The Blue-Collar Knowledge Worker Manifesto

n. Knowledge worker – Knowledge workers are workers whose main capital is knowledge. Examples include software engineers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, design thinkers, public accountants, lawyers, and academics, and any other white-collar workers, whose line of work requires the one to “think for a living“.

The more I’m exposed to the industry of marketing, the more I learn about the pitfalls as well as the advantages of work in a job that is so based in ideas. And I’m beginning to think that we marketers could learn a lot from my former landscaping and hardware store colleagues.

Because while marketing is a white-collar, “knowledge worker” job field, many of the basic principles that make for good, reliable, satisfying blue collar work can save white-collar workers a lot of trouble.

This is a proposed “manifesto” for the blue-collar knowledge worker:*

The blue-collar knowledge worker works hard, early, and late.

The blue-collar knowledge worker does not complain, make excuses, or talk about people behind their backs.

The blue-collar knowledge worker does not refuse work. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty or do work that is “below him.”

The blue-collar knowledge worker is humble. She does not look down on blue-collar work or take her company for granted.

The blue-collar knowledge worker produces a lot with a little.

The blue-collar knowledge worker tends to avoid meetings, or make them shorter, or work through them. Time spent in meetings is a loss for her.

The blue-collar knowledge worker speaks rarely. But when she does speak, she speaks hard-won wisdom.

The blue-collar knowledge worker tries to be as self-sufficient as possible. When she doesn’t know something, she learns it herself if possible.

The blue-collar knowledge worker is not a showboat. He does not angle for position or recognition.

The blue-collar knowledge worker is loyal.

The blue-collar knowledge worker is a workhorse, resilient. He can go on when most others can’t or won’t.


Intellectual credit: Praxis for introducing me to the idea of “blue collar work ethic and Silicon Valley idealism” and Jocko Willink for the idea of a code.

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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