With David Wachsman the CEO and Founder of Wachsman
…I am inclined to say that I hope that blockchain will be the movement that instills the most amount of positive change in the world. However, it really is much more than that. I’m moved by the overarching philosophy behind blockchain, and its imperative for thoughtful and wide-ranging experimentation in economics, technology, psychology, finance, and dozens of other areas of study. If blockchain itself is not a panacea — and surely, it is not — the philosophy of sourcing a better solution no matter where it may be found, even if it upsets incumbents, is surely the one most likely to be of lasting benefit.
I had the pleasure to interview David Wachsman the CEO and Founder of Wachsman.
Thank you so much for joining us! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It seems like the entirety of my life experiences have brought me to where I am today. Wachsman was built at the crossroads of communications, economics, and technology and I’ve been lucky enough to have a deep-seeded interest and background in all three of these areas.
I’ve always been fascinated by the human ability to innovate. From early on, I subscribed to dozens of magazines and devoured libraries of books, absorbing all that I could. Consequently, literature and history became my favorite subjects in school. In the pursuit of my career, I began to develop a unique skill set from this curiosity and discovered the fundamentals for what makes a business succeed. It wasn’t until 2014, when I started working with a Bitcoin company, that I realized that I could maximize everything I learned by utilizing these skills at the same time. One year later, I launched Wachsman and have not looked back since.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Many are quick to assume that the blockchain industry is predominantly run by emerging startups. While this is true in most respects, Wachsman regularly interacts with some of the most prominent voices in the world, from mainstay technology giants to domestic and international policymakers — all of whom are looking for guidance. One of the highlights of my time at Wachsman has been the opportunity to advise a variety of marquee organizations as they navigate this new and evolving market.
But the most interesting part has been the travel. Blockchain is an industry that crosses every border, and I regularly travel to attend conferences, visit clients, and launch new offices. Never in my life did I think I would spend as much time on the road as I do, and while it’s jarring to live life out of a suitcase, the opportunity to navigate the valleys between the Southern Alps of New Zealand, to climb the Rock of Gibraltar, to view the picturesque plains of Argentina, and to experience so many beautiful places and to meet so many brilliant people has been an overwhelming joy.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The nature of working in the blockchain industry means that we are likely to be afforded more opportunities than is realistic to capitalize upon. As a consequence, I’ve made dozens or even hundreds of “mistakes” by turning down the chance to work on one thing instead of another. One example worth noting is that I had an opportunity, as part of the compensation for services provided, to earn equity in a well-known startup early in my career at Wachsman. The company was groundbreaking, but I had bills to pay and opted instead to work with another company instead. That startup has since become one of the leading organizations in our industry, and today that equity position would be worth something truly substantial. I’d bet that just about everyone in this field has a story or two just like this one.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Bringing Wachsman global has been truly exhilarating. We recently just announced our new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore, and have committed to hiring 20 new employees there by the end of 2019, which would bring our headcount in APAC to 30. Singapore is one of the fastest-growing fintech hotspots in the world and, as such, it was a clear next step as we continue on our journey to bring an array of professional services to the global blockchain market. With headquarters in New York, Dublin, and now Singapore, our footprint now enables us to provide coverage across every time zone, which has been a longstanding goal of mine since the creation of the company.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
It’s never been a better time to consider a career in public relations. Now more than ever before, emerging startups are finding substantive avenues to build new platforms with innovative use cases. Yet, amid this growth, many of these companies are quickly realizing that they need aspiring PR professionals to communicate their sophisticated ideas to an expanding global audience. Speaking from experience working in the burgeoning blockchain industry, I have witnessed firsthand the new and exciting opportunities provided to young professionals.
With this in mind, my advice is to not discount the opportunity to work in emerging industries. Very quickly, you’ll find that your hard work is more highly-valued than it would be working exclusively in traditional lines of business. Young professionals bring to the table a breadth of valuable insights to the evolving state of communications, and PR executives would be wise to harness their unique perspectives. This is the kind of corporate culture that I tried to instill at Wachsman when it was founded in 2015. Now with more than 110 employees globally, we work everyday to keep this spirit intact.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Listen, learn, and leverage. Traditional networking events can often make for high-pressure situations, especially when you’re constantly surrounded by unfamiliar faces. No matter who you are interacting with, networking can inadvertently cause you to focus more on what you’re trying to say rather than what’s being said to you. As such, it’s vitally important to begin any networking event by listening intently and actively learning from those you engage with. Once you’re able to show a counterpart that you understand their perspective, it will be much easier to prove that a potential collaboration is mutually beneficial.
