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Brothers and Brothas ft. Harold & Steven Hughes — TMWS08

In this episode, Rich chats with Harold and Steven Hughes. Harold is the founder of Bandwagon and cofounder of Blackat.xyz. Steven is a past pod guest, financial therapist, and money reiki practitioner.

Listen in on how they break down how to learn the NFT space so you understand it in a real world way.

This is NOT about how to profit off NFTs! Understand the technology, understand the future.

This episode also planted the seed for something happening soon. I didn’t know it at the time, but glad I held this one til now. It makes the big happening even sweeter!

Harold and Steven Hughes TMWS08 episode graphic

Key Definitions:

  • Eth = Ether = the unit of currency on the Ethereum blockchain
  • Web3 = New era of the internet defined by blockchain technologies and decentralization. 
  • Web2 = the internet today. Companies provide services in exchange for your info (Facebook, etc)

Links mentioned:

Thinking about changing your relationship with alcohol? Be sure to check out Monument. You don’t have to struggle in silence. They’ve got a great anonymous community, free live meetings, optional therapy services, and more.

Next: Break the Cycle, 7 Tips to Change Your Relationship with Alcohol

Rich Jones 0:00

Harold and Steven, welcome to the podcast was good.

Steven 0:05

Glad to be back my brotha.

Rich Jones 0:08

Yeah. So we're gonna be talking about NF T's today. And we're gonna have some fun with that. But I learned something in the process of doing a little bit of research. And so you all our brothers. And so we got an alpha and an omega, indeed, let's talk about it.

Harold 0:23

Let's get into it. In this thing,

Rich Jones 0:29

I just thought that was super interesting. And I realized that like, even just this morning, and so I was just curious like about the amount of infighting or just the competitiveness, how that plays out for y'all. The who made the right decision talk.

Harold 0:43

Now, I think that, with me being the first to pledge, I was the first person in the family to go to school. I went to Clemson and then Steven went there. And then our little sister went there. And fraternity life wasn't even something I grew up around, right. So when I got there, I was just like, you know, eyes wide open Steven's, my best friend. And so when he decided he was gonna pledge, it wasn't even like, Yo, what do you think, you know, it was more of like, Yo, brah I'm glad you found that love. I know you're gonna contribute to the community, better making a man and all that stuff. So it was it was actually pretty dope.

Steven 1:15

I was just gonna say when we were at Clemson, we another best friend of ours. We all live in the same town now. So Harold place alpha, and spring 2006. I played Q fall 2006. Our other friend in the same house place kappa the next semester. And so you know, we all work with Joke and go out each other in the house. But you know, we've been friends since we just kicking soccer balls in middle school. So it's all it's always gonna be like that.

Harold 1:44

It was definitely the spot Summer, summer '07. It was definitely a vibe. Yeah. Wow.

Rich Jones 1:51

Yeah. I could imagine how many things were set off. That's probably a conversation for a whole other day, a

Harold 1:58

whole other side of different podcasts as the podcast, it's a

Rich Jones 2:01

different pocket, different podcast altogether. So. So getting into it. First question, I like to ask folks, what does mental wealth mean to you, and Steven, I'll go with you first.

Steven 2:13

And that's a wealth for me is being able to make healthy decisions consistently, like for your well being, not only how you think, but also how you feel. And you know, as a financial therapist, also how you behave with your money. And so I think mental wealth creeps into every area of your life

Harold 2:33

is dope. For me. Mental health is really thinking through how you're able to sustain the the grind that you have to commit to or the activities you have to get through by the end of the day? And are you going to have the supply that carries you through that. And so if you think about it, in the way that you would look like your cash flow for your money, it's like, do you have enough money to make it through your bills? Or are you going to be insolvent? Are you going to be bankrupt at some point in the month. And so I think about that in the same way. It's like, well, if I have all these things I have to accomplish, am I able to carry that load mentally. And I think it's important, especially as black men to really prioritize that just given there's a lot of folks who suffer in silence thinking that you can't have emotions, or you shouldn't be seeking therapy. And so there's a lot of opportunity, I think, for folks to talk more about mental wealth, and how you can be better prepared to handle the grind and the grit, you have to bear to make it to the end of your month.

Rich Jones 3:29

Now, I love that you said that because I was just thinking that there are so many people suffering in silence, I was suffering in silence myself. And I was recently running into some things at work and talking to different folks. And I see situations where, particularly with black men, we will choose to go the route alone as opposed to ask for help or take advantage of the resources that folks make available to us. And a lot of that is because of the I'm supposed to be able to figure this out. You know, I'm supposed to know these things. I don't want to show that I'm weak. I don't want people to think that I don't have my stuff together. But it's almost like in the process of doing that you do end up showing people you don't have your stuff together because you continue to struggle and struggle to figure something out on your own right to take advantage of the help. That's that's there.

Harold 4:20

Yeah, man. But we're changing that. Right. I think that part of that is that you starting this podcast off of that question, and hopefully the folks listening realize that that's something to consider. So I think that we're changing that with every day that we talk more transparently about what we're all dealing with.

