Depending on who you follow, Twitter, Youtube, and other social media can be a dangerous place for crypto-enthusiasts, particularly those new to the space. Without the ability to think objectively, it’s easy to get caught up in hype and overconfidence. Its even easier to get drawn into circles of negativity and feelings of despair.
As noted by Judith Plaskow, human beings are fundamentally communal; our individuality is a product of community, and our choices are shaped by our being with others. What constitutes a “community” has changed greatly during the last few decades. Twenty years ago, I considered my community to be a small country town inhabited by less than 5000 people. Its leaders comprised the town mayor, prominent businessmen, well-known and respected teachers, etc. Everyone knew everyone else and had on occasion run into each other during their day-to-day lives.
The advent of online communities has begun to change that. As a popular mode for social interaction, online communities are redefining what constitutes a community and a community “leader” (and this is particularly true within the crypto community). It’s not a stretch to say that most crypto community participants (or even micro-community participants) have yet to meet each other. Instead, we reference each other by our Twitter handles and assume our value as a community member is somewhat related to our follower count (if not the short 280-character messages we share). In spite of these low prerequisites, we grant various community personalities the same respect shown to town mayors, business leaders and academics.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s now much easier to engage a global audience as a result. It’s also a great way to have your talent recognized and to subsequently earn a living. However, observers should bear in mind that many online personalities are indeed focused on earning a living. When someone recommends a project, its highly likely that they have a vested interest in having it succeed (whether financial or otherwise). Such project recommendations may simply be proffered to help build a business relationship. And since nearly everyone is guilty of this (including myself), it’s apt to say that’s how human nature works.
Recently, the term “influencer” has been popularized within the cryptocurrency community. As such, many projects fervently seek to get mentioned by such influencers (and often at some expense). I’m not a fan of this trend or the word itself (which sounds tacky and insincere). So in this article I’ll be explaining the difference between being an influencer and being a leader, most notably as it pertains to the blockchain space.
The key difference between an influencer and a leader is that a leader will prompt you to think for yourself. They won’t force their opinions on you, nor will they drop the names of projects without giving a good reason. Instead, they will present you with thought-provoking observations, analysis or advice. And they will almost always tell you how it is. Their goal is to enable individuals to think for themselves and determine what’s best for promoting blockchain growth. Influencers will do the opposite. They will skip over important facts and make recommendations based on weak research – all thinly disguised to persuade their viewers.
Below are a four blockchain leaders who I admire for the reasons stated above.
Jamie is co-founder and chief product officer at Horizon State. I’m not sure how he finds time to do his job there since his Twitter feed is always chock-full of meaningful quotes, analysis, book recommendations, and more.
“The most successful people in the world are risk takers.”
Risk alone didn’t make them successful – you will also find a common thread of risk taking among the world’s bankrupt.
It’s their assessment of risk that is of distinction.
— Jamie Skella (@JamieSkella) May 23, 2018
While most of Jamie’s tweets are not directly related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, they usually provide insightful thoughts regarding technology in general. His tweets also often illuminate sound methodology for evaluating blockchain projects and investment strategies. The tweet above is no different. Blockchain investing is generally a high-risk venture, and that risk also varies greatly from project to project. As such, investors capable of accurately assessing these project risks (and investing accordingly) stand a much better chance of becoming financially successful. Successful investing requires research, patience and will power.
Jeff Morris Jr.
Jeff Morris Jr. is director of product and revenue at Tinder. Like Jamie, Jeff is heavily involved in product design and thus frequently tweets content related to product development and innovation.
The more I dig into crypto, the more I realize:
* The smartest people in the space are names you've never heard of.
* They are writing code + building products while others attend events.
* Advice: find these people & learn from their ideas instead of going to every conference.
— Jeff Morris Jr. (@jmj) May 22, 2018
As Jeff implies, crypto fans have yet to hear of the most amazing people and projects in the blockchain space. Moreover, these amazing people are unlikely to showcase themselves at conferences like Consensus where “talks were superficial… and the whole presentation vibe was, let’s bend over backward for bankers and discuss how we’re going to do it” (trustnodes.com). Thus, crypto fans seeking to find highly creative people and projects will need to perform their own research and keep an open mind.
As co-creator of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin is arguably the best-known blockchain proponent in the world. He frequently steers discussions within the crypto community by speaking his mind and clearly articulating his arguments. Among crypto fans, he has a reputation for telling it how it is.
Reminder: cryptocurrencies are still a new and hyper-volatile asset class, and could drop to near-zero at any time. Don't put in more money than you can afford to lose. If you're trying to figure out where to store your life savings, traditional assets are still your safest bet.
— Vitalik "Not giving away ETH" Buterin (@VitalikButerin) February 17, 2018
As co-founder of Placeholder Ventures, Chris Burniske’s commentary has been featured in such media outlets as CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Forbes. In addition to providing well-researched analysis, Chris has a penchant for humility and philosophical discussion. For instance, his tweet below reminds us that how we perceive wealth influences how we perceive our personal circumstances. Naturally this also applies to cryptocurrencies.
"The more you want, the poorer you feel." (h/t @jmonegro)
— Chris Burniske (@cburniske) May 18, 2018
So after reading this, I hope that you will take a closer look at your Twitter feed. Think about who are the influencers and who are the leaders. Do you need the influencers in there, telling you what to do? Or are you ready to step-up and take more control of your investment decisions?