Nerdist CEO Chris Hardwick on Entrepreneurship and Finding Balance

Chris Hardwick might be the hardest working nerd. He is founder and CEO of Nerdist Industries, with tentacles in podcasting, online tech news, a YouTube channel and television. He hosts Comedy Central’s daily @midnight program, along with his own Nerdist podcast, which has produced more than 500 episodes.

That’s a lot of projects, many more since he last talked with Jeff Ullrich on The Wolf Den in 2011. So it’s only fitting for Chris to return for episode 58 in this new season of the podcast as we focus on the builders of podcasting.

One thing that Jeff keeps seeing come up in recent interviews is that the lines between talent, producer and entrepreneur are blurred with digital media. Chris agrees with that assessment, and describes how being a comedian helped prepare him for this career as a entrepreneur.

“When you look at what stand-up is, it’s a branding exercise,” he explains. “What’s your voice? Who’s your audience? What are you saying to them?

“It’s flexibility. In a moment you have to make hard left and right turns. You have stuff that you’ve prepared and know works, but you also have to think fast.”

Chris observes, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

An important key to success is choosing your projects carefully. “No is an important word,” he says. “In the process of keeping a few plates spinning in the air you don’t want them to come crashing down.”

At the same time, investing in sustainability is also critical. “I think that some people get a rush out of starting projects,” Chris notes. “But there’s a real skill to be developed from maintenance. And maintenance is not sexy or fun. But it’s sort of the long haul relationship where you’re not having crazy sex on a park bench anymore, because it’s not the honeymoon period. But you still have to put work into the relationship to foster it, because it’s evolved into something else that has more meaning.”

New projects can be seductive. Even so, Chris says, “Occasionally I have to [recognize], even if that’s a big opportunity that we’re missing, I can’t let that other thing suffer that we’ve been working on for a long time.”

Making these choices requires a thoughtful approach. He cites good advice from his long-time personal trainer: “Don’t try to take stock of things when you’re under pressure.”

Jeff shares some some wisdom from serial entrepreneur Steve Blank: “If you’re going to be successful as an entreprenpreneur, you have to recognize that you’re going to be wrong 30% of the time.”

Agreeing, Chris, follows up, “There’s nothing wrong with that. But, how creative will you be once that happens, once you’re wrong? Can you spin it into something good?”

Listen to Chris’s full interview with Jeff on The Wolf Den episode #57. Then be sure to watch the bonus video, where Chris shared what’s most exciting about podcasting, and what keeps him up at night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with a *