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.

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James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, intellectual explorer, and perpetual apprentice. He opted out of college to join the Praxis startup apprenticeship program and currently manages marketing and communications at bitcoin payment technology company BitPay. He writes daily at

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