“The way things have always been done… if they never existed, what would you do?”
It’s a compelling thought, and one that effectively sums up the interview I had with Ethereum co-founder Anthony Di Iorio earlier this month.
It’s rare to encounter someone who is so completely driven by a desire to serve others. Anthony is a forward-thinking entrepreneur who, in everything, rejects the status quo; his approach to business leads him to find new angles and unique ways of solving problems.
Are you frustrated with the stock standard practices your industry follows? Perhaps you’re looking for a way to jump the rails and carve a new path that leads to better outcomes. You might be at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, looking for unique ways to fill a gap.
Wherever you’re at, I encourage you to watch the full interview with Anthony Di Iorio. It’s filled with rich insights into cutting-edge entrepreneurship and plenty of food for thought.
In the meantime, let’s explore what it means to go against the status quo.
Before we dive into the practicals, I want to briefly recap Anthony’s incredible achievements within the crypto industry. What he’s managed to achieve over the past three decades is truly impressive.
In late 2013, Anthony co-founded Ethereum — one of the very first decentralized smart contract platforms. At its peak, the platform was valued at over $350 billion.
He’s made groundbreaking headway in crypto wallet technology, fuelled by his passion for financial autonomy and freedom.
Anthony has also successfully founded Decentral Inc., a company that is devoted to staying on the cutting edge of decentralized technologies and disrupting industries across all sectors.
Crypto enthusiasts will find great value in the insights Anthony shared on the Success Story Podcast, but I think everyone has something to gain from his innovative approach to business and life.
As someone in the entrepreneurial space, it’s difficult to avoid the ‘get rich quick mentality. This is especially the case in cryptocurrency, where emphasis is placed on how strategically you can invest for optimal returns.
Even in the general business space, so much of our focus is on how much money our ideas will return. And don’t mistake me here; profit is important. It’s okay to want your business endeavor to make money. But monetary gain can’t be your only driving force — not if you want Anthony Di Iorio’s level of success.
From the outset, Anthony was a missionary thinker with a desire to empower others. His vision has remained consistent since the Ethereum days: allow people autonomy over their digital lives.
“There are three pillars that I’ve always built things on. I think it’s really important to own your identity, it’s really important to own your money, and it’s really important to own your communications. And those three together done in a decentralized fashion where the user is in full control is a very powerful product.”
With an emphasis on identity ownership and financial freedom, Anthony was drawn to crypto for its ability to remove the middleman from the equation. Unlike banks, Ethereum allowed people to mediate and control their own finances without going through a third party.
“My mission has always been about freedom. As I mentioned, I don’t like school — I never liked being told what to do. With Bitcoin, I saw it as a big opportunity to help create change and empower billions of people around the world with the tools that they need to be their own bank.”
Knowing that Ethereum was one of the first crypto cabs off the rank, it’s particularly impressive that Anthony was able to focus on an objective other than monetary gain. His others-first mentality led him to develop technologies that have been truly life-changing for millions of people.
As an entrepreneur going ‘against the grain’, perhaps one of the most important things you can do is to establish your own personal mission.
This mission isn’t a financial or business goal; it’s not ‘solve this problem’ or ‘make this company the biggest in the world’.
Your personal mission is something that encapsulates who you are as an individual and what you stand for — it’s your guiding light when things get tough, and a source of motivation when all around you people are giving up.
For Anthony Di Iorio, his mission for many years was focused on the financial freedom of others. He didn’t find true clarity around his reason for doing things, however, until long after Ethereum had taken off.
“After the big ICO craze that happened in 2017, I started reevaluating what it is I want to do with my life. And I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t need to be thinking about setting myself up for the rest of my life; things were pretty good at the time."
"But I realized that the more freedom I was seeking, the less freedom I actually had.”
This realization, coupled with the success of his endeavors with Ethereum, opened Anthony’s eyes to his need for personal direction.
“I ended up rethinking what my mission was. I spent a lot of time thinking about three things: my what, my why, and my how. And over time, I decided that what makes me happy is being in service. I want to serve as many people as possible and to help people, because it makes me happy.”
What Anthony did here is reminiscent of the Finding Your Why exercise popularized by Simon Sinek. In order to find what you stand for, it’s important to think about the following questions:
In answering these questions, one becomes more in tune with their personal mission and what they can offer the world. You’ll find that some of the most successful people in the world — from Oprah Winfrey to Elon Musk — have very clear missions that inspire them to achieve great things.
This isn’t a topic we touched on in the interview, but I think it adds value regardless; it’s the concept of ikigai.
Your ikigai is what gets you up in the morning. It’s what drives you and gives your life purpose. It’s different for everyone, but there’s a chart based on Japanese culture and philosophy which can help you find yours.
The chart has four sections: what you’re good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Finding a balance between these four things is key to finding your ikigai.
