Where are you from?
Tell us more about your role at Pocket Network. What does a day in the life look like?
Sure thing, a day in the life of Director of Marketing for Pocket Network is quite a full and exciting one. Before I dive into work, it may be beneficial for Tampa Bay entrepreneurs who venture into St. Pete to know where some of the best cafes to work out of are xD.
I typically start my day either at Black Crow Coffee on Grand Central or Grass Roots Kava House for my morning coffee.
A solid percentage of my time is spent revising and refining the strategy as new data and insights come in, and then working with the team to brainstorm, plan and execute on directives that may deliver key results outlined at the beginning of each quarter.
At the beginning of a new quarter, I will spend time with each team member, on an individual basis looking at last quarters OKRs, our monthly progress, what worked, what didn’t and why, and then look at next quarter to define the objectives and key results.
The system I am referencing for goals and alignment is called OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) and is a great system for aligning the entire company, in all departments around key objectives and key results. If you have never heard of OKRs, I recommend you check out the book “Measure what Matters”. This system is more inclusive then strict product KPI’s which does not allow every person on the team to feel that they are directly impacting these results (finance or operations for example).
It’s the job of both the leadership and the team members to tie in individual OKRs, with department OKRs, with company OKRs so that the key results for the company are reached in order for it to progress.
For example, one of the company Objectives for Pocket Network for the year has to do with demonstrating platform usage, which is measured in API requests through the network. Because of this alignment on objectives, and constant reflection on the strategies and execution tactics, the leadership made a decision to take 1 Month, and shift all dev resources to acting as solutions architects for prospective partners; the Objective Key Result being, “Confirm 5 Integrations that Pocket Dev Team will work on. “
Boy did that work! In that Month we got integrations to 4 major wallet providers, 1 notable DApp Interface, 2 blockchains, and 1 very important full-node project. I could list out all of the details here but it may be best to check out our latest newsletter for more information. https://poktnetwork.substack.com/p/pocket-network-news-july-2019.
At the beginning of the week, I work with the marketing team to craft goals for the week and unblock anything in their path in our weekly standup and meetings that follow.
At this phase in Pocket's Marketing, we are primarily focused on content, partnerships, and community development. I would not be able to consider myself a leader if I wasn’t in the trenches every day.
Other than strategy, analysis, and team collaboration, I spend my time creating content and engaging with the community. I create content in all forms, I take meetings of all kinds, I have long conversations with prospective community members, and battle trolls if need be. (which doesn’t happen often in Pocket, luckily).
How did you get your career started and what challenges did you face along the way?
For as long as I can remember I knew that I needed to be an entrepreneur, and because I didn’t have any money or powerful connections I knew that I had to learn sales and marketing. I spent my early years trying to start minor companies, doing my own sales and marketing and learning as much as could through experience, good podcasts and books.
I got a job at a local marketing agency where I had the opportunity to learn and grow my skill set as a digital marketer. I spent about 2 years there and quickly became a senior level marketing manager.
But, as I stated early, working at an agency was not my goal. My dream has always been to be a part of this new wave of community-centric systems and tools to empower the next renaissance. It was in that hunger for more that I began to learn about blockchains, and smart contracts, this was when the project Ethereum first came out. It took me a few months from truly understanding Ethereum to make the jump.
I had nothing, no savings, no fallback, but I knew I had to try. So I put in my two weeks, and slept on my sister's coach for the next year (thanks, Lauren and Chris). I did nothing but trench work (probably why I am biased towards trench work). No friendly get-togethers, no female attention, just research, creating, having conversations, hitting dead ends, and a few opportunities that I attacked like a mad man.
This is where one of my mottos really solidified into my bones - “Be Undeniable.”
It took months of dedication and free work to start to get noticed by projects in the space. Eventually, I had a few options on the table, all of which were part-time with no guarantees, but I decided to take another risk and go with a blockchain project that looked at the time like it had a lot of upsides. I worked in every marketing capacity for this project, and every community capacity you can think of. The thing about a lot of blockchain projects is this undercurrent of “Decentralized Governance”, “Cooperativism” and non-hierarchical organization.
