When nerds don’t rise up

I recently caught up with a friend who’s a doctor by trade and, well, a bit of a nerd. He was telling me about the Theranos debacle.

Long story short – a non-scientist made audacious claims to make pathology tests as easy as DIY.

Many powerful people bought into the concept. $4 billion raised to make it come true. Only thing – it was all a fib.

He told me, “How could this happen? Some real heavyweights backed this fake venture. I bet we couldn’t get away with this!”

I saw a parallel in our discussion.

Nerds can experience these thoughts: “Why are we not pursuing this obvious goal?” “Why is this person my boss?” “Nothing’s getting done.” “How does he/she get away with that?”

It’s because we fail choose not to rise up to positions of influence.

And then others with lesser abilities, but a know how of corporate navigation, find themselves in positions where they call the shots.

Sure, some of us make it into positions of authority, but odds are shifting to people who know just enough STEM to get by.

They find a way to get the same credentials as you and I, but have the one up of relating to the right people.

We often give them an easy ride up. That can be for reasons like:

We believe in the concept of reward by merit

The utopia of a meritocracy get us all gooey inside. But we keep forgetting that the human element will often get in the way.

Have you seen someone at your work in a position of authority or power and wondered “How on earth did they get the job?”

Yup, you’re not working in a meritocracy, so stop acting like it matters!

We try to get with the culture, but fail to get on the inside

Some of us realise early on that we need to not only do the work, but influence the people around us.

We could mistake this for a pure social construct. Things like becoming besties with coworkers, your boss etc.

You might get some success from that approach, but to guarantee influence, you need to show more than just social ability.

I’ll explain later about the trifecta that each and every nerd needs to work on to rise up and make a difference in their work.

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