I wish I had a royalty-free, open-source image of Heath Ledger in his Joker makeup to insert here. Chances of finding something like that = zero. Sorry, you’ll just have to use your imagination:
The crypto space is a special case
Last week I said:
Crypto marches to the beat of its own drum. Normal analysts can’t/won’t/don’t understand this – in fact they normally flatly deny it. Can you blame them? After doing something for 10/20/30 years, it’s hard to imagine that something like crypto can be “different” or “special”
That isn’t the first time I’ve said something along those lines. On many occasions I’ve pointed out that the existing traditional mindset of the financial sector can not and does not understand the mentality of crypto. This applies to many facets of crypto, not just price movement.
Here’s the tragedy:
I have also often said that crypto will succeed with or without institutional backing. Crypto is going ahead relentlessly and without regard for the short-term thinking of the corporate world. Eventually all the big names in finance will hop aboard the crypto train, because people like that love money too much to ignore crypto forever. (This is the same reason why crypto does not need regulations to succeed or be adopted.)
By being left out of the crypto world, or not understanding it, or approaching it from the wrong angle, the corporate world is only shooting itself in the foot. In the short-term it does hurt crypto a bit, but in the long-term it hurts those with a traditional mindset.
You probably don’t get what I’m saying yet, do you? That’s okay, I’m here to help, I will explain…
Making a good first impression
Look at the image above. Is this how a crypto firm should brand itself? It looks professional. It looks smart. Traditionally such an image inspires confidence.
How about investing in a new ICO. Would you invest in project which has a team like this?
You probably would, but should a crypto team look like that?
Years of conditioning have sold Western culture on the idea of the suited businessman as the trustworthy professional. If you visited a bank board member at his place of work, what would you expect him to be wearing? Probably a jacket and tie. How would you feel if he was wearing jeans and a T-shirt instead?
More to the point: how should you feel if he were wearing jeans and a T-shirt?
Is he not the same person? Is he going to handle your money any differently depending on what he is wearing? Is he less professional because he isn’t wearing a suit? What does “professional” even mean?
The other side of the coin
This is Da Hongfei presenting publicly at the 2017 Blockchain World Conference:
No jacket and tie, his hand in his pocket as he speaks, yet still quite presentable. Sometimes he wears T-shirt in public, sometimes he does wear a jacket. Generally he wears what is technically known as “casual attire” in the Western World.
I have more respect for Da Hongfei as a businessman than I do for any other businessman on Earth. Da Hongfei could dress like Tarzan and I would still respect and trust him more than any assembly of corporate suits whom you may care to name.
And this is what the crypto world and those who wish to be successful in it need to realise: crypto is NOTtraditional.
Being traditional is a disadvantage in crypto!
Do you know what this image below is?
No, it’s not from a kids cartoon. This is the banner from “Magical Crypto Friends”, a YouTube cryptocurrency show. Compare it to the first banner I showed you, the one with the silhouettes of the people in corporate attire. Are the Magical Crypto Friends unprofessional? You tell me…
This is Riccardo Spagni. He is the de facto head of Monero – 13th biggest cryptocurrency by market cap ($1.13 Bn on CMC today). Monero is a very well respected privacy coin.
The pony on the right-hand side of the banner image depicts Riccardo, he often goes by the name of “Fluffy Pony”. You can find his Twitter account here: https://twitter.com/fluffypony , where he describes himself as a:
Breather, Thought Follower, Cereal Intrepreneur. Director of Skullduggery at the Institute for Lemonade Studies. I do other stuff too.
No, he isn’t. In fact here is a man who is playing the crypto game exactly as it should be played. Here is a man followed on Twitter by big names such as Roger Ver and cnLedger.
How about this guy:
This is how Charlie Lee represents himself on Twitter. He is also one of the “Magical Crypto Friends” (the chicken). For those who may not know: Charlie Lee is the creator of Litecoin (currently jostling with EOS for 5th position on CMC). He is the MD of the Litecoin Foundation and the ex-Director of Engineering at Coinbase.
Magical Crypto Friends is an informal crypto show with a cheesy animated intro and a lineup of four crypto experts – real experts. They don’t wear anything even vaguely resembling suits on the show. The lineup is rounded off by the addition of other well-known crypto personalities WhalePanda and Excellion. These are people followed on Twitter by the likes of Binance, Justin Sun, Cardano…
What was and what is
Look; I get it. I was born in the 70’s. I know how we were raised back then. Dad and Granddad taught us that we dress smartly for business. They taught us that a professional man wears a suit and tie. Had we had websites back then, then they would also have taught us that a professional website banner looks like the silhouette example up top.
Dad and Granddad weren’t wrong, they were saying what was right at the time. Times have changed. We need to change to adapt to the times.
Younger readers reading this will be able to tell you: suits and ties are no longer a measure of professionalism! The fact that these days the biggest criminals of all tend to wear suits and ties may have something to do with that. Suits and ties caused the 2008 market crash. Suits and ties keep very expensive wars going all over the globe. Suits and ties are behind inflation, over-taxation, collapsed fiat currencies like the Bolivar, the growing poverty gap etc. etc. etc.- I could go on with this list for a very long time!
