Job Snobbery

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Does the title on your business card define you?

Alain De Botton is probably as close as we’ll get in today’s society to a true modern philosopher. I was first turned on to his thinking when Julien Smith (Trust Agents and The Flinch) left me a copy of his seminal book, The Pleasures And Sorrows Of Work. As someone who has always pursued that which was of interest to me, I am constantly bewildered by people who are miserable at work, or feel like they deserve something more (without doing much about it for themselves). At a young age, I realized that work – for the vast major of the population – is soul crushing. Thankfully, I learned this lesson long before I entered the workforce and set myself up so that I would not be in that position (as much as possible).

First world problems.

Realizing that these are first word problems, in this Big Think video clip (and, by the way, if you don’t subscribe to the Big Think video channel, you really should), De Botton looks at the true value of what we, as individuals, are worth. Both in terms of how we perceive ourselves and how we see others. It’s amazing how enlightening this short two-minute clip is. How often do you find yourself being asked, "so, what do you do for a living?" It happens often enough and, as much as I try to rehearse and be prepared for that exact moment, I always feel like whatever I say has – in a small or big way – diminished what I’m truly all about. Don’t you always feel judged by your answer or what it says on your business card?

We shouldn’t, but we do. Sadly. Watch this…


  1. We can’t express ourselves via a business card or in seconds. Who can? How horrible if we could.
    We can express ourselves online in text, audio and video? Who bothers? Too few. That takes time and commitment. Until recently, we could not express ourselves easily or find our tribes. We now have the tools. Distance barely matters. There was a time when long distance phone calls were expensive. Education used to restricted by admission requirements and fees. Now we can learn online for free.
    Yes, I’ve seen many people with unsatisfying jobs. I’ve heard many complaints about how unfair things are. I haven’t seen many of these people take steps to make their lives better. We face challenges, which means we face opportunities if we act.

  2. Another reason to leave NY. And the guy stealing your wallet judged you in about 30 seconds too 😉 I only lived there two months and was robbed twice.

  3. Yes, I so dislike this approach. Many years ago the question was ‘how do you do?’. So the people where interested in you as a (whole) person. And now there are only selfish motives in this question ‘what do you do?’.

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