There’s something that very few people know about me: I hate it when my hands are dirty.
I think a lot of it comes from the way I was raised. My parents were very traditional, conservative, blue-collar people. “Salt of the earth”, some people might say. When they were just teenagers, they got married, uprooted from Kansas, and made the westward journey to California. My dad had joined the Navy and was stationed here in the Bay Area. He then fostered an entrepreneurial streak by opening up his own cabinet shop in 1963, all while his wife made a career as a stay-at-home mom to raise my three siblings and me. Mom and Dad worked hard to get where they are now: They took smart risks, they saved their profits, and they invested wisely.
Growing up, my mom always pushed me to do my best, and to aspire to “something better” than a life of manual labor. When I got a “C” in high school, she’d pointedly ask me, “Do you want to push a broom for the rest of your life?” I guess she was worried that I’d grow complacent; that I wouldn’t live up to the potential she saw in me. And perhaps as a result, I was the first member of my family to go to college, and the first of my family to hold a “desk job.”
I don’t think I’m anything special, though. If I were to guess, I’d bet there are a lot of people just like me. And as I’ve gotten older—my days spent typing on a keyboard and staring at a computer screen—I marvel at the ability of others to actually build things. I venture into old houses and admire the incredible craftsmanship, attention to detail, and pride that went into their construction. I have friends who are metal smiths, who build furniture, and who manage large construction projects. In fact, my work with Lifestyle constantly exposes me to the very people who execute on our plans and make them real.
I’m surrounded by people who build with their hands; who turn an idea into a physical thing. Meanwhile, I can’t confidently nail two sticks together. The irony is not lost on me: At some point, our world started holding intangible technologies—software, silicon, and social networks—in higher regard than the artisans among us whose passion and vision creates the very things with which we surround ourselves.
But as we head into Labor Day, I’m thinking about my hands again. Nothing has ever been built, virtually or physically, without someone, somewhere getting their hands dirty. And while that may involve late nights coding and too much coffee, there are those among us who dirty their hands with mud and mortar, oil and grease; they end the day by being able to step back, take a deep breath, and say “I made that.”
That’s who this holiday is for. In fact, it’s not just a single holiday — it’s evolved into the three days we call the “Labor Day Weekend” and, let’s face it, these people deserve it. I’m so thankful for the people in our world who build things, who fix things, who make our bridges stronger and our buildings safer. This year, I’m inspired to thank all of the contractors, tradespeople, and artisans we work with and make sure they know how important they are to our success.
We truly couldn’t do this without you. Thank you so much for all your hard work, and for making the world we live in more creative and more beautiful. Happy Labor Day!