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The Nerdist Way

early cover concept art by Chris Glass; this will not be the final cover, however

As many of you know because of my blabbings, I’m releasing a book later this year (Fall-ish, I think) called The Nerdist Way. It is a productivity book for Nerds. It was born out of the fact that I have released many fuck-ups into the world throughout my life, and a handful of years ago turned to the Nerdier parts of my brain for help. I sense that there are many other Nerds out there looking for answers, so this is my attempt to reach out to all of them (or YOU) and share methods and tricks I’ve employed to straighten out my life. In my experience, Nerds have a very specific world-view and problem-solving approach coupled with hyper-self-awareness and a very active internal monologue. I believe it is possible to aim some of the traits that normally seem to attempt to cripple us with inactivity into the very engine that drives us forward. The content is a sort of first-person walk-thru of challenges I faced, and how I got around them. Tonally, it’s not unlike the WIRED article I wrote in ’08, Diary of a Self-Help Dropout. Though, if you listen to the podcast or read this site with any regularity, you probably have a pretty good idea how I present stuff.

I am BY NO MEANS perfect, but I pretty much never stop thinking about work, and how to streamline my life. I would tend to think I’d get an “above average” mark were there some kind of report card. I’m usually juggling a bunch of small, fun projects that I enjoy and that make me happy. If you are so inclined, I feel you deserve to be sprayed with some happiness as well doing what you love if you’re not currently experiencing it. Nerds were always shit on when I was growing up, so I feel excited and proud that we’ve now inherited a large chunk of this planet. IT IS OUR TIME TO RULE.

So now the point of this post…earlier today I got the following tweet from a nice chap who goes by @MDBowden:

Hey Chris, do you have any tips to get over writer’s block? I haven’t been able to write jokes for a while.

As I responded in a series of abbreviated DMs (I really do try to answer as many of those as possible) it occurred to me that there were probably more than a few specific points I might miss. Since the Nerdist stuff is really just a community of like-minded folks, I thought I would end each chapter or section by answering a few related queries. What you should know is that the book is that it’s divided into three sections:

MIND – how to manage your brain
BODY – how to manage your physical self
TIME – how to manage Einstein’s favorite dimension better to achieve the productivity you “so sorely need” (as Carl Carlson once said)

So that’s it. If you have any questions relating to any of the above-referenced sectors, please post them here and I will pull a few into the book and answer them to the best of my experience. Make sure to use whatever name suits you for crediting purposes. Also, hashtag your question with mind, body or time for easy sorting. And please don’t be shitty here. My intention with this book is to help other Nerds benefit from the lessons of my anxieties and mistakes, kind of like an older brother. Or an Overlord. Whoops! That last part just slipped out.

Hashtag HUGS.


  • What kind of advice can you give on nerd parenting? We’re breeding now. Making nerdling copies of ourselves. How can we help this generation become nerd tolerant and/or show their nerd pride?

  • I’m so excited about the idea for this book, but I’m worried it’s coming out too late for me! I always have this panic that it’s too late to start getting creative things put out there, which allows me to excuse putting it off even more and distract myself with work and things like zombie movies and Buffy reruns. I know that you encourage people to ‘just do it,’ but Do you think that there is a unspoken age limit at which one can realistically begin to pursue creative endeavors as a career? Can one realistically do this outside of NY or LA?
    (hashtag TIME; hashtag BRAIN)

  • With all of your various projects (G4, stand-up, the Nerdist podcast/website, etc.), I would like to know how you balance your personal life. What do you do to get away from it all, and recharge your batteries?

  • Nerdist,

    As a Mac user and lover of all things Apple, when a PC guy who loves to solve problems with their garbage OS gives me shit and spouts the myriad solutions to PC problems as if I’m stupid for wanting to own a Mac instead of learning how to constantly fix my machine, should I feel justified punching them in the face?


  • Here’s a question for you, Chris, and for the other commenters. (Play along at home, kids!)

    Do nerds really have an ability to hyper-focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else? I don’t self-identify as a nerd so I have a hard time imagining the ability to tune out Twitter, FB, email, texts, phone calls, and cow-orkers, and just GET THINGS DONE. Seriously, to me it seems like some sort of super power.

  • I love the idea of your book. I feel as though I am spending so much time preparing/syncing/organizing my life via all this great technology that I can never actually get anywhere. Is it possible that one can have too much technology and too many tools available? Have you had to streamline in this respect, or does your tech universe just keep expanding exponentially?

    #time #mind #tardiswouldgetmeorganized

  • I heard you said in one of your podcasts that you try to keep yourself busy so you don’t have to be stuck alone with your own thoughts.

