In high school I was into writing and photography, needless to say I was not in the popular crowds. Through modern day social technology like Facebook, I can clearly see that the majority of the popular kids in high school have gone on to do very little in their lives or careers. There is a long-term value in viewing yourself as a nerd and embracing the nerd within.
When I was growing up I never realized that it was better to be more on the nerdy side than the popular side. But it was something that I struggled with often. Back then kids in school avoided raising their hands just out of fear of being called a nerd. I wish someone would have told me that it is actually really important to find a topic or several topics in your life that you can completely nerd out on. The people I admire most in business and life are nerds. By the way being a nerd doesn’t just mean you're good at math or science, I am horrible at both of those things.
To me, being a nerd means that you're so passionate about the topic that you can never possibly get enough information or learn enough about that subject matter.
So whether it's engineering, science, math, music, photography and filmmaking, art, marketing, a time or place, graphic design or anything else, you may be a full blown nerd.
To certain people who couldn’t begin to understand why you are passionate about that thing, you are a nerd. And I have learned that is more than OK. Off course there are many different levels of nerd as well.
I come from a long line of nerds. My father was a traditional nerd. He studied engineering at Pratt Institute and went on to a successful career in aerospace engineering and technical publishing. His father before him immigrated to the U.S. from Scotland with nothing. He worked on warships in the Navy yard and eventually opened up his own electrician business in Brooklyn.
So as children travel through the relatively unimportant years of high school and into the real world, it is instantly apparent that the real world is a much greater place to live and create.
In this world, if you are passionless, you increase your likelihood of being penniless. Off course, with anything there are exceptions to the rule. I know several really popular kids from high school who went on to have careers as celebrities. But the majority of people can only fake life out for a few years before the need for real work and drive is needed for success.
Most of my favorite people are nerds. I once had a CEO who told me he only hires nerds. I didn’t understand it at the time but today, I totally get it.
As we go through modern human history it is easy to think of successful nerds like Albert Einstein, Alan Turning, Nikola Tesla, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and so many more.
But friends, I would like to argue that anyone who is even remotely successful in life has come to terms with the nerd within. Every single person that I work with today is a certified nerd and I love them for it.
Here are things that nerds do daily:
Here are some of my favorite nerds that you may not have ever considered nerds: Jerry Garcia, Richard Branson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Paul Rand, James Edward Olliges, Jr. (Jim James), Elon Musk, Howard Stern, and so many more.
They may not be traditional “nerds” but they have put a tremendous amount of time and energy into studying their craft and perfecting it.
I nerd out on writing, marketing and business strategy.
Cheers to all the nerds, keep on doing what you do best.
James is the Marketing Director at StratIS. He was named Top Voice on LinkedIn in 2015, and the number two voice in healthcare from more than 2 million bloggers on the platform. He was the creator of the Seinfeld Birthday Project, which went internationally viral, received more than 1 million YouTube views, and was featured in hundreds of newspapers, blogs, TV shows and radio programs. He also co-founded TAP Social Media, a boutique-marketing agency located in Philadelphia, PA. James holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.