Get All Access for $5/mo

7 Reasons Why Nerds Rule The (Business) World Bill Gates once said, 'Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.' Here are the mindsets that 'nerds' embrace that you can emulate in your life and business.

By Matshona Dhliwayo

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


We all know the stereotype: intelligent, but overly awkward, unattractive, unpopular, and the butt of many jokes for their thick glasses, quirky braces and high-worn pants. Stereotypes aside though, and we realise that what society has come to label "nerds' are, in reality, a force to be reckoned with.

Related: The Leadership Lessons That Have Helped Bevan Ducasse Build a R100-Million Business

The list of bonafide "nerd' tycoons is endless. Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos all reign supreme in their fields, with a combined estimated network of over USD250 billion. The numbers alone prove it, so much so that Bill Gates, the richest of them all, famously cautioned, "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."

7 Mindsets That Drive Success

1. The love and respect people deny them growing up they get from what they do. Ridiculed, in some cases ostracized, and in extreme cases brutalized, they spend more time than most working on their dreams. Popularity hinders many from achieving their dreams. It's one reason why many jocks don't achieve more after university, while nerds end up magnates.
2. They are obsessed with their hobbies. Spending all of their time and energy on them, they inevitably become the best at what they do. Research shows that it takes 10 000 hours to master a skill. Nerds typically dedicate far more to honing their skills early on in life.
3. They love learning. They don't rely on their teachers alone for knowledge; they go beyond the curriculum requirements not just out of a desire to get As, but out of a genuine love of knowledge. In many cases, they even end up teaching their teachers.
4. They have more to prove. Having endured years of being treated with contempt, they develop an inferiority complex and with it, an insatiable appetite to outdo everyone. They not only want to prove they deserve society's acceptance, but honor and adulation as well.
5. Pain and isolation are catalysts for creativity. They channel negative energy the world throws at them into their work, thereby fueling innovation and in the best of cases, genius. Their later triumphs are in proportion to their former troubles.
6. The world already assumes they are intelligent. Such prejudices mean geeks don't have to sell themselves as much as everyone. In fact, the nerdier they are the smarter they appear, and the smarter they appear the more opportunities they receive.
7. They are not afraid of being themselves. It takes a lot to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to mold you into someone else, especially if you are a nerd because you will be teased. But being unique, being original is a requirement to stand out. It's the only way you can produce products that wow everyone.

Related: How To Be A Great Leader When Leadership Doesn't Come Naturally To You

Matshona Dhliwayo

Philosopher, Entrepreneur and Author

Matshona Dhliwayo is a Zimbabwean-born and Canadian-based Philosopher, Entrepreneur and author of books such as The Little Book of Inspiration, Creativity, The Book, 50 Lessons Every Wise Mother Teaches Her Son, 100 Lessons Every Great Man Wants You to Know, and Lalibela's Wise Man. He is a regular contributor for the African Leadership Magazine in the UK, South Africa and other internationally-renowned magazines.
Social Media

Here's Why Customer Engagement on Social Media Is Important to Your Brand

When you interact with your following on social media, it builds customer loyalty and brand awareness. Here's why.

Starting a Business

3 Things to Consider Before Your Perfect Business Partner Becomes Your Perfect Disaster

There are many reasons for start-up businesses' high failure rate, including lack of cash, not doing enough research and poor marketing. But this one reason is definitely not getting enough attention.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.