Rich Jones 4:33

Yeah, yeah. And so let's talk a little bit about bandwagon because you're an entrepreneur. And I can imagine how mental wealth has been in the picture for you in terms of all of the things that you have to juggle but talk a little bit about bandwidth and how you started the company.

Harold 4:48

Yeah, for sure. So as I mentioned, I went to Clemson I'm a first generation American and my family's Jamaican Steven and I were raised in Columbia, South Carolina. And so getting started it was always about going to school get good grades. To get a good job, and be able to contribute back to the family and help your community. And so I did that I went to Clemson left undergrad with two bachelor's degrees, when economics one and Political Science got a great job at a tech company in Greenville, South Carolina, and had the desire to be CEO of that company. So trying to prepare myself to be a business leader, when got an MBA, while working full time got in the evening at Clemson as well. And that was my first time really thinking like, Man, I could, I could be the person running my own company like creating it. Like as a employee, you see all the bad things, some good things, but you see all the bad things when it comes to company culture. And so when I had the opportunity to think about what if I was the boss, what if I could create something? What would I do? That was the first time I really thought about it? And I said, Well, I would want to do something that brings people together. And so when I think about what brings people together, I think about live events. I think about sports, I think about music, I think about podcasts and entertainment. And so the vision that I kept having was how segregated our country is on Sunday mornings, from race to religion, to socioeconomic status, education. But on a Saturday afternoon at a football game, or Friday night at a concert, you saw people from different backgrounds hugging and high fiving and singing the same songs. And I really love that. And so when I start a bandwagon in 2014, as I finished my MBA, literally graduated on May 9 incorporated the company on May 11, literally as an LLC to kind of learn, it was really about how do we bring people together around experiences to create a better community. And that's how we got started. And so as we learned, there's the ebbs and flows actually went full time with the company in 2016. And really jumped in and said, Okay, I'm gonna go for this. And since then we've been rocking, there's been, you know, ups and downs, and all these different turns. But now I can say, you know, as we sit here, not on the other side of the pandemic, but in a different phase of this pandemic, how content and live events and experience are different, and how my company has been able to stand the test of time, thanks to our team, and to our investors. So as we look at it today bandwagon as an experienced technology company. We're using web three tools like blockchain, and FTS, to connect fans and consumers with their favorite brands and entertainers, with the idea that we're all taking pictures. We're all writing, we're making videos, maybe fan content, how do you connect with that favorite player, the favorite musician so that they can share in some of the beautiful work that these fans are taking? And then how do we think about ownership of content and assets on the internet, when we talk about this new world that we're living in when it comes to web three, and NF T's? And so it's been really exciting building this company. And I think that we're just getting started, even though we've been at it for a little while.

Rich Jones 7:39

Yeah, which is crazy. And I want to talk about that more, because you've been in the space since 2014. And Steven, I'm curious, because this is I realized, I haven't had brothers on the podcast before. I mean, I've had brothers with a on the podcast, but I haven't had brothers with er, on and, you know, I'm listening to you, Harold, talk about your entrepreneurial journey and getting out there. And Steven, I'm wondering, like, what that experience has been like, for you as like watching this man, jump right out there into the entrepreneurial streets and kind of go through some of these experiences and how that's shaped your own path.

Steven 8:13

Yeah, it's been a pleasure really, to be on the front row of this thing, not only seeing him, launch the company, but also become a father, as you know, things are getting kicked off also, you know, taking his role as a husband and doing all these things, as he's growing this company and building this culture as he's talking about. Because one thing I've told her, and that I mentioned to other people's, that he is a builder of teams and communities. And to see him be able to do that in his company and the different incentives and things like that, that he he's able to provide for his team that, you know, are not only important, but impactful for people especially like through the pandemic, just giving people the space and grace to take time off and get things that they can bring to their house that are for well being as we're talking about mental health. I think that it's made me think about, like how I want to be a leader for a company that I build out one, but also just, you know, I haven't been on a podcast where I think that all the people who are not only the host of the guests are all black men, but except in the past, like iteration of this podcast, but I think that when I'm thinking about building a business, have an opportunity to not only be an investor, but learn from Harold as he's doing all these things is, uh, it's definitely showing me like how I want to put my tracks down and so on. This was special for me, you know, in a lot of ways and so not only being at Clemson and seeing the, the evolution of you know, okay, we're gonna throw this party and make this money to now you know, providing solutions for customers and clients. It's cool.

Rich Jones 9:51

It's so dope. It's so dope. And it's also financial literacy month when this episode is coming out. And what's kind of craziness is gonna go back to what we were talking about a little bit ago as who would have thought a couple years ago, even that blockchain, crypto and FTS, that would even be part of the conversation during Financial Literacy Month. And so Harold, I know you mentioned you started your company in 2014. So it sounds like you've been into the technology like well, before it kind of became this hype zone that we're in now. So what led you to become interested in this space?

