There are only two types of advice: the advice someone passes on because it worked for them, or the humbled and ever-present advice learned from regret. Both are valuable, but you should only replicate the former.
My advice stems from both what worked for me and the things I didn’t do. While applicable to many people, my advice is directed towards individuals with little work experience, current university students, or those with a few years under their belt looking to make a career change.
Think of this advice like a menu, pick and choose a couple of options that sound appetizing to you and commit to them. Consistency matters.
Become an Intern
Interning is the fastest way to find out if you like a field. If you’re a student at any level and have the chance to become an intern I highly recommend it. This is perhaps the best option for students looking to learn about cryptonetworks and get some experience. While doing my MBA, interning for a local cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong was a great initial experience to get my feet wet and become immersed in the crypto space.
Join a DAO
There’s a variety of DAOs that contributors can join – social DAOs, protocol DAOs, NFT gated DAOs/communities, investment DAOs, and more.
Social DAOs – DAOs that predominantly form communities on exclusivity, events, or community activities – are great first DAOs to join in order to form connections and get a taste of how DAOs operate. These DAOs include communities in specific locations like ATX DAO
, NFT gated communities, and DAOs like Friends with Benefits.
Alternatively, if you have knowledge or a particular passion for a specific product or protocol, joining that DAO can be a great way to gain initial experience and build your reputation. Many DAOs include Sushi, Rarible, Index Coop, Yearn, among others have various working groups for a range of individuals. Showing that you can provide value in a DAO is a great way to 1) develop experience and show that you can add value to a product/protocol and potentially get rewarded by the DAO for your contributions.
A word to the DAOists, you probably won’t be able to effectively contribute in more than 2-3 DAOs (unless the DAOs are very small). Optimize for high quality contributions rather than low quantity contributions. DAOs want to work with people who stick around rather than those who jump to the hottest DAO.
Become an Early Adopter
Being an early adopter is easy in hindsight. However, in the moment it requires taking risks. Those risks include opportunity costs in time, capital, and attention. Staying up to date in crypto, using new applications or protocols is costly and often comes with risks of potential ruin. Sometimes it requires being plugged in so that when a project like Loot or YFI drops, you’re available to mint or farm it immediately. Other times, it requires spending money yield farming or transacting on protocols that might never promise an airdrop or distribution to users. Remaining open-minded and not immediately dismissing new protocols like Solana, Cosmos, or Terra can also be challenging when you’re already invested in other competitors like Ethereum or how many Bitcoin maximalists avoided Ethereum early on because they didn’t wish to see the potential. Strong opinions, loosely held is a saying often repeated in tech investing, but its even more relevant in Web3.
Luckily, there are DAOs like Rabbithole that are helping educate the next generation fo crypto users, either incentivizing them to use protocols or offering the ability to perform tasks in exchange for XP. Rabbithold has successfully increased adoption in protocols like Polygon as well as enabled all its ENS successful quest completors to receive the ENS airdrop. While not all airdrops are substantial, several airdrops have generated significant returns
More improtant than airdrops, early adopters often become the best people to hire early on as they become the most engaged members of a discord or community. Additionally, founders want to hire individuals who believe in their mission. Early adopters who are already contributing to projects in their free time are far better candidates than mercenary employees searching for the highest paycheck. For evidence, nearly every single one of Messari’s early research analysts came from its community analyst program which called for hungry, crypto passionate individuals willing to work for free. The Messari Hub today pays analysts, but still calls for the dedicated and crypto-obsessed as as a result, the majority of Messari Intelligence Team hires come from the Messari Hub.
Join The Messari Hub
Joining the Messari Hub
can be a great way to get some experience, build your resume, get paid, and create connections in the crypto world. I participated in the original Messari analyst program by writing cryptoasset profiles. Ryan Selkis’ initial call for analysts
was exactly what I was looking for, a place to get started, to jump in and learn as much as possible. I learned directly about ERC20 tokens, layer 2 state channels, and more by writing cryptoasset profiles, as well as indirectly through osmosis. When you’re around exceptional people – such as a mentor or other Messari Hub analysts – their knowledge and experience flows from them to everyone else.
