Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Creatives and Geeks: Why We Need Each Other

The dance is tomorrow. She’s a cheerleader, you’ve seen Star Wars 27 times. You do the math.
—Neil, Freaks and Geeks

Yoda from Star Wars (For the Geeks and Creatives Post)

In this new world of creativity and technology, creatives and geeks need each other more than ever.

Despite my best attempts, I’m not really a geek. A geek is someone who understands the difference between PHP and ASP (hint: they’re not hallucinogenic drugs). They talk in code: (and write it): “I’m working on an API, using  MySQL, and my ISP is all jacked up.”

These are the “words” that come out of geeks’ mouths.

I’m a wannabe geek. I use the tools that geeks make, but don’t understand how they actually work. I’m a half-geek. I catch the occasional obscure Star Wars reference on The Big Bang Theory and can fake my way through some HTML coding.

Beyond that, I’m just like the rest of the noobs out there. I’m lost.

In short, I’m a creative. I used to journal and draw on sketch paper. Now, I blog and work with graphic designers. The tools are different, but the end is still the same: I’m just trying to say something.

So, you might ask, what’s a “creative” or a “geek”? First things first, let’s define our terms. A creative is an out-of-the box thinker — a dreamer, an artist.

And for the sake of this discussion, a geek is a technology whiz, particularly adept with computers, usually.

On the surface level, creatives and geeks are very different. Geeks often think linearly. Creatives jump around from obscure idea to idea. Geeks care about functionality. Creatives just want something to “look cool.”

But the line between creatives and geeks is getting blurred. With so many easy-to-use content management systems, anyone can create a nice website. With the abundant resources of Google and YouTube, anyone can learn how to code without having to get a degree in computer programming.

More and more, I am seeing creatives and geeks partnering together to make change. Geeks need fresh ideas from creatives (even when the ideas defy logic), and creatives rely on geeks for making their ideas happen.

As a creative, I absolutely recognize my utter dependence on this elite class of Mark Zuckerbergs. But I’m also realizing that I have something offer them. When creativity and functionality come together, not in a competitive, but complementary way, it’s a win/win.

So, how do we do this? How do we bring together creatives and geeks to make a difference?

Friendships are essential. When I wanted to launch my own self-hosted WordPress blog, I was intimidated, so I called a friend who walked me through the whole process.

Another area of connection is local meetups. These can formal or informal, but these two groups of people need to find more excuses to hang out together. Events that really have helped me grow in my understanding of technology are the “un-conferences” BarCamp and PodCamp. (This is the fourth year of PodCamp Nashville, and I’m posting this as part of the blog tour. If you’ll be there, let’s connect.)

These loosely-structured, highly-informal get-togethers have introduced me tools like Twitter and blogging, which have become essential outlets for my creativity.

I don’t know what you have going on in your city, but there’s probably something. Start looking. We creatives and geeks need to start learning from each other.

Are you a creative or a geek? how have you found that you need the other to make a difference in the world?

By the way, the Yoda pic is proof that I’ve got at least a little geek in me. This was my wife’s Valentine’s present to me (she knows me well). Also, notice the Star Wars T-shirt. If you don’t “get it,” don’t ask…

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I’m both; I’m enough geek to have a Spider Man statue on my desk at work, but I was still able to snag a wife. I’m creative enough to want to be a graphic designer, but not enough to buy a bus, paint it with swirls and flowers, and drink a lava lamp on a dare.

    • Jeff Goins

      Hah! I imagine that many people will find themselves in the “both” boat, especially nowadays. One prediction I forgot to make in this post was that I see there being more and more overlap between these two worlds that aren’t really so different after all. Both want to use tools to make an expression. Thanks for the comment, Curtis!

  • I am a creative and you nailed the definition. I love the “techie” stuff as long as I don’t have to do the labor intensive things to make it work.

    I like to the “making it look cool” part.

    Fortunately for me my son likes the geek stuff. That will make us a good team once I can get him through high school!

    • Jeff Goins

      Hah! Sounds like you guys will make a great team!

  • Jeff,

    Great stuff. I have really appreciated reading your blog since I discovered you post #recreate11. I wish I would have met you then, alas perhaps in 2012. Anyways, I just sent this blog to my tech guy, who develops iPhone apps, runs sound, fixes my busted pedals, and is an all around great guy. We are two cut from different cloths, but oh how we need each other. Thank you for the clarity.


    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, John! Would’ve been cool to connect; we’ll definitely have to do it in 2012! Thanks for sharing this story. Really helpful and a great application of the post!

