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We Need to Stop Talking About Crypto

There's buzz of a bull run, but are we ready to onboard the next billion? Today, I'm *currently digesting* the stories we tell, navigating a mentality shift, and the sanctity of stoking hope (because we love getting a little lofty from time to time).

I had the fortune of growing up with a unique figure in my life: an emotive grandfather. And he tells a story like no other. Within seconds, he has everyone hanging on his every word, blending syncopation, gestures, facial expressions, and impressions with ease. He's equal parts humor and grace, and it's impossible not to be drawn in by the proximity he creates. I still feel like I know his high school girlfriends and army buddies, despite never meeting a one.

I like to think I've taken a few pages out of my grandfather's book. I've spent most of my career trying to understand what people want and need, how to build things that are meaningful to them, and how to tell stories that stick. Naturally, when I found myself digging into web3 several years back, I saw a glaring issue: the stories kind of sucked (if they existed at all). Projects and protocols were flaunting their edge through specs and jargon. As a non-technical person, they simply didn't speak to me.

Now, it's worth mentioning that, at the time, many of those projects and protocols didn't really need to speak to someone like me; I wasn't their target. But times are a-changing, and as claims of onboarding the masses abound, it's time to stop and ask ourselves:

We want to build solutions for the billions. But can we convince people they're worthy of their time?

I had an interesting "use case" unfold recently and find it perfectly illustrates this notion.

I met up with a girlfriend over the weekend and she shared the best news: She finally enrolled in SheFi after months of hesitation.

The cause of her reticence? She's "not a tech person."

We'd first spoken about SheFi when enrollment was open for Cohort 9 last fall. I'd highlighted that the program was approachable and friendly and feel-good regardless of whether you work in tech. That it provided invaluable knowledge that every woman should be equipped with. She wasn't sold and I didn't push.

When enrollment for Cohort 10 opened recently, the topic came up again. "Girl, I really recommend checking out SheFi," I encouraged. After a half-hearted, "Yeah, maybe I will," I decided to dig rather than let it go. The problem wasn't SheFi, or even that she's not a tech person. It was crypto—a word that elicits joy in few who aren't already in the ecosystem. She knew of headline-makers, but didn't see how this tech could improve her life.

So we talked about how our data is managed and sold today.

How our banks charge us ever-increasing fees to make money off our money.

How traditional social media platforms own our creations.

How 55% of the world's unbanked are women.

We connected on mutual pain points, the ways in which the world is no longer working for most people and how unfair that is. I showed her the Coinbase ads. The lightbulb moment, what made her actually enroll in SheFi, was realizing there might be an opportunity to do things differently. And this has been the case with every "successful" conversation I've had around web3. When people opened up to the idea, it was because they could finally see themselves in it. They felt understood, and they had hope.

From Early Adopters to Everyday Folks

If you're reading this as someone active in web3, you've likely felt a buzz lately. The space is preparing for the market to tip and catalyst predictions have been flowing in.

What I hear talked about less: the massive leap in target mentality we'll need to navigate if we're setting our sights on the next billion. Everyday folks do not think like early adopters. The masses don't find your token intrinsically cool. It's time to stop selling crypto like it's 2021. We need a shift from gimmicky marketing tactics to higher connection. We need to create a meaning funnel.

The Meaning Funnel

  1. Hook: Grasp the zeitgeist and tell strong stories

  2. Convert: Show, don’t tell, how crypto improves their everyday

  3. Sustain: Create a culture that feels good

As we go wider and build for more people, I encourage us to create that proximity, to talk less about crypto and more about the end benefits for those who don't have a predilection for bleeding-edge tech. I'd love nothing more than for the chefs and scientists and designers and refugees and moms and farmers to feel the benefits of web3. But it's our responsibility to show them why it's deserving of their time. (And build solutions that actually are, but that's a topic for another time.)

xx

E

My mission is to make crypto work for more people, be a sort of Chief Mass Adoption Officer for the space, if you will. If you're building—or wanting to build—and I can lend an ear, please say hi.

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