People of Bitcoin: The Polymath on a Mission

Our latest People of Bitcoin interview is with Trekk, from the podcast Trekken Cryptos 2 Connect, a consultant and a writer in the cryptocurrency space. We met up with Trekk at World Crypto Con and were immediately intrigued by his more circuitous path to the crypto scene. To begin with, Trekk is a national guardsman and was a defense contractor in another life. His unique perspective on the market, enthusiasm for crypto and solid writing chops made him a natural fit for our column.

people of bitcoin
Hi Trekk. Thanks so much for talking to us. Can you tell our readers a bit about your Bitcoin journey and what brought you to the world of cryptocurrency? What is it about Bitcoin/cryptocurrency that captured your interest?

I first heard of BTC on a hacker radio show called Off the Hook back in 2011. It was a brief topic on that episode, but it got my attention because I’m a geek at heart. It made me think of Babylon 5 (the real Syfy heads know what I’m talking about) and “credits”, which where the currency used in the show. Like most people from that time period, I didn’t get involved right away. I actually didn’t get involved in the space until 2012 or 2013, initially learning what I could online. That’s when I also found out about Meetups; at the time there were barely any in Baltimore.

My first coin was BTC. I remember not too long after at a Meetup coming across someone who worked for Mycelium (the name escapes me at the moment) wallet[S1] who actually lived in the space. I was amazed, lost, and confused back then.

At that time, I was a HODLer. In fact, most of my time in the space has been.

Like most people, I first looked at the financial gains of getting into crypto. I never really got into mining. Ethereum was available then but I didn’t entirely understand it. I just knew the technology made enough sense to me to pay attention and get involved somehow. In hindsight, that’s one thing I would have done differently. I never had the focus or patience for trading.

Thankfully, over time, I learned how to operate in the ecosystem confidently and have grown with it – spending cryptocurrency and even losing a wallet once (which I only recently discovered!) It’s been an education enough to see beyond just the one-use case of the underpinning blockchain technology.

Can you talk a little bit about your multi-faceted career in the cryptocurrency space?

Honestly, I didn’t really think about crossing the fiat-crypto line until I came back from my second deployment in 2017. I’m in the national guard and I don’t know what it was. I just felt like I needed a career change from defense contracting. I supported a great program and had great co-workers. Something just clicked in my head one day.

Actually, if it wasn’t for Mike B, a YouTube content creator, I may have ended up in cybersecurity.

With his suggestion, I started looking into becoming a smart contract dev. I thought I had it all planned out. The reality of teaching yourself to code with no coding background was an interesting life lesson. Not before long, I started to realize that the bills didn’t pause because I was “learning” solidity.

Consequently, I had to start figuring out what else I could do in the space that people would pay me for. It got me to start inventorying at what I could do and what I actually knew about the cryptos and blockchain. Which brought me to trying my hand at educating people looking to come into the space (as opposed to just talking about stuff).

I remember hearing Andreas Antonopoulos say in one of his speeches, if you really want to see how much you know about something then try to teach it. It was the wake-up moment. I was back in “the crypto rabbit hole”. I had to re-educate myself on what on what I thought I knew. I had become lazy in keeping up on new developments in the space.

This is what partially got me into writing. It was interesting how hard it was to get on a paying platform. Hitting that wall brought me to writing for myself on Medium. While that was going on, I started going on to more small level events and got the opportunity to speak at a few events like “the Integrity Show” put together by Nathan Hauk.

After going to different events between DC, Baltimore, and Philly, people started telling me what I was saying made sense. In truth, I was just sharing what I had written on Medium.

Consulting and being paid to write kind of happened by chance. My first client reached out to me because I was merely talking to him about what I observed in the space at the time. I got my first writing gig because of helping someone on LinkedIn.

It’s funny, I look back now and can say I definitely didn’t see things playing out the way they did. It’s the beauty of this space. I’ve learned so much more in the last 10 months than in all my years of HODLing.

What sorts of topics do you cover in your podcasting and writing? What message are you most intent on communicating?

In my personal writings, I share my observations, hopes, and disappointments of the growing crypto/blockchain ecosystem. I stay clear of price talk and shilling coins/tokens. In professional writing, I cover what the platform wants me to explain about it but from the technical perspective. I am tech over price, kind of person.

