Breaking into Blockchain – Crypto 101

Breaking into blockchain is not hard, but requires some time invested in learning about the basics. I personally started by reading white papers – namely, Ethereum, Bitcoin, Dash, and tons and tons of ICOs. Of course, if you know mathematics, polynomes and cryptography, you’re already 3-4 steps ahead of the game and can understand the probabilistic models better than everyone else.

Here’s two of the best resources when it comes to taking the first steps into blockchain – collection by A16Z, bitcoin-focused link list by James Lopp. These two alone will get you far enough to begin with. From there you’re going to branch out into the wild and discover your favorite coins/algorithms/programs, whatever you understand and makes sense for you. There’s no right or wrong at this stage, mostly trials and scams.

Since I already mentioned I’m a big fan of Ethereum, here’s a link to a collection of applications build to top of this ecosystem. Mostly wallets, trading, gambling, games, just like any early stage medium and just 240ish. The internet started like this, too. It will eventually grow beyond this. After all, you need to build the foundation, lay the piping, create the structure before you can start operating the mall. I don’t know why I chose the mall analogy, but it fits the context very well. It evolved from the street market into the steel and stone edifices we find everywhere nowadays.

You need to keep up to date and if you don’t want to get all the newsletters from Coindesk, CCN, Bitcoin Magazine etc, then it’s easier just to follow Crypto Panic. It will aggregate the best news for you, along with community signals. Sure, there’s bias, but where isn’t one? Do your own research, don’t follow the shillers or the FUD (fear uncertainty doubt) spreaders or the FOMO peddler (I won’t explain FOMO).

Ok, you did the reading, time to grab some coins. Here’s a few lists of exchanges. Do your own research and choose the ones that make sense for your needs/strategy: Crypto to Crypto exchanges (I mostly use Bittrex and Binance); Fiat to Crypto Exchanges (Coinbase and Gemini are my favs here).

Now you have the coins, but where to store them? Definitely not in exchanges, as you won’t be able to do much with them there. I use a few wallet combinations, like Scatter, Metamask (protect your private keys), MyEtherWallet, Blockchain Info, Jaxx, Coinomi and several others that are coin-specific. Make sure you check the HTTPS, the URL and bookmark your wallets. Phishing is very common.

Lastly, for those who want to dive deeper into ICOs, here’s a primer along with the Price Waterhouse Cooper new global ICO guide, hot off the press from Switzerland.

Remember, it’s still early days, so the tools will be pretty rudimentary, but as the industry matures, the tools will too. Right now we don’t know what are the best ways to do things because we don’t know what are the best things we can do yet with blockchain technology. That’s enough to excite a lot of people out there to build, test, launch, fail, learn, build, rinse and repeat.

When do you need a Growth Manager?

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I won’t quote the Harvard Business Review article that decisively said that every company needs a growth manager because I think that’s a wrong approach. Only businesses that have a strategic goal to grow need a growth manager, all others need a manager that can maintain the status quo, the market share, the profit margin, the shareholder returns a.s.o. The latter companies will suffer from having a Growth Manager as will the Growth Manager suffer from being in such companies, because growth does not come without pains or changes.

If you don’t leave room for some pain in order to grow towards the reward, you will never get to the reward.

Another article I’d like to mention here is the Intercom piece about the bullshit that is growth hacking and how bad it is for an organization to turn it into a strategy. Sure, it’s scrappy, lean, works for a while, but the price you pay in the long run is a lack of foundation for the growth you hacked your way into. That foundation is done with investment in tools, strategies, deliverables, templates, methods, people, offices that don’t deliver right away. Hell, they may even push your organization at the very edge, stretching the runways, cash flows and giving the C-levels some nightmares. But the ones who choose to grow this way are the most likely to reap the rewards in the long run.

One of the best places and times to hire a Growth Manager is when the company is opening up a new office in a new geography. The founder / C-level / co-founder that is in charge of opening this new office should first hire the growth manager to essentially build infrastructure for operations, sales, recruitment and marketing and benefit from their network and expertise, especially regarding process design and management. Without this person to drive the new office growth, the pace will be significantly decreased due to the lack of bandwidth of the person opening the office alone.

