We Are All Where We Need To Be

Below is a reproduction of a Twitter Thread.

It’s now been one year since I quit teaching. At 38, I left the only career I had ever known in my adult life behind. The path was filled with enthusiasm, doubt, help, and luck. This is how it happened. Thread.

In his famous series of interviews with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell said “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” For better or for worse, I have taken that advice to heart twice in my life. The first time was when at 27 I moved to Costa Rica. The second was this past year when I left teaching high school in the South Bronx to work at @brave.

Though I loved my students and my subject, teaching can be a frustrating, thankless job with a bureaucracy that squashes passion. Time and resources are consistently wasted. You learn that no matter how much you care or try, there is simply more need than you could ever address. You want to help all of your students, your kids, and you do what you can, but get used to having a broken heart. Most teachers, especially in New York City, I think, would agree with me on this.

They would also agree that the kids are the best part of the job. They are. But the grind wore me down. I wanted to do something else. But I had no idea what. How does anyone know? We don’t.

@jordanbpeterson gets a lot of hate. His politics aside, I have found his lectures and writings on psychology useful — so have my former students. His Future Authoring Program is helpful in creating an outline and aim for different areas of life. Forced articulation brings focus. I completed the program in January of 2018.

Speaking of focus, one of the main benefits of my almost two hour commute was the ability to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I stopped listening to music. Learning whatever one desires is now completely free (for podcasts) and relatively inexpensive (audiobooks). We have achieved equity of access to information. For all of the issues social media and the Internet have brought to light, the opportunities have been bountiful for those who take advantage.

I first heard @jordanbpeterson on @joerogan’s podcast. I learned about a lot of interesting people through Joe’s interviews. Another interview that captured my attention was episode 844 with @aantonop on September 7, 2016. His discussion of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies was my come to Jesus moment. On that day on the Bronx River Parkway, I was like the apostle Paul knocked from his horse on the road to Damascus.

Over the next two years I lived and breathed this crypto. Podcasts by @apompliano, @TFTC21, @PeterMcCormack, @badcrypto, @laurashin while driving. YouTube while doing the dishes every night with @IvanOnTech, @Nicholas_Merten, @Crypto_Daily, @crypt0snews, @AmeerRosic, and again @aantonop. Books and Audiobooks by @nathanielpopper, @mikejcasey and @paulvigna, @dtapscott, @benmezrich, and one more time for @aantonop, taught me the history and possibilities for this new technology. Through them I learned the lexicon. I learned the luminaries and the villains of the space; it also helped that this was the beginning of the 2016–2017 bull market. Bitcoin and Ethereum were in the public conversation. I wanted in. I learned about ICOs and Token Sales. $BAT was one of the biggest and most widely publicized token sales of 2017.

I was driving by Fordham University at 6:30 on a rainy November morning — yes, I used to commute that early — when I heard @jer979’s interview on @badcrypto’s podcast. Jeremy Epstein discussed Blockchain and Marketing with such force and clarity that I listened twice. My father had been in marketing, and my sister still is. Jeremy’s book, CMO Primer for the Blockchain World, is free on his website. I downloaded and read it; it was legit. In the primer, Jeremy discussed many tools and products in the space and how blockchain would change marketing. One of them was Earn.com (this is prior to their sale to @Coinbase). For $5 I could write to Jeremy. Earn was better than an email. I put skin in the game by putting some money up. I worked on that email for two days and sent it on January 20th, 2018. We spoke for the first time the following month on my 37th birthday. Jeremy opened the door.

I began doing small tasks for Jeremy. I just wanted to learn. And I did. I created a course based on his work and began developing a newsletter for Never Stop Marketing. Every two weeks, I released the latest news in blockchain and marketing. I began writing freelance articles for ToshiTimes — one of which was about @brave. https://toshitimes.com/how-the-man-who-built-javascript-in-10-days-is-now-brave/ I was having so much fun.

Jeremy came to NYC that summer and I met one his partners in NSM, @DonnyDvorin. Donny and I bonded over an enthusiasm for #crypto and being fans of @jaltucher. We began working together refining the NSM newsletter and established a 1 on 1 every week to discuss blockchain and marketing. We collaborated on an article for ClickZ https://www.clickz.com/blockchain-eliminates-online-ad-fraud/221129-2/221129/ — which again featured @brave, but this time with an interview with @lukemulks.

I arrived at school two hours before first period to work on my blockchain projects. I watched videos and read about Crypto during my lunch break. Students hung out in my room during lunch, and they also became interested. The running joke was, “Mista, when you gonna give me some bitcoin? I wanna be rich.” Crypto had their attention, and I promised I would give them Crypto on the day of their graduation.

