We Love 'Disruptors'
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But It's Regular People Who Keep the World Afloat
This week, Fortune magazine pointed to a provocative essay by Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell titled Hail the maintainers, which says that as a society, we are overvaluing innovators and desperately undervaluing the engineers, cleaners, repair technicians and service personnel that keep everything running.
Waves of “disruptive” new technologies and business practices may be giving us successive generations of maverick entrepreneurs, but someone had to make Elon Musk’s latte this morning and make sure it got to him in a clean cup. If he falls off his hoverboard and breaks his arm, an ER nurse is going to help diagnose him and patch him together again, but when will we get to hear her Ted talk?
I have endless respect for people behind the scenes keeping the world together. I remember the pride I once took in being a restaurant dishwasher. Yes, the job is, in some ways, at the bottom of the food chain. It’s typically the lowest-paid position in any restaurant, and yet there is a simple, satisfying power to it. To customers, you’re invisible, but you’re ultimately the person who is keeping them safe from germs and cross-contamination, an invisible lifeguard at life’s watering hole.