Dear Young Nerds,
Okay, the biggest lesson I wish I knew at age 22 had to do with taking control of my own career. That means ownership of my own personal narrative, which has to do with personal branding and identity. Sure, that's a marketing-ish perspective, at odds with my nerdliness, but that's the human reality.
For more, check out my advice on how to hack your career (... and to be clear, I'm an old-school, socially inept, plastic-pocket-protector and thick glasses-taped-together kinda nerd. Current nerd chic is more about media geekery, which I'm fond of myself).
Professionally speaking, if I was talking to my 22-year-old self, I'd encourage me to be bolder, to seize opportunity, to take chances. For example, I should have pushed Unix really hard for the IBM Series/1 minicomputer. (Linux, which kinda rules the Internet, is a derivative of sorts of Unix.)
For that matter, I should have somehow gotten into the original PC project. Not only was I at IBM Boca Raton, but my first office mate wrote the fundamental code running the hardware, the BIOS.
At 22, though, I really screwed up a lot of personal matters.
I should have been listening to people more about, well, everything, even regarding the purchase of my first car. Instead of being a car for a guy 50 years older, it might have been something merely ordinary, and that would have been a big improvement.
Finally, trying to meet women in ballet class? Not a good idea. I was terrible, and failed completely.
Also, it put me into the hospital, twice, and I still bear scars, prosthetics and dental work, ongoing after around 40 years.
To the other nerds out there, what would be your best advice?
P.S. Here's why I'm a nerd, and not a geek.