• Is Crypto a Ghost Town?

    Reflections as we kickoff 2023

    In 1880, a group of enterprising pioneers seeking their fortunes in the gold and silver mining business founded the town of St. Elmo, Colorado. While many of their compatriots and predecessors hit it big in the gold rush of 1849 in California, and at the very time that John D. Rockefeller was actively creating the largest business the world had ever seen, it was still reasonable to hope to strike gold in new mines across the Rocky Mountains. 

    Today, St. Elmo is a Ghost Town. Literally preserved as it was when its last resident departed. An eerie and almost haunting reminder that not everything is a sure thing. And just because fortunes were made in mining before, it doesn’t mean that fortunes could be made in mining again.

    As I write this note from Eagle County, Colorado, the idea of these ghost towns are top of mind. Crypto has lost momentum, which is critical to its success. More people use crypto than ever before. But at the same time more people are aware of crypto than ever before… specifically how many people lost a lot of money and how there are scammers and Ponzi schemes galore.

    So, where do we go from here? Is the macro growth era over? Does crypto survive? Can crypto companies expect revenue in the short term and funding in the near term?

    It’d be remiss if I didn’t admit to pondering these exact questions as I stared over the Rockies thinking about the industries and companies that have come and gone. Are we working in a ghost town? Or is this just a setback akin to the dot-com bust in 2000 — and we just need to stay alive long enough to make it to the growth of the industry?

    Or, thinking about the situation another way: are we going to let the critics be right and let our industry turn into a Ghost Town? Or are we going to MAKE the industry happen? Build products so compelling and useful that as growth returns we not only benefit from growth but are the cause of the growth?

    The history is still unwritten, but I’m willing to bet that crypto — specifically the enablement of digital ownership/scarcity and the transmission of value over the internet — can fundamentally transform commerce, investment, wealth protection, capital formation, and creator monetization. We’re just incredibly early. Probably have 5-10 years prior to true mass-market products.

  • Work fast and in the open

    A common piece of advice I find myself giving to people is that time is your friend. If you quickly ship a draft and it’s meh you’ll get all the credit for shipping fast and then have an opportunity to work on the draft with stakeholders until it’s great.

    On the other hand, you insist on doing your work in secret and only share something when it’s perfect then you’ll delay shipping, you’ll seem slow, and at the point you share if it isn’t ideal for your stakeholders then you’ll seem far worse at your job.

    Speed (and shipping early) is your friend.

  • How to quickly add value to a team

    When I started my consulting business and began to sell my services, one thing that became imminently clear when you’re on short-term projects and are paid for your time is: quickly add value.

    You’d be surprised how many people start contracts or gigs with the whole ‘I’m going to talk to people on the team to understand how we work BLAH BLAH BLAH.’

    NO! Don’t do busy work when you can start doing meaningful work.

    Some thoughts on how to get started with the right momentum:

    1. Quickly understand the problems you are meant to own/solve. Document it and share to ensure you’re on the same page with others.
    2. On Day 1 begin shipping the most straightforward solutions to the problems in your court.
      • There’s no positioning written? Write the first draft.
      • There’s no sense of what competitors are doing? Make a competitive landscape report.
    3. Ship and advocate for your solutions immediately
      • Market your work internally to your stakeholders
    4. NEVER assume that even the person who hired you understands the value you provide, continually message the value you’re providing by contextualizing what you’re shipping and how it can be used.

    Basically, the most impressive people don’t ask permission to start, they just start. Ship things fast and you’ll see results.

  • Best reads of 2022

    I try to end each day by reading a book. Whether to cut down on screen time (even though I read on a kindle) or to unplug and unwind from the day, it’s amazing to have predictable, consistent time to dive into books.

    I was able to get through 16 books in 2022, here are some highlights:

    Non-fiction

    • Growth
      • Atomic Habits by James Clear
        • “Every action you take is a vote for the person you wish to become.”
        • “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
        • “You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
    • Contemporary affairs
      • Red Notice by Bill Browder
        • A person account of becoming successful in trading in post-Soviet Russia and the perils of being targeted by the system, oligarchs and more.
      • The End of the World is Just the Beginning by Peter Zeihan
        • Compelling and detailed take on why the era of globalization as we know it is over and some thoughts on what happens next.
    • History
      • Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
        • The 2nd book of 3 about Teddy Roosevelt, it details his 2 terms as President and the various fights with trusts, the creation of the Panama Canal, and the political climate at the turn of the 20th century.
      • The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
        • The incredible history of the play-by-play at the onset of World War 1 that thrust the world into the deadliest conflict to date. From the decisions at Downing Street, the calculations (and miscalculations) of the French government, the assumption by the Kaiser that it would be a quick war, the heroism of King Albert and the Belgian army, and the ultimate battle that set the line of conflict that would ensue for 4 years. Worth a read, especially now with the world on the precipice of geopolitical conflicts.
      • The Fish who Ate the Whale by Rich Cohen
        • I never knew how much I didn’t know about the origin of the Banana industry, the power that a subset of American businessmen had on the industry and the governments of Central America, and the impact of an immigrant entrepreneur on the western hemisphere, the fruit industry, and the founding of the state of Israel.
      • The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
        • What a story of how Teddy Roosevelt joined a famed Brazilian explorer of the Amazon to ride and chart an unknown river in the Amazon basin. A harrowing tale of survival and the sheer will of a few men to explore and seek adventure.

    Fiction

    • The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson – Easily my favorite fantasy series since Game of Thrones and the Wheel of Time.
    • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, author of the Martian.
      • Fun sci-fi read, great for vacation
    • The Expanse Book 6: Babylon’s Ashes
      • I find this series so fun and fast-paced, easy to pick up every now and again. Don’t need to read all 9 books back to back.
    • Circe by Madeline Miller
      • An incredible book telling the story of Circe from Greek mythology, read it because I loved The Song of Achilles (also recommend it)
    • The Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
      • While slow, it’s beautifully written and has a soothing quality. Really gets you into the mindset of the social and power transitions in Europe from the age of the aristocracy through the Bolshevik revolution and then on through the aftermath of World War 2.
    • Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym for JK Rowling)
      • Book 5 of the Cormoran Strike mystery series. Fun read especially because I read it around a trip to London in the fall.
  • Marketing, crypto, & tech

    My experience in marketing, crypto, and tech has provided me with a bunch of insights that seem obvious, but are probably not. So I’ll start sharing ideas on a weekly (ish) basis.

    Check back for more!