By John Riley III & Eloisa Marchesoni
No one knows for sure whether or not the disruptive socio-economic paradigm brought by Blockchain technology and its applications will really take hold in our world. For all that we know, though, those who believe that the recent bear market or crypto winter will be fatal to the success of Blockchain are losing sight of that deeper sense of the paradigm itself, which goes well beyond the speculation over its specific realization. The hope is that Blockchain can trigger more participatory, collaborative, and inclusive mass logics and that it can become a major tool used to improve current systems. The digital transformation underway is closely related to a new trend of network building. Such activity, in view of a near future in which technologies will have reached a more specific state, could be the factor enabling the shared creation and direct exchange of value in ecosystems of various kinds, not limited to economics. To make sure that this mindset change will lead us all in the direction of sustainability and democracy, it is fundamental to disclose to the vast public knowledgeable insights — not only the ones related to technological aspects — that can help in understanding the topic better and in evaluating the potential application of such ideas to different contexts. Moreover, the subject matter leaders/experts in this field should help companies and individuals to more clearly see where and how the logic of decentralization can be applied, considering all current limits and complexities it currently has, since we are still early in this journey.
Understanding What To Focus On
One of the challenges with getting started in this space is knowing what you want to focus on and become proficient in. The Blockchain/Crypto space is a massive industry to try and understand, and it is highly unlikely that you can be knowledgeable in every single area of it. You will hear from time to time that Blockchain is a team sport and you can’t manage or grow in this space without learning from others, teaming up with them in different areas. This is not a practice that has been done with any other technology before and a concept that many companies and people are still trying to understand the importance of. You will hear about consortiums and companies, ones typically considered competitors, teaming up on Blockchain projects or initiatives because they see the value in sharing their expertise in setting the new standards in their specific industries. If you have the opportunity to connect with others in this industry, on what they are focused on and why, the ones who are really passionate in a particular area have started to establish themselves as subject matter leaders in that specific area. By focusing on a particular area, they are building their branding in a way that reflects the information and insight they able to share with others.
Personal Branding Is Crucial
Usually when thinking of a brand, one immediately links it to a particular business. If that business does not market its product correctly, their product will never be successful regardless of its quality or innovative nature. Similarly, an expert trying to achieve noticeability in the Blockchain and crypto scene will never reach their goal if not taking into account the importance of personal branding and growth hacking. We do not tend to think we are our own brands’ ambassadors. That is why we have to refine and improve our own positioning in the minds of others, allocating to the implementation of personal branding strategies part of our time and money, like a business manager would spend that time and money in trying to get a positive return on investment.
In the Blockchain and crypto world in particular, given the common hype sentiment and speed at which events occur, it is not enough to think that what we are waiting for will come to us if we stick to the plans, we must be focused on working hard and reaching the highest level of knowledge in our topics of interest. This is a traditional vision, anchored to professional models of the past decade, that does not exist in the innovation field: it is too risky to be applied to this field, as it leverages on social schemes that cannot be considered as stable. What if the hierarchy falls down and is disrupted again by some new update of the ecosystem? Everyone whose role is dependent on that hierarchy will fall together with it. How often does incremental innovation happen in the already disruptive world of Blockchain and crypto? Very often. On the contrary, personal branding is based on you as an individual and on the value of your personal assets; it characterizes you in any context you happen to be in. You may have to adapt yourself to the specific context, but the credibility that you have gained will ease the job.
The Importance of Qualifying
One of the challenges with being in an emerging technology space like Blockchain/Crypto is being able to qualify the good characters from the bad ones when trying to start your business. When looking to team up with different people or companies, an important thing to learn early is how to qualify if these companies and teams are ones you should partner or align with. Everyone has different views and ideas on how they will be successful becoming a leader in what they are good at, and their approach to doing that might be different from yours. Some might believe they can position themselves as if they’re able to do something or provide a product that hasn’t been fully established and that they know more than they actually do to gain business opportunities. You might come across this in the Blockchain enterprise space when people claim they might have 50 experienced Blockchain developers that have worked on live projects. If you have been connected with others in this sector, you will understand early that this statement is highly unlikely to be true and that they are someone you might not want to team up with. As you get into the crypto side of the industry, qualifying individuals and companies have become highly necessary with all the scrutiny it has received from failed ICO’s that have raised millions of dollars over the past year and a half to only fall short with building those projects into working products as described in their whitepapers.
