Mason Richman AKA Maso Rich On The Future of Money and Banking
An Interview With David Liu
Determination — No matter what challenges are ahead of you, you must push forward through them without losing your cool. Breaking up with a significant other, a bad vendor, anything that is just a hurdle you must deal with and move forward. Worrying about things that are out of your control will distract you from the main goal.
The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium-term?
To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mason Richman AKA Maso Rich.
Mason Richman is an art, video game, and event lifestyle producer. In the art world, he has been known as Maso Rich, the producer of the viral cartoons Leraffe James (an Instagram parody page about Lebron James shared over 50 million times), as well as the 3D art behind the Golden State Warrior’s Legacy Collection NFTs. He has run the event and travel lifestyle company Entertainment Concierge as the CEO for the past 5 years on top of producing a graphic novel and several other animated series.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?
I’ve wanted to produce art my whole life. My mom was an artist, a painter. She was the most talented person around me, and it inspired me to strive to create like her. I entered Hollywood and wasted some time working for some unfortunate names. I learned quickly that if I wanted to create my way I’d have to do it on my own. I built a small entertainment ticket sales and concierge company that provided me enough opportunity to create some art of my own. For fun, I started releasing Leraffe James on Instagram. It went viral and I took advantage of that moment! I landed a producer job in a social media company founded by the producer of Bojack Horseman. They gave me the opportunity to use my art production skills at a higher level. I learned as much as I could and worked with some of the most amazing and talented people.
Eventually, COVID led to layoffs at the animation studio as well as the cancellation of events and travel, so my schedule cleared up quite a bit. That’s when my cousin, Adam Richman (Founder of Medium-Rare event production company and producer of Shaq’s Fun House) hired me to make the 3D rings for the Golden State Warriors Legacy Collection. I was already a fan of cryptocurrency, so it was easy to dive deep into NFTs. Watching the NFT industry from last March until now has been one of the most fascinating moments in time, especially for someone like myself who spends a lot of time producing virtual content. It was obvious to me that I had to take all of the skills, connections, plus coordinated opportunity (basketball branded) in front of me to take the biggest risk of my life. I put the event company further on ice and started to focus 100% on NFTs. Now, as I develop the Hoops Association even more opportunities have been starting to come my way in the NFT space. I haven’t looked back since!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
It probably will sound silly, but Leraffe James is the moment where my life changed and I was able to balance my creative passions with my business aspirations. Shared 50 million times, featured NBA, TNT, ESPN, and covered by every sports social media account, podcast with Dan Le Batard…
It was a wild week in the spotlight! I went from 1500 followers (after 4 months of consistent work) to 170k followers in 3 days! I was creating for myself… I had no plan for the content except to release it for my own entertainment. The next thing I knew, people wanted to talk to me about my joke Instagram page. I turned that joke Instagram page into a dream job for myself!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“YOU FIND GOOD PEOPLE AND MAKE THEIR DREAMS COME TRUE.”
My life lesson is one I wrote for myself and have on a sticky note on my desktop at home. I have been surrounded by people in the past and recently that truly hindered my productivity and overall life. I now always focus on the people who I keep around me. I look for people who have a dream they want to chase, not a paycheck. I’ve learned that money finds a way to you if you just keep pushing forward. The only way to do it is with passionate people who make you a better version of yourself.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
100% my favorite projects I’m working on right now are Hoops Association, a basketball themed art collection and membership pass with real life and metaverse utility, and Metasports Basketball, a statistical simulation P2E/NFT video game that links directly with your crypto wallets in the browser. You can count on the Hoops finding their way into the MetaSports design. That’s some of the fun of web3 and interoperable assets.
How do you think this might change the world?
I wouldn’t say the Hoops Art Collection will change the world anymore than any other lifestyle brand company would say they change the world. You make money and it’s what you do with it that matters. With Hoops we want to sponsor youth organized basketball teams, build new metaverse themed basketball courts in communities that need it, and just try to help kids learn team building skills and general life skills.
What most excites you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?
