Conference Coverage: Keynote Mike Rowe

"If the message we deliver isn’t fun, sticky and engaging, we are just talking to ourselves." While this comment from Mike Rowe wasn’t the introduction, but rather the wrap up, to his hilarious and enlightening keynote, it sure helps you understand why pixilation, poo and coins were part of his stories. Anyone who attended will likely remember these comments made by Rowe, which means they "stuck" and means Rowe certainly was not talking to himself! "It was like I hit a button..." and "When you talk about the coin, do you only talk about the tail and not the head?" and "What if it was more than one pixel?"

"My first impression, he seems like a nice guy," had said MHI President Brett Wood when introducing Rowe to the crowd, setting the stage early with a bit of levity. "Nice," it turns out, quickly morphed into more along the lines of "Naughty" as Rowe shared details about Hunsucker Commando.

Rowe’s account of the graduation from the Feces From Every Species to the Period of Pixelation and the incorporation of AI into the "Dirty Jobs" program had everyone laughing out loud. "How much weirder can it get? Turns out, a lot."

Even more "weird," perhaps, was how he managed to tie these stories into the material handling workforce, which he did smoothly (and creatively!): pixilation. "There are tens of thousands of opportunities in logistics and the country doesn’t know about them. They have been pixelated," he said. "We’ve pixelated entire categories of opportunities....We need to change our relationship with work and change our relationship with opportunity."

In 2008, Rowe founded the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which "rewards people with a passion to get trained for skilled jobs that actually exist." Through its scholarship programs, including the Work Ethic Scholarship Program, the Foundation has granted more than $5 million in scholarships. Rowe also talked about 12 points of The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge (Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo), which scholarship recipients have to sign and include statements just as:  I am grateful; Happiness and the pursuit of happiness are not the same thing; No such things as a bad job; Any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm;  I deplore debt; My safety is my responsibility. "We are working hard at the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to move the needle as much as we can," said Rowe.