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Article  •  15 August 2022


If you liked his TED talk, you'll love Nigel Marsh's new book

See what Nigel has to say about his books, podcast, TED talk and new book. Smart, Stupid and Sixty comes out this month, so get ready for more insight from the author.

With Nigel Marsh, what you see is what you get, or perhaps we should say, what you read is what you get.

Writing from the heart, the author shares his insights into the little things that make life – well – life.

He never expected to become an author, but inspiration struck when Nigel lost his job at age forty. Fuelled unexplicable passion, he began scribbling down a candid account of his attempts to become a better parent, lose weight, and face the harsh realities of hitting middle age. Much to his surprise, the words seemed to flow out of Nigel, and before he knew it Fat Forty and Fired was out in the world.

After his first book, Nigel then wrote several more including Smart, Stupid and Sixty, which comes out on 16 August 2022. To learn more about his writing career, his famous TED talk, and the new book, we rang up Nigel for a chat.

About the author

Anyone who has read Nigel’s first book, Fat, Forty and Fired knows his history. ‘Long story short, I was an unemployed 40-year-old with four children and a wife’ he says.

With no writing background aside from casual journalling here and there, Nigel turned to writing as a form of catharsis while going through what he calls a ‘midlife crisis.’

Writing his account in longhand on the back of his twin daughters’ kindergarten pictures, Nigel felt the words pouring out of him. The writing process was so natural that before he knew it, Nigel had written eleven chapters of the book – most of which made it into the final copy ‘almost verbatim as I wrote them in one go,’ he explains.

‘It’s like if I decided driving home today that I wanted to write a song, and I just wrote one.It’s never happened to me before or since, but I was moved to write the book. . . it was a very strange and wonderful process, and I almost didn’t publish it.’

At the end of the year recounted in the book, Nigel got a job and questioned whether he should even publish Fat Forty and Fired at all. He followed through with it, thanks to encouragement from a good friend, and has since written books every subsequent decade.

‘What has happened since publishing the first book is such a gift,’ he says. ‘It was never ever a plan, but then I realise Oh! I’ve now written a 40, 50 and 60 one! And if I’m still alive, I will definitely write a 70 and 80 book too.’

How to make work-life balance work

In addition to his books, Nigel famously gave a TED talk in 2011, ‘How to make work-life balance work’ that has since gotten over 5 million views. Continuing the conversation he started with his first book, Nigel's speech digs into the question that he always comes back to: How do we spend more time being present in the good moments of life and less time worrying about what comes next – the next paycheque, the next promotion, the shiny car, or the senior title?

Thankfully, there is plenty more to come on this topic. Smart, Stupid and Sixty tackles many of the same themes that Nigel explored his talk. ‘This conversation, be it my new book or my TED speech, it’s the same blood,’ says Nigel. ‘It’s just me!’

‘If you like my TED speech or you like Fat, Forty and Fired, you’ll probably like this book.’

The new book

In addition to continuing his messages of purpose and balance, Smart, Stupid and Sixty also explores what Nigel refers to as ‘the third trimester of life.’ Hoping that his personal experiences will resonate with readers, the author provides a peek into his personal life as he traverses his sixth decade on this planet.

‘The set of issues I’m facing now is different. . . the children have left home, my parents have died, I’m struggling to hear because I’ve left my hearing aids at home,’ he says, giving an overview of some of the anecdotes in the book. ‘It’s not a self-help book. It’s not a guide. It’s me writing my thoughts about these issues and some of the conclusions I’ve come to in the hope I can amuse readers and provide clarity for certain people who are coming to the same conclusions.’

While he waits for his book to hit the shelves, Nigel has no intention of slowing down. ‘I genuinely want to drink from the cup of life with both hands,' he says. 'Every decade that I’ve been on this earth has been the best decade so far. . . I want my sixties to be my happiest decade.'

Looking back to where he began, Nigel points to one piece of advice he’d give his 40-year-old self if he could go back in time and talk with that man who had just lost his job. ‘Lay yourself open to as many challenges and opportunities as you can, and do them with a smile on your face, without any expectation.’

While he might not have had any expectations when he set out to write Fat, Forty and Fired or, more recently, Smart, Stupid and Sixty, his philosophy has proven itself to be true. 

In following his passions, Nigel has built a successful writing career while inspiring readers worldwide who resonate with his stories and the wisdom he espouses. 

But it's not over yet. Always seeking the next challenge, Nigel is already looking ahead to the book he will write when 70 rolls around. ‘I’m already taking notes!’ he jokes.

Until then, we'll be reading (and re-reading) Smart, Stupid and Sixty


For more wisdom, personal stories, and insight into Nigel’s mind, listen to his podcast and pre-order Smart, Stupid and Sixty to secure your copy before it comes out on 16 August 2022.

Feature Title

Smart, Stupid and Sixty
From the bestselling author of Fat, Forty and Fired comes this humorous, thought-provoking, poignant and life-affirming account of turning sixty.
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