Friday, November 11, 2011

Chris Hardwick: Recovering your Inner Nerd

In both a Wired Storyboard Podcast, and in an article in the November issue of Wired Magazine, Chris Hardwick (excerpting and summarizing his new book The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life), describes his journey from childhood nerd (chess champion, D&D player, science fiction enthusiast) to mid-twenties "cool guy" (and its attendant laziness, heavy drinking and pronounced lack of ambition), to writer, producer, "Web Soup" host, stand-up comedian and all-around success story.  While recounting what it was like growing up in a bowling alley (and being the son of a champion bowler), Hardwick also offers some good advice on how to pair your youthful passions with a disciplined mind in order to achieve success.

Hardwick's message is maddeningly simple, brutally honest, and resonates for nerds of all types, (especially those who hid their nerd qualities in order to fit in):

"It occurred to me that I had arrogantly banished all the nerd qualities that defined me as a youth. I distinctly remembered that I once had the ability to focus intensely on many things. Programming computers, winning chess tournaments, playing videogames, collecting action figures, Dungeons & Dragon-ing, ruining the bell curve in Latin class. I needed to reconnect with that past and find a way to harness those nerd powers to turn my life around. They had to be useful for something other than frightening girls away by deconstructing the character of Tron as a Christ figure."

Hardwick also emphasizes the need to wed passion with planning ("Nerdist=Obsession + Direction"), and he has an great mantra to ward off the negative aspects of an obsessive mind ("You don't have to believe everything you think") that echoes the lessons of Do the Work (ignore the "chatter" and be aware of the resistance),  Seth Godin's discussion of the Lizard Brain, and Jason Fried's warnings about distraction.

And above all, Hardwick reminds you to Enjoy Your Burrito