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“It’s very important to set the bar high for yourself, because even if you fall short of your own expectations, you will still be far ahead of other colleagues”

Leadership Lessons With Kevin Kang of BK Coin Capital


“Shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you’d be among the stars” — I have always been a big dreamer and a visionary. When you set goals, it’s not always the case that you will achieve all those goals. I think it’s very important to set the bar high for yourself, and expect more of yourself, because even if you fall short of your own expectations, you will still be far ahead of other colleagues who had set their own bar  lower.


I had the pleasure to interview Kevin Kang, CFA. Kevin is a founding principal of BK Coin Capital, LP. Prior to starting his own fund, Kevin led a storied career as a portfolio manager and trader for a number of New York-based funds and banks, such as AllianceBernstein. In roles that ranged from managing over $4 billion in multi-asset portfolios specializing in US equities and fixed income to effectively collaborating with multiple portfolio managers in managing the largest US equities’ product by AUM within the firm, Kevin successfully implemented investment decisions and efficiently oversaw the firm’s daily positioning of their $40 billion portfolio. Kevin is a CFA charterholder and earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Stetson University. He is fluent in English and Korean.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?

My partners and I have been paying close attention to the crypto market and blockchain space for a couple of years. After the run it had in 2017, our team saw a number of cryptocurrency hedge funds emerging to capitalize on the growing space. However, most of those funds were started by people with a technology background — entrepreneurs who understood the blockchain technology inside out but not necessarily the financial piece. A few even became very wealthy as the earliest investors in cryptocurrencies. Some of the feedback our team received from investors as we began to field our own strategies were that those tech guys don’t know how to effectively manage money While they had a much better grasp on the technology being leveraged in the emerging market, they often had very little investment experience. Our team saw the need in the space fournour expertise. We took advantage of an opportunity to leverage our a traditional finance and asset management backgrounds to start our own fund with the goal of establishing cryptocurrency as a legitimate asset class within the financial market.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

My colleagues and I are currently working with the government of one of the island nations to draft new regulations on the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. It is a very exciting opportunity to engage with a state entity to help establish themselves as one of the first blockchain and cryptocurrency-friendly countries in the world. Our main objective is to draft the language of the law to be inviting for innovative companies to come in and develop the technology to use crypto without having to worry about the regulatory uncertainty. We face the challenge of ensuring the law is open, but is also rigid enough to keep out the bad players. 
 
 We are also in early stages of discussions regarding an ICO on behalf of another state to rebuild their existing infrastructure. The tokens will be the first in the world, backed by its municipality and tax revenues, and they will be collateralized with the infrastructure they seek to build.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Having born in Seoul, South Korea and growing up in a small rural town in Utah, I would have never imagined I would be building my career in New York City, which is arguably one of the best cities in the world. I moved to New York City years ago without a job lined up, started waiting tables and bartended until I landed a finance job I wanted. I have been very fortunate to have so many great people around me who helped me selflessly along the way and I would be nowhere near I am today without those great people in my life.


How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I can’t say I have succeeded but I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have. I always try to help those who are in need. I volunteer at a local homeless shelter when the time allows. I also enjoy and dedicate a lot of my time with our interns, because they absorb everything so quickly and always bring fresh ideas from different angles to the table. The younger generation tends to be more open-minded with blockchain and crypto space so it’s been very gratifying to see them grow not only professionally, but also on a personal level.

What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?

1. Follow your instinct — when I graduated from college and declined all seven job offers I had down in Florida to move to New York, everyone thought I was crazy — my parents included. I just wanted to at least give it a shot in New York and have no regret looking back in life. One of the biggest lessons I learned doing that is when your back is against the wall, you will make it happen one way or the other. As long as you believe in yourself, others opinions are just opinions. Don’t let that deter you from following your dream.

2. Don’t give up — New York City can be very draining for a lot of people. This city is definitely not for weak of heart — highs will be high and lows will be low. When things aren’t going your way, just push through. When going through tough times, it’s hard to stay optimistic but I believe we have two choices — be positive or be negative. If those are the only choices, why choose to be negative? Life is already hard enough so be positive. The only way out is through.

3. Have fun — I have seen a lot of people getting burnt out after working around the clock for a number of years. I believe work-life balance is very important. Spending time outside work, whether it’s traveling or enjoying any hobby, is critical since it stimulates the brain. I find that I tend to be a lot more productive when I get a good rest outside of work.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

“Shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you’d be among the stars” — I have always been a big dreamer and a visionary. When you set goals, it’s not always the case that you will achieve all those goals. I think it’s very important to set the bar high for yourself, and expect more of yourself, because even if you fall short of your own expectations, you will still be far ahead of other colleagues who had set their own bar lower.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

Jay-Z. His business acumen is unparalleled to others — his business empire ranges from music to beverages to sports and the list goes on. I would love to sit down with him and pick his brains on how he got to where he is today and of course, I would love to have him as one of our clients.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We aren’t too active on social media yet but the readers can follow us on Twitter and Instagram under @bkcoincapital.

Originally published at medium.com

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