#67: The future of work is the creation of opportunity
How decentralized finance and DAOs create opportunity and are the future of work
Hey gang, Happy Friday.
The weather is heating up in Berkeley and it’s starting to feel like summertime — my favorite season! Especially here in Northern California where our summers are mild, and even chilly. To quote Mark Twain:
The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
Some folks have been asking me: how do I write one post a day without getting overwhelmed?
This is an interesting question because writing used to be super duper hard for me. As a beginner writer, I experienced imposter syndrome — self doubt and distracting mental chatter that stopped me from getting my thoughts on paper. These days, writing feels like freedom. Freedom to write what I want and how I want on a blank sheet of paper and share a little piece of myself with my readers. It gives me a sense of connection and now, not writing every day feels like something is wrong.
What I’m describing is the mental and emotional part of writing, but another really important part of writing is the logistical complexity. Meaning, finding the time and the bandwidth to write amidst the responsibilities of life. You know what I mean, right? Like there are people who are able to do hard tasks and make it seem easy. Writing is a hard task and I guess I make it seem easy which is why people ask me how I’m able to write one post a day without getting overwhelmed. So, that’s cool. I appreciate the recognition.
Getting back to the logistical complexity of writing—making the time to write and having the mental and emotional bandwidth to do so requires a lifestyle change. Meaning, if I worked a 9-5, 40 hour/week job, like most people in America do, I would not be able to write one essay a day. I would be too mentally drained to write. Plus, there would be other commitments I had to tend to when I finished working. If I did set the goal to write one essay every day I would surely get overwhelmed — and my goal would not be sustainable in the long term.
As an aside, I have noticed my posts have become a little rambling? I think that’s okay. We need space to ramble and take conversations into different tangents. That’s good discourse and that’s how we learn. But unfortunately our culture encourages us to write and talk succinctly, in bullet points, in concise sentences, because that’s efficient. Ain’t nobody got time to ramble and philosophize.
Anyway, as I alluded to a few paragraphs above, and as you’ve probably figured out from my previous writings, I do not have a 9-5 job. Some people, including some family members, think that I actually don’t have any job! Of course, that’s a bit extreme — and funny. What people really mean, when they think that I am unemployed, is that they don’t have a concept, yet, for how I work in the digital realm a.k.a DAOs.
That’s fair — my concept of “work” does not fit in with their mental construct of “work.” But here’s a mind expanding phenomenological thought: why does a job have to be limited to a well understood concept?
As Jason Crawford writes in his essay, the one I wrote about in yesterday’s newsletter post — having a world view that is limited only to the known and proven, sounds smart —but actually it’s pessimistic, and quite frankly, if I may add, it’s also anti-progress.
I’ve realized a new reason why pessimism sounds smart: optimism often requires believing in unknown, unspecified future breakthroughs—which seems fanciful and naive. If you very soberly, wisely, prudently stick to the known and the proven, you will necessarily be pessimistic.
Jason is right. Pessimistic people usually sound smart, spewing “facts” at you, “telling you exactly how it is,” and engulfing you in their “logical reasoning.”
In a utopian world, pessimists would loosen up and stop holding on to their beliefs so steadfastly, but until that happens, optimists need to learn how to work with pessimists — and convert them through kindness and compassion, one pessimist at a time :-)
The concept of work can be boiled down to this definition that I have created:
Work is the creation of opportunity. Opportunity to meet people, to exchange ideas and knowledge, to exchange value, to make an impact, and to build wealth.
Opportunity is a future-state — it’s an unknown that is not yet achieved, which is why pessimists have such a hard time valuing progress.
Here’s a simple way to think about the future of work:
Pre-Internet, people had to physically meet up with another to make financial transactions. Companies recorded transactions in logs that were stored in filing cabinets in basements of big skyscrapers.
Finance, marketing, sales, and accounting departments, amongst others, would coordinate with one another via phone and in-person meetings.
$$ flowed. Information and knowledge was exchanged.
The Internet was invented and business operations were moved online, to some digital realm encoded in 0 and 1s in fiber optic cables. Basement filing cabinets were moved online. Email was invented. The result: Information moved much faster.
Today, this made-up construct of a DAO (no different from the made-up construct of an organization) enables people globally to meet up in the digital realm, to exchange knowledge and information, and to use the blockchain to transact $$ with one another, to exchange value without an intermediary. The result: Information moves even faster.
What I have described above is progress —the future of work. If we do it right, the future will become the present. This trajectory makes sense because throughout history, technology has enabled organizations to move away from centralization, towards decentralization, with each stepping stone removing barriers, reducing friction, and enabling information to flow faster than ever before.
Here’s a real world example.
Today, I added $Robot: MetaFactory’s native token, a cryptocurrency, that I earned for publishing a writing project — to a Balancer pool: a decentralized finance platform. I am now a liquidity provider, what in the traditional finance world is called an “automated market maker.”
You can think of a Balancer pool like an index or exchange traded fund. All of the big financial institutions like Vanguard or Merrill Lynch or Fidelity offer their customers self-balancing index and exchange traded funds.
The way that the DAO and crypto world works —and this is the innovation — is that any person, like myself, or anyone else, can do work for a DAO (in my case, I wrote a short story), and then use my compensation to completely switch roles — from a worker to an owner who now has financial and governance stake in the future of the DAO.
In the traditional world, I would have to take my earnings from X employer and invest in Y company through a financial institution.
Let me give you a real world personal example. Several years ago, I earned money from a previous employer, ConsenSys, and invested it in Apple stock through Fidelity. I continue to receive a bunch of letters in the mail about shareholder meetings but like most people, I throw them away. Why? Because I know that I’m a tiny shrimp with no real control over Apple’s governance or finances.
With MetaFactory, however, the situation is way different. I attend their weekly calls. I know the founders and the contributors. I have a personal relationship with people. We have established trust. I now also act like my own bank, as a liquidity provider, helping to ensure that the MetaFactory economy works well. My tokens give me voting rights. I can directly see the impact I am making.
The takeaway is that decentralized finance, coupled with DAOs, are the next “logical” (shout-out to the logic minded pessimists!) evolution in technology’s role as a disinter-mediator, as a mechanism for information, knowledge, and money to move faster. This creates a ton of opportunity and it’s very exciting.
Take care, y’all! Have an amazing weekend.