Meet The Women of The Blockchain: Barbara A Jones, of Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Blockchain Task Force
“I have been involved in a couple of situations where the underlying governing rules of national organizations were ill-conceived and resulted in systemic unfairness to participants. I worked with the governing bodies and others to re-write rules that were particularly problematic so that future participants would not be subjected to the same unfair treatment. Did that bring goodness to the world? Well, it improved a small part of it and I am proud to have been able to influence that positive change.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Barbara A. Jones, who co-chairs Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s 80+ member interdisciplinary Blockchain Task Force and is a key thought leader on matters relating to token offerings, securities regulations, product and services within the blockchain industry, and related structuring issues. Barbara’s extensive experience in complex international and domestic corporate and securities transactions spans multiple industry groups, enabling her to serve as a trusted advisor to entrepreneurs/founders, investment groups and established corporate entities seeking to navigate the dynamic regulatory environment in the U.S. and other jurisdictions as they pursue technological innovation in blockchain, digital assets and virtual currencies. Barbara frequently writes and speaks on matters related to blockchain (for her recent articles and speaking engagements, please click here). She is also involved in Greenberg Traurig’s Women’s Initiative and is a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
The rapid development of the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, and the tremendous opportunity for new market entrants have captured my attention. It is a movement to which I know I can bring value, not only because of my experience but also because of my passion and vision for empowering entrepreneurs and particularly women. There is a unique cultural backdrop currently at play in the US and across the globe that should bolster women to step forward more easily. Numerous studies have made it clear that enterprises, businesses, forums advance more rapidly and successfully when women have a strong voice in the direction and strategy. Women in leadership positions are obligated to speak up and ensure that other women have appropriate opportunities to participate in the advancement of this industry. Having been the only woman in many boardrooms throughout the years, this is more than “my backstory” or a business strategy, it is my calling.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Most of these are confidential, as I am sure you can appreciate. However, they range from advanced blockchain platform development (think Ethereum 3.0 and beyond) to novel applications being developed within multiple industry sectors to consumer lending to acquisition of existing crypto exchange platforms and creation of asset-backed virtual currencies. All of these require careful strategic considerations and expert advice in navigating US and global regulatory regimes.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve been in the game for many years, so yes, there are a number of people who have provided support and guidance along the way. Most of these individuals are CEOs or CFOs of my clients who have been particular supportive and loyal over the years.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- The unprecedented level of technological development and innovation in this sector; each day I am presented with a new “use” case that blows my mind.
- Disruption of existing business models on a global scale
- Decentralization of financial power from the mainstream banks
- International acceptance of the technology
- Access to and availability of non-traditional funding for entrepreneurs/founders
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- The adherence of U.S. regulators to the status quo and inability to think outside the box
- Fraud/bad actors continuing to give the industry a bad name
- Whether the U.S. will lag behind the rest of the world because of the uncertain regulatory environment
- Attempts by traditional industry leaders to forestall mainstream acceptance until they can secure their market position going forward
- Infrastructure concerns relating to efficient energy usage
- Shortage of blockchain programmers globally
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
Wow! What an interesting question. I have been involved in a couple of situations where the underlying governing rules of national organizations were ill-conceived and resulted in systemic unfairness to participants. I worked with the governing bodies and others to re-write rules that were particularly problematic so that future participants would not be subjected to the same unfair treatment. Did that bring goodness to the world? Well, it improved a small part of it and I am proud to have been able to influence that positive change.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
- Be the grown-up in the room: Don’t allow your emotions to get the better of you in negotiations. This is about the business, not you personally. Stay above the emotional fray and egos and keep a cool head. Stand up to the bully in the room and you will find they back off quite quickly.
- Hold true your values and principles: You may be asked to participate in activities or meetings with individuals or groups, or advise on matters, that run counter to your underlying business and moral values and principles. It’s ok to say “no” or “not for me.” You will be respected more for standing up for what you believe in than following along with the crowd. If you cannot articulate what you stand for, then you stand for nothing. You have to know where to draw the line.
- Speak up and take a risk: You are in the room or meeting for a reason. Let your voice and ideas be heard. If you know you are right, don’t be afraid to say so. You are valuable, so do not sit on the sidelines. It does not matter if your ideas or opinions are accepted; what matters is that you put the concept out there. It will stimulate thought and lead to better decisions. The only bad idea is the one that was never heard.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Michelle Kydd Lee from CAA for her leadership role in promoting/advancing opportunities for women.