In June 2017, fundraising for blockchain startups via so-called initial coin offerings, or ICOs, exploded to over $450 million and has since stayed there, on average.
The crypto space is new and unregulated, so collecting funds from retail investors via direct contributions is fast, easy, and profitable. Whenever money comes in these three flavors, scams are an immediate side effect.
Websites, white papers and roadmaps can be pulled out of thin air, so many have. Confido, Prodeum and LoopX are just a few of the projects that disappeared with millions of people’s dollars and even legit projects, like Tezos, can get stuck in frozen funds hell.
But the most interesting ICO of 2017 was neither a scam, nor did it promise a great future.
In fact, it was a completely useless project. Literally.
The Value of Radical Honesty
Right around the time ICO funding peaked to its new all time high, an innocuous looking website was submitted to a cryptocurrency subreddit. Useless Ethereum Token promised to be “The world’s first 100% honest Ethereum ICO.” With a mix of comedy, honesty, and transparency, the creator explained his ‘vision:’
“You’re going to give some random person on the internet money, and they’re going to take it and go buy stuff with it. Probably electronics, to be honest. Maybe even a big-screen television.
Seriously, don’t buy these tokens.”
What’s more, thanks to a fully functional smart contract, the ICO went off without a hitch, raising 310 Ether, or $62,000 at the time. Unless the creator actually spent all the funds on TVs, he’s now sitting on almost $300,000.
A friend recently told me this story and for a while, like him, I wondered why anyone would so blatantly throw their money out the window. But that’s not what the contributors did. They donated money to someone they could trust.
In a world of hidden agendas, radical honesty is inherently valuable.
The High Road & The Short Path
One of blockchain’s core purposes is to reduce the need for trust in transactions where building that trust is especially hard, like spending, voting, or health issues. Ironically, creating such systems takes quite a lot of trust up front, trust into the people that build them.
A large portion of our lives is spent figuring out who to trust, whether it’s about where to buy your breakfast, what school to send your kids to, or which car insurance policy to pick. All humans have agendas. They’re part of our nature. Moving through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, our brains first compel us to survive, then to secure, and finally to thrive and find purpose.
Whichever rung of the ladder we’re on ourselves, we’re constantly charged with evaluating where others stand. To each of us, some agendas are more worthy than others, so we must carefully choose whose journey we contribute to. What gets frustrating is when you have to spend most of your day decoding other people in order to make those decisions.
That’s why we worship those, who are candid about what they want. Their radical honesty saves us time and energy. We’d much rather trust someone transparent with an imperfect agenda than someone who seems to have none, because it means we just can’t see it. Sheer openness alone deserves our trust.
When the high road and the short path are the same, why put up veils in the first place?
We’re All In Debt
If you’ve ever watched a child nag her way to getting a few sweets before dinner, you know radical honesty works. The parents don’t give in to reason, they admire their kid’s persistence. As we grow up, that doesn’t change.
Therefore, one of the biggest services we can do the world is to be candid about our own agenda. We’ll save our peers time and reach our goals faster. But that’s only the second half of the battle.
In order to be open about what you want, you first have to know what you want. How many goals are you chasing? Which ones are really worth giving your all? What means will get you there? Can you shrink the list to one item?
You owe some answers. Not just to yourself, but to all of us. Once you find them, we’ll help you on your way.