Jane's Reviews > The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level

The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick
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May 14, 2012

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Read from May 14 to 26, 2012

When I first started reading Chris’s self-help book for nerds, I thought, “no! he’s stolen my idea for the Gamer’s Guide for Real Life!” Then I realized that there was room for both on the shelf. Chris Hardwick, known for being the host of Web Soup , the Nerdist podcast and now the Nerdist channel on Youtube, lays down more swearwords than an HBO special. His book caters to men, not in a bad way, just in a way that made me feel like I was intruding on a talk he was having with some dudes. He has what I call “South Park humor” and I was a bit leary at first. I gave him a chance, and I am happy I did.

Chris defines a “nerdist” as a hobbyist or fan who creates instead of just consumes. For example, a comic book fan goes from being a nerd to being a nerdist by creating his own comic, starting a club, blogging about comics, making fan movies, running comic conventions, selling costumes on Etsy, and so on.

His book is laid out in three parts: Mind, Body and Time. He talks about creating the character sheet for your own life. Without being sappy, he talks about overcoming addiction, distraction and inertia to improve your life. I love the fact that he references D+D, Star Trek, video games, comic books, movies and Doctor Who. There are exercises and questions interspersed in the text to get you invested in what he is saying.

I appreciate his approach to incremental change. So many self-help books I’ve read have spewed out the “just completely change your life and then hold it that way” approach that is impossible to follow. Chris talks about acting in defiance of your brain. He reccomends getting a trainer, and actually has detailed workout exercises for the gym, your home and on the road (using a strange teddy bear character). Activities such as gaming and web surfing have their place, but if you are not careful they can fill your life to the point where you do nothing else. He reccomends time management, goal setting and other obvious stuff, but he does it in a computer savvy way. I was impressed by his chapter on organizing email. Not only does he talk about money management, he rates different money programs by platform. His mall analogy about diversifying income made a lot of sense.

He covers a lot of ground in this relatively short book- exercise, nutrition, money management, time management, goal setting, motivation, overcoming addiction and fears, dealing with clutter, setting boundaries and collaborating on projects.

Chris says he has read many self-help books by many authors. He takes bits and pieces from each book, using what works for him and leaving the rest. I have found some great bits from his book that I will be using in my own “game system”.

Great Quotes from the book:

“Whatever your first reaction is, make it your third.”

“Be a scientist with your life”

“Every minute you’re not pursuing a creative passion in some capacity, be it hobby or career, you are wasting valuable time on this planet.”

“Enjoy your burrito.”

“A career founded on the evil genius platform can be as satisfying as it is lucrative.”

Am I a Geek or a Nerd?

Geek Pride Day this Friday made me examine the word. Did people actually bite the head off of live chickens? (If you are a city person who has never encountered a live chicken, go to a country fair sometime and get up close to a chicken. Imagine shoving that beak in your mouth. Ack!) Maybe it was a story. And maybe words are what we make them. We took back the insult words of geek and nerd and repurposed them, changing them to mean computer genius and obsessed fan. In other aspects of my interests, I have much nicer words to use. Book-lover sounds entirely positive. Knitter or crafter just is what it is- what you do. “A nerd is someone who homes in on a topic to an almost quantum detail, much of the time at the expense of healthy social interaction. Nerds get caught up in the minutiae because there is tremendous and fulfilling sense of control in understanding every single detail of a thing more than any other living creature.” says Chris Hardwick in his book. If that is the group definition of “nerd”, then I am not one. I am more of a generalist. I am a fan of many things, books, movies, tv, internet, activities, and it tends to orbit around science fiction and fantasy. If the word “fangirl” won’t do, I’d settle for “weirdo”


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