I still have to pinch myself at times because never in a million years did I think I’d ever be where I am now. No I haven’t “made it” and no, not all my dreams have come true. What has changed though is my belief that anything really is possible no matter how hard or impossible it may seem and all this started with a simple technology called blockchains. Let me explain.
I was never a super successful student at school no matter how hard I tried. Looking back now I know what I was missing. It was guidance, mentorship, advice, help and of course the Internet! I did ok at university and was an average student, striving but never achieving. I then went out and did what everyone does, I got a job. As an electrical engineer, I designed the electricals for shopping centres (Bayfair), rugby stadiums (Waikato) and office fit outs. I then switched over and gave Java programming a go. I was average at programming and soon found myself travelling in Asia eventually living in Japan and China for a number years. It was in Japan when I discovered what a blog was and started learning about web development. In China I set up a small Internet marketing company and remember my first ever customer. It was doing a translation gig for a Greek hotel website into Chinese.
I eventually came back to New Zealand and got a job in the integration space eventually becoming ok at joining systems together and moving data around. Then the GFC hit and with a mortgage and a young family, I was suddenly made redundant. I had to pinch myself thinking this was a nightmare that I would wake up from. To this day I still remember very clearly hearing the news over the phone and not knowing or understanding how to react. Here I was, a professional consultant with an engineering degree, overseas experience, and a very hard worker but I was surplus to requirements. I was shocked at the time but it was actually a huge blessing in disguise.
Things were tough. I brushed up my CV and started applying for jobs, a process I will forever hate. To make ends meet, I did part time work and even joined my dad painting houses. Painting gave me a new found appreciation of what hard work really meant! 7am to 7pm carrying buckets of paint, scaffolding, water blasting, sanding, under coating in the baking hot sun. It was relentless but this is what my father had been doing for years to put us through school. I then got a job where I had to fly to another city every week and could only return home in the weekends to see my kids. That was hard but it’s amazing what one can endure to keep food on the table and a roof over one’s head.
I then got a break and ended up working for an amazing start up but it was during this time that I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I had been listening to too many motivational clips online about the idea that sometimes you have to give up the good to be great, be allergic to average, be phenomenal or be forgotten, and of course, you will never be successful until you don’t need to be given a dime to do what you do.
The goal was to enter into the Bitcoin and Blockchain space. This decentralized movement where trust and information could be shifted away from large, powerful companies and back into the hands of the individual. I also set out to be really good at one thing. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I spent an entire year reading 24 x 7 everything I could about this technology. I re-learnt C programming again and stripped down some mining code and rebuilt it from scratch. I re-learnt from my engineering days how computers and hardware worked. I re-learnt concepts of public/private keys. In essence, I really focused on learning and mastering the fundamentals.
I then accidentally found a mentor Thomas Power who changed my view of being social. I started sharing my new found knowledge by tweeting, running meetups and speaking monthly in front of people. I then got invited to speak at events, got flown to events around the country and eventually even being paid a small amount for speaking. As an introverted, self-conscious, immigrant geek this was a huge milestone. I had to pinch myself thinking this was a dream.
I then went on to experience things I never would have been able to experience had I been stuck behind a desk doing what I had always done. I had the opportunity to lead the Blockchain Association of NZ, to talk about Bitcoin on national radio, to be invited as a keynote speaker at an annual corporate gathering, to create blockchain courses, and to meet true leaders in the blockchain space.
Writing a book was always something I contemplated but it felt like the hardest thing in the world. Where do you start? How do you start? Do you really know what you’re getting yourself into? Luckily I didn’t and like they say, when ignorance is bliss…
I ended up working on the book with Thomas reliving the history of the rise of cryptocurrencies, blockchains and tokens. The motivation for the book was really to contribute to this amazing industry that is more than just about technology and crazy crypto money. It is about society, understanding what money really is, and most important of all, the concept of trust. The goal was to tell a story of the craziness of blockchains, ICOs and tokens for our future selves when we look back at this particular moment in history. Of course the story is still unfolding.
The book is targeted towards those new to or curious about this industry explaining the basic concepts and documenting ICOs or Initial Coin Offerings that rose to their peak in 2017 where billions of dollars were made and trillions of tokens were created. I spent almost a year researching with Thomas and eventually produced a book that was published in October 2018. Small plug, the book is available at Amazon or the Packt website or contact me directly.
The process of writing a book changes you as a person. Self-doubt lives with you constantly. What if I write something wrong. What if people criticises it, or criticises me? I had to constantly remind myself though what if I don’t do this? If I quit, what will my peers think of me? What will my kids think of me? Luckily I had a great team around me. Thomas of course was a veteran so it was a privilege to work with him pushing me all the way and without the publisher, this book would never have happened so thank you as well!
I am very grateful to all those I have met on my journey thus far and also to those I have never met but communicated virtually via the likes of Twitter. There have been a few haters along the way but I openly and gratefully take the good and the bad. I don’t get bitter, but get better and negative feedback is fuel for the fire. Feedback, as they say is the breakfast of champions.
I’ve always taken the view that learning is doing. Education is constantly changing and with the Internet providing information at our finger tips, it has become even more important to be able to understand and memorise, to comprehend and apply, and finally to share and enjoy.
Statistically speaking, with only around 1.6 billion heart beats left on this planet, I still have time to do good in this world, to make a difference, and to help others. Let me leave you with this final thought. How many heart beats do you have left and what difference do you want to make in this world?