Encourage Everyone to Ask Questions: When we ask questions, we learn. Remind everyone at your organization that they have an important voice and perspective to share, and encourage everyone to ask questions along the way.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Diego Vinals. Diego was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela and is currently the senior vice president of sales at Bitcoin IRA, headquartered in Los Angeles.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?
I was in the right place at the right time. I have an MBA and have been working for many years in the finance sector. Prior to working at Bitcoin IRA, I was working in wealth management and helping run a family business. It was there, approximately five years ago, that I met someone from one of the major Wall Street financial institutions. He kept emphasizing that Bitcoin was the future, and expressed his frustration at not being able to help clients diversify their portfolios with cryptocurrency. Intrigued by Bitcoin, I read Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper and began researching the industry.
A year or two later, an opportunity came up to work at Bitcoin IRA. By then, I had a deep understanding of the cryptocurrency space and understood the need for it. I guess my main takeaway here is if you find a business idea that really interests you, find the time to research and explore it. It may require a big time commitment and a lot of extra work in the beginning, but you never know what opportunities can arise as a result.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
The executive team at Bitcoin IRA is currently exploring strategic opportunities to make investments in blockchain companies, and I am playing a big role in researching that.
Additionally, working on the client services side, my priorities are constantly evolving based on customers’ questions and needs.
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?
The CEO of Bitcoin IRA. I have worked with him for a long time, even before the Bitcoin IRA days, and he has always instilled the importance of perseverance and not giving up. When we first started Bitcoin IRA, we faced a lot of adversity. Our clients and incoming leads were focused on precious metals and did not yet see the value in cryptocurrency, so we had to build out a strategy that demonstrated the value-add of crypto as an alternative asset. As I kicked off the sales team, it was our CEO’s confidence and determination that helped lead the company to success.
What are the 5 things that excite you most about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Removing the Middleman: With blockchain technology, you can send money anonymously and securely, without the bank acting as a middleman. We are seeing that similar desire to get rid of a middleman with companies such as Uber and Airbnb. Although these are centralized companies, customers requesting a ride or a place to stay are interacting directly with the people — be it car owners or homeowners — rather than larger corporate entities such as taxicab companies or hotel services. I believe we will see this trend continue to evolve in the future.
- Decentralization: We are seeing a ton of developer activity on the Ethereum blockchain regarding decentralized apps — in fact, there are currently over 2,100 projects being built on the Ethereum platform, which I find really exciting.
- Transparency: All blockchain transactions are recorded on a ledger, and many industries are taking note of this more transparent and accurate way of processing transactions, from real estate to education to healthcare.
- Regulatory and Crypto Sector Working Together: Although everyone was concerned at first about the increasing prevalence of the SEC and other regulators in the crypto space, I believe the two groups, so far, have been working together successfully to promote cryptocurrency at the institutional level.
- On the Verge of Mainstream Adoption: With Intercontinental Exchange-backed crypto startup Bakkt expected to launch in early December, I think the crypto sector as a whole is on the cusp of mainstream adoption.
What are the 5 things that worry you most about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- The Complexity: For newcomers, interacting with crypto and the blockchain is complex and not the most user-friendly. Developers are currently at work developing solutions to improve this, but I believe we still have a ways to go.
- Ongoing Regulatory Process: While I believe that regulation is a good thing for the crypto sector, a lot of best practices in the industry are still in the process of being worked out, which can sometimes create confusion and ambiguity in the space.
- Lack of Scalability: Bitcoin’s current capacity is only seven transactions per second, which is too slow for the enterprise level. Fortunately, the Lightning Network, as well as crypto platforms like Bakkt, are coming up with clever solutions to work around this.
- ICOs: Over 80 percent of ICOs in 2017 were marked as scams, so they obviously are a cause for concern. Thankfully, the SEC has stepped in to provide more regulation surrounding ICOs this year.
- The Bear Market: While I believe a bull market is in the near future, the market has been quiet lately, and all of us in the space are eager to see an upturn again.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
Because of my financial success, both at Bitcoin IRA and at prior companies, I have been able to make donations to numerous organizations.
One of my clients at Bitcoin IRA had a son who passed away from a rare autoimmune disease called Juvenile Myositis (JM). He started up an organization called the Cure JM Foundation to raise awareness, provide family support, and fund research into a cure for all forms of JM. Both I personally and Bitcoin IRA, as a company, donated money to the cause.
Additionally, in my day-to-day job, I have helped many people retire in a better financial position than they would have been able to prior to working with Bitcoin IRA.
As you know, there are not a lot of people of color in the tech sector. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other men and women of color in the tech space to thrive?
The blockchain and crypto space is actually very diverse. What I have noticed though, especially when I attend conferences or crypto meetups, is that there are far more men in the space than women.
To that end, three things I would advise people in the crypto space to do in order to enable men and women of color in the tech space to thrive are the following:
- Encourage a Variety of Thoughts and Perspectives at Crypto Conferences and Events. Bitcoin was built on the concept of transparency, and that core underlying philosophy should also carry over to our day-to-day interactions with each other.
- Build up a ‘Women in Crypto’ Program at your Workplace: This will be a great way for women in the industry to gather together and share their ideas in an inclusive, welcoming place.
- Encourage Everyone to Ask Questions: When we ask questions, we learn. Remind everyone at your organization that they have an important voice and perspective to share, and encourage everyone to ask questions along the way.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
I love this quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “Patience and perseverance, if we have them, overcome mountains of difficulties.” It is relevant to my entire professional career, particularly at Bitcoin IRA: it took a lot of patience and persistence to scale the company to where it is today.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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 believe that one of the best things we can do today is establishing educational international foundations that show the importance of blockchain and cryptocurrency, especially in third-world countries with tumultuous economies.
The blockchain has the capacity to interconnect the world just like the internet did. It can empower people of all socioeconomic classes and in the long term create a federation of nations using the same means of exchange or currency. The ultimate goal would be for the world to function as one market, sharing the same values and goals. This could narrow the wide social gap that exists in the world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me on LinkedIn here.
Thank you for all of these great insights!