Startup Grind
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Startup Grind

Why the Blockchain creates lunatics.

If you’re like me, you’ve come across more than a few folks who are completely, utterly, batshit-crazy obsessed with Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.

At the mention of any trigger word — try ‘ crypto,’ ‘bitcoin,’ ‘private key,’ ‘ledger,’ ‘coinbase’, ‘hash,’ (the non-smokeable type) — they’ll all stop in their tracks and stare deeply into your soul, their eyes doing cartwheels.

Engaging them directly should be handled with care; even a seemingly innocuous question like, “so how does the blockchain work?” could result in a 30 minute antennae-rubbing mindmeld, or an impromptu whiteboard session on your car window.

Whatever you do, never (ever) say something like, “is this Bitcoin thing for real?” or you risk a Zombie-bite to the neck in a bloodthirsty effort to deliver you the dreaded crypto virus.

Hey, Have you Heard About Bitcoin?

During the days I ran BzzAgent, I became known as an expert in Word of Mouth Marketing. For a short time, one might argue, I was the expert.

It started in 2000, when I read everything I could get my hands on — Tipping Point, Anatomy of Buzz, Diffusion of Innovations — and chatted up anyone who knew anything about the space. I sponged all I could, launched the business and focused on delivering results.

Then something strange happened

A few years in, even with BzzAgent growing like a weed and all eyes on the burgeoning Word of Mouth industry, the learning — it just fizzled.

BzzAgent, NY Times Magazine Cover Story, Dec 2004

Sure, I’d occasionally pick up tiny bits of practical knowledge, or realize an incremental evolution to the model, but overall, the learning stalled. While the industry continued to move forward, it was generally from the momentum of all the learning before it. There just wasn’t that much more to learn.

With reflection, a startling revelation: in almost every industry I’ve encountered, the same pattern emerges. Education is a bounty up front, but eventually additional learning — it just plateaus.

But not so for the Blockchain industry. This space. This ridiculous space. It’s a different beast entirely.

Blockchain Industry vs. Every Other Industry (as articulated by 12 year old Stella Balter)

The Blockchain/crypto industry is probably the closest thing to a fifth dimension you’ll ever witness: everybody who is involved is just…well, they’re just vibrating.

They’re possessed.

They’ll find you on Telegram, on Slack on Reddit. They’ll point you to articles, to podcasts to Token Economy and Token Report. They’ll read a new whitepaper.

Then they’ll write one. They’ll find a Solidity developer. They’ll attend an ICO event and a Cryptocurrency Conference and create a list of all of Boston’s Blockchain Orgs. They’ll trade notes, they’ll make introductions.

They’re obsessed with learning: A new fork, a new protocol, an evolution of mining, a country-wide ban on exchanges, a country-wide adoption of Bitcoin.

There’s cryptography. There’s economics.

Blended it’s cryptoeconomics, a whole. new. thing. to. learn. entirely.

The Blockchain industry is different for one simple reason: because there is a limitless amount to learn, about an unlimited number of things. And there is no plateau in sight.

And because of this, the industry is a magnet for a certain type of individual. Someone who craves learning; someone who gets their energy from accumulating knowledge.

It attracts those who thrive in ambiguity, and those who strive to create clarity. Those who know the knowing is infinite, and knowing all is unattainable.

And once they gain knowledge, what do you think they do? They turn around and begin to teach.

And these people, given the opportunity to teach, man oh man…It’s like 40 mg of Adderall stirred into 5 shots of espresso.

The focus is so intense, it’s distracting.

Lou Kerner likens crypto learning to an Alice-in-Wonderland-like “Rabbithole.”

Down and down and down and down you go.

And if there’s a bottom to that hole, it’s nowhere in sight.

Strap in, and get your learning on, the Blockchain ride has only just begun.

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