Harold 10:26

Yeah, for sure. So we started off in the ticketing space. So like I said, we were focusing on experience and how to create better community. And so if you think about the live event experience when the first thing people think of as tickets, and where you're sitting. And so our thought was, we started in sports, Clemson fan at the time of the company getting started, like I said, you know, incorporated in 2014, we were really started in late 2016. That was when Clemson started to go on this meteoric rise. And it was actually really amazing to see the timing. But for us, it was like, well, is their home team section anymore? You'd look at a crowd and you'd see it look like a checkerboard. And so we originally were trying to figure out how do we solve the secondary ticket market problem of fans buying and selling tickets to other fans of other teams. And long story short, we realized in our research that these teams had no idea who was showing up, because they were still fans were selling tickets on unauthorized secondary marketplaces. And so we said, well, it's gotta be some technology that we can use to like better track the transfer of these assets, and to blockchain. So we got into blockchain in early 2017, where we were looking at basically allowing parties that don't trust each other to share certain amounts of information that provide a better value for the entire ecosystem of participants. So it's Ticketmaster doesn't trust StubHub. But they both want to know which one of them actually has the real ticket versus the fake ticket that was already sold, being able to participate in the blockchain worked. And so that's how we got started. And then as we looked at, you know, talking to these different folks, you know, we talked about protecting a whole field advantage was we looked at the company, and then the market were like, well, there's no home field advantage of the Beyonce concert. There's no home field advantage of the baseball game on Tuesday. So we had to zoom out and say, like, Well, what do we actually do? And that's when we pivoted and said, and this is 2018. And said, we're going to focus on fan identity and attendee analytics, basically, we're going to help you create better experiences simply by knowing who is there, still using Blockchain, still being able to say, if Harold sells his ticket to Steven, Steven may have different preferences, Stephen prefers much more bacon on his plate than I do. And so that you should know that as a customer as a curator of that customer, right. So in that case, you should be able to understand that and so right. And from there, we were just doing the whole thing. And what we ran into was the pandemic. And there were no live events. And there weren't any major places where people going anywhere, and we like to have, we have this team that has this expertise in blockchain. We know all this stuff about experience. And that's when we started evaluating NF T's. And so it was interesting, like the hype wave was bananas. And the one thing I will say, which is wild is that we've been like I said, we've been blockchain since 2017. I didn't own any crypto, I didn't have any eath I didn't have any bitcoin. Wow, my firt. Now, I didn't buy my first Bitcoin until like, 2019, I got my first eath in like 2020. And so like, clearly, clearly could have done much better. I remember when they posted about the crypto punks in the board days. And I was just like, Yeah, I mean, I get it, but I'm good. Didn't so as well to be like, so close to the space and still miss some of these things. And so that's why I kind of worked so hard to kind of make sure I'm educating people as we're going now. Because it's bananas that everybody's in it.

Rich Jones 13:34

Yeah. Well, what's interesting, though, is that you, what I love about that is that you started with the technology first, be further. So understanding the technology. And so the knowledge that you're coming into it with, like, even if you didn't start, you know, maybe buying the coins and things too much later, like the foundational knowledge that you have, is going to be so much stronger, because you can probably spot a project. And there are certain things that you know, from a tech perspective where you're like, you know what, this is sustainable, or this looks like it has the potential to be sustainable, right, versus this one is looking like an MLM on skates,

Harold 14:10

for sure. And that's the thing. I think it's kind of wild. Like, for context, I wrote a kid's book about blockchain, like it's coming out on my dad's birthday later this year. And it's important for me to be able to say like, it's important understand the technology, but at the same time, don't be the hammer looking for a nail. And now you think everything's a nail. So for us, our Northstar has always been how do we create community and around experiences and content. And whether that was ticketing, or data and identity information, or our new focus on NF T's around content ownership, we always have the same Northstar and understood that blockchain was such an important technology to just simply understand the vast uses of it. And now whether it's writing a kid's book to help those that next generation understand what it is, or talking to folks in our black app community about the The limitations as well as the opportunities in it, I think is huge. So I love what you said there.

Rich Jones 15:05

So we're going to talk about the blackjack community a bit. But Steven, I'm curious, when did your interest first start into blockchain? And in the crypto space? What was it was a ride along with your brother or you came into the mix a little bit later?

Steven 15:17

Yeah, I think the when it comes to the blockchain space, when we were at Clemson, I can still remember when I had my Blackberry, you know, people were giving out Bitcoin, like just for you to download a wallet. And you know, just as people switch phones, I factory reset my Blackberry, so those Bitcoins are gone. But that was like the first time that I even thought about or heard about, you know, what this would look like. And then fast forward to, I want to say it was last summer, I've been tracking harrows company bandwagon since the beginning, of course, but I never leaned into the space myself the way that he has, because I've been focusing more so on financial education, financial psychology, and behavioral finance. But every now and then, like, I would hear something like, Hmm, I want to learn more about that. And so when you NF T's, I just started taking off, I'll say, last summer, like Harold told me, he was like, Hey, I don't care what you do. I don't care. If you're interested in art or anything like that, go to this domain and buy, go, go to this website and buy your named domain. Go to DNS dot domains and buy your name to domain. Yes,

Rich Jones 16:34

brother. That is freaking brotherly love Go on.

Steven 16:39

No, it was definitely brotherly love. Because I didn't know at the time that I was buying NF T. I didn't know like, because then I had a wallet. And in that wallet, it showed that domain as an NF T. And I didn't know what the implications would be going down the road. And so I think later on that week, I bought my first like art NFT like people buying pictures out here. I've bought my first art NFT. And it kind of it's just been growing from there.

