As I mentioned the other day, towards the end of this month SourceCode is launching a report on the future of work and culture. Keep an eye out for it; in the meantime, I’ve been thinking a lot about an issue our study brings up: The absolute importance of geeking out in today’s workplace.

How does this call to be a nerd go beyond generic “follow your passion” career advice? If I hire a social media manager, I’m looking for someone who had TikTok before it was cool. I want someone who will share good memes on the company Slack, not someone who thinks an “engaging” tweet is self-promotion and a string of tired hashtags. When I’m contracting a designer, I hope they have a favorite font and I’m unlikely to hire a copywriter who doesn’t read. 

When you visit SourceCode’s website, you’ll see that we talk a lot about telling stories. Public relations is a creative industry: Each and every client has its own unique story, and what works for one client may not serve another. So we hash out ideas, debate proposals, and come up with several potential narratives for each client. We geek out, we try unlikely ideas, and we take risks. It’s messy, it’s chaotic, and it’s the only way to do things.

If your idea of efficiency is an assembly line, the SourceCode offices (or, these days, the SourceCode slack and the SourceCode Zoom meetings) might scandalize you. When my team is playing with ideas, when we’re imagining new campaigns or developing new messages, we’re having fun, but we’re getting our jobs done too. Creative work needs intellectual freedom.

We’ll never entirely eliminate grind and crunch and tedium, but I firmly believe that good work in a knowledge economy is also fun work. If you’re leaving your passion at the door, you’ve come to the wrong office.