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There’s Something Dead Sexy About a Geek

By: Erika Napoletano | 111 Comments
 

Power-Of-Un-PopularNot so long ago, I had a date with a man so good looking that it was criminal. Clive Owen would have kneecapped him in the parking lot had he been in a 300-mile radius, purely on the basis of job security. We’d met on some dating site or another and shared an email or two, deciding to leap in and get the do-you-look-like-your-pictures dance squared away.

He looked like his pictures. Better, in fact. It was tempting to reach across and touch his face to see if live airbrushing were possible. 

After an hour of conversation, I thanked him – for his time and the cocktail. He followed up asking if I’d like to have dinner the next week. And I declined.

Because this man – oh, he was sexy. But I was looking for dead sexy, which is why I have a thing for geeks.

On Being Unpopular

Let’s face it – geeks have a higher propensity for entrepreneurship than any other breed of human. Why? Because we were never one of the cool kids. We were slapped with that “unpopular” label and left on the sidelines of the school cafeteria and commons areas to bask in its juvenile rancor. But all of that unpopularity? It made us pretty damn adept at (more than) a few things (all of which are incredibly sexy):

  • Being resourceful: Our formative years weren’t about following a herd. They were about finding ways to get what we needed when there were few around to help us on account of our uncool footwear choices.
  • Developing a cohesive, meaningful audience: To hell with the jocks and cheerleaders who didn’t want to hang out with us and our kickass superhero lunchboxes. We found people who were like us and took the next step – invested in them. If anyone can attract an audience that will stick around even on cloudy days, it’s a geekpreneur.
  • How to innovate: All of that unpopularity taught us a very beautiful lesson – we couldn’t accept someone else’s definition of awesome. We had to establish our own. That makes the geekpreneurs out there infinitely more adept at finding discrepancies in the marketplace and creating products and technologies that fulfill true needs.

The Value of Relationships

We really should thank all of those popular kids for not sitting with us and our superhero lunchboxes. I’m firmly of the belief that geeks like us were taught a better way of building relationships. Since we didn’t have that “ready made” audience, we realized that relationships worth having must be earned. Once earned, they have to be cultivated and then nurtured. It’s a never-ending cycle and one that can only make our offerings even better. We’re taught not just to value relationships, but that if they’re not properly tended to, they can disappear at any time. That’s something the popular kids never got.

The ability to build, nurture, and maintain relationships? Incredibly sexy. And in the business realm, it’s one of the sexiest abilities we can have, as our audience will love us for it.

Seductive or Successful?

Our younger years were spent being told that popularity was the equivalent of success. Seduced, we were (insert Yoda voice) by artificial metrics that told us what was good and bad. Today? We know that the sexiest thing we can be is unpopular. Building for everyone means building for no one – and we’re not in this gig to waste anyone’s time.

So, should we choose popularity’s seduction (and all of the plastic trophies that accompany it)? Or are we better off with understanding the true nature of success – the ability to create a business that we not only love, but build it for the people who will ultimately love us? I’ll stand by my assertion that geeks are dead sexy and there’s a fierce need to embrace our respective inner black sheep. We’re not followers – we’re leaders. We’re not popular – and never want to be. But we are determined, resourceful, and something none of those popular kids will ever be: Dead sexy to the people who matter most – our customers.

Special offer!

From Carol – I am going to give away a copy (that I paid for myself, because as Erika pointed out to me last year, authors don’t get royalties if you ask them for free copies of their stuff, and I want to support my friends).  If you want a copy of Erika’s book, comment on any blog post this week (Monday through Friday) and I will pick one commenter at random and send them a copy.

