Practical Thoughts on Geekiness from a Business Geek

A couple of weeks ago a friend and current colleague of mine called me a geek. My friend is a developer and he considers himself a geek. His name is Jose. I did not take this comment negatively, even though usually the term geek has some negative connotations.

Jose made me ponder my geekiness. Out of curiosity I did some research on the word and this is the definition of Merriam Webster’s online dictionary.


As you can see out of the three listed definitions two are related to an intellectual interest, and technology.

Some background information

To give you some background information on this conversation and what my professional occupation is. The conversation was about the mission, vision goals and strategy of a company group that the two of us work for.

Jose is a senior developer. He used to be the General Manager of a company that the two of worked for. This company belonged to a German company innovation group called HYVE. The two of us ran the group’s digital innovation daughter company together.

I was hired at that time to assist Jose and become the second local General Manager after a year. I have over 20 years of experience with companies of all types. My experience is cross-functional and I have worked as a management consultant for many years. The two of us complemented each other very well, he as the technical expert and myself as the business expert.

Our conversations and experience

The two of us worked through the challenges of the pandemic together especially the downturn in project volume. Over a period of two years we had many conversations about the nature of software development, team culture, strategy in software, etc.

We did many thinks together. He gave me the freedom to implement changes in operations, team communication and improve things wherever I saw fit. Together with our small team we decoupled us and changed how we worked. We changed processes such as time management, staffing and reporting, and then later our changes triggered interest from the headquarters and led to further changes there.

In addition to this, contrary to what had been done before we started acquiring customers on our own instead of waiting for projects to come from Germany. Jose and I foresaw a reduction in projects from Germany, and a growing competition for developers. Given this, we wanted to keep our team busy, working on interesting projects. We found that boredom was the worst for morale and especially developers need sources of intellectual challenge and growth.

Given this need for personal growth of our team and the analysis we did on our technology stack we focused on building a plan B. Consequently, we started looking for interesting new projects in different fields with new relevant technologies as a form of investment with spare capacity to meet three goals:

  1. Keeping our team busy
  2. Grow our teams technology stack with diverse projects
  3. Cover cost with a small margin

The current project

Later, when Jose was asked to join another project that was to create several technology companies around Blockchain and AI. He recommended me as the business expert within the group. He wanted to exclusively focus on coding or programming , his true passion.

Nowadays Jose and I belong to the core team and the two of us have continued with our conversations. We discuss different topics of our mutual interest and throw ideas and thoughts at each other.

Now after a year we are considering changing project focus. Given that I found a possible change not aligned with the initial direction I voiced my concern. I asked for clearly defining the groups mission, vision, goals and general strategy to align all core members perceptions and actions.

We are talking at the moment much about this topic and I asked Jose about what he thought that we all had in common. He said we were all geeks in a way or another.

Interests, passion and “geekiness”

Till then I had never considered myself really a “geek”. I have always felt comfortable working with people from IT, engineers, developers, etc. since I understood how they thought and approached problems, but I never had thought of myself as a “geek”.

Now, after thinking about it for some time I think of “geekiness” as a result of passion. Passion to me is a stronger expression of your of inner interests that lead to a fascination with one or more topics that you decide to dedicate your time to.

Business challenges

Business Geek Puzzles

I come from a third generation entrepreneur family. To some extent due to this I have always had interest in companies. I think though that my interest stems from more than just growing up in an entrepreneur family. In my case it has more to do with the intellectual challenge and the opportunities for creativity that they represent for me.

I still remember the first book about companies that I read, a book by Ichak Adizes, about company lifecycles and the challenges for leadership at each stage. All the things that had to be considered seemed to me like a large and fascinating puzzle to solve.

Technology as a means to an end

As you can imagine I studied business. College was great for me. My friends considered me a little bit of a nerd but I did not care. I enjoyed each lessson and was fascinated by company challenges and how people solved them and especially how they managed to do so with technology.

I learned the usefulness of technology to solve problems and how it made things more efficient. This realization made deep dive into software programs like Excel etc. which I considered a useful tool. Excel in fact for me has prevailed as one of the most useful investments of my time since it has been a great companion for almost 30 years now and helped me solve many riddles.

After Excel I developed a growing fascination with technology. In general and how it is used within companies for greater efficiency, productivity, etc. Not surprisingly, I continued learning many new tools and exploring programming through courses to implement automation and solving many challenges.

For me technology has always been a means to make life easier, more efficient and productive which has made me passionate about it.

People, culture and leadership

Still though the years prove to me again and again that the greatest puzzle are people, culture and leadership. I do not separate the three since for me they go hand in hand.

If leadership does not set the right direction and listens and empowers its people, you set the base for a specific culture. With direction I mean, defining a coherent mission, vision, goals and strategy. By listening, I mean asking employees and customers to get involved in the discussion.

People like to be taken notice off. To be asked for their input since they are spending their time at work. It is a way to show respect to the value that they are generating, and their experience. Especially, from experience I can say that this is important. Specifically, when you want to implement changes or are looking for support.

I am the first who values his own contribution. I appreciate when my input is asked for. Fact is, the golden rule has shaped always my behavior:

“Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

Common sense to me.

Definitely a “Business Geek”

Physical Bookshelf

Well, when I look at my small physical library in addition to my ebooks and take into account the time a spend on reading, thinking and learning about companies and technology outside work, Jose is definitely right. I am a “business geek” with an always growing interest in learning how to use technology to solve problems and add more value.

On the other hand though if you look at my books in this picture on the right you will find a number of other interests too, but business challenges are definitely one of my intellectual passions.

I do not think that being “geeky” is bad at all. I actually feel lucky that what I do for work is also one of the things that excite me and tickle my intellect daily. More so because the more experienced I am, the more creative I can be. Making connections and finding solutions for possible challenges is just like a big puzzle. Fun indeed.

So who cares if others think that you are geek, it just means that you are truly passionate and experienced about a topic. Good for you.

Here is another of my hobbies where one could say that I am a little geeky, check it out if you are curious.

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