It’s here that the redundancy rule stands very strong – have at least two people in the company with overlapping skills, that way if one gets hit by a bus or goes on vacation, the other can keep running the shop.

Hire a Growth Manager that is curious, hungry, that has built at least several other projects, managed business units or functions from zero to regional if not global impact. Give them resources and freedom to act, trust them to build the infrastructure which will enable the product-market fit startup to grow, the established company to expand and the team to specialize and move from a learning – jack of all trades type of roles to production focused, quota focused, ROI, KPI focused machines that will deliver the results for your next round or the IPO or the results you will need 3-4 quarters from now.

Remember, it’s not just about the 10x growth requirement or the go-to-market readiness that needs a Growth Manager. The best companies hire one before that so he/she will have time and resources to build the vehicles to be used in the future growth process.

Breaking into Startups in San Francisco is not like on HBO

When I moved to Silicon Valley, I thought to myself:

Man, opportunities will come at me from every corner!

While it took me just over two weeks to break into the startup world, others aren’t so lucky to have pre-existing connections or traditional startup backgrounds and get rejected a lot. I got rejected too, before hitting it big at DigitalGenius.

Last night, a few awesome folk launched a different kind of startup podcast: one that’s about beating the stereotypes, conscious and unconscious biases of Silicon Valley startups. Not just white, male, top tier school graduates should be the ones joining companies backed by top VCs or household names like Google, Facebook or Twitter. Everyone should have a shot, but they don’t.

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That’s one of the reasons the community behind Break Into Startups came together and supports one another – the only way to break the pattern is if we all work together. No more job board rejections, no more interviews where you are given a hard time because you don’t fit the pattern.

If you agree with what I said, listen to their stuff, subscribe and leave a review to help spread the word. Share, tweet, post for a more inclusive, more creative world.

SEO doesn’t work without branding

Even though TechCrunch now has gone tabloid, they still nail it from time to time. This week, I was reading an article on how the digital marketers decided to skip school, reinvent the wheel and discount all strategic management tools to go directly to instant gratification tactics and/or hacks.

My fight to pick right now is with the SEO. It doesn’t matter if you have a good SEO ranking if you are an unknown brand. As a corollary, SEO strategies are not effective in building brands if they focus solely on the SEO factor and not on the mix of PR & branding impact.

Just look at the A(wareness) I(nterest) D(esire) A(ction) model, a simple tool from the corporate marketing world. I, as a potential customer for your product, need to be first aware of it, then be interested in it, then desire it, in order to click and buy. If I’m not quite there, then what I will do is click to see if I’m interested, if I desire and then maybe buy. But the SEO article has to deliver, in this case, interest and desire, which, sadly, not many of them do. This is because the SEO people rarely work together with the PR people and they just run bland content, which doesn’t incite much interest, let alone desire. They focus more on action and on the link juice and that’s where they lose points.

The right way to do it is to link the PR, content marketing & overall branding strategy with the SEO by placing articles that are engaging, interesting, exciting and brand aligned on SEO properties to generate conversations, shares, social proof alongside the ranking increase. Hey, in the end, all those social signals end up actually boosting SEO.

So stop being boring, work with PR people and look beyond the DA/PA/other metrics you might be using.

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Photo taken from the Relevance Agency website

How to copy/duplicate a page or a post in WordPress – 7 easy steps

One of my hobbies is to fiddle with WordPress in my spare time, as it’s a CMS I have been working with for the past 7 years. Usually, I work with the template files to replicate design and layout, but recently, with the growing popularity of page builders, I found myself to want to duplicate pages I had already build, but without saving a new layout. I needed several signup/error pages for The Extra Dish site and needed to duplicate pages. WordPress does not make it easy for people like me. There is no default way to do it, but there are several plugins to help us.

I used WP Bulk Post Duplicator and followed these steps:

  1. Install the plugin and activate it
  2. Go to the Pages/Posts category and mark the page/post you are trying to duplicate as Pending Review
  3. Make sure that this is the only page/post you want to duplicate
  4. Go to Settings > WP Bulk Post Duplicator and select Page/Post
  5. Choose post status as Pending Review
  6. Click duplicate and you are done
  7. View duplicated posts or pages in the respective categories and continue editing

Please share this post if you find it helpful.