  • Well said, Jeff. I work with both sides, and our outcomes are clearly better when we have them both at the table from start to finish. (Also: Am I extra creative in that I get next to NO Star Wars references?)

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Knight. I agree and can relate to your work. I’m often a buffer between the two. They’re two sides of the same coin — both groups are trying to create something that makes a difference.

      And no, that doesn’t make you extra creative; it makes you extra lame. 😛

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  • Great post, Jeff. I’m definitely not a geek and I really identified with your description of trudging through basic HTML coding but mostly just using the things geeks create. I liked to write, do music, and at one time I liked to draw. I do agree that we need both.

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Jason. We’re pretty similar, I think…

    • Jeff Goins

      Totally. Thanks for the comment, Jason. The more I learn about geekery, the more I like it. 🙂

  • Great stuff, Jeff. I’m actually both, but more creative than geek. I’ve found that in order to get the heavy geekery tackled, I’ve had to bring in master geeks (Yodas if you will.) I can dream, innovate, and write just enough code to be dangerous (to myself.)

    When it comes to actually developing big ideas and products, I still need a good geek. Luckily, I’ve found one. 😉

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Kenny. I’m with you; although, I think you’re geekier than me (that’s a compliment, btw). I think that we all need to cultivate both of these disciplines in ourselves, especially creatives. We need to better understand how the creative tools we so like to use actually work. The creative geek (or geeky creative) could put a pretty big dent in the universe, if he or she harnessed the powerful parts of both the Yoda and John Mayer. 🙂

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  • I’m definitely a creative, although I have had a few geek jobs. Had to learn on the fly, but it’s definitely not my passion. I am however married to a geek (speaks all those alphabet soup languages and then some), who is also a creative (photographer & sound engineer). So it definitely makes for interesting dinner conversations. The lines definitely get blurred.

  • again… yes. this is true. and great.
    and one of my favorite things overheard in a creative meeting “be careful, your geek is showing”

    • Jeff Goins

      Hah! The more I work with geeks, the more I like them (and the more my inner geek shows up). Thanks for the comment, Robyn.

  • I’ve learned to surround myself with geeks. who, if aren’t creatives themselves, have an appreciation for the creative.

    I’m continuing to learn (it just takes some of us longer) that my stewardship is best with them, and keeping my own need-to-know focused on the desired/hoped-for results.

    • Jeff Goins

      Thanks for the comment, Dale. I really hesitated to write this post, because it has the possibility of dichotomizing geeks and creatives when, in fact, I believe geeks ARE creatives (a certain type, at least). Thanks for pointing this out.

  • I agree! Great post. I’m definitely on the creative side with a light helping of geek. I love that more creative/geek cooperation is going down. I think the world will be a better place for it!

    • Jeff Goins

      Totally! Thanks for the comment and tweet love, Josh.

  • What happens if I’m neither a geek or a creative?! Will someone still choose me to be on their team? 🙁

    I guess I lean much more on the creative side, but I wouldn’t describe myself as an artist.I try try try to think outside of the box, but it usual takes a long time and much will power.

    • Jeff Goins

      Start your own club!

  • I’m a digital strategist…my goal is to find the right strategy and employ necessary tactics via the strategic use of techno-mumbo-jumbo…i rely on teh coders and designrz …i’m also hybrid creative strategist…i give a lot of imput on creative process and the feel of a piece, but i do not claim to be a real creative…i have a strong background in account management and business dev.

    • Jeff Goins

      Jim, I love your work. Thanks for joining the discussion.

  • Ben

    Definitely both here, I know enough g34k sp33k to be dangerous and break something only to fix it, and am creative enough to make me not want to stab my eye.

    • Jeff Goins

      Hah! I love all the “hybrids” joining in the conversation.

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  • “On the surface level, creatives and geeks are very different. Geeks often think linearly. Creatives jump around from obscure idea to idea. Geeks care about functionality. Creatives just want something to “look cool.””

    I love this — especially the part about the creatives jumping from obscure idea to idea. However, I believe that almost, ‘lack of structure’ and jumping around. Is what holds a lot of creatives back.

  • anne

    because we are more futuristic people

  • Muhammad Afzal

    I am not geek or a creative. But i like geeks and their work.
    I am trying to be someone.


  • Mounvi Reddy

    I may not be a geek, but I think am creative but I don’t need to completely rely on geeks to make my ideas work.

    My creativity