    My question is that if you are ever in that situation where you are stuck with your own thoughts, fears, or otherwise negative vibes, how do you pick yourself up again and try to move past it as well as trying not to get stuck in the same situation?

  • What do you think has been the single most important piece of technology within the last 10 years and why? What technological advance would you like to see in the next 10 years?

  • I tend to get stressed out about things that other people brush off. If I make a mistake I dwell on it for ages. My internal dialogue is so critical and never motivational or constructive. It gets to a point where I can’t handle anymore stress and just shut down. How do I keep from taking everything too seriously?

  • How do you know when you’ve spent enough time on a project before you overwork it and destroy it, where it doesn’t seem good in your eyes but others may think its fantastic?


  • If being a nerd is basically not hiding your enthusiasm about something, how do you channel that in useful ways? How do you expand the things you nerd out over?

    Also, I’ve experienced something in my own life that you’ve touched on in the podcast. That is, genuine enthusiasm + not being a dick = good luck. Do you talk about this in the book? I’m hoping so, because at least in my on experience, this outlook of honesty and kindness seems to have brought me (and you) a lot of good fortune. I’d be very curious to hear your elaborated thoughts on the matter.



  • Hey SARA! It’s really never too late. Really. When you feel that way, do what I do and remember all the so-called “late-bloomers” who didn’t start pursuing their creative careers until well into adulthood. Look! There’s even a Wikipedia article about it:

    Go tell Grandma Moses & Charles Bukowski they’re too old to get creative. (Well, you can’t now because they’re dead, but you know what I meant.)

  • Hello chris,
    Like many nerds I am predisposed to the ocasional lofty scoff or sence of intellectual eliteism over others. Not out of malice but more so just to organize an intellectual order, gaining effeciancy to communication. Why is the Internet bait for this cynical and acerbic part of my nerd personality.
    Why does “Nerd” transform so easily into “dick”.

  • How do you focus on a computer when the internet is right there, staring you in the face? Even when you disconnect, the ability to reconnect is obviously right there as well?

    ….I guess the real question is, how do you develop a sense of self control with something as ubiquitous and seemingly harmless as the internet?

  • You are so open and seemingly fearless in your writing and podcast–have you ever struggled with the nerdy and creativity-stifling tendency to self edit? How can those of us who do get past our need to “perfect” (read: edit down to a harmless, neutral nub) what we put out there? How do you get past your inner nerd editor/critic, assuming you have one?
    (I’m actually an editor by trade, which maybe makes this tendency worse in my case? I don’t know.)
    Thanks! I am so excited to read your book!

  • How would you re-introduce toys to a seemingly console/PC gaming savant/rainman 6 yr old ?? should you encourage his interest in the game world in hopes maybe one day he can become ultra nerd of gamers and game programers? or rip him away cut him back and throw legos and play dough at him, force him outside when his friends shun his nerdness. his problem solving skills are higher than ever after playing games and he’s kicking someone’s butt in the process who btw is about 20 years older.

  • Like a previous poster on this page, I would like to know what you think is the difference between a Geek and a Nerd. I find myself relating to being both a Geek and a Nerd at times and I feel that difference between the two terms isn’t as clear as it once was; this at times can be a real bother when trying to explain the terms to those who do not relate with being a Geek or a Nerd.

  • Not to hog up this thread but the whole geek vs nerd debate looks pretty silly to those of us on the outside. They are both labels. Is what other people call you really that important? Would you engage in similarly serious debate over, for example, Trekker vs Trekkie? (Or sales associate vs salesperson; writer vs author; John Hodgman vs “that PC guy from the television.”)
    #tangent #ignorethisChris

  • #MIND Speak to my super nerdy anxiety. I do well during the day when I’m conscious, but when I exit REM stage sleep, I wake up afraid I will never solve some silly life problem since I’m stuck in some endless DO LOOP, doomed to repeat it over and over.

    During the day, I have learned thought stopping or some form of distraction works, but when I’m drowsy . . . it’s all IF, THEN, DISASTER with no solution. Then I repeat it until I have to jump out of bed or reach for the iTouch and play Trism or write horrible e-mails.

    I feel like I never should have taken computer programming way back when — or the engineering of problem solving! Life becomes a flowchart or decision tree from hell.

  • So here is a whopper of a problem that relates to the things you all on the podcast talk about. I have contemplated writing this question to you many times but this time you have provoke me Sir Hardwick. Have at you!