Personally speaking, Messari was a significant benefit to my career early on, not only in experience, but also in terms of stature. In the ‘real’ business world, people listen when your resume has an Ivy League school or reads McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, or [insert your favorite big-name company]. In crypto, people care less about your education (Messari doesn’t care about it at all) status or TradFi experience, but names like Coinbase, Messari, OpenSea, Uniswap, Compound, Chainalysis, are all signs that you’ve risen above the noise. It may be unfortunate, but humans have a desire to assign status.
More anecdotally, I’ve seen many Messari Hub Analysts move full time into crypto all because when given a more substantial platform – the Messari platform – they used it as leverage
to get themselves noticed by the right people.
Nic Carter, Chris Burniske, Ryan Selkis, Derek Hsue, Phil Bonello, Ryan Watkins, and Kyle Samani all became names in crypto because they started writing blogs about blockchain topics, mostly related to investment or research. One of the highest skills you can leverage is your ability to write. It’s hard not only to write good content, but to have the guts to put your opinions out there. That being said, anyone can be a writer—never tell yourself otherwise. I never thought of myself as a writer either. Hundreds of thousands of words later and here I am, still with typos in my pieces.
Some easy pieces or forms of writing:
- If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, get over it! If you really want to ease into it, start by summarizing great, long, or complex pieces. You’d be surprised by how little time people spend reading. Curated content is important and valuable.
- Domain expertise pieces: examine concepts in a specific domain. Liquidity mining. NFTs. Smart contracts. Stablecoins. Digital Art. DeFi aggregation. Cosmos Ecosystem.
Walkthroughs. You did something, now show others how to do it! DeFi Dad turned his passion for onboarding DeFi users into a job at a premier DeFi wallet (Zapper) and then into the venture capital world (Fourth Revolution Capital). Not passionate about DeFi, make walkthroughs with NFTs, new blockchains, or niche applications.
- Speed & timely info: Darren Lau’s newsletter, the Daily Ape provides a list of important and timely events.
If you don’t like prose, Twitter is here for you. CryptoTwitter values those who participate or ask relevant questions. Some of the brightest people in crypto use Twitter to build their brands like Pomp, Ryan Sean Adams, Meltem Dimirros, Arianna Simpson Nic Carter, Ari David Paul, Hasu, Tom Shaughnessy, Jason Choi, Ryan Watkins, and many more. Just don’t be a troll or a shill.
Tips for Twitter:
- Create a weekly Twitter Space for your favorite topic
- Aggregate great threads on a given topic or summarize long threads
- Synthesize important events or highly listened to podcasts
- Images perform well - creating them takes time but can help with virality.
- Tagging relevant individuals or companies in threads is helpful for distribution, but dont’ tag people when they are clearly not relevant in the thread or image – that’s a fast way to cop a block. Don’t tag fucking Elon or SBF, that’s a long shot. Instead tag people in the 10k-100k follower range. They are more likely to retweet or like your post.
- Shitposting and memes: CMS intern created a brand out of hilariously creative videos and memes. Other intern accounts have tried to replicate this to some success, but not have put in the same level of effort.
- Consistency - you need to tweet at least once a week, play the game.
- Be creative or at least find your own spin on an existing idea
You will start with zero followers, getting to 1k is the hardest, 10K is still a grind and it gets easier from there.
The last rule for Twitter – be authentic, people want to follow people, not robots.
Leverage Other Social Media Platforms
While Twitter has the strongest crypto community, you can find your preferred medium using Instagram, Reddit, Periscope, TikTok, or other social media networks. Most people can only be successful at a few mediums like Twitter and Linkedin or Instagram and TikTok so use whichever feels most authentic. I also highly recommend embracing new social media platforms or features like TikTok or Twitter Spaces. If you’re on a channel and you think to yourself “wow this content is garbage, I could def do better” then you’re probably right and there’s room for someone to grow an audience for quality content (looking at you TikTok). Generally, the takeaway is to experiment with new forms of media, and then stick with what works best.
Start a YouTube Channel or Podcast
Perhaps you’re not a wordsmith, but you excel at making videos, especially live content. Start your own Youtube channel or make some tutorial videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine – leverage it.