Rich Jones 17:09

And yeah, the NFT space has gotten wild. And I definitely want to talk a little bit more about that. But black at Herald you mentioned that. I think we were talking about it a little bit even beforehand here. What is that community platform?

Harold 17:24

Yeah, what is that? For? Sure. Yeah, yeah. So it's really wild man, like being in this space. There's so many black folks who were in it before me black Dave, Sean Morrison, Latasha was one of the dope. And it's the artists that I dopest that I've seen so many folks who've been in it. But when I go on some of these rooms, they just weren't enough of us. And, um, and so I saw that and said, man, there's got to be more black people who need to know about this content. At the same time, I realized that there aren't many spaces where you're going to be able to easily find black people in real life at some of these, like major events. SXSW ces like there's always like, Man, I wonder what's going on. I wonder who's here. And when you look online, even black spaces have white people in it, you think about Black Twitter, white people all through Black Twitter, right? It sounds like man, what if we could create a private community, it's just us online. And then at events, we're able to coordinate and say, Hey, we're gonna put together this group chat. And this is how people are able to communicate, and organize and mobilize and the whole thing right and be able to do stuff. So I got together with my partner Shaundra, Washington, and Adria Kenway. And we said, Gil, will we do, we had an NFT. Community token gated, basically, the only people that can participate in this have to own the NF t. And then we'd have a private telegram group. And then from there, we'd have public facing events. So if you check out like our Instagram or Twitter, you'll see we hosted a party during South by Southwest. And we have people from all kinds of backgrounds ethnically, career wise, and if t's not there, we're there. And that's important because we know that we need to be in the inclusive we, and a lot of times and then black people often are, you know, big leaders in the inclusive way. So we create a blackout to be this space where we can not only celebrate each other's create joy, share resources, share opportunities, and really collaborate. So we set it up for black founders, by funders, creators, collaborators and community builders. And so we launched the NFT on February 28, got more than 126 unique holders, we set the maximum number of the group of 500. So it's been really, really great to see folks come in, we're using reverse Dutch auction mechanism to basically figure out as the price goes up, your early members are compensated and rewarded for getting in early. Okay, it's just been bananas, you know, and so you think about it for any other membership. Let's say Soho House like a member here in Austin, if I don't want to go to Seoul house anymore. I can't sell that I can't make money off of it. So what is so hard have faith in these communities? Also, so Laos is basically like a membership Social Club, like a physical place. Gotcha. And so it's like anything where you You apply, they let you in and you pay them 1000s of dollars. But let's say that you don't want to go on a night where last week or two weeks ago bunbee was performing. So you have a membership, that will get you in for free. But you don't want to go, Well, you can't just transfer it to someone, you can't just sell it to someone. At the same time, I've invited several people to become members, so else, but I don't gain any, like economic impact there. So the community has grown there has been impacted by me and some of my friends, but we don't share in it. flip that on its head. When you think about blackout. What we're able to do in this case is say, if the community gets bigger, and people want to get in here, and our price of our token goes from point one to one or 10 eath, you'll decide as a member saying, yo, do I want to stay in this community? Or do I want to take this $30,000 and get out? So for me it was really important with a lot of people say, Why does this have to be an NF T and it says, Well, this is a way we can truly compensate the team, the community members, if you put in gifts, and if you're over posting memes, articles, and links, and people are coming in, the conversations are great, and they're buying in, and you want to be able to take money off the table and leave, you should be able to do that. I think that that's true community ownership. That's a big value. So we're excited about what we're doing. We have sold our first event at South by two weeks ago. Our next events coming up next month in Miami, Miami tech week. And we're going to kind of keep building and connecting the community online as well as offline.

Rich Jones 21:22

Yeah. And so I'm listening to this, and I'm thinking about the experience of it for someone who's new to this. And so to get access to this community, they have something on their phone. Yep. And then when these and then based off of having something on this phone, they can then access like a kind of private chat room group through one of the platforms out there. You mentioned Telegram, I believe, correct. And then from there, that's where all the magic happens. All of the communication, all of the collaboration happens. And that's also where if there's going to be events, things like that all that information is posted there. So it's almost like a private membership community, the way that people traditionally think about it, but all online.

Harold 22:05

Exactly. And that's the key. There's the main differentiator is, for most other private membership communities, when you decide to leave that community, there's nothing you take with you. So you've been putting in value and putting in value and putting in value. And when you decide to leave, you get nothing. In this opportunity. In this case, we're saying, if you're putting in value and our community grows in value, Your Honor, you contributed value and so that that seat that you're vacating, you get to decide what it's worth to you, along with the market, and if you decide to leave, then that's opportunity. We modeled it off of clubs CPG, a community that I'm in crypto packaged goods started by Chris cantina star by Chris cantina, and Jamie Schmidt from the founders of Schmidt. And really, the cool thing was, that community is wild, I minted my NFT for that group. So basically bought the membership pass for point two eath. And I think at some point, at the end of last year, somebody bought one for 2070. Wow. So we're in the same chat room when same private group chat, and I paid point two, and they paid 27. So at that point, I could decide, you know, it's time to get out of here. Yeah, and take this money. But there are hundreds of people who stayed, because they realized that being the communities more valuable. And so I'm excited about seeing the black community be able to have that kind of impact, where we see the value of our token. And of course, like, for me, it's not about the value of it going up, because I'm gonna take money off the table. For me, it's about the value of it going up, because we can then go and say, Whoa, whatever is going on in here, people are choosing to stay in there instead of pocket 100 grand, but oh, that's got to be super valuable. There's got to be something that's a college degree in some places, right? So we want to make sure that we're creating community that's valuable. And being able to tokenize it allows us to truly track how people perceive the value of the community that we're creating.