    I currently live in bum-fuck nowhere Arkansas, near Memphis more so than Little Rock (the capital) but I don’t have a reliable means of transportation. This is a problem because I want to begin stand-up. I have thought about just saying ‘fuck school’ and move to LA where the hipster/nerd/geek/techie comedy movement is happening and bask in the juicy awesomeness but that practical, responsible side nags at me continually saying, “You don’t have enough money, a good car, or a job you fucking retard!” So I have a couple of options still left too me and I’m considering doing either or both of them. Option 1: Follow in your footsteps and start a podcast of moderate hilarity. Option 2: Try to get stand up going where I am with the unknown talent around me. I know that comedy is something I want to do and that writing is my life, but the problems that lie ahead (staying here for 3 years to finish my degree, getting a new car to move to a commuter-centric area, being the one to start a comedy movement of my own) are vexing and daunting. I have asked friends and family and they keep saying that it’s up to me and that I should do whatever, which means very little in the ways of advice. So I guess what I’m asking is should I stay and be practical or is the scene in LA to great to pass up right now?

    I hope you have time in your busy schedule to help me out, I would really appreciate it.

    Hashtag HUGSBACK

  • How do you balance potential with who your base self is? For my 33 years, it seems all I’ve been told is that I’m really smart, hyper-verbal and quirky, but I don’t live up to my potential and there is so much more and better things that I could do if I just focused on the “right” opportunities (like, if I chose a Phd over the Doctor, my dimension would change and it would rain unicorns)… This magical “more” has never been enough to sway me from my introverted world; however, I’m starting to wonder if I’m the one missing the point, not everyone else. How do we figure out how much “more” is right for us?

  • I find that it’s often difficult to be taken seriously in certain areas of life because I happened to be born with two x Chromosome’s as opposed to an x and a y. The nerd community is no exception.

    Being a female nerd has it’s definite assets, but over the year or so I worked as a sales clerk for a certain chain that rhymes with the words “RainChop,” I got various reactions from nerds and non-nerds alike, whenever I stood smiling behind the counter. Either people assumed that I was just working a job and knew nothing about video games, or assumed that I was a gamer, and thus proceeded to attempt to get into my pants. Is there a double standard in place for the ladies? Do you have any advice for female nerds to help level the playing field in “The Nerd Community?”

  • Hey chris, fellow chris here.
    Do you think any of the sub genres of nerd that often get over looked will ever get their due?
    -sports nerd(they are stat machines and always two steps ahead of you information keeping)
    -food nerd (Alton brown, nuff’ said)
    -the politics nerd (the daily show employs a few of them)
    That is just to name a few but, I feel I fall into these categories and we are often snubbed even by our other passionate nerd colleagues.

  • Chris, my buddy, my boss,

    I’ve always struggled with conceptualizing and prewriting/writing/rewriting too much, leaving me frustrated and up against a wall I’ve built for myself. How do you move forward with a project so that not too much time is spent on writing and/or pre-production?

    #Time or #Mind

  • Hi Chris,
    I’m a geek in my freshman year in high school and I get ‘bullied’, or I suppose teasing is the right word, a lot. I was wondering if you pestered during school and how did you deal with it?
    Also, what type of nerd would you classify yourself as?
    e.g. – Band geek, drama nerd, computer nerd, political nerd, food nerd, etc.

  • in this world of smaller and smaller borders both real and imaginary. it seems we are losing our boundaries between each other. more kids are posting stupid things or doing stupid things to get recognized on areas such as youtube or facebook. some even being malicious. how do we groom our next generation or the rest of this generation to be less obsessed with the mini-movie screen and more involved with the real world or to develop a good balance between both. I beleive if we allow the mini screen to be our only window to life we lose our conection to seeing others as more than actors in our own little movie. leaving these “extras” to be nothing but our back drop to life. what advice would you give these new mini movie makers.

  • Hey Chris,
    As I get older I notice that my love of nerdy things remains much as it did when I was a kid. Star Wars and Doctor Who become a bigger part of my life everyday and, in a way, help me deal with the adult problems in my life.

    I’m actually embarrassed at times at how much like a kid I am about things like that. At a certain point do you have to grow out of it or is it the whole point of Nerdist?


  • Dear Craig, I mean Chris

    What is the best way to initiate a potential female partner in exceptionally nerdy past times? Clockwork Orange or an Abstinence Only approach of never talking about it, or somewhere in between?

  • @ Everyone asking the Geek Vs. Nerd question – I remember Chris answering this question when he was talking to Chris Anderson from WIRED. Even went back and looked up the timestamp for you: 1:00:58 (60m 58s)

    Now stop asking.