When I first learned of the transparency aspect of crypto I knew that it would aim to solve corruption problems among other inadequate wealth dividers like banking fees and overdraft fees. The proof of ownership and security functions of crypto keep becoming increasingly more popular because of the distrust the government system has created for itself. People also are creating a new type of lifestyle that’s majority online. The true future of a global economy will one day thrive on this technology. It is not a matter of IF it is a matter of WHEN. This is the next step in the evolution of human society as the world continues to become globally connected via the internet. Your best friend can live across the world and you can exist with them in a completely new way. The future of cryptocurrency and the NFT based metaverse is very exciting for a lot of people including myself.
What most concerns you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? What would you suggest needs to be done to address that?
Well, the fact that these niches are not transparent allows a lot of things to occur behind the scenes. This consistently leaves the people and customers of large institutions left to just trust what they are told. We’ve all known that trust is always a big issue in society. I believe that finding a way to properly secure and govern banking and payment industries via blockchain technology could help in creating a new way in which society governs itself and create a more trustworthy system.
How would you articulate how the concept of money has changed in recent times? Is it really a change? How is it still the same? Can you explain what you mean?
I’m not sure how accurate I am with this sentiment, but I feel this is very true. I feel that a lot of younger people know the opportunities our predecessors had aren’t there anymore in terms of starting a family and buying homes. As people live longer, the wealthy(a very small population of individuals) are continuing to gain and hold wealth longer. Logically, those who aren’t included in that stream of finance have started to value something other than traditional currency and finance- DeFi & Web3- to break free of the oppressive nature of these systems. Crypto has come out hot as a younger person’s favorite thing. Money is changing before our eyes with this technology. As I mentioned above, it’s only a matter of time.
Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium-term?
From my perspective, I see NFTs, Cryptocurrency, and the Metaverse as key trends to watch. The financial freedom that this space provides is truly unprecedented. I believe the changes that DeFi and Web3 will have on banking and finance will be huge as more mainstream adoption occurs.
How has the pandemic changed the way banks interact and engage with their customers?
Banks are offering more online services than ever before. They were already primarily offering online services for transfer wires and customer service, but the change in UX has been unbelievable.
In your particular experience, how has the pandemic changed the way you interact with, and engage your customers?
I experienced a heavy shift to digital communication.
In my work in the telecom space, I’m very interested in the importance of user experience. How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, encrypted messaging apps, phone, or video calls? How has this shift impacted the user and customer experience? What challenges do these apps present when used as a customer engagement tool?
I’ve been working from home before the pandemic. The pandemic didn’t change the trajectory of any of the things mentioned above, it just accelerated the demand for these digital tools and interactions. In my opinion, the technology is so well developed and ever-improving that there haven’t been many challenges for user/customer experience.
If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?
Discord is almost a perfect chat and team organization tool. I use it for a lot of production and team management. Mix in a few other apps with discord and you could create a total one-stop-shop for team management, but it’s pretty robust.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Modern Finance, Banking and Fintech industries?
- Determination — No matter what challenges are ahead of you, you must push forward through them without losing your cool. Breaking up with a significant other, a bad vendor, anything that is just a hurdle you must deal with and move forward. Worrying about things that are out of your control will distract you from the main goal.
- No fear — “Fortune Favors The Bold” Take calculated risks and bet on yourself. No one will provide better insight on a product or company than your own research. Once you find the things you like, bet big and don’t worry about the worst that can happen. If you fall, get back up. I’ve invested a few sh*t coins and other things for example. What I learned was not to do that again or to sell more timely. Experience comes at a cost.
- Preparation — It’s easy to say the two mentioned above but to be able to act on them you need to be prepared. Be prepared by building something and opportunities will come. Be prepared by researching everything and anything associated with your goals. When preparation meets opportunity and everything comes together it’s much easier to operate with no fear and the determination flows out after you’ve put in the hours.
- Willingness to try new things — You have to always be on the lookout for the upcoming and new technologies. People have been close-minded to things like television and the internet in the past and those are things everyone uses daily. Being willing to learn and try new things is the only way to know how to operate.
- Network — No matter what field you are in, who you know will always help you push further in life. The people you keep around you will determine your true capabilities. The people who get the furthest never do it alone.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’m a firm believer in betting on the next generation. It’s very difficult to change the mind of someone who is older. I think with how fast technology has changed younger people have the opportunity now more than ever to make a difference using how connected humans are today for powerful changes. The movement I would like to inspire would be educationally focused to make sure as many children have an opportunity to be something their parents never even knew would exist.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.