Also posted to Substack.
Week 4: November 29, 2020
Welcome back to Product/Michael Fit! I almost spelled November wrong, so get ready for a good one. My week has once again been non-stop research and writing. I’m not sure if Black Friday/Cyber Monday week is peak of craziness, or if it’s just the release of pent up marketing energy and speculation. That remains to be seen, but early indicators look super interesting. Based on one research firm’s data, it appears that Etsy made the biggest leap in 2020, followed by Nordstrom, Amazon, and Walmart. I can validate that I intentionally browsed Etsy for the first time ever on Saturday 🤷♀️. This week’s newsletter isn’t about retail or consumerism at all. We all need a break from every day being Black Friday.
I’ve been reflecting again on Purpose and Identity, and what drives and motivates us. In another unrelated twist, I end with my first Product of the Week: High-yield interest accounts for cryptocurrencies (some words I never thought I would say).
Purpose and Identity
- Your Career Story — How to Reinvent Yourself in Your Career
- The Reboot Podcast — How Self-Reflection Potentially Saved a Business
- The Twenty Minute VC: Intercom Founder, Eoghan McCabe
This topic has become a theme across my notes and everything that I’m spending my time on. It’s probably a sign of the times, but I feel like being forced to stay still, to really think about where we’re going, and where we want to go, is a necessary step to becoming who we want to be. Like many other things — lockdown, quarantine, work from home, etc has just accelerated this stage in our lives.
In another episode of the Your Career Story Podcast, host Jena Viviano talks about how reinventing the version of yourself in your career is more tied to reinventing your own identity than anything else. If we want to be seen in a new light, the first step may be to start seeing ourselves in that new light. Jena poses a few questions to help us along the path, and figure out what we want to be seen as, such as: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What’s my new value proposition? To me, this is another form of “radical self-inquiry,” a theme of Jerry Colonna’s Reboot book and podcast, which Jena helped frame for our work life.
An episode from The Reboot Podcast back in 2014 (podcasts existed?) built upon the idea of finding our own identity: “We must rail against the world and it’s harsh need to define you.” This episode connects identity with purpose. Jerry makes the case that purpose is what helps us push through the struggles, and that our purpose is not being the greatest or the most qualified at something. Our purpose is what drives us every day. Even if we’re the second greatest at something, we can still accomplish a whole lot if we remain driven by a greater purpose. From another Reboot podcast (mentioned in Vol. 2) “It’s easy to conflate purpose with outcome.“
A closing thought: Our identity and purpose should our own. In the Twenty Minute VC podcast with Eoghan McCabe, host Harry Stebbings asked about working with a chip on your shoulder. I 100% relate to this. When I played baseball, I had to prove and re-prove myself every single time I stepped on the field, and that has definitely stuck with me. In the discussion, Eoghan’s points really struck me. He talked about looking inward to find your own life purpose, and be careful about comparing yourself to others and what lives you think that they may lead.
This stillness forces us to look inward. Maybe this is what we need in order to find our own purpose and identity, and then open ourselves up to do more and do what we really want to do.
Product of the Week
When I first thought about starting “Product/Michael Fit,” I wanted to write about a new product each week, then unpack my experience with it or thoughts about it, eventually claiming if it was a “fit” for me or not (like product/market fit, but for me — get it?).
Instead, like in this post, I’ve been sharing my personal takeaways from interviews and other content. But, this week I started using a new product which I think is pretty cool! I’m in the middle of my every few months crypto-curiosity that comes along with rises in the Bitcoin price, so that’s how we got here.
Generate High-Yield Interest From Your Crypto and Stablecoins
I decided to check out BlockFi after watching this video by personal finance YouTuber Andrei Jikh — My Next $100,000 Investment. BlockFi is a New York City startup building financial services for crypto assets. They offer super high-yield interest accounts for cryptocurrencies, which is the product that I’ve been using for the past week. Right now, you can earn ~5–6% yearly interest (APY) for cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. You can also earn 8.6% for a set of “stablecoins,” which mirror the US Dollar’s value, providing a less risky option (e.g., $1 = 1 USDC stablecoin).
I’m not a crypto expert by any means, I’ve held some Bitcoin and Ethereum since they became mainstream during the 2017 rush, occasionally adding a bit over time, and learning to accept random extreme volatility. I’m still disappointed that I didn’t ask my college dorm floormates any questions when they bought Bitcoin in 2013 (Random sports trivia: Jacoby Brissett was the Bitcoin Bowl MVP in 2014).
Although this second run is piquing my interest again, I still don’t feel confident making a hypothesis on the future. So, the idea of gaining 5%+ interest on my holdings helps me feel better about potential volatility, while still maintaining the potential upside. It honestly makes me more willing to participate in the crypto ecosystem, and I’m sure it does for others as well, which should be an overall net positive for its future growth.
BlockFi also provides a service to take out loans of USD backed by your cryptocurrency, which enables the high-interest rates, but I haven’t touched that yet. They’ve also announced that a Bitcoin rewards credit card is in the works, which would be super cool for continuing to get people like me to participate even more.
For startups and other companies providing relatively new services, I’m always super interested in hearing from the founders. From what I’ve seen, and the two interviews that I’ve shared below, I’m super impressed by co-founders Flori Marquez and Zac Prince. While I’ve thought of cryptocurrencies as an interesting technology and social experiment, their point-of-view really stood out to me. That as a new financial model gains market adoption, there are so many gaps to fill for all of the financial services that we’d expect, but do not yet exist for cryptocurrencies and digital assets. Thinking from my experience in ecommerce strategy, this makes me wonder what other general purpose consumer products or consumer needs could be explored? I’ll definitely be researching this angle, so stay tuned. Bat signal for @MSilb7 on Twitter.
I’m sharing these products due to my genuine interest. I have no relationship or partnership with any product, but if you would like, you can sign-up by using my BlockFi referral link here. 😁
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Back to Black Friday for a bit, this was funny (10/10 execution):
Until Next Week!