Are you crypto-curious? Take these five steps to get startedFeatured
Hello Elphas! My name is Elena and I am absolutely passionate about blockchain and cryptocurrencies. I got started in crypto in February 2018 after attending my first meetup. Through a series of fortunate events, I found allies who supported and encouraged me to continue pursuing opportunities in the industry. I know this stuff is intimidating! If you are even slightly “crypto-curious,” here are five tangible steps you can take to better understand this industry.1. Start with your interests. Chances are, there’s a crypto or blockchain startup related to something you are already passionate about or interested in. Do you love journalism? Learn about what the New York Times and the Associated Press are doing with blockchain. Perhaps you prefer RadioLab? Do you work in media and advertising? The IAB has a good primer for how this technology could combat ad fraud and startups like MadHive are growing in popularity. Did you study political science in college? (Girl me too!) Check out the challenges of decentralized governance, decentralized autonomous organizations and the famous DAO hack of 2016. You might be interested in learning about blockchain-based voting tools like this and this. Are you into the United Nations or social impact? Do you use Facebook, Paypal or CashApp? Are you concerned about the environmental impact of this technology? I found it was easier to understand this technology in the context of something I was already familiar with. For example, I wrote a research paper in grad school about crypto adoption in Venezuela, my family’s home country. Can’t find anything? Leave your interests in the comments section and I will drop at least one link that’s related. This will be a little like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. :rolling_on_the_floor_laughing:2. Find a friend, ask questions. I was lucky to have a crypto fairy godmother, of sorts, who helped me open my first exchange account, set up my first wallet and invited me to my first conference. Along the way, I made a network of “crypto buddies.” These were friends or acquaintances who were also beginning their journey into crypto. This technology isn’t fully mature yet which means you’re going to have to troubleshoot eventually. Having a friend to learn with or reach out to makes the experience more fun.3. Be real with yourself. Once you’ve dipped your toe in the crypto/blockchain pool, ask yourself how much time you want to dedicate to sussing this stuff out. On the spectrum of conversant-at-a-cocktail-party to pivoting-my-career-into-blockchain, where do you fall? You might find that after some initial research, this technology simply isn’t that interesting to you - and that’s ok. Steps two and three are critical to prepare you for step four. 4. Do something. Take an action. It doesn’t become real until you take an action. It can be as simple as going to a meetup event, downloading an application or actually buying some type of cryptocurrency.* Challenge yourself to do one thing and reflect on the experience. Was it difficult to download? Was it worth all the trouble? Can you do anything with it? One of the reasons I was so dedicated to learning this technology is because I felt like I had self-selected out of difficult technical things in the past. I promised myself, “you will figure this out.” Once I got started, it was nothing short of empowering.5. Pay it forward. Share what you learned. The best way to know if you truly understand something is to try and explain it to someone else. True story, I have given Blockchain 101 presentations to peers in business school, at local meetups and even in Spanish at my family’s Christmas dinner. Offer to give a short presentation to your coworkers for how this technology does (or does not) apply to your industry. So there you have it. Hopefully after taking these steps, blockchain will be more than a buzzword to you. I want to end on why I am so passionate about this industry in the first place.In business school, a lot of my course work and professional opportunities focused on incrementally improving an existing industry, a traditional sector or finding a way to improve profit margins, even by the slightest percentage. When I started learning about cryptocurrency and blockchain, what gripped me was the radical ethos behind it. This technology was born out of the financial crisis, Occupy Wall Street, cypherpunks, and hackers determined to redefine power structures and the flow of information. I love this industry because I feel that my perspective is important and impactful. I do not have a technical background but I know how to read, research and apply my common sense. In this industry, I have learned how to take risks and learn from (lots!) of rejection. I have also learned a lot about finance, economics and technology.Four years ago, I was a nonprofit fundraising manager. Four years ago, I enrolled at NYU Stern. Eighteen months ago, I got my first job in crypto. Seven months ago, I got laid off. Six months ago, I found a new job. And today, I work at a cryptocurrency startup focused on privacy preserving technology and applications. It's been a weird and wild few years, I've pushed myself fully outside my comfort-zone and I couldn't be happier. If there’s anything I can do to empower you in this industry, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. *This is not financial advice. You should only spend what you are willing to lose. Elena is a community convener exploring real-world use cases for emerging technology. She has an MBA from NYU Stern. She works at Electric Coin Co., the team behind Zcash, a cryptocurrency focused on privacy and economic freedom for all. Elena founded Blockchain Latinx, a monthly meetup group that explores what blockchain means for Latinos and for Latin America. Prior to moving to New York, Elena started her career at Houston's NPR/ PBS station, focusing on community outreach, nonprofit management, and fundraising. In her free time, Elena likes arts & crafts, scavenger hunts and riddles. You can follow her on Twitter @elenita_tweets.