Nathaniel Salzman would be the first to admit he is not, in fact, a genius. He is, however, a jack of all trades, a master of some, a designer, an inventor and a tinkerer. We can’t wait to find out what Nathaniel has in store for us when he joins us next week on Friday, 8/25, at The Nerdery. Check out our Q & A with him below, and get ready for tickets to be released on Monday!

In one sentence or less, define what this month’s theme, Genius, means to you.

If luck is where opportunity meets preparation, then genius is where education meets persistence. 

How does Chicago influence you or your work?

Chicago is a city that speaks its mind and knows how to hustle. It’s also lousy with high-performing people. There is so much opportunity here for someone to connect with smart, driven people and do meaningful work. 

List three words that begin with the letter “R” to describe yourself/your personality.

Random, Rational, Relatable 

Can you share a person or project that fits your definition of genius?

I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert that genius is not something you are. It’s something you access. So no person is a genius. Instead, I believe that anyone is able to do genius work, and a great example of that is the sculptor Tom Sachs. He and his studio team make amazing pieces of art and propaganda, all of which must conform to the arbitrary boundaries of the Studio Code. These constraints create a consistent vocabulary that Tom then uses to explore everything from his love/hate relationship with consumerism, to cargo cult objects, to space exploration and even topics as heavy as slavery. 

What are the top three places you find inspiration?

  1. Audiobooks and podcasts. For example, I use the book recommendations made on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast to feed what books I add to my Audible reading list. This has served me very well.
  2. YouTube creators like Alec Steele, Casey Neistat, The Nerdwriter, and Liza Koshy
  3. Spending time in a quiet room, in a comfortable chair, apart from my iPhone, having a good think