guy.

John-Drach-253 User

Good advice. Everyone seems to have that wall