Rich Jones 23:54

It's crazy. And Steven, we had a conversation a while back about blessing looms Sue Sue's the scams that were floating around out there, and I understand what you're describing in terms of the space or what you're describing. But I could also hear someone being like, that sounds really NLM like you put money in and it's just people in a space, and then you leave and you take more money. So Steven, just given that I know we've had that conversation before. And when we're both laughing about it. Can you talk a little bit about how this is different, because you've also been trying to put me onto blackout as well. And so this is something that you've clearly learned about. So we could talk a little bit about how this is different.

Steven 24:36

Yeah, I think that the biggest difference is that I don't have to recruit anyone for Blackhat like I am, I'm giving you the information about the community as a courtesy because you're my brother, and I want to I want you to be around the community that's growing. And that is because I know that you're an entrepreneur as well. You look for resources, not only like financial resources, but human resources that we need, as well. have grown on this journey. And I think that when you do have the opportunity to get our community into a concentrated place working on solutions just for everybody, whoever pops up, like these are people who are problem solvers. And people who are who want to galvanize the community anyway, whether it's in that community, that group chat or outside of it. And so I think the difference with the money flowers, or whatever the hell they recall, like last summer, was that you have to recruit these people for you to get your money back. We could stay I because I'm part of the community, we could stay in the number that we're at, but because of the people who were in there, we're growing as people, the community is going to grow in value anyway, whether anyone joins or not. And so I think that's the difference in regards of this. And the opportunity is there to join. I'm not saying like, Yo, you got to jump in, so I can double up. And once I double up, I can hit you back when you got in. And then we can figure out how to get sis out who jumped in to, because that's just foolishness. But I think that, you know, when we get that opportunity to really jump in and galvanize together, like for the community and build together, I'm going to take that opportunity, whether it's starting a real estate investment group or learning more about the NFT space and cryptocurrency with blackout. And just the other day, I think that in this is a good crossover. So rich, you and I are in the elevat group. We saw one of our members post and ask, Hey, what are some cryptocurrency resources that I can give to my group, I went to Blackhat. And I asked like, Hey, yo, what are some resources and that whole list that I posted in our mastermind came from Blackhat. And then I reposted the same list and blackout, because these are resources that we should all have. But that's how fast it worked. It wasn't that I had to know where do I find all this information. But that's a perfect example of just being in the community because now everyone in elevate has that list too. They can start learning about NF T's or cryptocurrency or blockchain as well. And that's how the community just expands.

Rich Jones 27:11

I'm thinking, This sounds like paid mastermind, almost to me. You know, what I was thinking about the conversation I had on a recent episode with Jason Brown, I encourage you all to go check that one out. But it's almost like a paid mastermind in some ways, which if you've heard of that, that'll probably make it a lot more simple. But I understand the value of investing to be a part of communities. You know, and I think what's critical in all of this is that you are doing your research. And so Steve, and I'll go to you first on this one, how have you gone about learning this space? And just from what you've learned so far, is there advice that you would give to someone who's new, who's exploring this for the first time.

Steven 27:54

So a couple of things that I did was one, I found the people who weren't stumbling over their words, the people who had been who didn't just start in a Summer's time, who knew this space and knew what they were talking about. And so I'd have to look far for that, because Harold and I got the same blood running through this. But I think that when I want to grow in the space, like even learning things outside of hair, I would ask, like, who else should I follow in the space who's speaking, like the same language, who I can learn from? And I also created one thing that I've mentioned to people, when we're talking about learning about a specific financial topic, I mentioned to people like, Hey, you should just create a separate social media profile for that, and just follow those people. So that you have a stream of information from a couple of people that you can, like, move on and take action on. And so that's what I did for cryptocurrency in NFT. Space, I created another Twitter profile, because that's where most of the conversation is happening. And I just followed a few people who were talking about NF T's and talking about cryptocurrency so that I could get a little more comfortable with all the acronyms and the verbiage and the jargon that people use in the space. Because I do want it to be it's almost like another language when I started as far as like, what NFT even meant, and why do we have to call these things non fungible tokens like we got, there's got to be a better name going down the road. But nevertheless, like, just learning about what that is, and what that means, and why that could be important and how that could be important to a community. And so just doing those couple of things, one, finding someone that knew what they were talking about, and I could start learning from asking them for referrals on educational resources where I could start learning from, and then I also liked because we were all on social media, creating a separate profile that I could just start learning about this one specific thing. And I remember I told Harold, I was like, you know, I don't Want to, I don't want to jump into this thing, like I would like to, like, dip my toe into, into it. And so on the weekend, I will open this profile, I'll look at these tweets, I'll start, you know, rabbit holing down some of these just so I can learn a little bit more. But on Sunday evening, I'm closing this and going and going back to my regular, you know, Twitter profiles, I don't have to look at NF T's all day long. And so that worked for me like for a while, and just getting a little more comfortable with what the space could look like and what it sounds like. And I've even downloaded a lot more apps on my phone because of this. So like Harold talked about Telegram, a lot of people will start at NFT project and ask you to download discord or join the discord server. It's super spammy and scammy over there. And so I appreciate being in telegram. But just understanding like how people communicate and what apps they use to communicate is helpful to like, as I'm learning more about the space. So it's been a, it's been interesting, but I know that those are things that other people can do to just to separate your learning, like from your regular social media profile, or just finding one voice to focus on at a time.

