This is Not the Time to Check Out
Wisdom from Zeneca
Today we have a special guest post from our dear friend and frequent pod guest, Zeneca, an ex-professional poker player turned web3 and NFT investor, advisor, content creator, and project founder.
Zeneca’s a brilliant thought leader with a popular newsletter of his own, Letters from a Zeneca. His posts offer a fresh, unique perspective on not just NFTs, but the creator economy and greater world of emerging tech, as well as the psychology of owning and investing in high-risk assets. He writes from the heart, and as such, his work is often shared widely amongst the web3 community.
Fortunes are sown in bear markets, and reaped in the bull.
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy only when others are fearful.
People love to throw around these statements almost as a way to reaffirm their decisions to stick through the bear market. I’m extremely guilty of this myself, and there’s a good reason for it: they’re true.
Trading NFTs (or anything, really) is fun when number goes up only. Even when number goes down a lot and up a lot and down a lot and up a lot, it’s still really fun (albeit terrifying and probably shaves years off lives). What is not fun, however, is when price goes slowly-down-only, month after month after month (after month after month after month).
That’s basically where we are in the NFT market right now, and where we have been for the better part of the last year. MANY people have already checked out. They got bored; they got depressed; they gave up. It is very fair and very understandable.
Hell, that was me in 2018-2020 (RIP). I didn’t have a strong conviction in crypto yet. I wasn’t convinced that Bitcoin and Ethereum would “still be a thing” in the future. I missed buying ETH at $80 (despite having bought it at much higher prices during the bull). I was, clearly, wrong.
I feel that a lot of people who are disengaging from the NFT market now are making a similar “mistake,” and it’s mostly because they are acting based on emotions and not facts.
It’s hard to swallow the pill that you overpaid for things. It’s hard to accept that you bought a lot of things that will never recover. It’s hard to open your portfolio app every day and see red, day after day, week after week, month after month. It’s very normal and understandable to give up. It’s what most people do.
If you want to “make it” in crypto, in NFTs, in life (whatever “making it even means”); it usually doesn’t come from doing what most people do.
It comes from being exceptional.
Most people are not still opening web3 / NFT / crypto newsletters. So just the fact that you are reading this puts you at a leg up over “most people”. This alone, of course, does not mean you’re going to “make it”. It does however mean that you have a much, much, much more likely chance of “making it”.
Whatever it is that that actually means.
I’m not at all saying that you should be out there buying up the floors of all your favorite collections; or even that you should be buying anything at all. I do think, though, that you should at least be paying attention — and continue to pay attention — if you want to give yourself a better chance of success in web3.
If financial success is what you’re after, then this is not a bad time to be hunting for hidden gems. I’m not here to tell you what they are (sorry), other than to say that they are out there. There are things that are down 95% that will recover. There are things out there that will 100x from here in price. If you have conviction, and a strong enough thesis, and a lot of patience, and a long enough time horizon, and perhaps a bit of luck ... there are insane opportunities all around.
Even if you’re not interested in hunting for gems, there are still endless opportunities all around. Networking is such an underrated part of this space, especially in bear markets. Crypto Twitter is like high school in many ways. It’s immature, there are cliques, there is bullying, people have fun, there is endless drama.
It is also like high school in the way that, 5 years from now, you’ll look around and go “oh I went to school with that person who is now the founder of <insert wildly successful company here>”. You could be on a Twitter space chatting with the next Frank DeGods, the next Jack Butcher, the next Snowfro. Heck, you can still be on a Twitter space chatting with all 3 of them even today.
Don’t underestimate the power of networking in this space. You never know where your future boss, co-founder, employee, or best friend will come from.
On Growing The Pie
Before I got into web3 I was a professional poker player. I mostly played online (starting in 2004). In the early days, the community congregated on online poker forums and, by and large, everyone was extremely happy and willing to share tips and strategies and help one another improve their game. This was in spite of the fact that these were the same people they competed against at the tables.
We all realized that growing the pie was more important than fighting over the same pie.
At some point between 2005 and 2015, that changed. Poker “alpha” was given less freely and openly. More and more of it became gated, behind paid groups, subscription services, private coaching, small friend groups.
I feel like we are somewhere in that 2005-2015 range right now. While yes of course there are paid groups and private avenues of content (tbh the world has acclimatized a lot more to paying creators), there is still a hell of a lot of open and public sharing of great ideas.
Each year that went by, it became tougher and tougher to “make it” as a professional poker player.
Each year that goes by, it is becoming tougher and tougher to “make it” as a professional crypto / NFT trader.
The going is still good, and probably will still be good, for quite some time yet. But it’s not as easy as it was in “the good ole days,” and it’s not getting any easier.
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On Where To Focus
One of the difficult things about our space is just how much is always happening. Even now, in the bear market, it’s overwhelming to know where to dedicate your limited time and attention:
Do you only focus on the projects you own NFTs in?
Do you look out for new ETH projects?
Do you focus on the latest meme coin trends?
Do you jump on the BTC Ordinals bandwagon?
Do you keep up to date with the latest tech improvements?
Do you finally figure out what the heck “DeFi” is?
Do you finally pay attention to blockchain gaming?
The possibilities are endless. They were endless in the bull market too, but somehow it was more palatable to be overwhelmed when number was going up. You could accept losing a bit of sleep, having a bit of stress, feeling a bit of FOMO, as long as you could refresh your app and see green any time you wanted.
It’s a lot harder to stay engaged when that green is now mostly red. Why should you check in with the latest trends when it’s not gonna lead to any short-term profit? Why indeed.
You need to come up with your own answer to the question; to have your own conviction in why you’re still here. It could be because you’re investing in the long term. It could be because you see the writing on the wall and that crypto will, eventually, be everywhere in the world. It could be because you’re passionate about digital art, or gaming, or DAOs, or DeFi. It could be because you want to make some great friends and connections.
Whatever it is, you have to come up with it yourself, and focus your time and energy on that, and try to ignore the noise. It’s difficult because there sure is a lot of noise.
But you simply can’t focus on everything, everywhere, all at once.
On Making It
What it means to make it is different to every person. To some it might be making X amount of money. To some it might be launching a successful product. To others it might be launching any product. To others still it might be making friends; to others, making a friend. Making it is uniquely distinct to each individual. It’s why WAGMI can be both hilariously wrong and oddly true at the same time.
We’re All Gonna Make It.
What A Grossly Misunderstood Idiom.
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