Erika Twitter
Article written by Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano – the creator behind the RedheadWriting online persona – is the Head Redhead at RHW Media, a Denver-based digital strategy consultancy. In English, that means she spends her days keeping companies from looking like assholes online. She’s the author of two books, an unapologetic blogger, and a monthly columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine. A lover of banana milkshakes in spite of a lactose intolerance, you can learn more about her at ErikaNapoletano.com and check out her newest book – The Power of Unpopular (already #4 in the Kindle Store for Marketing Books!) at UnpopularBook.com.
105 comments
FitriUlina1
FitriUlina1

Being a geek (EE), never thought of myself as being "dead sexy."  Fortunately for me, a young woman (not a geek) apparently though so 45 years ago this month. We married two years later, but I think she sometimes still wonders what she signed on for. http://gamekeygenerator.com

PCWorld13
PCWorld13

Great stuff. Being a geek at school I was lucky enough to be aware that whilst the cool kids seemed to be having the most fun that they had reached the zenith of their lives. new games

George W Serbia
George W Serbia

Another reason why those of us who were unpopular in our early years grow up to become successful is the sheer necessity of it.  In my case, I  knew full well that I was an outcast, and that I wasn't going to make it on my good looks or charming disposition.  So I went out and used what little I had to work with, and parlayed it into a successful career, and it was only by so doing that I was able to get the good stuff that the popular types more or less assume will come their way.  

 

Sure, it is more pressure to put on yourself when you look at it that way, but no one ever got anywhere by being complacent.

Kelly Hinkle
Kelly Hinkle

I used to joke that geeks were the best sex partners because they liked to learn, they paid attention to detail, and they got satisfaction from a job well done.

 

But really?  The same hold true for every day life as well.  The geeks are the ones who will take the "road less traveled," and who will create a path where one may not lie.  How could someone not want to be a geek?

 

 

Louisa Leontiades
Louisa Leontiades

I've watched this comment thread grow with some great insightful posts but also distaste as posts go past equating looks to so called 'geek' status and or even some who set themselves apart as the geeks (now apparently vastly superior) vs. the cool/popular stuck-in-high-school students. 

 

The bottom line. There's nothing wrong with calling yourself a geek or dead sexy for that matter. But there is something wrong in having to boost your ego by making a relative superior comparison to others. The tribal aspect of our nature to belong, is human for sure. So we can glory in our self definitions. But geek or not, what is truly attractive is that people are comfortable with themselves. That can apply to the sportos, the motorheads,geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads... (and I strongly advise seeing Ferris Bueller's day off again which proves the point admirably).

LolaSpeaking
LolaSpeaking

What if the super sexy guy was a geek in school and he grew into his looks? I always wonder that about people. I am one of those people. More geek than popular in school, and now the opposite. And I dfefinitely grew into my looks. :) Love this! Love that you describe geeks as dead sexy! You're right. There is something super sexy about the one's you can't really figure out...and they are usually the freakier ones behind closed doors too. A big plus.

MelindaJohnston
MelindaJohnston

I don't remember being particularly geeky or popular in school but I've certainly grown up to be one. I'm with you, geeks are dead sexy.

billquiseng
billquiseng

In high school, wearing those Geek Squad glasses, winning the high school science fair and coming in second in the school spelling bee, I certainly can relate. I'm so old, the term wasn't "geeky." It was "L7". Anybody else remember that? But I survived. In retrospect, it did drive the forces in me you wrote about and it made me more resilient to sarcastic barbs, which now has me "tough skinned" to any TBNT "Thanks but No Thanks" RFP rejection. Thanks for a great post. Really enjoyed it. Live long and prosper.

Annabelle83
Annabelle83

Great stuff. Being a geek at school I was lucky enough to be aware that whilst the cool kids seemed to be having the most fun that they had reached the zenith of their lives. They'd be the people who always looked back on being at school as the best days of their lives, whereas for me it was just a stage for moving on to bigger and better things.

Latest blog post: Finding Your Match Online

cabocalla
cabocalla

God. Damn. It.

 

There’s a virtual cornucopia of things that are the cause of my crush on you. Of course you are beautiful, I mean, who the hell would deny that? But, there are three things that cinched it:

 

First, you write. The kind created from a fearless authenticity that often reveals your heart in a very vulnerable ways. OMG.

 

Second, you are a cyclist. WTF.

