The Nerd/Marketer Dichotomy

When nerd culture and marketing collide

It’s been a while, huh? Sorry!

Talk to any nerd about marketing and selling, and you'll hear common refrains, the classics like:

  • Marketing is gross.

  • ew

  • Marketing? You mean shilling.

With a shudder or smirk to accompany this disgust.

I am this kind of nerd. I always have been.

Selling is not my strong suit.


I applied to work at a clothing retailer about 13 years ago. I took the bus down there and waited to go into the back.

The interviewing woman told me to go out on the store floor and sell clothes to the women coming in.

I walked around the floor timidly. I'd try to get women to buy clothes, but my concern was about their budgets and whether they could afford the item they were unsure about purchasing.

That didn't do my campaign for employment any favors, and my interviewer took me back to a room that used to hold dressing rooms. She asked me why I didn't close the sale. I told her I was worried about the customer's finances. I was destitute at the time and didn't want to shill someone into debt if they couldn't afford a $60 pair of jeans.

She told me I had plenty of potential, not just because I was smart and looked good enough to be out on the floor, but she saw that if I could get past my need to worry about the customer's wallet, I could do well in that job. I had the charisma that je ne sais quoi that you need to sell overpriced jeans.

She told me to practice selling and come back and try again.

I was not too fond of the whole process and never returned to the store to try again. It felt gross.


As a kid, I was competitive, relentlessly aggressive when getting good grades, being the best at everything. I needed to excel. And I did. I was destined to be something.

I was the kid with a Stephen Covey planner, three-ring binder with dividers with tabs. So naturally, I wanted the best pens; I took copious notes on everything. It was as if I was going to run my own business when I grew up.

That didn't happen for reasons that I won't write here. But that drive, the competitiveness to be great and be on top of my game, never died.

Squaring the two sides of the dichotomy

Why am I writing all this? 

For two reasons:

  • To help myself move past the unwillingness to break out of my nerd self that hates selling and

  • Share this in this newsletter to ask for tips on how, if any of you moved from a nerd that hated to put themselves out there to putting themselves out there, promoting their articles, videos, and newsletters. I don't know how to move on from the nerd part to the part of me that wants to be successful.

Any ideas?

What do you think? Have you made the jump?