Like many of my generation, I’m not a big fan of Millennials. Millennials are a generation who were raised with more rights than responsibilities, a generation of entitlement and rewards which they haven’t worked for, a soft generation, an ignorant generation. (Obviously I’m generalising, don’t moan at me in the comments about the many exceptions there must be.) Yet I realise that Millennials didn’t choose the time of their birth or the circumstances under which they were raised. I also realise that Millennials have much to bring to the table.
Millennials and those who come after them have a well-developed set of technology and the internet skills, a skill-set which developed from a very young age. They are born to understand, to prefer and to adopt the technology of cryptocurrencies. Even more importantly: they are distrustful of the present generation of people in power – those who wear the suits and ties. They have good reason to be: they have been failed by the system at many levels: their entitlement is based on false promises, their freedoms are mainly an illusion, their creativity is stifled and frustrated.
If the traditional financial model is to fall, and I believe that it is, then it will be at the hands of this new generation. If crypto is to be widely adopted, and it almost certainly will be, then the Millennials will be the generation driving it.
It is extremely important that crypto businesses cater to the modern expectations of the younger generation!
What does that mean? Do you need to dress like a Disney Character and design your webpage to look like the Cartoon Network page? Of course not (though looking at the Magical Crypto guys, you can see that even such extremes don’t hurt at all). I’ll use myself as an example:
No that’s not me, and nor am I in the picture below.
I used to be a military officer. I wore uniforms which made a suit and tie look like a clown suit by comparison. I frequently wore outfits such as these pictured above: complete with “swords and medals” as part of my routine work (similar ones: these are US Navy uniforms and I’m not an American).
Did that make me professional?
Well in that context it would have been unprofessional not to wear it, but I can assure you that many of my identically attired colleagues were functionally useless: they looked the part, but had nothing to back it up. Some embarrassed themselves by their lack of knowledge at social occasions with foreign officials. Some displayed their incompetence by launching a slew of ill-conceived projects. Some had never so much as set foot aboard a Navy vessel at sea. What we wore and how we appeared didn’t matter in the slightest to our individual abilities, or lack thereof.
In fact, I was lucky enough to be a part of a special section. When out on operations we sometimes wore whatever we pleased: old clothing with holes in it, badly knitted headgear, T-shirts, shorts, sandals. None of that had the least effect on how well we performed. I’ve seen military officers who haven’t showered in over week and who are dressed like hobos cause some very large and successful explosions. That made us professional, not how we looked, but what we achieved.
I once taught an ad-hoc three-day module to a senior warfare course with nothing more than a whiteboard and a pair of marker pens. No PowerPoint. No laser pointer. Not even a book. And I did a damn good job of it if I do say so myself.
Being professional is not about dressing or looking smart. It’s about “knowing your stuff”. It’s about doing what you do better than the next guy does it. If the guy with the $100 000 charting software and 10 charts loaded with indicators, lines and annotations keeps getting shown up by the guy who draws one chart in crayon on the back of a cereal box, then I’m going to listen to the guy who draws in crayon. Younger people seem to know this more instinctively, us older people struggle a bit.
How to proceed?
A fine line must be walked. For now, most of the world’s wealth is still in the hands of the older generation. One could make a strong argument in favour of ignoring what that generation wants. You could say that they are anti-change and will never willingly embrace crypto. Look at Buffett: do you think he’ll ever watch an episode of Magical Crypto Friends? He won’t, and he’s a far poorer (literally and figuratively) person for it.
I strongly advise gearing all crypto related business towards the tastes of the younger generations. Some of them are already earning good money, many more will follow. They will be the ones to drive your crypto business forward. They will be the ones who chose to invest in you or not. They are your future.
You can keep the “professional” looking interfaces of old, especially if you already deal with a lot of older generation people or in financial sectors other than just crypto. But you don’t have to be lifeless and clinical like in the past. Crypto entities should have a personality. Think Justin Sun, think John McAfee – those are the people getting the attention. Those are the people getting the success!
I have proceeded with my own efforts in a similar manner. I am who I am, and I don’t try to hide that. I let my narcissist and arrogant tendencies run amok. I voice my opinions, I make jokes, I call a spade a spade. I’m not a lifeless chart explainer who may as well be replaced by a robot or a synthesised voice. I don’t show a picture of myself in a jacket and tie, I portray myself as a gold coin or as a brain in a lightning storm. In many ways that makes me more human than the corporate stooge in his suit who does show his face. I can’t claim any great successes, I’m simply not that well known. I’m just telling you this so that you know what I think the right approach is. I will gladly compete head-to-head against any suit wearing chart explainer any time if the subject is a crypto related one. I am confident that I could at least hold my own, if not completely dominate the competition.
If you are caught in the old ways (and people over the age of about 35 probably are) then I seriously recommend that you take a good hard look at the future of the crypto market and adapt accordingly. I you want to succeed, you need to ditch the “jacket and tie” approach. It doesn’t assure success, but it will give you a chance at appearing trustworthy and professional to the new generation.
Don’t take crypto too seriously. Have a few laughs. Enjoy yourself a bit. In no way does that make you irresponsible or less capable of doing excellent work in the cryptoverse.
You should always genuinely enjoy your work – it’s part of the secret to happiness.
Yours in crypto
P.S. Go subscribe to “Magical Crypto Friends” on YouTube. You’ll soon see what I mean.
“The secret to success: find out where people are going and get there first”
~ Mark Twain
“By this means (fractional reserve banking) government may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of the people, and not one man in a million will detect the theft.”
~ John Maynard Keynes