The Geek Manifesto

I’m mad and I’ll tell you why in a minute. I’m a self-professed geek and I mean that in a good way. I graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelors of science degree in materials science, which is the study of materials such as steel, ceramics, and plastics. While I was getting my bachelors degree in materials science, I was also working towards a dual degree in English. Later I got my masters degree in computer science.

I know that’s an odd combination, but I just enjoy learning because I find all knowledge interesting and useful. One of the biggest failures of the educational system is that we segregate information into isolated compartments where the science people don’t talk to the liberal arts people and vice versa. That can’t help but create a generation of half-educated people, but that’s only partly why I’m mad.

I’m mad because the geeks of the world are getting a raw deal. We’re getting screwed by the system and most of us don’t know what to do about it. Let me explain.

Look up the name Léo Apotheker on the Internet and you’ll see that this guy got hired as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard back in 2010 without all of the board of directors interviewing him. Yes, you read that right. Hewlett-Packard’s board of directors didn’t even interview this guy for the job of CEO before they decided to hire him. 

When was the last time you got hired for a job without an interview? Hewlett-Packard goes through a more stringent hiring process to choose a secretary than they did to hire a CEO. That alone is bad enough, but Hewlett-Packard was once one of the most respected and innovative technology companies in the world. Shouldn’t someone with a technology background lead a technology company?

During Leo Apotheker’s 10-month tenure at Hewlett-Packard, the company lost $30 billion in market capitalization. The stock dropped 25% after Leo Apotheker announced that Hewlett-Packard was going to withdraw from the PC business, before the company even had a strategy for doing so. Naturally, many of Hewlett-Packard’s business clients panicked and shifted their business to a more reliable PC company instead.

That alone is pretty bad, but it gets worse. Leo Apotheker also approved the acquisition of a company called Autonomy, which cost Hewlett-Packard $10 billion dollars. Later after Leo Apotheker left, Hewlett-Packard discovered questionable accounting practices that forced Hewlett-Packard to take a write-down of nearly $8.8 billion off their Autonomy acquisition. In other words, Hewlett-Packard wound up spending $10 billion dollars for a company that was barely worth $2 billion dollars.

Now if you or I screwed up that badly, we’d get fired and that would be the end of it. What happened when Leo Apotheker screwed up? The board of directors finally got rid of him, but only after giving him $13 million dollars in compensation.

Yes, you read that right. Here’s a guy with an economics background, running a technology company into the ground, wrecking its business and screwing up its finances, and he walks away with $13 million dollars as his reward. In the meantime, plenty of Hewlett-Packard engineers, researchers, and programmers are stuck in a flailing company and may lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

Multiply this scenario with any company from Blackberry and Nokia to Kodak and Bear Stearns, and you can always see the top executives getting rewarded for incompetence while the people doing all the real work suffer. If the company does well, the workers get nothing. If the company screws up through the ineptitude of the executives, then the workers lose their jobs. It’s a no-win situation for the people who are doing the real work in most companies.

Now do you see why I’m mad? Smart people, the geeks who actually make companies like Hewlett-Packard and Blackberry work, get punished while somebody who totally screws up the company trots away with $13 million dollars in his bank account as a reward for his “leadership.”

Hewlett-Packard is just one of many examples of clueless CEOs running technology companies into the ground while the workers, the geeks doing all the research, development, innovation, and grunt work, lose their jobs, take pay cuts, and live in a world of insecurity despite their importance to the company.

It’s time for this nonsense to stop right now.

My Experience with General Dynamics

My first job out of college was working at General Dynamics. Since I had an engineering degree and writing background, the company hired me as a technical writer. That was a big mistake on my part.

First of all, technical writers got treated like second-class citizens and engineers were rewarded with much higher status and pay. Second of all, the technical writers got screwed.

Here’s how the system was supposed to work. The engineers were supposed to give information to another department and that department was supposed to give that information to the technical writers so we could write the manuals explaining how the equipment worked. Here’s how this process worked in reality.

First, the engineers rarely gave accurate information to this other department because they looked at supplying information as a secondary purpose to their job. That meant that this other department never had the information we needed as technical writers. So we’d bypass this other department and go straight to the engineers for the information we needed. Then we’d write the manuals based on the information we got directly from the engineers, essentially cutting out this other department altogether.

Now this other department would get copies of the technical manuals that we wrote, rewrite the information, and then feed it back to us so we could write the manuals that we had already written. Did I tell you that this other department, who regurgitated the information they got from our technical manuals, got paid more than the technical writers too?

My Experience with Cubic

I lasted at General Dynamics for a year and a half before leaving since I could see no future in an organization as screwy as that. Then I wound up working for a much smaller company called Cubic. Like General Dynamics, Cubic was a defense contractor that bid on military contracts.

