When your connections don't matter.
This week, I returned to Germany from the ASEAN Digital Economy Summit in Bangkok. And I caught a fever literally the moment I touched down in Frankfurt, quickly followed by my inner voice of paranoia, “it’s Cholera, bye bye beautiful world” – and I already envisioned my family going, “we told you so! But you had to travel to the jungle anyway.”
(We are from the countryside. When I first left Germany for Southeast Asia, one person asked me if Malaysia is the capital of Singapore)
I survived and am spending a few days away from the city in my hometown, where bread is abundant and cheese is cheap. Travelling a lot teaches you to appreciate your roots. It’s a logical thought process, but realisation doesn’t come until you actually experience it yourself. Personally, it also made me learn that keeping a balance is extremely important especially when you spend your life on the road.
I don’t have a home, and it’s not even considered “cool”. There probably is a large group of people within the blockchain space that does not have a base and practically lives in hotels. Times are changing fast, and being a digital nomad is not as extra anymore as one might think.
As for myself, I kind of slid into this form of existence after joining SPINDLE and shifting my entire focus on Blockchain and Fintech. As a blockchain evangelist, I attend conferences and events and speak on stage and online. By now, I have a favourite airport, a favourite airline, a favourite hotel in each city, and I have reduced my belongings to a single suitcase because otherwise this lifestyle would not be liveable.
If you ask me, the good and the bad sides to this kind of lifestyle normally maintain a healthy balance, and just like any other way of living, you need to be up for it if you want to go for it, because it’s not the kind of life you can go about half-heartedly.
One thing about being a long-term traveller, however, I am especially grateful for: it is the chance to get to know different communities all over the world. No matter what industry you work in, each country has its own distinct ways and traits, and you never run out of discoveries. Culture clashes don’t have to be a bad thing. At all.
BlockChats was born in Kuala Lumpur where I was located when the idea came to me, but Blockchain is borderless. So as our team grows and we meet enthusiastic, like-minded people, we are able to set foot in other countries and meet the communities there. This is what we like to do, and it is what we set our eyes on.
It is exciting to see how different people in different countries react to the same question, the same topic, or the same talk. And it teaches us a lot about ourselves within the global community – which I believe to be a very important value. Every day, our planet grows more connected, and the future is bright for those that employ a globalised, open view.
At times, I get cynical comments.
“So you are German… and you want to start a community in Manila… and you don’t live in Manila… So how?”
Obviously, I disagree with the viewpoint, but people that judge you this way will normally not depart from that point of view.
We connect people with a mutual interest, a common passion – that has nothing to do with nationality. So one of our biggest goals is to reach people, everywhere. If the BlockChats community can deliver a valuable connection between a member in Manila and a member in Milan, we have achieved more than we could ask for. If we can give back to tour community in the least as much as our community gives to us, we can count ourselves incredibly lucky.
Community is valued highly among blockchain and cryptocurrency supporters, because our community is small if you put it on the global stage. We know we need to work together, and that great things can come out of such collaboration. But it doesn’t have to be only big companies, only successful entrepreneurs that find their place in an influential global network and accomplish the greatest of ventures. If every individual, no matter how many “right” people they know, can use the power and dynamics of a warm, open community that is spread around all different corners of the globe, to me, that’s next level community.
And tell you what, I wrote this up for a reason. We are looking for community leaders. BlockChats Bali. BlockChats Reykjavik. BlockChats that-town-where-you-once-stopped-on-your-way-to-Warsaw-and-had-amazing-Pierogi.
Supporting the connection of fellow enthusiasts within a community is one of the most rewarding things I have been doing to date. You learn as you go along, about others, about yourself, and it never gets boring. Our community hosts support each other, we help realise each other’s ideas and concepts, we build things, we fail at times, but we wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
We are looking to grow our team and, step by step, make our next big goals a reality – together with you?
I hope. I’m off to the bakery. Because being away from Germany made me appreciate German bread so. Much. More.
Lina Seiche, BlockChats Founder , Blockchain + Fintech Evangelist
The Myth of the Blockchain Consultant
You’re not an expert - stop trying to be one.
It is not easy doing something new. And beginnings are hard. And before I get into any more standard phrases, I will try to put my point across simply:
In Blockchain, much like in the real world, nothing is as it seems.
My start in the space was sudden, my background completely unrelated, and most people probably didn’t even acknowledge my past as legit education. I jumped in to help out as a speaker, and my first talks saw me present to an audience that knew more about Bitcoin than I did, or at least it felt that way.
More than once I thought, what am I actually doing here? I don’t belong here.
While this frustration fuelled part of my motivation to quickly change my unfortunate and awkward situation, personally, I think it was the result of unnecessary self-sabotage within the blockchain community.
Our aim at BlockChats is to give a platform to connect, to educate yourself, and to find a way into the world of blockchain. So we often receive questions along the lines of, “how can I get started? I am afraid of missing out on something, but I have no idea how I can join the blockchain space.”
Even if your knowledge reaches no further than “Bitcoin”, you probably understand this space moves fast, and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has become a bit of a trend anti-word. But if you try to set foot in the industry, chances are you will shake the hands of lots of blockchain consultants and ICO advisors, and the weight of your wallet will double over a short time period, with bunches of business cards smashed in your face.
I may be making myself some enemies today, so as you read this entry, please keep in mind that I am talking about a certain group of people, not about the general majority of these people. (This is important)
There are very capable people out there. But they are sharing the space.
Oftentimes, self-proclaimed blockchain and ICO consultants remind me of the blogger phenomenon, or the youtuber / influencer trend that has been going on in recent years.
Being a millennial with a blog about ancient tattoo art, or about cat poo coffee, that’s unique, that sets you apart – maybe you’ve uploaded five entries last year, but you’re a blogger now. Right?