So, What Does A Good Team Look Like?
Investors, when evaluating a project, are mostly interested in the team. A lot of the times, a well-written white paper does not guarantee that the product is thoroughly flushed out yet and even if there is some MVP to test, it might not be fully developed. In addition to that, a lot of the new projects right now are being started by people who are in their mid-to-early twenties and have never really started a company of their own before, which makes it risky. Most of these aspiring innovators think that if you just create some really good technology, then the whole business strategy and the economics behind the tokenization process will automatically fall into place, but that is definitely not the case. In terms of what a potentially successful team should have, the following four characteristics have revealed to be essential:
- A team must be inspired, passionate, talented, and aggressive;
- A team must have a good understanding of what they are getting themselves into and why;
- A team must have a good product and expertise in fields outside of crypto;
- A team must be doing it for the long term, and not for a short-term cash grab.
To Be An Expert In Blockchain / Crypto or Not to Be An Expert…
In any technology space over the years, to be considered as someone that was credible and knew what you were talking about you needed to be labeled as an expert in your field. The term expert was to set yourself apart from anyone who didn’t have more time in the space or worked with the technology longer. The Blockchain/Crypto space is so new that when people call themselves experts, it’s something that needs to be looked at carefully since this space changes so fast and is evolving in a way that it is highly challenging to say you are an expert. One definition of an expert is “one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.”
If you think about how long Blockchain and crypto have been around, which just over 10 years now, it is hard to see how many could genuinely be experts in this sector and, above all, having mastery in all areas of it. Being a subject matter leader might be a term that people might be more able to believe in when establishing your credibility, but it’s not to say that calling yourself an expert is terrible either.
As more people become familiar with this technology and learn how to start and grow a company in this space, they might want to be careful about referring to themselves as an expert in the beginning. Many people who have been in this sector longer than others have a hard time calling themselves experts when it comes to Blockchain/Crypto since they understand it continuously morphs into something new. When you look at the Crypto sector, the term expert seems to be used the most. If this is an area you are most interested in being a part of, it will be essential to make sure you can back up your claim, since it is becoming more scrutinized by others that will want you to prove it.
Avoid Those That Are Too Good At It!
As investor interest in the cryptocurrency world has increased, the industry has assumed the look of the Old Wild West, just like back in Aug of 2017. Mysterious initial coin offerings (ICO) based offshore, that sounded too good to be true or lacked specifics, have sparked concerns about possible fraudulent activity. There are doubts about the truthfulness of the skills that advisers — typically respected outsiders listed by cryptocurrency startups on their websites to demonstrate their credibility — brag about on their LinkedIn or ICO Bench profiles. Some in the industry believe that the term “adviser” is nowadays being used with too much of a loose knot, in some cases adding people with no connection to the firm. One may say that it really seems to be the ICO version of false advertising. The vast public has long held the stance that the blockchain industry still needs thoughtful regulation in order to acquire a fully positive reputation. Potential fraud with ICOs and linked advisers is one clear example of why newcomer experts are wanting to get noticed as advisers. They need to take their reputation and the trust they have built with their network seriously, taking immediate action against any misrepresentation of their role. Personal branding can very simply be defined as “selfish marketing of the self,” and, because it is so centered on individual interests, if practiced too aggressively it can backfire on you even more harshly than any other form of bad marketing practice can backfire on a business.
It’s Great To Finally Be Included
The great thing about being in this emerging space is that no one demographic has established themselves as being looked at as having the most knowledge in it, unlike other times with technology where Silicon Valley or large corporations could corner the market and establish who could and couldn’t be included. Blockchain/Crypto has brought an era that is allowing all people with passion and great ideas to have a real opportunity to make a difference in their lives and be successful.
When you look at how this technology sector is impacting on a global level, people that were always held out of new innovation now see an opportunity for the first time ever of being included in an emerging sector, without being told no because of who they are, where they live, or what demographic background they come from. This is the disruption that many have mentioned that this technology would bring. It’s changing the status quo, allowing many to have a say in how business will be done and who is allowed to control it. It is slowly starting to change long-standing biases of who is smart enough to be looked at as leaders in this technology sector, which has been long overdue.