Rich Jones 31:11

That bit about having one profile dedicated to it, which I realized I have one of those I created an account. I didn't realize that's what it was. But it's just all the crypto details. And it is helpful because it's so noisy, and that if you're someone who gets easily distracted, you're seeing crypto updates mixed in with Beyonce updates. And I don't know why I continue to use Beyonce as an example. It's not someone who I would probably get updates on. But you keep seeing updates about this and that. So Harold, how about your experience as far as your learning journey to and I know you're already in the blockchain space, but just maybe go to Resources or things that you found interesting as you were getting up to speed?

Harold 31:52

Yeah, I think that in the beginning for me, it was really trying to figure out what resources were out there that were easy to digest. And then how did I use my discernment to make sure I was not getting scammed, I was talking to people who were trusted, and they were folks with great credibility. So when I think about when I first got started, it was Chris cantina was posting a lot on Twitter, you Harrison, Terry brother wrote the NFT handbook, which is an amazing book, if you haven't bought it, read it. That's really one that can help you learn about the space. But it was being able to see some of these people talking about it. And then using a certain level of discernment to say, oh, that sounds a little too good to be true. Or maybe I should fact check this. So that's really how I got started. I'm really Twitter's my favorite platform. And so I don't like having multiple accounts primarily because I want to be perceived as around character. I want people to get to know me and all the different facets that I'm interested in. And so one moment I may be tweeting about startup life. Another moment, I may be tweeting about Dad life, or some random memes, or NF T's and crypto or financial operation for black people all across the country and across the world. By being in those intersections, I was able to see, like, man, half of this timeline isn't talking about this, how do I bring them into this space. And that's really how I was able to learn because, as a follow up on people, I was able to figure out the resources and then like, really just plug into them and make them digestible. And then the next thing I did, which I think is really important is I put my money up, like oftentimes people try to do like, Oh, I'm going to learn this and be academic, we've got some, some good jokes about some people like that, and some of our group chats where they are looking at things purely as academic, and not putting any money up. So I remember, I had a little bit of a payday from a liquidity event for one of my investments last March. And I was like, You know what, I'm gonna check out these, I'm gonna check out these NF T's and put a little money over here. And at that point, it started on NBA, Topshop. And I was like, Okay, I understand what a trading card is. It's a picture of an athlete doing action on paper. And there's a limited number of those pieces of paper. And they're the quality of that paper is important. And who made that paper is important. Because I know that if I just made this on my computer at home, it's not the same value as those one that came in this top box. So I understood that. And so when MBA Top Shot I said, instead of paper is a video file, and it's still serialized, and there's still a finite number of them. And instead of a picture, it's a video of the person doing it. And so I was like, oh, as easily able to connect the dots saying, Yeah, I could see how this could be valuable. And as we look at art being different, right, like, in the beginning, you know, art was probably just like clay and sticks in chalk and ash. But then we got canvas, and then we start getting oil paintings. And then we start getting digital media and all these different unique elements. And so for me to say, Yeah, I understand why trading cards valuable, but then not being able to wrap my mind around how an NBA Top Shot could be valuable. That wasn't something I got stuck on. A lot of people do get stuck there. But I understood very quickly, like oh, there's just a different medium from Canvas to a digital painting. So for me that's how I learned was putting my money where my mouth was.

Rich Jones 35:02

And part of what's funny is that now we're in a digital era. And it's almost like this would have made more sense. If it was back, when cards and all of these different card type games and paper based games were a thing, he probably would have made a lot more since then. Whereas now everything is digital. And so if it's digital, it's free. And I think that's where people get hung up. So if it's like, if it's an image, like anyone can put that image on their profile, and I do think a lot of folks get hung up with that.

Harold 35:30

Rich, I want to say real quick to that point. I think that's the problem with ownership. Right? We live in a culture, when no one understands how ownership works, you think about the DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, right? And understanding that, oh, I can't just take your logo and put it on my picture and post it on the internet. I can't just take your meme and reshare it because of how content ownership works. And so we know how it works. If it was my car, and you steal my car keys, or we know how it works, if it was my purse, or my wallet, and you stole it. But for some reason, we've never connected the dots. And so when we talk about what we're doing a bandwagon, and we're thinking about how we make it plain for everybody, we always say Instagram to all of us that were photographers, Twitter told us all we were bloggers, but none of these platforms told us how we own our content on the internet. And what that means. And so what we want to do is be that company that bridges that gap, that turns us from content creators, leveraging user generated content with these DSLRs in our pocket these phones, and then taking it to the next level and saying was a content creator, on top of content owner, as a content owner should not be able to monetize this should not be able to license it. And that's where I think there's the opportunity gap for us to be able to help fill it together.

