Are All Actuaries Nerds?

By Mary Ann Rocco • May 16, 2017 • 0 Comments
It started when I received an email from Norm with “Are you a nerd?” in the subject line. My first thought was, “Of course I’m a nerd; I’m an actuary, aren’t I?” 

But then I remembered a conversation I had with Ira about pension actuaries. Ira is the gentleman who owns the audio company that works at most of our smaller ASPPA conferences. He had observed that many of the actuaries he’s conversed with seem to have a passion or hobby that was fascinating. Good examples of that would be Rick Block’s abilities on the racetrack or Kevin Donovan’s alter ego as a Deadhead. 

So, what passion or hobby would make for a good argument against my being a nerd? Probably the most obvious one would be my other career as a fitness instructor. I started instructing back in the ’80s as a way to combat a fear of public speaking that I developed as a young TPA put in a public speaking situation that was way over my head. 

I taught many kinds of classes, but the two that I was passionate about were Step and Spinning. My ability to excel as a Step instructor was based on two things. The first was my passion for music. I had taught myself how to create custom mixes that far surpassed the fitness music readily available to purchase from companies that sell fitness music. When you teach any choreographed fitness class, you have to use special music that is comprised of strict 32-count phrasing. You write your choreography to fit into these 32-count phrased songs. 

The second factor in being a good step instructor was my affinity for numbers and the ability to write complex choreography that met the 32-count phrasing rule. (I could explain this in more detail, but this is a short article.) 

While it might seem on the surface that teaching Step is an argument against being a nerd, it may not qualify once you factor in that it’s really just numbers. On the other hand, being a Spin instructor is all about the music. A great DJ friend of mine once told me the first step of DJ-ing is song selection. If I could have a different career, it would be as a working DJ. I even own two Technics SL-1200 MK2 turntables to keep that dream alive. But for now I use teaching Spin as a way to satisfy my desire to be a DJ. 

A Spin class is choreographed by the songs’ beats per minute, which set the pace for the cyclist. But what makes a student prefer one particular class over another is the instructor’s song selections. I gave up my permanent classes the year I was ACOPA President, but I still substitute-teach a Spin class every month or so. And the students who love my classes really just love my musical choices. 

There are some other things I’m into that might also support the argument that I’m not a nerd. But at the end of the day I also have a lot of passion for the actuary side of my life. I think that throwing yourself deeply into any topic is the definition of a nerd. So the answer is yes, I’m a nerd. And I wear my nerd badge proudly.