Embrace Your Inner Nerd to Gain Professional Ground
By: Mark Winter
Once upon a time, it started with a man and a dream. Rick Snyder would take on Michigan…his self-proclaimed nerd-ism leading his gubernatorial charge.
But how did he do it? Gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder was a quirky, brave man. Posing quite awkwardly for his several “stern-faced” B-roll shots in his infamous 2010 Superbowl campaign commercial above, Snyder raised his voice and declared that Michigan’s economic trail of devastation would be reversed. With business credentials to back his claim (co-founder of angel investment firm Ardesta and president of Gateway), Snyder’s “nerd it up!” attitude organically produced an army of empathic nerd supporters who “saw themselves” in this guy.
But the intention of this blog post isn’t to dive deep into the unusual marketing strategy of a guy with more than a few coins in his pocket. It’s to shed a spotlight on the concept of the “acceptable nerd.” Before Snyder openly embraced his failure to conform to the socially-accepted version of “politician,” the word “nerd” was a label of shame. Eating lunch in a bathroom stall, playing video games in your parents’ basement and memorizing the credits to each Star Wars installment immediately come to mind.
However, what Snyder introduced is the idea that “nerd” is transferable by cause and industry…and that outwardly embracing your idiosyncrasies can hold promise. His message was crystal clear, and the confidence he evoked in the delivery of his message proved that he truly believes Michigan needs a nerd at the head of the government table.
As someone who has never considered herself to be in the “in crowd,” this message was rather refreshing. Working in social media, it is only logical that my youthful oddities transcended into the professional world. I would be lying if I said that the nerd stigma doesn’t accompany my professional efforts every day.
But just like the headstrong kid I was and the nontraditional strategy Governor Rick Snyder took into the 2010 election, I am comforted by the fact that my work is unique and current. It’s helping not only companies move forward as competent and proactive players in the Web world, but it’s allowing me to be on the front lines of innovation and competition.
So, I ask you, my fine blog readers, what’s your nerd-ism? Have you or have you not yet let your nerd flag fly?