Podcasting is primed for crypto discussion. Jill Carlson and Meltem Demirors have a great podcast. Tony Sheng experimented with a fun podcast (still waiting for the next season). What Bitcoin Did by Peter McCormack. Nathaniel Whittemore started Long Reads Sunday
which curated content and now hosts a successful podcast/Livestream.
Unsolicited podcast advice from someone who’s never hosted a podcast:
- For the love of God, don’t just think that a podcast means an interview with X person. That’s a washed-out format.
- Consider live-streaming podcasts for greater authenticity and timeliness
- Make your podcasts a story (Crazy Genius), educational (Gimlet), or something different.
- See Robinhood Snack’s Podcast which does small daily news pieces or Naval and Nivi’s podcasts from Spearhead or How to Get Rich.
- There’s room for small –3 to 15 min – podcast snippets. Just because Joe Rogan perfected the 3-hour podcast doesn’t mean every podcast needs to be at least an hour.
The Meatspace: Join Meetups, Events, and Clubs
If you’re in a locale teeming with blockchain activity, I recommend going to meetups or community events, most of which are free. Some common places to find events include Meetup
. For university students, check out your school’s blockchain club or start your own! I don’t recommend conferences if you’re looking for a job, as conference tickets don’t give a good ROI unless you’re incredible at networking (let’s face it you’d probably be employed if you were). Early NFT communities are starting to have meetups as are social DAOs like Bankless and Friends With Benefits.
Move to a Crypto City
By nature, we are all products of our environment. It’s no secret that if you want to be successful in tech, you should probably live where innovation is happening. I’m not saying you need to move to a major tech city like New York or San Francisco, but you should take advantage of it if you live there. Other up-and-coming tech cities in the U.S include Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, and Seattle. If you’re willing to venture abroad, you have even more options. Berlin, Shanghai, or Singapore are all great places to move to give yourself an edge.
I will caveat this by saying where you live is becoming far less important. Most crypto companies are remote-first, but if you’re young, I still recommend meeting humans in-person to cement those connections. It is soooo much easier to build connections with your coworkers in an office or over drinks on a Tuesday afternoon than it is over Zoom. It’s still very possible to build great connections in a remote-first environment, but it requires more effort.
Leverage Your Strengths (Wizard Abilities)
Those with some working experience should utilize it. If you have any skills including:
- Analyst (excel wizard)
- CPA (accounting wizard)
- CFA (“I do not give investment advice” wizard)
- Lawyer (never get bored of case law wizard)
- Fearless public speaker (sound or podcast wizard)
- Write like Dickens (keyboard wizard)
- People Wizard (companies literally pay for networks, it’s just called Business Development)
- Process (detail-oriented and operational wizard)
- Design (Photoshop and graphic design wizard)
- Economics knowledge (crypto is underpinned by incentive mechanisms and game theory)
If you have any of these skills, then you possess an advantage over many others currently in crypto. For the students and youngsters out there, leverage your time to learn new skills or gain experience.
Offer Your Help and Assistance
This doesn’t mean telling someone “please let me know how I can be helpful” as if you’re a VC or parody VC account
. The crypto world is small compared to any other industry. You can reach out to people on Twitter and to a lesser extent email. Don’t reach out to the manager of a VC firm or CEO of your favorite crypto company. They likely won’t respond. Find someone newer to the firm as they likely have more time and will relate to you as a young professional. There are a bunch of articles
about how to reach out to people, so I won’t say much, other than you should find a way to offer value.
- People are always searching for things, help them find the information they need.
- Curation of content, news, information, data, people, educational materials, etc.
- Start a local network in your community
- Think outside the box – people aren’t always able to tell you what they want/need. What can your unique set of skills and traits offer?
Find a crypto buddy
ETH has friends and so should you. Find a friend that is just as passionate as you are and work with each other on any of the above topics. Nobody makes it to the top alone and if you do it’s lonely there anyway. Ryan Sean Adams and David Hoffman are a well-oil content machine. Hasu
– arguably one of the best researchers in crypto – writes with other individuals quite often.