Most new technologies have always been male-dominated, with men being viewed as the ones with the most knowledge in that area. You are now starting to see a subtle shift or a “disturbance in the force” with the growing amount of women that are now becoming leaders in Blockchain/Crypto sector, and it’s a movement that is gaining more visibility.
If You Are A Woman In Crypto
It is nowadays not uncommon to see female speakers at global events to be hosted as “Leading Women in Blockchain,” a phrase that also appears at the top of lists that can be found around the Internet. One may find it sexist and not like the fact that gender is being used as a recognition signal and branding element for a female’s role in the blockchain industry, but as time goes by, women in this field have declared that they see why bonding with other female leaders is important. Sometimes, the gender bias can be hard to handle and having all these very influential women around really helps to keep in mind that gender is not, and never will be, a limit to any women’s career goals.
It has finally been understood that the reason why female presence in the tech field is still limited is not a lack of women’s scientific education, but rather the fact that too many high-profile men in the technology sector ignore or even discredit the women who try to assert themselves, and too many of these women stop trying. In short, the issue is in neither men nor women, and therefore not in gender itself but in the tech culture, which severely lacks social awareness of this topic.
The theme to be highlighted is that of inclusion: all the technological concepts discussed today, from neural networks to robotics, Big Data, and Analytics can see women not just as simple users, but as inventors and creators. Therefore, technology can play a significant role in social inclusion. The experience of many women as successful self-entrepreneurs in this field proves that they do have tremendous potential, which cannot go unnoticed anymore.
Age Is Nothing But A Number
Many think this technology, because of the crypto space, is for the younger generation but that is far from the truth. You are seeing many people that have been in other sectors of technology, move into learning how they can be a part of this revolutionary technological movement. It’s giving those with previous technological expertise a chance to learn something new and see the future in ways that are sparking new ideas and hopes of opportunities not thought of before. For those that are making the transition into this new technology, they are learning again what it means to be scared that you don’t know all the answers to something and it will take time to figure it out. Growth as a person comes when you get past your fears of the unknown and of failure to open up and admit you don’t know it all. But if you stick with it even when it’s hard, you’ll will find the answers allowing the process of learning something new to run its course.
There are many emerging technologies evolving all at the same time bedsides Blockchain/Crypto. For the younger generation that is a part of this technology explosion, they have an excellent opportunity to be a part of a bigger brighter future than others before them.
…Or A Youngster!
To dream and set high goals for one’s self is the best advice that can be given to a young person just now entering the Blockchain and crypto scene. Fall asleep thinking of where you would like to get in life and wake up to start planning how to get there. Of course, this takes determination and a good amount of disillusioned optimism, as much as it may seem to be an oxymoron.
Also, the next big piece of advice is never to stop being curious. Curiosity is what pushes us to see beyond, allowing us youngsters to reinvent ourselves and come up with specialized professional roles that still today feel so new because they are linked to upcoming technologies, such as IoT, AI, Big Data and Blockchain. In a few words, all of us, and the youth in particular, need to be able to mentally adapt to the new and increasingly strict demands of a constantly evolving society. Think outside the box, friends!
About John Riley III
John Riley III is the CEO and Co-Founder of C-N-C Blockchain Advisory company. He has over 17 years’ experience in the software applications space working for companies like Oracle and SAP. He has primarily worked in the consulting services sector assisting organizations with their software implementations, business process changes, digital transformation initiatives, and end-user adoption training. He has spoken at various Blockchain conferences and events, and was recognized in Bitcoin Magazine in 2017 for his work with Blockchain Meet-Up groups. He’s also a U.S. Marine war veteran.
He is the Organizer of the BlockEv West Palm Beach Blockchain Meet-Up group and Co-Organizer of the West Palm Beach Linux Foundation Hyperledger Blockchain Meet-Up group.
ABOUT ELOISA MARCHESONI
Eloisa Marchesoni is the youngest ICO, IEO and STO Advisor in the crypto scene at the moment, as well as an influential Article Author for some of the most important media, and a Blockchain Evangelist. She has been nominated Europe’s #1 Token Model Architect and Due Diligence Expert. Eloisa is one of the leading women in the blockchain industry, being listed as such by Humans of Blockchain and actively involved with the NYC Women in Blockchain, and is a member of various blockchain associations. She is a Director of the Bocconi Startup Grind Chapter, being that she is an Economics and Management student at Bocconi, getting ready to attend a MiB at Hult Int’l.