When you hear the word blockchain, what’s your reaction? Do you think it’s a fad that’s been overhyped but will soon be forgotten? Or maybe you have a vague understanding of how the technology works, but you’re unsure of how it will impact your life.
Samantha Radocchia is an early blockchain pioneer who’s watched the hype over blockchain and Bitcoin rise and fall, all while knowing the truth: both technologies will soon fuel a worldwide cultural and technological paradigm shift that will disrupt every major industry.
Samantha wants to help the public cut through the confusion and embrace blockchain and cryptocurrency instead of retreating from it due to fear or media-fueled misconceptions. She wrote Bitcoin Pizza: The No-Bullshit Guide to Blockchain to give everyone a clear picture of the future she knows is coming, whether they’re an executive looking to prepare their business for a decentralized future or a newcomer curious about the blockchain hype.
I caught up with Samantha to see what inspired her to write Bitcoin Pizza, her favorite actionable idea, and how she applies the lessons from her book to her life.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
I started contributing to and working in the crypto and blockchain ecosystems a while ago, both anonymously and not, both behind the scenes and at the helm of traditional companies.
I’ve seen a lot of things. Some good, some bad, some fun, some scary. I’ve seen scrappy teams in the desert of Utah working on new tooling for banking infrastructure, and polished Silicon Valley startups “building the future of finance.” Big corporates and publicly traded companies changing their names from “Long Island Iced Tea Company” to “Long Island Blockchain Company” and riding the wave as their stock prices soared. I listened quietly as my Uber driver gave advice to a friend back home on how to buy Ethereum and Ripple, when the prices popped in 2017. I’ve sat in rooms with top government officials, executives, and board members contemplated using the underlying technologies to more deeply entrench their businesses, all under the auspices of an “open network.” I’ve seen this stuff on the news, and seen as my friends and family struggled to explain what exactly it was that I did for work.
All of these people were working in these ecosystems, building in these ecosystems, talking about these ecosystems — whether it be at a family dinner, with my hair stylist who wanted to get tipped in Bitcoin, my Chiropractor who accepts crypto as well, in an Uber, or with a designer my team worked with who lived in Venezuela and wanted to get paid with crypto.
So, no, there wasn’t an exact “aha!” moment where I felt that I needed to write a book. This book is the culmination of many years of living and working in this community, and I felt a duty to do my part in supporting this massive change and letting more people — particularly diverse, traditional excluded groups — understand the technologies and social paradigm shifts that are occurring, so that they could feel more empowered to participate in our changing world.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
Get involved. There are so many ways to get involved, and they don’t have to mean risking your life savings or putting your house on the line. Those are all fallacies. At the end of the book, I promise the reader pizza, and I’m not kidding! I’ve partnered with an amazing company in the space that it is making it super seamless to do something as simple as buy a pizza with crypto, or, alternatively, earn crypto rewards when you use USD or other fiat currencies. The point being: be curious, have a little fun, and get your hands dirty.
I know it can be intimidating to try something new, and that is natural. Just the other day my brothers and I helped my grandma get set up with a wifi router and iPad. At first, she was too intimidated to use it, even though we had configured it to be as simple as possible, with Solitaire and Google Hangouts already ready to go. Months passed. But then she picked it up again and spent the day fiddling around with it, and overcome that fear or embarrassment of not being able to learn something as quickly as she used to (side note: my grandma was one of the first 200 eBay Beta users and quickly grew her collectibles store to be one of the largest on the site, so I don’t know why she was so nervous!). My hopes for this book is that more people will look at technologies, financial markets, and generally broader social and economic changes with compassion and excitement, rather than fear or ignorance.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
Oh, so you mean risk taking? Embracing change? Going with the flow? Not swimming upstream? That’s the story of my life, not just one example of how I’ve applied this lesson.
When I was 17 years old, I started to develop this fear of flying, probably due to underlying anxieties I had at the time. So instead of letting that fear overtake me, I went down to the local community airport, and was able to go on a discovery flight with a seasoned pilot, where I got to fly the plane and learn more about the physics of how they worked. I ultimately loved it so much, that I became a pilot myself, and then later a skydiver, which I did competitively for many years.
By overcoming a fear, and that negative self talk or anxiety, I was able to use a hands-on approach to learning something new, which led me on a totally different path I couldn’t have foreseen. By the time that I had ended the era of competitive skydiving, I sold my gear to fund the creation of my first technology company. While I had been a self-taught coder, I never formally studied computer science. Plenty of people, advisors, and investors told me I “needed a technical co-founder” (despite my adequate technical proficiency.
Plenty of other people told me tech wasn’t a place for women, and let me tell you, at times it can still feel that way, despite the progress we’ve made. So to all the women out there, to all the marginalized groups and the people who think that tech or crypto “isn’t for them,” I have one thing to say to you: the bitcoin and blockchain communities don’t discriminate. They are exactly for you. So like me, I urge you to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. I assure you, this book was written for the sole purpose of being fun and not intimidating. Enjoy the ride, have a little fun, and learn why even my hair stylist, chiropractor, mom, and dad are all thinking about how this tech, and more broadly our world, will change for the better.
To learn more about getting started with blockchain and bitcoin, you can find Bitcoin Pizza: The No-Bullshit Guide to Blockchain on Amazon.