If you want to learn something, teach it. So I began teaching lessons on bitcoin, public-key cryptography, wallets, smart contracts — everything that I had been consuming; they were interested. I recognized that the crypto-industry represented a unique professional opportunity. If I could teach my students about this technology, I was confident they would have a leg up and ultimately get jobs.

And this is where luck comes in. Again, the Power of Myth: “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.” Our school had a mentorship program where professionals generously volunteered their time to our students. The mentors provided both professional and personal advice while also creating networking opportunities for the students of the South Bronx. One of those mentors was @byHeatherLong. She heard a couple of my students discussing cryptocurrency and became curious. We met and then she wrote the article that changed the professional trajectory of my life.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/one-teachers-idea-to-lift-poor-students-a-starter-stash-of-zcash/2018/07/13/9c569adc-844f-11e8-9e80-403a221946a7_story.html

[…]The Crypto-Industry is still small. My name and efforts became known — and the industry immediately reached out to support my efforts to bring blockchain to the Bronx. This is when I met @jswihart of the @ElectricCoinCo. We kept in contact over the year and together created the first iteration of Crypto Community Project. Originally, I envisioned a training program that would last for six weeks, but that quickly became untenable. @SusanJoseph1786, who generously helped me conceptualize the effort, suggested a smaller scale, a two-day boot camp — and that’s what it became. In those two days, I gave a foundational lecture on the technology and how blockchain could be used to address the systemic inequalities that created the conditions of the South Bronx. We could bank the unbanked — not in some far off country but in the shadow of the financial capital of the world. With the recent news around @Coinbase and diversity, I can say from my own experience that the industry was not only supportive of our efforts to create a professional pipeline for my students, they were enthusiastic.

Everyone involved with the first CCP helped create just a magical experience. Leaders in the crypto-industry made the trip uptown to Hunts Point to spread the crypto-gospel. @jswihart & @ElectricCoinCo, @Gemini, @FlexaHQ, @Paulapbpb, @MessariCrypto, @ericturnr. @CasaHODL, @HectorRosekrans & @HectorRosekrans, @SusanJoseph1786, @beezuso, @YinFengShao. @La__Cuen made an appearance and wrote about it. And of course, my Crypto-Rabbi, @jer979. Three internships came out of those two days, as well as LinkedIn follows and entry into Crypto-Twitter. ECC, with the help of @ctomeo created this amazing website documenting the Bootcamp. https://underestimated.electriccoin.co/

[…]While preparing for the second Crypto Community Project bootcamp, @DonnyDvorin asked me what I thought about @brave. The $BAT white paper was the only other white paper other than bitcoin’s that I had read. Through my research for my articles and the Newsletter, I had learned about AdTech. I had already been using Brave for a year and was happy with the experience. […]After speaking for about thirty minutes, Donny dropped the bomb on me. “I was offered the job of Head of Sales. Do you want to come work for me?”

And that was it. The die was cast. The decision made. I gave my resignation to my principal that day. I continued organizing the Crypto Community Project bootcamp with the support of @electriccoinco, @jswihart, @cryptoserrano, @elenita_tweets. The second iteration had returning speakers from @Gemini, @MessariCrypto, @erictunr as well as new ones like @TR401, @EmilyEColeman, @Melt_Dem, @jmonegro, @RebeccaRettig1 and @klquinones. All generously donated their time and expertise for a new round of students in the South Bronx.

I began working full-time at Brave the first week of December of 2019. And while I do miss my students, the company has allowed me to continue my work in crypto-education. In a sense, I may have left the school system, but I haven’t left teaching. @Cryptoserrano and @electriccoinco have continued the mission with their #CryptoinContext program, which was modeled on our previous work. The preparations are underway, and @brave is participating. The crypto-industry does need diversity, and in my experience, it is not only willing but enthusiastic in cultivating it. We are an industry that requires one thing: a desire to learn and explore everything there is about this revolutionary technology. We are such a young industry that degrees and credentials still do not exist. The playing field has been leveled; there is opportunity for anyone who heeds the call.

I followed my enthusiasm and interest to a new career at 38. But I’m sure I would not have been ready for it at 30 — especially considering that bitcoin itself was only a year old at that point. My years as a teacher prepared me, and while those years were difficult for reasons many teachers will understand, looking back, I am thankful I went through it. I don’t know what the future holds, but the lessons we need to learn are in the present.

We are all where we need to be.

Writer of Words | Crypto-Focused | Reformed NYC Public School Teacher | Founder, Crypto Community Project | Sr. Director, Brave Software