I’m not sure what made me pick up Chris Hardwick’s 2011 book The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) on a whim a few weeks ago. Up until a few years ago, I knew Hardwick as the guy who hosted the MTV show Singled Out and that was back in the mid-90s (and now I feel kinda old). Having missed things like the PBS show Wired Science and something called Shipmates, except for catching him in Terminator 3, he was off my radar until he popped up on The Soup to promote his own show Web Soup. That wasn’t long before this book came out, but I had no idea it existed. I’m sorry I didn’t find it sooner because it’s really good.
The Nerdist Way is part memoir and part self-help. Hardwick chronicles his difficulties after his success on Singled Out. For a period of several years Hardwick let his life spiral out of control, saw his career go nowhere, and developed a drinking problem. What’s cool about this book is how honest he is about his mistakes. Most of us don’t like to remind ourselves about where we screwed up, let alone tell the whole world about it. In addition to detailing where he went wrong, Hardwick is very attuned to how he turned his life around and that’s where the self-help aspect of this book comes in.
Hardwick states that being a “Nerdist” is about doing what we love, not just consuming it. He wants others to pursue their passions and become successful just like he did. In this book he offers some guidelines to getting started by turning the process into a video-game-like system where you award yourself points for completing tasks.
One of the things I like most about this book is that it’s interactive. At first at just started reading through it, and then I decided why not give it a try? I went out and bought one of the grid-line notebooks he recommended so I could follow along and do the exercises he has throughout the book. And now I have my very own “character tome” based on what he outlined. And guess what? I’m still writing in it even though I finished the book and his exercises. I just decided to create my own.
There are a few things in the book that are obsolete. You can’t send anything to NerdistWay.com, because it no longer exists – but please visit Nerdist.com (it doesn’t have anything to do with this book, but it’s a cool site). You also can’t pick a “fantasy-sounding” name for yourself at nerdi.st/NameGenerator (also defunt) but you can here – mine is Stouvial Huntinghawk. But, that’s just a brief aside, because it’s what he has to say that matters.
The Nerdist Way is divided into three focus ares: Mind, Body, Time. In each one Hardwick provides his own personal anecdotes and experiences, while offering suggestions and tips on how to use (or improve) the strengths we already have to “get to the next level.” He particularly emphasized getting organized and taking stock of oneself – where is time wasted, what are your passions, what makes you afraid of moving forward?
Personally, I found myself in a better mood while – and after – reading this book. Without going into detail, I’ll say the past few years haven’t worked out the way I had hoped. I found following his exercises and writing stuff down has been a tremendous help in figuring out what my next steps should be. In one exercise you are supposed to write down what accomplishments you made over the past year. I was surprised, despite several setbacks, that I had accomplished quite a bit. And that’s the point of this book. It’s about focusing on moving forward and not on setbacks.
The only section I didn’t get a lot out of was the one on his personal fitness routine where he outlines specific exercises he does. To me that is a personal thing where people need to discover what works for them, but I understand he is trying to connect with people who maybe haven’t given working out a lot of thought. I just thought it was a long section where I would have liked to have had something more personal from him.
I’m glad I discovered The Nerdist Way and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in how Hardwick has gained so much success in the past few years (even more so since this book came out), and/or who wants some inspiration in their own lives.