OK, there’s no formula for personal success. But the story of Mike Rowe the Dirty Jobs guy is pretty…funny? Definitely inspiring. Certainly different. Got to give it to the guy he had a vision and made it stick…sometimes/frequently quite literally.

Fast Company has Rowe’s story in last month’s issue. I read it on the plane to Australia. Very carefully. “THE DIRTIEST MIND IN BUSINESS” is emblazoned across the cover of the magazine. Hey, maybe the 20 year olds beside were clear that Fast Company was a business magazine. Then, again, this part of the story, about Rowe’s few minutes of fame hawking dolls on the shopping channel had me laughing out loud and feeling the need for perhaps a bit more discreteness:

Then someone handed Rowe a 2-foot nun doll named Sister Mary Margaret. “If you wound her up, she played ‘Climb Every Mountain,’ which I thought was hysterical.” Rowe had four minutes to kill but ran out of material in 30 seconds, including the time he spent having her spank him with a ruler. Then he tried to crank up her music feature. “I’ve already announced that she plays music, and I’m squeezing her hand, looking around her neck, but I can’t figure it out.” When the technical director finally cut away to a display version of the same doll, Rowe, in desperation, turned the little sister upside down in his lap and peeled down her garment. He finally found the crank “in the small of her back, but it’s really sort of in her ass.” Unfortunately, the technical director cut back to Rowe without warning: “Suddenly, I see myself live on the monitor, with Sister Mary Margaret’s face in my crotch, my hand on her ass, and her habit around her neck. And the damn thing is playing ‘Climb Every Mountain.'” Rowe froze in horror, then made an unfortunate gesture not suitable for prime time. “It was not good.”

Needless to say Rowe survived the debacle and went on to the fame and fortune (who frigging knew?) exposing people to the reality of dirty jobs. As FC puts it:

…for all the bathroom humor, his real curiosity about and respect for his subjects telegraphs a powerful message: There’s dignity in hard work, expertise in unexpected places, and deep satisfaction in tackling and finishing a tough job.

Rowe’s story – like so many – is inspiring in the old fashioned “maybe if you just keep working at something long enough and hard enough, ultimately something good will come of it”. The guy had fun. It’s also pretty clear he had a dream, never gave up, worked a hell of a lot of different opportunities, and ultimately – ‘got lucky’. It’s also clear he’s got balls and isn’t stupid.

Funny how those qualities always seem to help lucky people.