 

But most importantly, while perusing (stalking) your Facebook photos, I happened upon a picture of your early 80’s Commodore computer tape drive. OMGWTFBBQ!

 

I identify in so many ways to this post. I’d swear you reached into my chest, pulled out my heart and read the pages. Geek on, @RedheadWriting , geek on.

 

xo

darylgerke
darylgerke

Being a geek (EE), never thought of myself as being "dead sexy."  Fortunately for me, a young woman (not a geek) apparently though so 45 years ago this month. We married two years later, but I think she sometimes still wonders what she signed on for.

 

Invite you to visit my special "Welcome for Geeks" at JumpToConsulting:

http://jumptoconsulting.com/welcome/special-welcome-geeks/

Read the story towards the end about never apologizing for being a geek. .

 

Thanks!  Geeks Rule...

lisarobbinyoung
lisarobbinyoung

As a bona fide geek, with nerdy tendencies, I say long live the geeks!

melisaanderson74
melisaanderson74

Geeks are sexy. Plain and simple. I played with the pretty boy and the hot bad boy, but married the quiet guy with glasses and I couldn't be happier!

KateKunkel
KateKunkel

I was the "fat kid", the one who played piano, got straight A's and read Nancy Drew mysteries.  But because I had no social life I also studied like a demon, practiced like a dervish and devoured everything I could read.  I also had to fight the bullies who threatened my kid sister who was also fat.  Consequently, I became tough and resourceful.  And now I play the harp and do healing work, maybe compensating for the trauma earlier on, but I'm happy doing everything I can to help others. It's a new business model though, so I'm looking for inspiration everywhere, and every time I read Erika's stuff, I feel a kinship.  I'm also very happy that she sent an e-mail telling  me about this site.  Tough Love for Business looks great. 

JenniferElizabethDulles
JenniferElizabethDulles

yes ma'am. so true.

 

and ps - i am wondering if you were on a date with my ex husband. kinda sounds like it. ;)

 

anyhow, cheers to the geeks. hot geeks rule.

NikkiGroom
NikkiGroom

Too funny, I'm actually speaking at the GeekGirl Tech Conference a week Saturday. In the pre-conf interview, I voted for Star Wars over Star Trek without hesitation. Geek girl, I am! I think it's about time we all embraced being geeks. It ain't so bad.

Jennlee3741
Jennlee3741

This hits the nail on the head. Recently I actually walked away from a situation where I was one of the popular kids because it was what I really wanted. It was a great choice, and I am happier for it.

VilmaBonilla
VilmaBonilla

Added your book to my summer reading list. I completely agree with you that the people who know know who they are and what they want are incredibly attractive. The topic of popularity and success is fascinating to me. I understood the concept of cultural acceptance and popularity at the tender age of 5  when I found myself in a new school in a new country unable to speak the primary language. I was the foreign born, Spanish speaking girl with huge glasses and big curly hair. I was brilliant and shy but I wasn't going to left behind in terms of education and opportunities. Life is a journey of acceptance that comes from within not from others. The relationships that are built along the way are awesome too as we all desire to connect with others.

bdorman264
bdorman264

Hmmm, you certainly make a valid argument why the geekpreneurs are more apt to grind it out and achieve success and deeper, more meaningful relationships. But I will also say because there still is a certain resentment bubbling beneath the surface and 'I'll show you' type attitude that drives them as well. Being an outcast probably gives you just enough of a chip on your shoulder to use it is as a motivator. 

 

I guess we all have our different motivators, huh? 

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia

<I>Today? We know that the sexiest thing we can be is unpopular.</I>

 

I have to question this statement just a little bit. Isn't this just using one artificial metric to rationalize another? 

ChrisCapra
ChrisCapra

I'm a geek at heart but I was fortunate to attend a high school (catholic, all-boys, college-prep) in which playing sports AND excelling in academics was expected. Also, I think that not having the social pressures of a co-ed student body helped to mask the geek stigma. (we once put vestigial fruit flies in the pencil case of a classmate and laughed our butts off as he tried to swat them off his desk during Spanish) That being said, throughout my professional career and certainly as a business owner for the last 10 years , I seek out the best and the brightest. I want to be surrounded by smart people and I have found that they are the most challenging, creative and fun people to be around.

lchunt
lchunt

I'm a proud geek! This reminds me of an episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon is dating a guy who's sexy and lives a charmed life because of his looks. 

