“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
- Bruce Lee
As a child I grew up wanting to be an astronaut. Back in the 80s and early 90s, there was a commercial that would constantly play advertising space camps in Huntsville, Alabama and Titusville, Florida. I was enthralled. The inner being in me wanting to go boldly into space.
Unfortunately, being first generation my family could not afford to send me despite excelling in all areas of schooling. As many expatriates do in their adoptive country, my Father fell in love with baseball and gave me two choices: Baseball player or Lawyer (I met representatives of the famed Winston & Strawn Law Firm in 7th grade and thought: I want to do that!). However, I still craved the unknown, the newness of things.
My mother, an elementary school computer science teacher for the past 30+ years instilled in me that newness could be found learning new things in a square box, a whole World awaited me.
As I entered University as a computer science major, I still needed to have a creative outlet in which I would be able to forge my own path. I needed to be water and to the chagrin of my parents, I subverted their direction and instead of going to law school, I decided to enter the film industry.
After a decade in the wild world of film and entertainment, the JOBS Act and crowdfunding became attractive as raising money for films (and all startups really) had always been a very hard undertaking. Then in 2016, someone passed me along the bitcoin whitepaper.
I was hooked.
By the way, if you have not read it but you’re interested in this space, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. This cultural shift has far reaching implications philosophically, technologically, and economically like the World has never seen.
At System 9, I now have the good fortune to work with well-accomplished and exceptional people. The internet’s heuristic paradigm provided the information for all people to learn just about anything under the sun. There is no excuse anymore.
The barriers of entry to knowledge continue to come down. At times I thought that this peripatetic methodology would only lead me to small successes. However, Emilie Wapnick’s TED Talk opened my eyes to the World of multipotentialites.
Not only is this something I embody to the core, but I believe the World is filled with these people who crave the ability to be more using their treasure trove of natural + learned skills. What is blockchain but a response to doing things better? And with that notion, that is what System 9 is all about as well.
Doing things better with the technology we now have at our fingertips. With blockchain’s coming of age moment as Coinbase publicly lists, where we go from here is a bit unknown but no less exciting. My summation is that as the technology continues to evolve, it will be used in ways that are invisible to the end individual.
I believe we are genuinely creating the tools and infrastructure that can become the building blocks that leads to a more humanistic approach to Capitalism. Unfortunately, as our fragmented, frayed economic systems have lumbered forward, the wealth continues to accumulate at the top with very little “trickling down” to the hoi polloi and humans the world over. Rather, by providing systems that democratically allow all to participate, the system as a whole is made that much stronger.
In my humble opinion, it’s the reason why VCs have spent exorbitant amounts of money simply because a company has the market share of individuals across the globe.
It’s people power. And while there are many snollygosters everywhere ready to bamboozle you, I do believe that the overwhelming majority of people want to do what is right. The network effect that we see has continued to compound in an industry built upon changing the status quo.
They say that you should always surround yourself with people who are much more intelligent than you if you hope to learn and grow. While I have a great many skills that bring value to the table, the amount of brain-power at System 9 is astounding that I often feel like I am sometimes the dumbest person in the room.
It’s why I return to the title of this article and remind myself to ‘be water.’ That role is important too, but don’t take it from me - take it from another “dumb” person: Simon Sinek.
Being flummoxed is natural with the dizzying amount of information coming to us at breakneck speed. It’s also why it’s important to take the time to meditate, to reset and kvell over the successes of your life and society as a whole. Be water.
And while some will certainly confabulate on quoting Peter Kropotkin, I believe that it is apropos for the blockchain industry as a whole: “There is not even a thought, or an invention, which is not common property, born of the past and the present.
Thousands of inventors, known and unknown, who have died in poverty, have cooperated in the invention of each of these machines which embody the genius of man.” It is perfectly cromulent to theorize and pull aspects of all knowledge in our past to forge a better future.
In fact anything less would be a disservice to the evolution of human beings. I have come full circle in being a moderate, standing by a theory of “this and that” as growth comes from seeing all sides.
“The clearest sign of intellectual chemistry isn’t agreeing with someone. It’s enjoying your disagreements with them. Harmony is the pleasing arrangement of different tons, voices, or instruments, not the combination of identical sounds. Creative tension makes beautiful music.”
- (Adam Grant)
Lastly, I am very happy with the trajectory of my life and careers, but I still have alerts on for SpaceX jobs - always looking for the next adventure on the horizon.