ABOUT THE ARTIST
"Discovering Bitcoin made me realise the nihilistic toll that not saving had had on me, & IS having on society generally. It’s because the money we grew up with was created to be worthless."
Ben is host of BTC Sessions. He’s a much loved personality in the space who’s worked tirelessly to create high signal educational Bitcoin content. He’s best known for Video Guides on setting up Bitcoin Software & Hardware. His uncanny ability to break complex tasks into crystal clear, step by step processes has saved the sanity of many frustrated Bitcoiners (including myself). Thank you Ben.
"The goal is to get someone to understand Bitcoin as deeply as they’re capable of at that time."
He’s become Canada’s most popular YouTube Bitcoin educator and since 2016 has amassed a following of 40K subscribers and 4 million views across all content. He’s been featured on Canadian TV as well as numerous podcasts and publications. He recently went full time Bitcoin – creating videos & podcasts, hosting workshops and working with Bitcoin companies.
Ben delivers a ‘Daily Session’ of Bitcoin News via Youtube, podcast & Social Media on everything from price swings, new products & services, regulatory hurdles, industry interviews etc. You can also book private sessions with him for a helping hand on wallets, security & privacy etc.
"Creating content is something I really enjoy & Bitcoin is something I’m passionate about."
Recently Ben’s also managed to get his shit together fitness wise and this last year we’ve watched him morph from a kinda quirky but lovable YouTuber into a ripped GigaChad. Go Ben you f&#king legend! He’s a role model for the kids and dads alike. “More and more, people will see the Bitcoin community as positive group of people refining and supporting each other, and they’ll want to be a part of that. Ben’s such a great example of someone whose doing this.” (John K Vallis)
Ben and John Vallis sat down this month for a conversation about Ben’s creative journey in Bitcoin. As usual John knocked another deep dive discussion out of the park. You gotta hear this one (linked left).
Prior to Bitcoin his main occupation was as an entertainer/educator teaching kids how to breakdance. He also sang in an Acapella group for years. He always loved performing and being part of a network of performers. As a result, he always considered there to be great value in bringing performers and audiences together and encouraging that inevitable, direct economic relationship. This desire to disintermediate economic relationships is something he holds very dear.
His initial impetus and discovery of Bitcoin came after stumbling across a few articles in 2013 before watching the 2013 price top and jumping in, early 2014. Ben’s Rabbit Hole journey had a very reflective effect on him. He admits to previously being terrible, perhaps even nihilistic, with money. As a young kid, he recalls saving for a bike. His parents weren’t particularly rich and his mum was forced to use the $100 he’d saved for groceries. It ingrained in him the idea that saving meant nothing.
"Discovering Bitcoin made me realise the nihilistic toll that not saving had had on me & IS having on society generally. It’s because the money we grew up with was created to be worthless."
Bitcoin motivated in him again the desire to save. He found it quite transformative and embraces how the benefits of delayed gratification have changed him. “Money is a representation of the effort we put into society. It’s a measure of our actions in the world. I’m not interested in worshipping the money or the number but the value that’s been invested . . . that’s the thing.”
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His initial creative foray in the space was the ‘Bitcoin Sessions’, a bringing together of performers & audience, with Bitcoin thrown into the mix. Despite being very enjoyable it wasn’t quite a home run. He had the compulsion to bring in more of his skillset in the Arts – his comfort in being ‘front of camera’ and ability to distill complex things down. Taking the lessons he’d learned from teaching breakdancing to kids, he realised his ability to educate on Bitcoin software and practice could bring value for people. He started putting together Bitcoin educational videos and set himself the mission to make a video a week.
"I’m gonna do one video a week & I’m not gonna stop. The goal is to get someone to understand Bitcoin as deeply as they’re capable of at that time."
His first goal was to set up a successful YouTube Channel. The objective was vague. If he’s honest, that might have been because, in the back of his mind, he was scared it might not be the home run he sought. The game was on though . . .