 

I recently went to my 10 year high school reunion and noticed that all the "unpopular" kids had gone on to do amazing things after high school. They found their niche in college, pursued cool careers, traveled, weren't afraid to move back in with their parents while starting their own businesses, etc. 

 

The popular kids? They seemed the same as they were 10 years ago--impressed with themselves, still hanging out with the same friends in the same places. In other words, boring. 

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

I have never, ever been afraid to let my freak flag fly - and there is nothing more attractive than someone obviously on fire with their passions, their interests and their ability to have incredibly complext conversations. :) 

Louisa Leontiades
Louisa Leontiades

There's another common aspect to geekdom - exclusion from the herd tends to breed insecurity massive ego and it's flip side jealousy/resentment. Geeks who have gone through the revolution to get past this and accept themselves and others for who they are, I would agree - tremendously sexy! Those who retain a legacy of their insecure inner child, not so sexy...

PointA_PointB
PointA_PointB

I didn't know I was a geek until The Breakfast Club movie came out. You would have thought that being on the State Science Team would have clued me in - but no. (I hung out with a bunch of awesome geeks and we had way too much fun.)

andrewnexusit
andrewnexusit

I am really excited to get into the nuts and bolts of this book. I too really hate the stereotypical cheerleader - all fluff business book. Give it to me straight, and give it to me honest, and I know that is what Erika is going to do. 

MorganBarnhart
MorganBarnhart

The more I hear about this book, the more I get excited! I'm eagerly awaiting my copy to appear on my doorstep. Or even in the mailbox, just as long as it's in my hands one way or another. Smart is sexy, hence why geeks are so damn sexy. 

RobertBajak
RobertBajak

I grok the dead sexy vibe. I am no Paul Newman (does that date me?). In fact, I am in shape, if you consider round a shape. But I have never lacked for cuddle buddies because I have, as a model friend put it, a "sexy mind".  The school years were tough as I was a full on geeknerd and my social circle resembled casting call for Big Bang Theory. But I evolved survival skills that made me quick witted and fun to be around. This coupled with a giant brain, made adult life, both private and professional, rather successful.

I married my best friend, live in a nice home in the country, and have a profession I enjoy.

I intend to geek on with my bad self!

Erin F.
Erin F.

I love those final lines. Popularity was never my aim - not in elementary school, not in high school, not in higher ed. I was spending my time figuring out who I wanted and was meant to be, which seems much more productive and, dare I say it, sexy.

Chris_Eh_Young
Chris_Eh_Young

Now I feel really bad about that date not working out. :-)  I just bumped your book up to the top of my reading list. 

caroljsroth
caroljsroth

Just a quick note to say that I have read this book and entirely endorse it- it is fantastic.  Well written and a MUST HAVE for your book shelf.  And you know I rarely say that, so take it to the bank

flt3
flt3

Sorry, I don't get it. You turned him down because he was too good-looking, on the basis of a first date when you really haven't learned all that much about him? Hmmm. I guess if you are trying to sell a book, that might seem like a good idea. 

 

Yes, geeks had to develop their personalities, but there are non-geeks who are smart and funny, too. I don't understand stereotyping.

shelhorowitz
shelhorowitz

Oh, wow, she just summed up my whole childhood. As a kid, my absolute favorite book was "A Wrinkle in time" by Madeline L'Engle. The protagonist was a really geeky social misfit named Meg, whose younger brother was even farther out of the mainstream. I totally identified with Meg.

 

And yes, I think my lack of social popularity as a kid had a lot to do with my later success. 

 

My kids have both managed to be exactly who they really are, and still have a social life. Hopefully it won't corrupt them :-).

 
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