Rich Jones 36:43

And I'm thinking about how this could be applicable in the podcast world. In the writing world. I've heard of tokenized content like me, I think there's a platform like medium where somehow it's it's tokenized as well. Steven, I was wondering for you, what was your first NFT purchase?

Steven 37:00

I think now that Harold reminded me of the the Top Shot phase of NF T's like for me, I think that I bought a pack of top shots, like, and I forgot all about it, because I haven't been on the platform so long. Like, I'm not interested in Top Shot at all. I'm not an NBA fan. I'm a Knicks fan. And so that's, that's just not

Unknown Speaker 37:23

our job here for the President.

Steven 37:26

For sure, for sure. We got to get that right. But um, I think the when I got into that summer, actually, after buying the domain that Harold mentioned to me, and then I also bought my company domain, no money dot eith, you know, and then Rich, I think you and I talked about the domain that bottom Founders Day. And then my first NFT that I bought, it was like a goat is a Hall of Fame goat Lodge. And like, I bought it, and once I bought it, I started learning like, Okay, once you buy this NFT you're gonna get invited to this server on Discord. And then you have to verify the NFT ownership, and then that unlocks some more channels for you to have different conversations and connect with different people. And so are they from the, like Harold mentioned, putting your money up, once I started buying more NF T's and seeing like, Oh, this is how this project goes, or this is what happens when you buy this NF T. That was a big like, a big tip in my education process. Like it ramped things up on another level, because I was able to not only see the NF T's and hear people talking about them on Twitter good, better and different. But I was also able to see inside of the community and what that looked like and felt like so it's been it's been wild, especially when ens had their their token like event as being a theory of naming services. And is a company that like, so we talked about. I mentioned like if you are on cash app, right, you have a cash tag. And I use my Aetherium naming service domain, like kind of like cash tag for my wallet when it comes to people sending me eath or me buying something like NFT and I know Harold can like, give you more information on this because your boy is still learning. But I think just putting the money in and getting involved will help you learn even faster. And that's what happened for me.

Harold 39:29

Yeah, I mean, you covered it pretty well. Steven, I think the thing that folks kind of get kind of confused on is like what is you know, you see people with this dot eath address or dot Sol for Solana, which is another cryptocurrency and they get confused, like, what is this? It's the same thing like when you go to a website, like a lot of people don't realize when you go to, you know, partake foods.com, which is a dope cookie company. If you go to that website, it's because we've decided that we should have a simpler way to point to a server instead of Bing 1.24 3.5. So what we're looking at there is like, we need to find a shorthand for getting to a location. And when you think about that financially, that's the same thing that bank accounts do. So normally, to send money to someone, I would need to have their wiring information or maybe their routing information. But now you've got companies like Xcel that say, well just put in their email address, and we will connect on the back end, or putting their phone number or as Steven mentioned, Cash App. So when we think about like, what these new naming things are doing is really making it simple for us to find each other online and be able to transact whether that's sending cryptocurrency buying NFT and a number of other things you can do online.

Rich Jones 40:41

And one last pretty basic question and then a quick mindset tip before you all take off so one from each you why discord why telegram? Why do people have to go to these other platforms? I had never. I'd heard of discord. I thought it was something for gamers. And it's now one of the primary tools that's associated with these NF T community. So why these platforms? Why not some service that already exist, or that already existed?

Harold 41:13

I'll start there. I think that the key is, is that there's a lot of controls for community management. As you think about even Facebook, you know, the biggest social platform on the planet. It's really hard to manage a community on Facebook as a Facebook page, just because of the chaos of how the information is managed. And so you look at like a discord. For example. It's threaded, and there are channels. And you could say, we're gonna have you take a look at web three. Web three is a big overarching framework. In Web three, you've got defy, which is decentralized finance. You've got cryptocurrencies, you've got NF T's. You've got Metaverse, all these different things. And so if I'm coming into a community, and I say I only really care about Metaverse, I don't care about defy, I should be able to get information there and still be part of that community. So I think the tools that we're using will become more mainstream, they feel niche, but Discord is a massive telegrams massive. But ultimately, I think that this is going to come down to some of the companies that I'm going to be looking at going forward are companies that are creating tools for better community management overall, because communities are the new thing, if you if you have the choice to say I can either start with an amazing product, or a super engaged community, you should take the community and you will figure out a problem or service that you can work on with them or for them. And so I think the discord and telegram and some of those folks work a little bit differently to kind of support their communities and the community leaders. And for us, as Steven mentioned, like, Discord just got so many issues with spam, and they're not even trying host someone listens to this and fixes it. But right now we're using telegram excited about more of the projects and companies that are building new products as well.

