Biz Features

Why Real Entrepreneurs Are Geeks: Reflections on Geek Pride Day

by . May 23rd, 2012

May 25 is National Tap-Dancing Day, Towel Day, and more depressingly- National Missing Children’s Day.  May 25 is also, as we mentioned in an earlier article, Geek Pride Day. And entrepreneurs should take a few moments to reflect on this too.

Being called a geek or a nerd (take your semantic discussions elsewhere) is often seen as unsexy, though attitudes have changed the past few generations, probably thanks to major successes dyed-in-the-wool geeks have had in the tech industry and pop culture.

Booger was my favorite.
Revenge Of The Nerds (1984)

Aside from the obvious Silicon Valley successes, how is being a geek related to starting or running a small business? Entrepreneurs are not so different from geeks, as we have come to understand the word. If anything I’d like to state for the record that I consider all driven entrepreneurs geeks.

What *is* a geek anyway? After all, we have TV geeks, band geeks, Trekkies, computer geeks, baseball geeks, foodies, poster geeks – geeks in almost every field. But we don’t hear much about “business geeks”. Indeed, the term exists, but there’s no direct reference to it in mainstream media.

That’s because we already have a word for it: Entrepreneur.

A committed entrepreneur is always one of two things: a geek who decided it would be nice to make money out of something that interests them, or a geek who’s just really into making money. What about non-committed entrepreneurs? Simple- most won’t be entrepreneurs very long.

I don’t think a geek has to be smart, generally speaking- they do need to be eager to learn. People who’re not passionate or committed to what they do  rarely stick it out, so they learn less. They are rarely the source of anything new- and this is the truth- because they’re not motivated enough to understand their passing interests. A geek would be more likely to make connections that others haven’t made precisely because they spend more time with that interest.

Only two things bind geeks, entrepreneurs included – passion, and a genuine love for knowledge. Entrepreneurs- like other geeks- love what they do, are nothing if not passionate. If you need any more convincing consider the following:

  • Both need no additional motivation to learn everything about whatever they’re into. They’ll just do it regardless.
  • Both are very particular to the point of obsession. Ask our CSRs sometimes about how particular some of our customers can be. We’ve heard it all.
  • Both can be blind to things outside their specific interests.
  • Both are often held in esteem when they succeed- but tend to be alone and are often misunderstood just about every other instance.
  • Both face occasional isolation precisely because of their single-mindedness.
  • Both are extremely sexy.

OK, maybe we aren’t always sexy. But we’re a lot more alone than most people. Passion to the point of isolation. When you really love or believe in something, things other people say no longer matter as much as they do. Think about it- why do successful entrepreneurs rarely retire early? Why do less successful entrepreneurs tend to keep doing what they do regardless of what people say?

This article is hardly unbiased or scientific, but I believe the answer is obvious – they do it because for them, that is the best way to live. But the more important thing is to realize that without men and women who follow their dreams, not caring how objectively unrealistic or awful those dreams are, the world would be a boring place.

Happy Geek Pride Day!


Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.