On my podcast, Trekken Cryptos 2 Connect, I’m trying to get people to understand the mass adoption of cryptos and blockchain technology will take all types of folks. It’s not just about founders, CEOs, VCs, and techie people. I highlight the stories of people who are working at the ground level of the space helping to educate and empower people new to the crypto space and longtime members of the community. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with people in traditional and non-traditional job roles: ICO consultants, visual artists, CPA’s, digital nomads, and even lawyers. One of the best parts is talking to people in other countries like South Korea, Ghana, and Nigeria. Simply put, one of the original ideologies behind creating the technology was inclusion. Within both mediums, I try my best to relay that.

What key elements does someone interested in BTC need to know before getting involved?

Hmmm, honestly that answer depends on what they are trying to do in the space and how active or minimal they plan on being. Getting involved in cryptos today isn’t like it was 2 or 3 years ago, especially with 2018 being the year of regulators.

The space has grown and matured in ways most of us “OG’s” didn’t expect. Now you can “be in crypto” and know nothing about private keys or that BTC was the first. I know someone one is reading this and LOLing right now, but I’ve had these conversations. I’ve even had an IT professional tell me he left his BTC on Coinbase because it wouldn’t appreciate in value if he moved it. True story.

To be clear, I’m not trying to shill my services. If Andreas says his book was outdated within months of being published, then how can I advise someone about getting in the space like one size fits all. It’s just not the case anymore.

We’re in the middle of a pretty volatile time for BTC. We’ve seen some record highs and some lows. What do you tell people who’re skittish about getting involved?

If they are stateside and looking to use it as a means of exchange, I tell them that this isn’t for everyone. Depending on whether you live in a first, second, or third tier country the inconveniences and limitations of using cryptos at its current state are far outweighed by systems already in places like Apple Pay, Venmo, and Samsung pay.

People generally will take convenience over the good intentions of a technology, every time. This is something I’ve noticed while growing in the space.

If they are looking at it as a store of value, I’m honest about it. If you’re working a fiat-based job and converting that into crypto or buying mining equipment, then only invest what you’re willing to lose. At the end of the day, the reality is the whole space is a test. It is true the underpinning technology is here to stay but there is no guarantee on which coin(s) will be the last one standing. Sorry Bitcoin core and Bitcoin Cash folks.

Since you’ve got your fingers on the pulse of what’s up-and-coming, do you have any recommendations for people if BTC is too pricey at this point for them? Is there a scrappier coin to buy now? What is interesting to you?

Like I said before, I stay away from price talk and telling people what to buy. I can’t help you get rich. I don’t have a Lambo. So, I can’t tell you how to get one, sorry. I merely provide the tools to understand how to look at coins and tokens in the space.

Actually, there are two things I will share. 1) You don’t have to buy a whole. You can cost average in when buying whatever token or coin you decide. 2) If you can find a way to earn the coin or token for something you know, are already doing, or are willing to do it would be easier than dealing with the fiat to crypto, on and off-ramping.

On the practical side, do you use cryptocurrency in your daily life? Do you pay for things with cryptocurrency or is it mainly an investment play for you?

I use it as both a store of value and means of exchange. I believe in the technology, it’s a long run game for me in that regard while dealing with daily expenses.

As I mentioned earlier this has been my year of working to cross the fiat-crypto line. This life isn’t for everyone. It takes some getting used to the extra steps to do stuff, but it is doable and luckily there are more intermediaries now than compared to 2013.

I’ve been using your website to books flights for like 2 years now. By the way thanks for sticking out this bear market. I like that you take more than BTC now. Things like that help expand the user base of your service. I tell people about the site all the time whether they are into cryptos or not.

The company I write for pays me in cryptos, and the company I consult pays me in cryptos. Now only if my mortgage company took cryptos. I wouldn’t have to deal with off-ramping as much. We will get there eventually.

How did you find the experience of booking with us?

I’m not going to lie. The first time I booked a flight, it was a little nerve-wracking for me. The transaction was taking forever to process and I didn’t know why but when I called the customer service, the gentleman explained what the issue was, and we worked it out in minutes. Since then, I’ve booked flights and had to call for various reasons and someone always picks up. You have no idea how much I appreciate that you have live people on the line. Please don’t lose that. I know I’m a techie line of work, but I really dislike calling a place and having to deal with an automated system.

What do you do in your time away from crypto?

I’m a simple guy, really. I’m a geek at heart. So, in the downtime I watch anime. I try to learn JavaScript and fiddle with Arduino and Raspberry PI boards. If I’m out of the house and it’s not work related, I may go to a gun range or movie with a friend. Oh, and can’t forget working out and spending time with my kids.

Thanks so much for the chat, Trekk! You can keep up with Trekk and all of his endeavors on Twitter @SmartTrekken.

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