Nick Riggle is a philosopher and writer. He received his PhD in philosophy from New York University and BA in philosophy from UC Berkeley. Nick is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of San Diego.

Most of Nick’s writing is about art and life and how they intersect. For example, he writes about personal style, how beauty can change who we are or what we care about, how to pursue aesthetic value in our lives, personal ideals, and self-presentation, among other things. He is the author of the books On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck and This Beauty: A Philosophy of Being Alive.

Nick is a former professional rollerblader and has traveled the globe skating in numerous demos, shows, and competitions, including the ESPN X Games (1998-2000). He invented several tricks and am considered an early founder and proponent of a style of skating called “mushroom blading”.

Nick lives in San Diego, CA, with his wife Brett and cat.

Speech topics

Being Awesome: Self, Creativity, Community

What does it mean to be awesome? These days “awesome” doesn’t just mean awe-inspiring. The ideal of being awesome resonates with us, but we don’t necessarily want to stoke fires of awe in everyone we meet. This talk explores the origins and importance of being “awesome” and develops strategies for being more awesome more often. Being awesome is a matter of cultivating our individuality in a way that creates and sustains community. Awesome people are able to be themselves without alienating others or pressuring them to conform—indeed while encouraging everyone to cultivate and express themselves. Awesome people are creative community builders whose creative generosity, social curiosity, and cooperativeness make them inspiring leaders, team players, and unfailing friends. 

Sucky Culture (And How to Avoid It)

We all know when an environment sucks. Sometimes we sense it the moment we walk into an office, store, or home. Whether it’s a party, an office, a movie, or a date—suckiness is dispiriting, frustrating, and it can easily stifle our creativity and motivation. What contributes to suckiness? What exactly is suckiness? How can we avoid it in ourselves and our circles? In this talk, Nick diagnoses the multiple causes of suckiness—from failures of interpersonal connection to culture-building and interior design—and details helpful strategies to avoid it. 

You Only Live Once: The Philosophy of Carpe Diem

When we think that we have just one life to live, we often think that we should live a certain way: carpe diem, seize the day, take a risk, live it up. Or, in the thought’s latest incarnation, “YOLO”: you only live once. So take the plunge, quit your boring job, try new and thrilling things, go out and experience the world. The thought that you have only one life seems intimately related to motivation and action. But what is the connection between living only once and being adventurous, risky, or living life with passion and verve? The answer requires more philosophical care than might be obvious at first. After all, often when we have only one of something, we want to preserve it, take special care of it, and not take any risks. This talk is a meditation on the connection between having one life to live and living avidly, being open to adventure, and staying connected to the value of life. 


This Beauty: A Philosophy of Being Alive

An acclaimed philosopher  and new father argues that engaging with beauty can make life worth living

On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck 

In this lively treatise, pro-skater-turned-philosopher Nick Riggle presents a theory of awesomeness (and its opposite, suckiness) that’s both sharply illuminating and more timely than ever.

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