FINDING HIS VALUE
It’s taken work, time, patience, support and persistence to get where he is. There’s no denying the value Ben’s brought to Bitcoiners getting started with the tech. After his MyNode setup video, he asked for people it helped to send photos of their nodes. He was genuinely humbled by the hundreds of images that came back.
"It’s an otherworldly feeling to discover you actually have an impact & helped a person to take control over a part of their future. I almost got teary eyed"
He’s achieved this by consistently resonating positivity, providing value and taking an iterative, step by step approach. By taking the little wins he’s helped so many people get people over the line with their Bitcoin journies. He discovered the idea of low time preference in a quote on a tree whilst travelling in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. There was a tree with quotes attached to it. One of these read “constant dripping wears away the stone”. It encapsulated what he implicity knew, his reason to persist.
"If you contribute something of value and you iterate and learn from it, it can grow into something valuable and great."
You learn from the deviations you take. Vice versa if you treat yourself or others poorly, it adds up. Whatever small contributions you make in the positive or the negative in your life, over time, those “wear away the stone”. That realisation further propelled him down the path to have consistency and positivity in his work.
Seeing people consistently make mistakes with Bitcoin security, made him realise it could be his touchstone opportunity to contribute. He saw the value in driving better behaviours, to reduce people’s screw ups, particularly in this coming Bull Run.
QUITTING THE DAY JOB
Transitioning workwise into the Bitcoin/Crypto space has obviously had some ups and downs. His first role was at BullBitcoin with Francis Pouliot and he had a blast making concept videos for them. He’s a huge fan of their ‘Bitcoin Only’ approach and it sent him way further down the Maximalist Rabbit Hole. He then worked with Bitsy, creating educational content for their Academy, but struggled to align himself with their values.
"It turns out I really hate working for people! If you offer value & you do that consistently, particularly if you get paid in Bitcoin, that value carries forward."
That was the trigger for him to do his own thing and go it alone. It’s volatile and he’s put in a lot of graft but he’s beginning to gain more security than ever before. Having a wide variety of revenue streams has made him considerably more antifragile and having these increasingly come through Bitcoin . . . well, it increasingly looks like the right move. Being forced to monetise his content has brought some reflective moments but he’s rationalised these with a clear policy of not taking sponsorship or referring to companies he doesn’t use personally. Clickbait isn’t so bad, as long as you bag it up with good content. He’s happy to drop clickbait titles if it’s going to funnel people to his work and away from the trash.
"I’m keen to balance quality of material with getting it in front of as many eyeballs as I can."
Ben’s had his YouTube channel closed down twice, as part of blanket Crypto bans on the platform. He realises YouTube is his Achilles Heel, getting deplatformed is a pretty scary prospect when it’s a major income stream. What it has spurred him to do, is strive for antifragility and funnel content out via other platforms and channels though. Bitcoin Content Creators in particular, really must have their ears to ground in this dynamic media environment.
"Sometimes things suck but the next best thing to do is to reassess & rebuild. Maybe it comes back better."
Ben admits to getting a little anxious during the 2017 Bull Run, so this time round he’s committed to taking time for himself every day, meditating, reading something outside of Bitcoin and focusing more on health and family. He can see this Bull Run getting significantly more global attention and shaking up the establishment more. Within countries after this next cycle, the disenfranchised may well look a little enviously on those who got into Bitcoin earlier, but, “On the whole, Bitcoiners are a generous bunch, who volunteer their time for the betterment of humanity and benefit of us all.”
Ben’s ideal future would involve creating content and travelling with his family, seeing new places and experiencing new cultures. He’d love to mishmash Bitcoin with travel and entertainment. His parting advice is to experiment, to focus on what you’re good at, what you enjoy. Earn Bitcoin through doing what you love, or just convert what you earn to Bitcoin of course. He’s a man closing in fast on his Ikigai.
"Freedom to me is seeing as much as I can, with those I love. Whatever I create & spend time on in the future will be directed by Bitcoin."