Rich Jones 42:48

I love that. And there there probably is somebody I'm not sure what level they are in the company if they can actually do anything about it. But

Harold 42:55

hopefully we have Discord is listening to this podcast. I want you to know that. Oh, we were speaking there.

Rich Jones 43:00

Okay, you know what we're putting it out there. What's good. And Steven, as far as far as a mindset tip, what I'm thinking here is something for someone who's new to this space, it seems overwhelming for them. And they want to start this learning journey specifically as it relates to NF Ts. Is there a mindset tip that you would give for someone to keep in mind as they go about it?

Steven 43:21

Yeah, I think that the biggest thing that I can say is when when we are trying to consume new information, it has to be put in the size that we can digest. So for anybody who's trying to learn about NF T's or about cryptocurrency, just take bite sized bits of information, like take this podcast, listen to it. If there are things that you're hearing that you've never heard before, like these terms of these acronyms, write them down and go research them on whatever you learn with best. If it's podcasts, you can find some podcasts listen to like the mental health show or the professor Evans, she's a podcast tech intersect. There are YouTube channels for people who have not that YouTube university life, that they can digest some videos, there are websites for people who are readers of you know, blogs, and all these different things. There are websites you can go to and just read blogs. And so just give yourself some space and grace to not get it all at one time. And it's not going to go past you. But I don't feel like this is an opportunity flying and fleeting. But just ground yourself in the in the place to say like you can learn more about this new thing and you don't have to learn it all at one time. I think for a lot of people they they turn very hot and cold with like NF T's and cryptocurrency because at first they don't get it they feel like it's scammy or spammy or they just hear a lot of people talking about it. Or they see people who owe them money talking about how much money they made from it. And they you know get turned off in that way. But when you like take a step back I can just say like, Alright, I'm gonna learn about this thing. And bit by bit, you start to say like, Oh, I see why people are excited about it. Maybe I didn't get the use case before. But I see like how this works. Now. It's a different world. And you can make a decision on whether you want to learn more about it. Like Harold mentioned, that is a huge umbrella with three people will be talking about the metaverse, and I'm not up on game, I'm just not but but there's so many other things to learn about. And I think that people can take pleasure in learning about these things at the same time.

Rich Jones 45:30

Love that. And Harold, to you to close it out mindset tip for folks who are trying to get into the space, and then for folks who want to connect with you on any of the communities where to find you.

Harold 45:40

So I think that one of the things we have to enter this space and is being with a high level of discernment, really being careful of who you're trusting for the information. But the other thing I want to make sure to encourage folks to do is like when you think about the space, don't go into it, thinking about money, go into it thinking about community, I promise you the money's where the community is the values where the community is the resources is where the community is. But if you go in looking for the next board, eight, or the next doodles or the next, whatever, is gonna be a tough road. And so I think that it's more important to go and find your people. One of the things I'm most excited about in web three is that I think that it's gonna shine a light on a lot of niche communities. Even with blackout, you know, we've got, you know, more than 125 people in our in our group, and it's dope, you know, we start every morning, we don't do GM in there we do wg, you know, that was good. Because, you know, for our people, we understand what that is, when we started with the the art, we came with some really culturally relevant artifacts that people were super excited about. And we're fine. If two or three people are joining a week as we're adding really notable people and people are creating value. And I do think there's gonna be business opportunities. We've already demonstrated that so far in this last couple of weeks. And so don't go into this looking for money going into it looking for community. And I promise you your communities out there, as far as finding me online, I'm one bandwagon fan. That's o n e bandwagon fan. And we're super excited about what we're building with black hat, which is black at XYZ, all that spelled out on all platforms. And our goal really is to help bring more black people to web three, and connect us. And so it was great to see like how bandwagon kind of helped push me in that direction. Because I do think organically. I'm a big person. I believe in community, I just think we're communal people, I don't think we can get far alone. And even if we do get far alone, we could probably get farther with others. And so Steven probably has some notable quote about friendship, he probably add in here. But I think that you know, community is so important that we need to think about ways to preserve it, to protect it to be inclusive. And so as I learn things, I want to make sure I'm sharing on the way up, you know, you pass the ladder down. It's not a once I get here then. So as I'm doing, I will kind of thing. So this has been dope. I appreciate it. I'm glad hopefully more folks are willing to reach out and say, I don't know anything about this space. And we do one on one conversations and trying to help people learn but this has been a blast. I appreciate it

Rich Jones 48:04

rich. Yeah. This has been a lot of fun. Steven, Harold, thanks so much for coming on. Steven, it looks like you got something you want to say real quick.

Steven 48:11

Yeah, I was gonna say a couple of things. One, I hope that we can change the West good to walk on in the black. Like, I think they can support that. But friendship is that's definitely essential to the soul. And I think that this is the first time that me and Harold have tag teamed on a podcast. Yeah. So I just want to say appreciate you rich. And you know, I'm a big fan of the Mental Health show and everything that you got poppin off with the mental Wealth Track Club and everything else on your journey. So glad to be back on here in this capacity. And Hera, you already know. Appreciate you for blessing your boy with the NFT knowledge my god. Thank you, brother.

Harold 48:50

Yeah, we're changing that we're changing. Let's do it.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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