Secret CIO

Secret CIO reveals all his innermost nerdiness and pocket protector aspirations.

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By  Secret CIO Published  October 31, 2006

You didn't make it again," came the bitter and twisted barb of she-whomust- be-obeyed, as she pored over the morning newspaper and poured herself a cup of coffee.

As I rushed around washing up the previous night's dishes and getting the brat's school lunch ready, I knew what was coming: I hadn't won the Mashreq Millionaire draw for the umpteenth month running and we were wasting good money that could just as well be spent on new frocks and the like. But I was wrong.

She was being unusually witty for someone who hates seeing the wrong side of 9am, but who nevertheless wouldn't dream of seeing her loved ones fend for themselves first thing in the morning. "You've not made the Forbes billionaire list again," she quipped. Very droll, I thought, knowing that the good humour so early in the day was too good to last. "You've not made the millionaire ranking either," she added then let rip: "Oh, you're not even listed as someone who knows anyone who might be a millionaire."

It wasn’t the sort of point-scoring I wanted to be confronted with first thing in the morning, but it's true. I don’t mix with the rich and vaguely famous. What happened? I started out life about the same time as Bill and Steve - Gates and Jobs that is. Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Steve Ballmer et al the other techies who populate the Forbes top 100 billionaire list.

Way back when, we were all nerds together when nerds and nerddom were considered very infra dig and really best derided not to mention avoided.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the last thing anyone wanted to be classified as was a nerd - complete with pocket protector. (A small polyvinyl pouch that fits neatly into a front shirt pocket to protect the wearer from innumerable leaky pens or sharp instruments, according to In fact I could out-geek the best of them. So how come my contemporaries are hitting the Forbes billionaire list? Ex-nerds make up a high percentage (if you discount all the Wal- Mart family members) of the top 10 and top 100 on the Forbes Top 400 list. So where did I go wrong?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not dissatisfied with my lot in life. In fact, I get a lot of pride and satisfaction knowing that the nerdiness I cultivated in the late 1980s has helped me steer the companies I've worked for into the real electronic age. Others I’ve known in the CIO world, with possibly a less techie heritage and often unable to see the wider techie picture, have had to fight for their plans only to get their IT visions rejected.

So like Bill, I've seen the product of my own nerdie convictions grow and prosper. I just wish I'd taken my pocket protector ideas to market. Did you know there are companies still making millions out of these? If you don't believe me, Google 'pocket protectors'. You should get about six million hits. She who is always obeyed did just that only to find that I hadn't even made it into the Nerd Hall of Fame on: f_Fame.htm.

This is getting very depressing. I think I'll just go to Gitex where I won’t be the biggest geek in the room.

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