Blockchain explained for Executives
As an executive you’ve probably heard quite a bit about blockchain. It’s safe to say that there is a lot of confusing information out there as to what it is. This is mostly due to the fact that when people say “What is blockchain”, they then start down a spiral of technical jargon. Fortunately, since you don’t have the time or desire to get a yet another degree, here is a simple way to think of blockchain.
Blockchain is a group text message
Think of blockchain as a group text message. Have you ever found yourself in one of those annoying group text? You know where there are twenty or a hundred people talking about something random. Where some people have names, some have numbers and they’re all actually just sharing data. Data can be anything from text, photo, meme, video or restaurant reservations.
That group text message is a great way to visualize a blockchain. A blockchain is immutable and distributed, just like your group text message. Send a classic Friday Happy Hour NSFW photo to a group text, because you think its funny. Even if you delete it on your cell phone, it still exists on everyone else’s. That’s the essence of distributed ledger technology (DLT), aka blockchain. Shared, distributed, immutable data. There are some finer details we can debate but the key is shared, distributed and immutable data – just like a group text message. Now the real question, as an Executive is, do you need a blockchain? Stay tuned and spoiler alert, 99% of the time the answer is “No”.
Speaker Samson Williams is a classically trained anthropologist and a finance expert. Samson delivers insights into topics such as FinTech and crowdfunding in plain English to clients ranging from investors and government officials to small children and c-suite executives. In addition, he is partner at Axes and Eggs, a blockchain and cryptocurrency think tank.
How the Gig Economy and Automation will kill the College degree
“What’s the worst financial decision you’ve ever made?” Mind Your Damn Money asked on Instagram. To which I initially replied “Go to college” and had a good chuckle. As I personally found it amusing, and then sad. As I know many people who have a couple hundred thousand dollars in debt and slim chances of ever being free of that burden.
But in my case going to college made sense. Best two years of partying like a rockstar possible. Go ‘Noles! Yet, as I began thinking about it, in the Gig Economy, do you need a degree? And what good is a degree in a world where we generally agree that 80% of today’s jobs won’t exist due to automation?
What’s the Gig Economy?
Unemployment is at historical lows. Meanwhile, the wealth gap has increased. How is this possible? Simple, the Gig Economy. The Gig Economy means you have a job that requires full time hours, but doesn’t actually give you full time pay. More than likely you’re actually working poor. Some examples of the Gig Economy include: Uber, TaskRabbit, Lyft, Amazon delivery, consulting work and other temporary work (or “gigs”) of various types. No health benefits, no savings, no investment plans, no sick days. At best you’re a 1099 employee (meaning you have to pay your own taxes, which 99% of the time just screws you later). While you get to theoretically set your own hours, you end up working so much your hourly wage is similar to those of an Uber driver, around $9.00 an hour. In short, the Gig Economy is temporary, benefitless work.
Automation’s impact on the Gig Economy
When you go to the grocery store and “self-checkout” that is automation. Humans love automation. Automation enables us to shop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Everything from Amazon Prime to picking up our cars at the airport. All without ever having to talk to another human being. When is the last time you went to the bank? I mean, actually walked inside of a bank and had to talk directly to a teller? In most people’s book, having to talk to an actual person to get a good, product or service is a fail. Why? Because it typically means you had to wade through an automated customer services system, pressing “0” and “1” and begging to be connected to a human. One who may or may not care by the time you get to speak to them. Fortunately though, those virtual assistants are getting pretty good.
If you’ve called a 1-800 number in the last year, there is a 90% chance you’ve spoken to a virtual, automated assistant and not even known it. Soon, they’ll be so human like they’ll curse you out and hang up on you on purpose. But before they get there, let’s see what else has been automated that you love:
● Traveling – travel agents exist but who other than your grandmother uses them? You’ve probably got an app for that.
● Grocery shopping – from Peapod, Blue Apron, to Amazon Fresh, being able to ordering groceries online and having them delivered to your doorstep is simply amazing!
● Dating – well sort of. But you can select folks to date, as fast as you can swipe right!
● Apps – anything with an app is an automated tool. Apps makes many goods, products or services faster, easier and cheaper. Sadly, they can also make your dating life faster, easier and cheaper.
The College Degree
Having an idea of what the Gig Economy is and what Automation is, what does this have to do with the college degree? Simple. As more jobs are automated, what good will four years of studying a thing be, when all you can get is a gig? A temporary, benefitless, low paying, high hour job?