This all sounds beautiful in theory, but practically (unless executed perfectly), it results in a few people carrying the whole project on their shoulders. I was one of the people. But at this time I had nothing to lose, was building a reputation and confidence, so I got into the right uncomfortable conversations and once funding was secured I negotiated a full-time job with the project.
The next two years were the hardest and most fruitful learning experiences of my life. I got to see first hand, nearly every situation that a blockchain project would run into and was hands-on in solving a lot of the problems. I traveled all over the states and into Europe, furthering my reputation as “that tenacious young guy that makes s*%t happen.” and picked up a few mentors along the way. By “picked up” I mean hounded them constantly and worked as a glorified intern for them until I earned their trust and respect.
Three of those people that I got close within my time at that project were Michael O’Rourke (Pocket CEO and Co-Founder), Brent Fisher (Pocket’s first angel investor and mentor of mine), and Chris Williams (might be the best blockchain engineer in Tampa Bay, currently at IBM Hyperledger). We would all go to Green Bench brewery with the rest of the Tampa Bay blockchain crew, get drunk, and talk shop.
So finally, when the project that I was working with was no longer aligned with my goals, I resigned.
No more than two weeks later, Michael comes knocking and asks me to come work with Pocket Network. So here I am!
Key takeaways from that long-winded self-indulgent story.
- You’ve got to risk it for the biscuit.
- Thrive or die in the trenches.
- Be undeniable.
- Go and get your mentors.
How has this region shaped your career or startup journey?
Because the Blockchain community is a fairly tight-knit, for my personal career being in the Tampa Bay community has been helpful. I really enjoy the local entrepreneurship scene in St. Petersburg and it has helped me to create a lifestyle that I know other upstarts would love to have.
What tactical advice can you share from building your startup or career?
The Cliche: Follow your passion.
Work on your weakness’ but double down on your talents. Build or join a team that can cover your blind spots.
Ideas are cheap. Execution is everything.
Simplify. Measure what Matters. Critical > Wishful thinking.
If you are not an artist, then you are a servant. Find your ideal customers and build around them. Turn 1 True Customer into 10, then into 100, then into 1000.
Don’t get bogged down with debt or high overhead so you have the freedom to take risks.
Eliminate toxic relationships, old friends, family, girls, boys, bosses. Out with the old to make room for the new.
Thrive or die in the trenches.
Be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Practice it. It’ll take you a lifetime if you just wait for someone to give you what you want.
Go and get your mentors.
Don’t have an hour meeting if it can be done on slack in 5 minutes. Manage your time.
Give up on crappy projects or ideas, but never give up on yourself.
Where do you see Tampa Bay next? How do you play a role in this future?
Tampa Bay is my home, born and raised and I love it with all my heart, as for the future I am active and hopeful, but my feelings are mixed. My answer may be bittersweet, but I'll go ahead and say what I honestly feel, hopefully inspiring some action.
We have a vision of being this next mecca, and culturally we are showing signs of that. We have a unique position as a region with offers and amenities that are very hard to compete with. local businesses, national sports, big/small cities, hipster hangouts, beaches, rivers, festivals, international airports, etc. It’s fertile soil to work with.
Some days I feel like we are taking strides toward this new style of progress, other days I feel like it's a show. Maybe the history and diversity of interests make it difficult to appease everyone at once, maybe I just don’t know enough. Most likely it’s that these things take time.
Some people say that there are more condos then opportunities in development. I say make your own opportunities, but I don’t write those feelings off. I want to see us develop like the next, more improved Berlin.
From a tech startup perspective, we are progressing, but I must admit, that we have a long way to go if we intend to compete with other majors cities.
Embarc Collective will do great things to help this cause, I have no doubt about that as I have seen first hand what they are already doing without a facility and I’m very impressed.
But I do believe that if we are to nurture tech startups, to land unicorns that young people brag about working for, we have to be able to make high-risk investments quickly. We need a larger angel investment network.
How do I play a role? I already am out here every day contributing to the local community in many ways. But explicitly, the current plan is, make Pocket the first blockchain-unicorn in Tampa Bay and then work to push the culture forward through different activities and spaces for our peers — the visionaries, builders, entrepreneurs, and artists. More hammocks and shade trees, more raw materials, more speakeasies, random water balloon fights, pop-up concerts, late-night coding, things like that.
Thank you for taking the time to read to this point!
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