posted by Joe Anaya on March 9th, 2015

I was a little sad this week with the death of Leonard Nimoy. As a smart kid growing up, his character Mr. Spock was one of my favorites, “He’s smart and he’s cool.” Unfortunately, that was just a fantasy TV show and he was an alien. But anyway…

As I was thinking about his influence on my self image, I’ve realized that there has been no better time to be smart in the history of civilization than right now. Of course intelligence has always been a part of being successful. But let’s face it when we were in high school the quarterback of the football team got more attention and respect than the Mathlete. In fact, the egg-heads for our childhood were often mistreated and reviled.

But in the last few decades, smart guys have not only succeeded but gotten rich and even famous because they were smart.

Remember the movie Revenge Of The Nerds? Think about how awfully they were portrayed and treated. The lead characters’ thick glasses, pocket-protectors, and socially awkward laughs, all were the targets of the cool guy fraternity. The smartest guys in the room were the butt of a joke for an entire movie.

Now think about The Theory of Everything, the bio-pic of Stephen Hawking, the world famous theoretical physicist. It’s a loving realistic portrayal of one of the smartest men alive. I don’t think even Einstein got his own movie.

A lot of it is due to the computer revolution and it’s success stories. You can’t tell me Bill Gates would have even gotten a date, let alone a wife, 40 years earlier. Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck, the California kid who liked to be inside became a cultural icon.

Some are even making the transition to being just plain cool guys. Elon Musk from his Paypal creation has moved on to do really fun things like rockets (SpaceX) and sporty electric cars (Tesla). Paul Allen, Bill Gates’ partner in Microsoft, went on to build a rock & roll museum and own the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks. (Go Hawks!)

The hyper-smart kids in school aren’t looked at as inferior physical specimens (okay they aren’t looked at as “just” inferior physical specimens), but as potential internet billionaires. At the very least, the kids know that nerdy boy who programs computers for fun is the same kid who can tell you how to get your “thingamajig to download the whatsit.”

So you better be nice to them. Say, “Hi” in the halls. Let them sit near you at lunch. And if you want to be really one of them. Give them a “Live Long and Prosper” sign.

File Under Jack of all Trades