One of the hidden truths about automation is that the first jobs to go, are the white collar ones. Those currently requiring degrees and “higher” thinking skills. Why? It makes financial sense to automate your most expensive employees. While there is that upfront cost of automating their job, once done, how much healthcare do you have to provide to an algorithm? Have you ever had a dumbbot call out sick, ask for a day off, freak out in the office or incur a sexual harassment settlement? Too, if you’re in upper management, you make more money. The productivity doesn’t decrease with automation. No, No, No. It increases. The cost savings are converted to profits, which enable you to get a bigger bonus. If you automate “John’s” position, you can buy yourself a new house — now that’s an incentive worth looking into.
The Future of Work and Education
The future of education isn’t one where you have a four year degree that says you can read, write and follow directions. The future of education, as dictated by the gig economy and automation, is one where you need to be clearly able to demonstrate your proficiency at a craft. Are you an artist – then draw me something / show me your portfolio. Are you a project manager, coder or admin? What is your Yelp or LinkedIn rating? Ok, professionals don’t have LinkedIn ratings…yet. But they will. Because if you’re great at what you do, you don’t need a degree. You need a reference. You need a reputation. The Future of Work looks a whole lot like apprenticeships. Where capable, journeymen and women accept apprentices to study under them. Where, based on your ability to be creative, add demonstrable value and out “creative” AIs you will have a job.
What does “out-creative an AI” mean? It means, as blockchain networks and infrastructure get built, smart algorithms and dumb bots mature, we will soon come to a point where we have something very similar to actual Artificial Intelligences that can do 90% of white collar jobs. Even many blue collar / physical labor will be automated. In this environment, creativity and emotional intelligence will be the new employment gold. This is what “our creative an AI” mean. It means, you’re better at being human than a program.
My niece and nephew, three years and 13 months old respectively, as of July 2018, will never have four year degrees. They’ll grow up in a world where everything is automated. They will have jobs. Only because nepotism is real. But for everyone else. You included, how are you planning for your financial future, when your college degree will be about as useful as the Yellow Pages?
Stay tuned. Next will be a discussion on the political realities of automation, AIs, a jobless future and this thing called Universal Basic Income. Also, how you can strategically position your career to be relevant for the next 100 years.
Interview with Samson Williams
What got your interested in blockchain?
In 2015, when I was working at Fannie Mae, the CISO, Anthony Johnson told me three things that changed my life. 1 Get on linkedin. 2 Wear better socks. 3 Buy bitcoin. The rest is, as they say, history. Now I have a mean sock game.
What’s it like working at a think tank?
When your tag line is “We answer the questions you can’t google” things can get difficult rather quickly. Fortunately, we have wicked smart people, who literally can answer the questions google can’t.
What are your biggest goals in your life/career currently?
Axes and Eggs is launching blockchain classes in 9 countries in MENA (Middle East North Africa) as well as Mauritius, Cambodia and potentially the far and exotic New Hampshire. Most excited about the New Hampshire initiative as it is the first time we’ll be hosting any public blockchain classes in America.
This is a big deal because we believe blockchain education is needed first and foremost. Cause once you understand what it is, sorta how it works, and the impact blockchain will have for the next 3 decades, then you can make a decision about what you want to do. Whether its investing, building or adopting blockchain, you first just need to know the basics and be comfortable making an intelligent decision around it. So, we see lots of opportunity for that, even in the USA.
What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?
Validation. Not personal validation but thought validation. If you want to be a thought leader people have to know what you think. And as a thought leader you should either be leading people to personal and business epiphanies or profits. Otherwise, why should they follow you? So, as a thought leader my goal is to help unlock levels of self awareness that were previously closed and help strengthen existing revenue streams while opening up opportunities for additional lines of income.
If someone has taken the time to come listen to me speak, at the very least it needs to be time and money well spent. I’m knocking it out the park when they walk away more profitable and inspired. So public speaking is immediate validation. Cause when you’re in front of a few hundred experts and interested people, they’ll let you know immediately if you’re inspiring them or just wasting their time.
Who or what inspires you?
My mom. My nieces and nephews and my kids, that I’ve yet to have. Funny story, I have a bunch of domains registered for when I have kids. For instance for my name I have www.samsonwilliams.com registered. So for the kids I’ve yet to have, I have their names registered too. Why? Well one day I hope they can look at what I’ve done and built and feel inspired to follow in my footsteps and then take it to the next level. So, when they’re ready to take that step, at a minimum they’ll have their domains.
Describe yourself in 3 words
Time traveling dreamer.