It’s almost like the old saying; if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. The point is to find that one task that sits at the intersection of talent, passion, utility, and monetary compensation.
For some people, this is their job. For others, it’s a hobby or passion project that they do on the side. But finding your ikigai is key to living a fulfilling life; it’s what drives you and determines your ‘why’.
The reason I bring up this Japanese philosophy is that, for most people, their ikigai remains hidden. It’s something they haven’t discovered yet or it’s something they’re not actively looking for.
However, I view it in the same way that I view Sinek’s concept of finding your ‘why’ — I believe it’s necessary for truly outstanding success.
If you want to stand out from the pack, perhaps this is your starting point.
In speaking with Anthony, one thing stood out to me as abundantly clear: throughout his entire career, Anthony had remained well ahead of the curve.
What I mean by this is that Anthony’s a forward thinker. He watches trends, he understands the progression of technology and its impact on society, and this understanding has allowed him to remain at the forefront of innovation.
For instance: when Bitcoin came into his radar, Anthony didn’t wait for someone else to jump onto the new technology first. He dove in himself, learned everything he could about it, and quickly devised a strategy to use the technology for good.
And, when there was no technology available to manage multiple cryptocurrencies from one wallet, Anthony didn’t wait for another company to fill the void. He created his own technology, which is now used by some of the largest exchanges in the world.
This mentality — staying ahead of the curve, being proactive rather than reactive — has served Anthony and Ethereum well. And it’s a mindset that I believe can effectively set anyone against the status quo.
So, how can you adopt this same mentality and be ahead of the curve in your own industry?
First of all, I think it takes a level of courage to be proactive. It’s easy to react to what others are doing, but it takes guts to forge your own path.
Once you’re braced for a potentially bumpy ride, you can begin to educate yourself on the trends within your industry. Think about these points:
Of course, it takes more than foresight to create something truly disruptive like Ethereum. It also takes guts, passion, and an unwavering dedication to your vision. But if you’re ready to challenge the status quo, these are all attainable qualities.
So, what’s your next move?
Entrepreneurs are described as inventive, innovative, courageous, and relentless in the pursuit of their vision. They are also risk-takers, often bucking the status quo in favor of something new and better.
When it comes down to it, though, what entrepreneurs do is solve problems. They see a need in the world, and they find a way to fill it.
What sets some apart from the rest, however, is the way in which they go about solving these problems. Do they use methods that have already been proven to work, or do they experiment and take risks?
This is where Anthony Di Iorio always had the upper hand. He’s an innovator by nature, and he continues to come up with his own methods and frameworks for problem-solving.
Part of Anthony’s approach to business has always been skepticism; not in a pessimistic sense, but in a way that allows him to reframe the issue he’s trying to solve. For example, he recognized very early on that there were serious flaws in the advertisement-based model used by most businesses at the time.
“There are better ways to do things that don’t necessarily rely on advertising models. Advertisers are paying money to get eyeballs on something, which leads to this attention economy that we have… We need to think differently.”
Instead of following what’s considered ‘normal’, Anthony has designed his own framework in order to counteract the issues he identified with other business models.
“A lot of times, business formulas are not efficient enough… they have deficiencies which exclude people. I think if we can move the dial from deficient models that serve 50% of the population to serving 60%, or 70% … by joining your product or joining your company or joining your mission, their day-to-day life is getting better.”
To help bring this change about, Anthony uses a framework of his own invention which focuses on creating solutions for as many stakeholders as possible — not just the top percent.
“I want to be a leader and a problem solver, because I think that’s two things that the world is sorely lacking these days. And using my framework that I’ve developed, I want to serve as many people as possible.”
Taking a leaf from Anthony’s book, is there a way that you can reframe the problem you’re trying to solve? If there’s still a problem to be solved in the first place, perhaps the issue is that the current solutions just aren’t cutting it. This is where going against the grain can ultimately create lasting change.
If every other pre-existing business disappeared out of your mind, what would you come up with to solve the problem?
If you’re able to come up with a new solution that actually works, it’s likely to be met with some resistance. After all, the status quo is comfortable, and it’s always risky to try something new. But if you’re able to succeed in spite of the resistance, that’s when you know you’ve really made a difference.
Feeling inspired? I certainly am. Anthony is one of the most forward-thinking and innovative people in business today, and it was an honor to speak with him. If you’re feeling motivated to shake up the status quo in your business, I can’t recommend enough that you watch the full interview — you can find it here.
Going against the status quo can be a daunting task, but as Anthony demonstrates, it’s often worth it. What innovative ideas are you harboring that could shake up your industry? Are you building the next industry disruptor?
Whatever your passion — be it art, fashion, food, or technology — don’t be afraid to think outside the box and create something new. The world needs more entrepreneurs who are unafraid to challenge the normal.