Unfortunately, networking is a skill that can’t be learned overnight. As such, I’d advise anyone interested in strengthening their networking abilities to practice. Go to work-sponsored events and converse with colleagues in different departments. Sign up for conferences with professionals in your industry and try to make lasting connections with someone new. Over time, you’ll find that networking becomes increasingly second nature, and that when it comes time to take advantage of an exciting opportunity, you’ll be far more prepared to do so with confidence.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
As strange as it sounds, a love for the ever-evolving Western canon and classical literature has had an extraordinary influence in my life and on my career path. Today, we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us and, as such, an appreciation for the great authors of the past has provided me with tools to better communicate the problems we must solve as a society. I believe that these authors have allowed me to uniquely understand the human condition in the hopes to becoming a better manager to my employees and a stronger advocate for my clients.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As founder and CEO of a blockchain professional services firm, I am inclined to say that I hope that blockchain will be the movement that instills the most amount of positive change in the world. However, it really is much more than that. I’m moved by the overarching philosophy behind blockchain, and its imperative for thoughtful and wide-ranging experimentation in economics, technology, psychology, finance, and dozens of other areas of study. If blockchain itself is not a panacea — and surely, it is not — the philosophy of sourcing a better solution no matter where it may be found, even if it upsets incumbents, is surely the one most likely to be of lasting benefit.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
- Your opinion matters.
As a young professional entering the workforce, it’s important to know that your input matters. Of course, humility is a virtue when you’re just starting out, but that doesn’t mean that your voice isn’t valuable. Very early on in my career, I realized that I had insights that could potentially add to the overall conversation, and, as a result, I was more vocal in meetings than some of my colleagues. What I found was that my supervisors were receptive to what I had to say, and it pushed me to continue to speak up and express my ideas. Granted, you must have something to say. However, if you have a unique perspective, don’t let a lack of tenure stop you from expressing it.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks.
It may sound cliche, but don’t be afraid to take at least one leap of faith in your career. You don’t necessarily have to quit your job, but taking on a risk will push your professional comfort zone and allow you to explore uncharted territory. Regardless of what you do, whether it be starting a new project, proposing a new idea, or taking a thoughtful risk, you will feel more confident and capable as a result.
In 2015, I started Wachsman with little more than a skill set and a dream. I knew that leaving my full-time job would be a risk, but I believed in my concept and trusted my plan of action. In hindsight, I cannot imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t trusted my gut instinct, and I hope that this interview inspires others to do the same.
- Keep your eyes and ears on industry trends.
For many, blockchain is still considered to be an emerging technology. However, it’s been a formative part of my life for many years. Almost immediately, I recognized the technology’s tremendous potential, and resolved to make it my life’s work to advocate for its mainstream integration. Now in 2018, blockchain is one of the fastest-growing technologies in any industry, and we at Wachsman are leading the charge, aiding promising projects as they continue to make a positive impact on our society.
Although one should always be on the lookout for the next blockchain, it’s important to observe any and all up-and-coming trends in your industry. Something you observe as a trend today could turn out to be a movement tomorrow, and identifying it early on could play to your advantage. Keep your eyes and ears open. You never know when it will come in handy.
- Teamwork is the backbone of success.
While the ability to work independently is undoubtedly a formative key to success, don’t underestimate the importance of being a team player. In fact, that’s the only way to scale. Working well with others is a learned skill, and it produces long-term rewards for you, your clients, and your company. To become a servant leader is to become the ultimate manager. Likewise, those who step outside pre-defined boundaries to ensure the success of their peers will be recognized by competent leadership.
This is the philosophy behind what we do at all our Wachsman offices in New York, Dublin, and Singapore. In order for us to provide premium service offerings for our clients, our staff members are incentivized to talk to one another, to plan together, and to execute for mutual benefit.
- Failure is an opportunity for growth.
I’ve always operated under the belief that failure is as valuable as success. It’s an opportunity to grow, and perhaps more importantly, it’s an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. I imagine that if you were to ask any one of the greatest minds in history what a formative moment in their professional career was, they wouldn’t mention a time they won award or received a promotion. Rather, they’d point to a time when they hit a wall and had to overcome an obstacle. These are the moments that force us to grow as people, and are the reason for why we become successful.