Follow the nerds
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Back in 6th grade, I had a big crush on a girl named Lilah in my geography class.
Fortunately, my geography teacher Mrs. Swope was always rooting for me. She’d tell Lilah “you know Lilah you want to marry a nerd one day, they’ll be the rich ones.”
While Mrs. Swope was trying to help, it never worked. Lilah went for the dumb soccer player and 11-year-old me was heartbroken. A dozen teenage heartbreaks later, I’m 25 and getting married next year. Fortunately, my fiancée loves my nerdiness. As for Mrs. Swope, I’m grateful for her trying to help me be proud of being a nerd.
In 6th grade, I struggled socially. I was in the accelerated classes, but just wanted to be a dumb popular kid and have my first kiss already. In high school and early college, I spent a lot of time on what I thought were cool kid activities: getting stoned, partying, and getting laid. Sure, I did some nerdy stuff like starting a couple businesses, but I stopped blogging freshman year because I was afraid to be seen as uncool. Ha, I was delusional.
Eventually, I realized Mrs. Swope was right. It took me 22 years to realize the coolest thing in the world is being smart. At 22, I shifted my role models from entertainers to founders and builders — from rappers to nerds. I dug deep into nerdy podcasts and books. I followed my curiosity and became unafraid to do something because it was too nerdy. Mrs. Swope would be proud. In the last 3 years, I learned to code, partied at crypto conferences, drove 3 hours to a vintage computer fair, bought t-shirts with tech companies' names on them, and now get paid to write about tech and make tech memes. I'm nerd-maxxing and I think you should be too.
Follow the Nerd Momentum
Nerd momentum is the idea that a bunch of tech nerds are following rabbitholes and dropping billions in venture capital on an idea. Nerd momentum leads to hype waves, hype waves lead to big followings, quick cash, and eventual crashes.
Nerd momentum is a phrase I heard from Antonio Garcia Martinez, a founder currently building a crypto startup. After the recent bull market ended, much of the nerd momentum shifted to AI. Previously it was AR/VR. As certain as death and taxes, there will be more nerd momentum shifts and hype waves in the future.
Many are arguing not to engage in hype waves or momentum shifts. I disagree.
Creators and brands should ride hype waves like surfers.
Now I'm not saying switch up everything you're doing to hop every single trend. Surfers don't ride every wave; they choose the best ones and waves they think they can ride well. Not every hype wave is the right wave for you. If you want to make a lot of money and grow fast, you should selectively ride hype waves.
Like surfing, riding hype waves is much harder than it appears. Sometimes you ride it perfectly and there's countless opportunities thrown your way. Sometimes the wave crashes and the funding for your project disappears or you hit the wave at the wrong time and you end up looking like a hypebeast moron. And sometimes, you’re too busy talking to pretty girls on the beach to even notice the perfect wave coming your way.
Riding a hype wave perfectly is fun to watch, even more fun to do yourself:
- I grew my Twitter to 10,000+ from viral crypto threads during the bull market
- My friend Justin grew his TikTok to 80,000+ in the last 2 months by talking about ChatGPT and other AI products
- Our Future founder Michael Sikand was early on TikTok and YouTube shorts and grew his channels to 100M monthly views — leading to an acquisition by Morning Brew
Hype waves are a lot like social media algorithms. If a trend is really hot, creators and brands hop on that trend to maximize profits. Rising tides life all boats.
For a creator, it's crucial to be able to hop on new waves: from TikTok trends to learning quickly about hot new markets. Creators are businesses, and when the market changes, businesses adjust strategies. Once the bear market hit, I switched my Twitter profile from "I write for crypto companies" to "I write for startups and VC firms". Voila, I now I work for startups and VCs across web2 and web3. No big deal. Crypto-diehards may call be a "sellout", but I prefer the term "good businessman".
As long as you stay true to your core skill or offering — for me, writing — you can have fun and ride any wave without losing balance and drowning. Think of this skill like your body or surfboard while you're surfing from wave to wave. It's constant, it's part of you.
How to Follow the Nerds
While TikTok trends are created by dancing teenager, hype waves in the overarching economy are created by tech nerds. Following the nerds is following the money.
"What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years," writes Chris Dixon, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. So how do you find out what the smartest people — the nerds — are doing on the weekend?
If you're a nerd like me, that's easy. You just hang out with your friends and chat about the shit you like to chat about.
- On Wednesday, I pestered my friend Erika all about her job at a venture studio.
- On Thursday night, I asked my high school friend Zach a dozen questions about defense-tech and AR glasses.
- On Friday night, my best friend Ziv called me and started spitting out a theory about voice-analysis hackers before I could even say "what's up bro".
Thanks to the embracing my nerdiness, I've built an awesome crew of nerds like me: a great circle of friends and almost 4,000 readers. By willing to nerd out in public on Twitter, I've met countless other nerds that have changed my life.
The big lesson here: Don't be afraid to be a nerd or pursue nerdy passions, especially in public online. You may be a nerd to some, but the coolest person in the world to others. For your own sake, listen to Mrs. Swope and follow the nerds.
3 resources that helped me be a better creator this week:
🐝 If you're starting a newsletter or want to move yours to a new platform, sign up for Beehiiv. It's where nerds like me write our newsletters and have the best data analytics.
🤝 Tommy Clark slays at social media. Idk how else to put it, he's one of the best social media managers in the game. Check out his newsletter Social Files for breakdowns.
🧠 When I was trying to go all in on being a creator, I went to Paul Millerd for advice. Check out his blog Boundless for wisdom on the independent creator lifestyle.
Thanks for reading nerds.
Create some cool shit this week.
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