Before you can bid on a military contract, you must show that you have the personnel capable of fulfilling that contract, so I was hired in anticipation that Cubic would win a military contract. By this time, I had gone back to school and earned my masters of science degree in computer science, so I was no longer a technical writer but a computer programmer. That meant higher status and higher pay. So far, so good.

Now Cubic failed to win the military contract they had hired me to work on, so they kept me and a bunch of other people around so they could bid on another military contract. They didn’t get that one either.

In fact, over the next two years, Cubic failed to win a single military contract. In the meantime, everyone who had been hired to work on a military contract had literally nothing to do. We kept working on contracts that the company hoped to win, but each time that contract fell through and all our work was thrown away.

Now getting paid for two years to do absolutely nothing might seem like a great position to be in, but it can be mind deadening to have nothing to do and watch all your work get thrown in the garbage every time you finished it. Then the inevitable layoffs began.

I got to watch much older men than myself, who were supporting families, lose their jobs after ten, fifteen, and even twenty years of loyal service to the company. After nineteen years of continuous work, one guy packed up his belongings in a box, carried them out to his car, had a heart attack in the parking lot, and dropped dead on the spot.

I was one of the fortunate ones. I still had a job but I couldn’t take it any more so I just quit and spent the next few months trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to go back into the insecurity of getting another job, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

My Writing Career

While working at General Dynamics and Cubic, I had been contributing articles to a local computer magazine called ComputorEdge. After quitting my job at Cubic, I decided to join the magazine full time as an editor.

For the first time, I was in a job that I actually enjoyed where I felt my efforts actually meant something. After writing magazine articles for several years, I soon branched out into writing computer books, just as the personal computer market started taking off. I wrote books on how to use programs with names like Turbo Pascal, WordPerfect, CompuServe, and Microsoft Office. Eventually, the book income generated me more money than my magazine editing job, so I quit that job and devoted myself full-time to writing computer books.

While working as a freelance writer, I kept in touch with the many friends I had made at General Dynamics and Cubic. When those companies started laying off people, many of my friends either lost their jobs and had to scramble to find new ones, or simply switched careers altogether.

One of my friends, who worked as an electrical engineer at General Dynamics, bounced from one job to another. After so many years working for a defense contractor, he had a hard time adjusting to the harsher world of the commercial market. After losing yet another job, he became an alcoholic, lost his home and his car, and is now spending the rest of his life in homeless shelters.

The Problem and the Solution

The real tragedy is that so many talented and intelligent people in the technology field, the geeks, go through life working for companies that treat them like disposable bathroom tissue. The geeks of the world are some of the smartest and most creative people in the world, yet their lives are forever being controlled by others who didn’t go through the same rigorous technical training. In fact, most of the people in charge of the companies are not trained in any field of technology whatsoever. They’re often business people who see technology as just another product to exploit, and often see the people who create that technology, the geeks, as just another resource to exploit as well.

The irony is that without us geeks, the rest of the world would come to a complete standstill. Imagine taking out all the geeks who know how to run the computers in any company. That company would grind to a halt in an instant.

A company could easily get along without another clueless CEO making decisions that an average cockroach could surpass, but almost no company could survive if you took the geeks out of the system.

The geeks are truly running the world, but we don’t even know it.

Right now, the business people and the lawyers are running the world, and they’re taking advantage of the geeks who are doing all the real work. If you ever read George Orwell’s book, “Animal Farm,” you know that the farm animals shared the responsibility of running the farm among themselves. Then the pigs took over and gradually did less and less work but took more and more of the rewards. That’s exactly what’s happened in today’s world.

Look at companies like Google and Apple. That shows you what geeks are capable of doing if they would just take their heads out of the technology field and apply their vast intelligence towards other types of problems besides technology.

Now look at companies that are struggling like Hewlett-Packard, Blackberry, Nokia, and even Microsoft. There’s no shortage of trained, motivated, and creative engineers and scientists at these companies, but there is a shortage of trained, motivated, and creative business people calling all the shots, taking all the money, and doing none of the real work.

It’s time for that to change.

Now the business people aren’t going to give up their lofty positions of high rewards with less work, so it’s up to the geeks to take charge of their own destiny.

First, if you’re a geek, it’s time to take responsibility for your own fate. Unless you’re lucky enough to be working at a company that truly appreciates your talent and skill, chances are good your job is simply holding you hostage. If your company suddenly decided to lay you off tomorrow, what could you do about it? In most cases, there’s nothing you could do but pack up your belongings in a box, carry them out to your car in the parking lot, and hope you don’t have a heart attack that drops you dead in your tracks before you can even climb into your car.