The fact that everyone can start something doesn’t mean everyone is actually competent.
If you begin digging a little deeper and talk to some of the “consultants” you meet, you may be surprised at how many of them haven’t been in the space longer, or much more active, than you. But put “blockchain consultant” on your name card and you’re in the game.
I’m the last person to tell people how to live their lives, and if these things make you happy, this is probably the path you should choose in life. But in fact, it sends a certain message to newcomers and people trying to get acquainted with blockchain, fintech, cryptocurrency, or anything new, so to speak.
‘How can I be like that?’
‘How can I be an expert too?’
And to summarise all that rambling: you cannot be an expert, so stop trying.
Who is that Blockchain Person we are aiming to be?
They have an answer to every question, a deep understanding of the space. They own ten thousand Bitcoin and have never picked a trash ICO. They have hashgraphs for breakfast and are building their own private blockchain on the side, while we normal people are sending e-mail, complaining about Facebook, and swiping around on Tinder.
But here is the big mistake:
In a space that is constantly evolving, and that doesn’t even really know where it stands in terms of society and law, it is impossible to be the expert that we are picturing when we try to register on our first crypto exchange (which probably causes a lot of frustration in itself).
People that have been in the space for a long time will not normally refer to themselves as experts.
If you are in this painful position of trying to find access to blockchain and cryptocurrency, don’t ask yourself how you can achieve it. Ask yourself when you have achieved it. When are you part? When are you not missing out anymore? And then just go for it.
Read, watch, keep your eyes open and yourself updated. Is there a term you don’t understand? Great, open a new search window and look up the meaning of that term. Then go back to the original text.
Become a regular in your local community, talk and listen to people, exchange information, and make connections. Be an early user of interesting services, or an investor in concepts that you feel have potential, at your own scale, your own time.
A good friend and mentor of mine always tells me, "be a sponge. Soak up everything, be humble and think freely."
Take in information and then form your opinion based on your judgment of different viewpoints.
The more active you get, the more you teach yourself and let others teach you, the more passionate you may become, and the more knowledge you will find yourself absorbing.
And opportunities will come to you – probably more than you could ever grasp. The real blockchain space is an incredibly open and warm community that is happy to welcome you.
I don’t see myself as an advisor on these kinds of things, but if you ask me for my opinion on how to join, even if your past has as much of a connection with blockchain as a potato, this is what I would reply.
Just be there. Be present. Be open. Be part. And you will find you are never missing out anymore.
Education should be priceless.
Why we created BlockChats.
Blockchain Technology needs its community. If it wasn’t for the meetups, seminars, parties, and group chats teaching and supporting each other, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Obviously. But there is more to this. The Blockchain needs us NOW.
The interest is there. We want to meet people, connect, get access. Today, you can find blockchain events all over the world, aiming to strengthen the community.
When I first got involved in the blockchain space, the last thing I felt reminded of was community. Because I did it all wrong.
I bought a ticket to a conference in Amsterdam, spent a whooping 400 euros, got my business cards ready, purchased my first ever jacket with shoulder pads and flew to the Netherlands.
Entered the venue, got approached by a CEO of something, but they don’t have a website yet so just write him a WhatsApp, found myself richer by five business cards in ten minutes with not a single name remaining in my head.
In preparation for the event, I had read countless “how to network” articles on the internet. And as I strategically positioned myself at the sandwich buffet, a man in a suit came over, said his name though I didn’t catch it, and literally after that,
“Are ICOs jeopardising VCs, and if at all, how can we instate a possible co-existence of the two?”
He reminded me so much of my history teacher back in high school. ICOs jeopardising… what?
“No, no… I’m just here to learn about Bitcoin.”
‘Blockchain events are like a bodybuilding congress. You have somebody on a stage showing off something you find confusing more than anything else, while people in the audience are busy selling their love-handle-elimination-secret to other participants that only came for Instagram shots proving they are part of the healthy millennial movement.’
That’s what I believed. My first contact with the space almost fatally shaped me into this mindset.
‘This world is too complicated for me. I guess it’s only for experts.’
If you pay more for your conference ticket than for your flight, of course you are going to expect something exclusive. And that’s what you get. Expensive conferences are expensive for a reason (in the best case). There is nothing wrong with them. But they are not the future of blockchain.
If we talk about blockchain technology as the next car, or the internet 2.0, it cannot be exclusive. It cannot be a privilege
We are in a crucial situation now. Getting blockchain out of its underdog state and into the real world. The real world doesn’t pay 400 euros to access information and opportunities.
If you look at Europe, and then you look at Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia or the Philippines, you will straightaway understand that the latter need more blockchain events. There are not nearly as many access points as in the UK, Germany, or the Netherlands.
At the same time, if you are a developer, presenting your project to the Southeast Asian market is becoming increasingly hard. With major internet companies blocking blockchain promotion, you need a physical stage and direct ways to meet your audience.
BlockChats is our mission to contribute to the growth of blockchain and new technologies. The blockchain can do a lot for us in the future, so let’s do something for the blockchain now.
If you want to learn, educate yourself, and be active in the space, you should be able to do exactly that, no matter how wealthy you are. With BlockChats, we want to create opportunities at events and online, by the community, for the community. We are grateful to every sponsor that shares our values and allows us to provide free content to all of our members, and everyone who contributes value to BlockChats – by presenting a topic or the project, or simply by attending, joining the conversation, and connecting with others.
My name is Lina. I am the founder of BlockChats, and I may share my thoughts and ideas here from time to time. Do you want to share yours? We absolutely want you to do that.
My personal message to every blockchain consultant, White Paper writer, and ICO investor out there: Please don’t scare off the newbies, no no no.
Lina Seiche, BlockChats Founder , Blockchain + Fintech Evangelist