In the 1930s, Leonid Kantarovich got a job assignment. He was supposed to optimize production of plywood.
We know what you're saying: that sounds absolutely exciting! And we're with you. Optimizing plywood! Just hearing those words gives one goose bumps. Talk about a lifelong dream!
And boy, did Kantarovich live that dream. He lived it to the tune of creating something that came to be known as linear programming. Not only was that used to spectacularly optimize plywood production, but it had numerous applications in other, non-plywood areas of mathematics (not as thrilling, we know).
All of that got Kantarovich a much deserved (be it much delayed) Nobel Prize in Economics in 1975.
So let that be a lesson to you out there: next time you get a boring job assignment, give it a try anyway. You never know what will come out of it.
Of course, it will never be as stimulating as optimizing plywood production. But at least Kantorovich figured that out for all of us...