Second, you have to take action to control your own income. No job is safe because no company is safe. At one time, everyone was using Blackberry phones and Blackberry was riding high on profits. A few years later, practically everyone is dumping their Blackberry phones for iPhones or Android phones, and all those great engineers, the geeks, at Blackberry, wound up losing their jobs.

If you think your company is safe, it probably isn’t. Just ask all those engineers at blackberry, Kodak, or Nokia how secure their jobs and their future appears to be.

Third, you have to realize that as a geek, you are actually more powerful than the people currently controlling your fate. Most CEOs know business, but the topic of business and economics is just information that anyone can learn, especially geeks. If you could tackle calculus, organic chemistry, thermodynamics, or quantum physics, learning anything else should be well within your grasp. Think any of those CEOs running around with business or economics degrees could learn half of the technical topics you’ve already mastered?

The Geek Revolution

It’s time for a revolution and this time, the geeks have to be in charge. As a geek, you can learn anything anyone else knows, but most people will never be able to learn a fraction of what you already know, and that’s where the real power lies.

Now when I say we need a geek revolution, I don’t mean smashing your boss over the head with a hammer and raising his impaled skull on a bloody spear tip for everyone to see (although that image might seem appealing). Instead, I mean you need to embrace your power as a geek and take charge to make your life the best it can possibly be, free from worry, free from fear, and free from being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it by supremely unqualified people whose only real qualifications should be wearing a paper hat and an apron while asking you, “Do you want fries with that?”

You don’t need to live a life of tepid expectations. You don’t need to watch other people lead more exciting adventures while toiling in the background as others take credit for all your work. You need to step out of the shadows and into the limelight to stake your claim as a geek to take over the world right now.

That’s what this manifesto is about. It’s a massive wake-up call to arms to all geeks wherever you are. It’s time to stop accepting the status quo and taking orders from idiots. It’s time to change your world for the better using that incredibly talented mind of yours to give yourself the benefits of life that you so richly deserve. It’s about being intelligent and getting rewarded for having brains and going through the hard work to learn specialized information.

Ultimately, the only reason why the geeks aren’t running the world as much as they should is because we’ve let the greedy, corrupt, and unethical people calling themselves CEOs and business executives take over the world without a fight. Now it’s time to change the rules and fight for what we deserve, and that’s what life should be about.

Life should be about having fun and getting richly rewarded in the process.

Life should be about expanding your mind and your experiences and never stop learning.

Life should be about becoming who you were meant to be, whatever you choose to do and whoever you want to be.

Life should be about infinite possibilities.

Life should be about the geeks taking their rightful place in the world and getting the credit they so richly deserve.

If this is the type of life you want to lead, then I invite you to join me in my quest to improve the life of every self-proclaimed geek on the planet. We’re already running the world. Now it’s time we take responsibility for it as well.

Games For Geeks

This site, Games For Geeks is dedicated to make learning and intelligence fun and important again. In addition, this site will also focus on tips to improve the life of every geek just a little bit at a time. You won’t have to buy anything or do anything that makes you uncomfortable. All I ask is that you do your best to learn and continue growing as a human being so you can take your rightful place in the world as an acknowledged leader in your field as both a geek and a human being as well.

Games For Geeks is about turning life into a game where we’re going to study the rules,  play the game, and exploit the loopholes if necessary. We’re not going to exploit the system since we already have plenty of CEOs and business executives willing to do that. Instead, Games For Geeks is about changing the game of life in favor of the geeks, and we’ll all learn as we help one another get through our hectic lives and get better day by day.

One day, the geeks shall inherit the Earth, and I want you to be there sharing the excitement and the benefits when it happens. Life is really a game, but it’s a game that’s been weighted in favor of those making the rules. Starting today, you need to making your own rules for the benefit of everyone including yourself.

Games For Geeks is about having fun, learning new information, and making your world a better place. If you’re a geek and want a life that’s under your control, it’s time to starting empowering geeks, like yourself, to take over the world.

Here are some of the many ideas I’ll cover in Games For Geeks, always looking at life from a game-playing perspective:

  • How to start your own full or part-time business without sacrificing your current job
  • How to apply your knowledge of math to make a killing in the stock market
  • How to understand and nurture a relationship with any man or woman
  • How to define your passion in life and get the courage to pursue it
  • How to use technology as the ultimate marketing tool for yourself or your business
  • How to find other people to do your boring work for you
  • How to boost your brain power through natural herbs and healthy foods
  • And much more!

Starting today, you’re no longer going to be dependent on the whims of others, especially those people who know less than you but have the power to dictate your fate anyway. You already have the knowledge to put your future firmly in your own hands. Now you just need to know how to direct your life exactly where you want it to go. 

You already know that good grades, fancy college degrees, and specialized technical knowledge isn’t enough to succeed in this world. The real question you need to ask yourself is what are you going to do about it?

February 5th, 2011 by admin
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