Happy New 2018!

We welcomed New Year 2018 at the roof top terrace of one of the tallest Gran Via buildings in Madrid, eating traditional 12 grapes, making wishes, drinking Cava (and seriously freezing under the wind). It was the first full family reunion since January 2016, when we all played mafia game in Luxembourg for Anna’s birthday.

I have always liked Madrid during short business visits here during my Amazon years, but never actually had enough time to explore the city. We all agreed that it’s a very funny combination of old and new, a great place to spend a few days walking around, doing some unpretentious shopping and eating amazing food.

Who knew that all 3 kids (ages 24, 17 and 8) would be passionately competing for the title of the most fashionable sibling !!!!! (Pavel with his hmmmm… statement t-shirts, Anna with her purple hair and Diana with her GAP kids loungewear).

Diana was playing politically incorrect enfant terrible quadrupled. When she learned that I did not have any iPad when I was 8, she assumed I had chosen not to have an iPad being too old-fashioned. Pavel and Anna quickly corrected Diana that I might be a lot of different things they did not approve of, but I’m quite progressive.  However, when Diana realized there had been no iPads at the time I was 8, she just concluded “Mom, if you lived during the times with no iPads, you must be very old”. Facepalm 😉

It’s an early evening of January 1st and thus far I’ve drafted 3 first of my new year resolutions. They usually go through some alterations over the year anyway.

One of the best things that happened to me in 2017 was moving into and being accepted by the world of crypto-community.  It’s not just one of the fastest growing market segments, it’s also the unique brand people– smart, rebellious, hardworking, funny and with a lot of self-irony. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that blockchain technology is based on the principles of seeking democratic consensus, trust and common interests and avoiding single points of failures as much as possible.

It’s totally different from the buzz words “inclusion” or “diversity” or the likes. As an example, PayPal (similar to many other tech companies) is talking a lot and doing a lot about inclusion and diversity and it is clear that there are many groups of people who can benefit from diversity programs – working mothers who were away from workforce for a few years or veterans who might need re-training. However, as far as PayPal is concerned, looking at how many of my former colleagues have left the company and started their own businesses during 2017, it’s clear that PayPal is consciously and subconsciously eliminating rebels and entrepreneurial people from its ranks, driving them away by corporate matrix inertia and inability to move faster. In terms of numbers, yes, PayPal maybe getting closer to meeting percentages and other numerical targets of having enough people of a certain gender or age or social group among its managers and employees, but in terms of different voices being heard, there is a clear discrimination against specific mentality of “rebels” and “enterpreneurs”.  I talked a lot with people who left and people who would probably leave in the next year, and it’s always the same story.

Crypto community is different. I’ve never seen so much mutual respect and ability to admire someone’s ideas or embracing uncertainty. Of course, there is competition – for investments, for rankings, for talent, for spotlight. But also there is a realization, that the pie is big enough for everyone.

Sometime in March 2017, I met with a very successful consultant whose clients include several major banks and insurance companies in Switzerland. I wanted to learn from him how to be a successful consultant and keep existing clients happy. He gave me several brilliant recommendations, for example, to never agree on trial projects with no compensation. In his experience, people who are ready to pay you and engage you, will be ready to do it from day one. He also advised that after a year on my own I would know if it’s working or not, and it would be so clear, that I did not need to second-guess myself in between.   He was totally right. We met again in early December 2017, and I was telling him how excited I felt, having just being engaged by an amazing company who I admired for a long time, and how my pipeline of blockchain customers is full and growing. He smiled and said that I was lucky, because I worked with companies I loved and he was working with the same banking people he left when he left his bank, and he wanted to move into crypto to be able to do more fun projects he actually cared about. In March, I wanted a little bit to be him, because he had a great reputation and a solid clients’ base, and in December he wanted a little bit to be me, because I worked with companies  making history and the first lines of Bitcoin Magazine and Coin Telegraph every week.

I frankly don’t know and don’t really care, if I ever go back to employment, but I definitely won’t ever go back to a situation, when I am expected to go to office every day, attend unproductive meetings regularly, and wait for some other people in the hierarchy to decide what I can accomplish this year, what my performance rating should be, or how much money it would be “fair” for me to earn comparing to others.

Corporate world has given me a lot – friends, experience, ability to understand people and their incentives, patience, useful social skills. And I’m grateful for all of that. But this is so much better now and I wish everyone can just experience that!!! Happy New 2018!!!

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