Matt Markham

@mattmarkham

You’re Full Time Blockchain: Wait What?!

Why I Chose the Path Less Traveled and Why You Should Too…

most people’s reaction in finance when you tell them you’re in the “blockchain” field

Blockchain has been an enlightening process for me. Not only because of the technology, but also because entrepreneurship makes you face your demons. Coming from banking and private equity, blockchain is a bit of a dirty word because it’s off the beaten path…it certainly isn’t “white shoe.”

There’s a known path for glory in finance / corporate America, and this isn’t quite it.

For those of you who are, or were, in my shoes I would say it gets better…those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. A life lived for others isn’t worth living, and all that good stuff.

Why leave something so safe for something so risky?

Well, for full context, I was never really a “pure” financier; I was with my old man when he started his first company at our kitchen table, and also when he sold it ~15 years later.

My personal decision to dive into a startup comes down to a few things, the lifestyle and “goosebump” moments.

In terms of the lifestyle, I can work whenever and wherever I want, which has its pluses and minuses (read: discipline is a must!).

On the goosebump side of things, I realized the entrepreneurship path was real, and blockchain, in particular, was pretty exciting through extensive research. I wanted to share a few examples of goosebump materials so you can see what I mean, and why I got excited:

  1. The Internet of Money

For those of you who are interested in blockchain and haven’t read this, do it! Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

Bitcoin is failing to scale. If we’re really lucky, bitcoin will continue to fail to scale gracefully for 25 years, just like the internet. The very same types of companies that then were saying the internet can never work for all of the email, it can never work to do quality voice calls, it can never work to do quality video, are now making the same kind of corporate arguments about why bitcoin can never do retail payments, it can never do Visa scale, it can never do global scale, and if it’s actually adopted, it will collapse. Right now, there are a dozen people writing their Ph.D. theses on how bitcoin will fail, has failed, is dying, was dead, and has died again.

Andreas does a wonderful job of giving people something sorely missed in the fast moving pace of blockchain — context. With real life examples. For example, telecom companies argued ad infinitum about the internet not being able to handle calls, and now, it does this task so beautifully we’ve had to reintroduce static to avoid people thinking the person on the other line has hung up!

There are many other great, real life examples on how a technology has had to face great resistance before it’s actually adopted. Andreas is one of the many very smart people in the space that I look to as a canary in the mine for why I, and you too, should be involved or at least learn about blockchain.

Speaking of smart people, the next on my list for “goosebump” moments comes from Mike Novogratz, ex-Chief Investment Officer of Fortress Investment Group. In the following clip, Mike walks through an $18 Trillion market size valuation for cryptocurrencies, and why he made the dive into the space:

2. Mike Novogratz on Bloomberg

He’s helpful in that he’s “white shoe” and has everything that a financier expects out of a “quality” professional. They’ll listen to him as he was part of the inner circle of finance. This is one of the clips I sent my friends in finance as a reference for why I jumped ship. He was a partner at Goldman, and a damn smart individual all around. I’d be happy to throw my hat into the ring with Mike any day or time.

3. Unchained Podcast

Massive shout out to Laura Shin here. She’s done wonders for the blockchain community, which is why I am so proud to sponsor her podcast. Unchained has featured individuals from partners at Andreesen Horowitz to Vitalik Buterin, and really shows the plethora of talent in Blockchain.

Laura and Unchained are about as objective as you’re going to find in a news source, and she’s even willingly listened to me when I disagreed with a guest on her show. The people involved in the space are incredibly sophisticated, and I think time will prove out that we’re in the right place at the right time, right now.

Here’s an episode where we sponsored the talk, and just one example of the brilliant minds Laura brings to the table: https://bit.ly/2NWmP4Z

***

Those are just three examples of my sources of inspiration, but I’d spent almost a year learning into the space before I entered full time. It’s risky, and there’s no doubt in that, but nothing ventured nothing gained. If you have an interest, and are in a traditional job, ask yourself what you want out of life, and whether you’d like to do well for yourself on your terms. It’s an important question, and I’ve found my mentality shift dramatically post-9–5 quit.

I switched from doing a 70% job in my fulltime role and blockchain side-gig to 110% into blockchain, and it feels so much better.

Ignore the self doubt, focus on what makes you happy and take a look at what’s out there, not only in blockchain…I did.

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