Author Q&A: Ken Rusk Discusses “Blue-Collar Cash”

Ken Rusk shares with us how we can all find comfort, peace, and freedom.

Specializing in mentoring and coaching, Ken Rusk helps young people in areas such as short-, mid-, and long-term goal setting, life visualization, and career path planning. His new book, Blue-Collar Cash: Love Your Work, Secure Your Future, and Find Happiness for Life (Dey Street Books), advocates for everyone to embrace their own needs and embark on visualizing for themselves what comfort, peace, and freedom look like. Ken is passionate about helping people achieve their dreams regardless of their educational background or past. He is a construction business entrepreneur who started as a ditch digger and has launched multiple successful endeavors and businesses over the last thirty years. No college degree required.  Check out our Q&A with him below, and don’t miss out on his new book!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new book, Blue-Collar Cash? Who will most benefit from this book, and why did you write it? 

I decided to write this book because I had been noticing a couple of challenging trends that were definitely heading in the wrong direction. One is that society began to steer all our young people to expensive, debt-ridden, and sometimes useless college degrees and that was creating a huge talent imbalance in the labor markets. Additionally, I began to see how under-prepared our kids were to face the realities of the world and I knew something had to change. Add to that the sheer volume of those who went through school “because they were told they had to” and were now in jobs that they did not want or even like at all. I found that there were so many of us out there that were living, and more importantly thinking, day to day without any real clear path to their futures and no idea how to get there. Finally, on top of all that, the fact that there exists so many lucrative opportunities in the unfairly stigmatized blue collar world and you pretty much have a perfect storm brewing—one that, for the keenly aware, could spell a seriously fulfilling and profitable life. 


We are in such uncertain times, both in the US and globally. How can Blue-Collar Cash better equip leaders, businesses, and people to continue moving forward in these challenging times? 

Whenever I speak to business leaders, I hear the same challenges over and over. “We just can’t find good people”. The labor market is tough and those who are hiring are having to compete for the same small pool of available workers. In the past, hiring was simple. A company seeking help just put an ad in the paper and waited for the procession to walk in the front door. Not anymore. These days, the younger generations have a much more unique perspective about finding and keeping a job. First, they have more information in the palm of their hands than ever before, and this makes them very effective at “job shopping”. Second, they have enormous choices and varied opportunities for them to pick from which makes it a “worker’s market,” if you will. Finally, they possess an almost selfish attitude of “what’s in it for me to work here.” Now, this can be off-putting to most traditional top-down employers who feel they have valuable jobs to offer. However, it is a new reality we all must face. And it is forcing us to take stock in our own office environments. I call it “Creating Cool.” Beyond the new normal of making sure your office is a fun, cool, and engaging place to work, we must now answer the question each new candidate is thinking if not outright asking: “Can I build the life I want for myself within this organization?” Answer that question and you will have all the people you need to make your business thrive, and then some. 


What’s the number one problem facing young people right now regarding the “college-for-everyone” mentality? How can young people (especially women, since you mention in your book that it’s still a male-dominant space) who are just beginning their careers start thinking about and/or pursue careers that may not include a college degree? 

There exists a very powerful force in our economy that has been around since the beginning of time—it is called Supply and Demand. Currently in this environment of “college or nothing” a huge shift has occurred away from high paying trades jobs towards an expensive four-year degree. This has caused an already tight labor market to become a labor crisis. Add to that the increase in retirements from these positions with very few new applicants to backfill those jobs and you have an opportunity that is ripe for the taking. And as it goes with all supply issues where supply is low and demand is high, the money usually follows that scenario. This bodes well for anyone who is willing to work with their hands. And even more so for women. Technology advancements and increased unfilled positions are helping women enter the blue collar field in droves. In fact, I personally know of women who are welders and gravel truck drivers who are making over six figures per year and happy as heck to do it. 


Can you tell us about the Virginia Tech study by Dan Zadra (author of The 5 Book: Where Will You Be Five Years from Today)? How can we all increase our own potential earnings and achieve our goals? 

I have a unique definition of entrepreneurship and it is this. Entrepreneurs have the ability to see what they are after. And I believe we ALL can do the very same. The VT study points out the power of simply taking the time to document what you see for yourself and reviewing it often. This is almost comical in its simplicity and yet so few of us actually put this process into practice. I think the obvious choice is to be the person who decides his or her own future. Be the one out of a hundred who is willing to take the easy steps from that study to improve dramatically the outcome of your life. Instead of waiting for life to happen to you, it is time for you to happen to life. You only get one chance at about 80 – 90 years on this planet. Why not make those years as effective as possible? And to think that this is a choice we all can make is truly empowering. 


What key takeaways do you hope readers will glean from or improve upon after reading Blue-Collar Cash? Can you fill us in on the importance of C, P, and F for example? 

I would hope that most readers come to the conclusion that they are much more in control of their own lives, their own destinies, than they may currently think. I try to teach them how to think differently, how to look at their future in a new and very organic way and to see what they can and will become. This is where Comfort Peace and Freedom came from in the beginning. I have come to realize that these 3 words should really be the end game for all of us in our own individual ways. And that these words are interdependent on each other much like the corners of a triangle. If we learn how to visualize our lives exactly how we would want to see them play out, then we can achieve true C, P, and F. And we must realize that it’s not all mega yachts and mansions, in fact for some of us, it may be quite the opposite. The real magic is that once you have that vision, very clearly in front of you, the laws of attraction will take you there. 


Thank you, Ken, for taking the time to give us a closer look into Blue-Collar Cash! To order copies of this book for your organization, visit our website.


AuthorConnect Chat Series

This post was written by Karlyn Hixson, the Director of Strategic Partnerships & Editorial at BookPal. She is currently reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

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