PPPPlotting a Comeback (Four P's #185)
Plateaus of Productivity: Tokenization, Medicine & the Arc of Justice
The good news is that the internet is full of motivational quotes about rebounding from setbacks. The bad news is that we may need all of them right now:
“It's not about how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get up.” “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” “A setback only paves the way for a comeback.”
From the resurgence of COVID… to horrific Supreme Court decisions… to downturns in the financial market, there have been some significant setbacks over the past few weeks. Yes, shit happens. Some of it is minor and fixable, while other setbacks are completely outside of our control. But for all of the peaks, plateaus, pratfalls, plunges, and patterns in between, the only acceptable response to adversity is stubborn persistence.
SOMETHING PRACTICAL: The Comeback Roadmap
Let's take a step back for a second. We all have things we’re concerned about or things we wish we could change. There are certain things we can control, certain things we can impact, and other things about which we can do very little. No matter what, we’re responsible for the way we react to things that happen to us. Which is empowering. If you’re responsible for your reactions in life, you don’t have to wait around for someone to come and make it better.
I occasionally find myself so highly strung that even being stuck in traffic can feel like the end of the world. But if you consider the obstacles and setbacks you’ve encountered in the course of your life, you’ll realize that being caught up in traffic is the least of your worries. Big change comes in small steps and the clearer your goal is, the easier it is to maintain your commitment.
Understanding your personality type will help you identify any weak spots in your approach to problem-solving. When a crisis hits, what causes you to react the way you do? Why do some people go into problem-solving mode, while others try to hide or run away from their problems?
Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type will give you the self-awareness to anticipate potential challenges and setbacks. Even better, it will give you valuable insights about who you’re best suited to work with. The ideal team is made up of all sorts of people whose complementary strengths and weaknesses bring out the best in each other. Surrounding yourself with the right people... people who believe in you and your goal, who support you in seeing what’s possible, and who keep you accountable… it’s an essential ingredient in plotting a comeback.
SOMETHING PROFESSIONAL: The End of the Beginning
Over the past week, a couple of well-publicized articles cited data about a decline in NFT sales as if that's a bad thing. As someone who has spent the past year building a token platform for marketers, I wanted to fight back at the faulty, clickbait headlines. While a slowdown in purchase volume was both expected and well-publicized, it was also necessary for the continuing progress and development of broader, more functional tokenization across a variety of sectors.
Talking about NFT sales in the way they did is very much still an “NFT 1.0” mentality. What the WSJ study failed to explain is that while sales may be up or down, total NFT transactions continue to go up. NFT 1.0 was never going to last. Some consolidation is necessary. The speculative "gold rush" around several gimmicky products and projects was neither scalable nor repeatable. There's only so much room for colorful cartoon animal artwork in your budget. But the increase in failing creator projects is not an indication of the future of the technology nor the use case potential of digital tokens.
The perception of a sales slowdown plants short-term seeds of doubt, which creates more challenges of perception than pragmatism. We are now experiencing the natural "trough of disillusionment" that comes with any new concept, as well as a normal correction resulting from consumers getting smarter and more demanding about the value exchange in these tokenized transactions. This also means we're one step closer to the "plateau of productivity."
With NFT 2.0, artwork and collectibles will still have a place, but the desirability of the IP (intellectual property) must be high to sustain that market. It will soon be overshadowed by three other use cases: tokenization as functional access keys, rewards for engagement, and proof of ownership for digital or IRL goods. The future of NFTs is NOT only in sales, but in distributing tokens as keys to access or rewards for participation on the other side of the consumer value exchange.
A few web3-based companies are figuring this out, though the next NFT bull run will almost certainly be driven by the bigger, established brands already investing time and resources for the long haul. A realization and acceptance that full, mass, digital "decentralization" is impossible will also accelerate this progress. The coming Ethereum L2 merge in favor of proof-of-stake blockchain usage may scare some early adopters, but will almost certainly aid in the accessibility and inclusivity of tokenization.
All along, we’ve said that the future of NFTs is not tied to sales and revenue, but to utility and value exchange for the consumer. We must continue to separate crypto (fungible) and NFTs (non-fungible) in both financial and non-financial applications. Marketers and creators who have a "learn-then-test" approach are even more plentiful than those who led the way with a "test-and-learn" mentality.
But we still need more of each. The days of "get-rich-quick" with NFTs may be subsiding, but the era of consumer-focused strategy, analytics-based planning, and conversion-driving value is coming. And while that may not result in more immediate NFT sales and direct revenue, free and earned token transactions are on the rise. Membership and loyalty use cases will drive brand-building, community-creating, and relationship-reinforcing experiences. And that's a good thing.
SOMETHING POLITICAL: Setbacks and Comebacks
I don't have too much more to add to what's already been said in response to the Extreme Court's upcoming likely overturn of most aspects of the Roe v. Wade decision. Except to say that I've obliterated the “Five Stages of Grief" model once and for all.
In the 1960s, psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross introduced a linear theory about dealing with loss through 5 emotional stages: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, and (5) acceptance. This version of the healing experience suggests you will first feel this, then that, then that until you are finally healed. The problem is that the process doesn't work like that when the "loss" is not permanent. If the Court does, indeed, issue this immoral, tyrannical ruling next month, as expected, it cannot and will not be permanent. There will be no acceptance.
In contrast, we must adopt a Survive-Alive-Thrive model to rebound and fight anew. Of course, it's okay to start with "anger," as I did. My immediate reaction was rage, not denial. I wasn’t alone.
Nothing this Court does not will surprise me, and the only recourse is to fight liars with fire. Anger in limited, controlled doses is not a bad thing. Anger at those who didn't vote in the 2016 election because "neither candidate was perfect." Anger at those who said we were overreacting to Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016. Anger at those who allowed Merrick Garland's nomination to be ignored. Anger at those who allowed Kreepy Kavanaugh's nomination to go through. Anger at those who don't believe that a woman's right to choose is more important than, well, their right to be a fucking asshole. Anger is a seed, but it is what that anger grows into that can be good or bad.
Conservatives and the Republican Party have blocked, deterred, and delayed the progress of liberty and civil rights in America for the past century, and just put an entire generation's worth of individual freedom in their selfish, barely-literate crosshairs. These setbacks make it increasingly embarrassing to be an American, to which they will say “so leave,” but that’s a cowardly, chickenshit p.o.v. Losers leave. Losers give up. Losers sit back and accept. Choice is a foundational pillar of American freedom and democracy… and it will not only survive this setback and come alive, but will soon thrive again. You poked the bear, motherfuckers.
SOMETHING PERSONAL: Pathology Report
Some of the best doctors -- and the best people -- that I know pursued a career in medicine because of traumatic experiences in their childhood. Watching a parent or sibling battle a terrible disease, or experience one themselves, motivated them to take up the fight professionally as adults. Even then, it’s no walk in the park. There are countless hours of academic rigor, training, and sacrifice required to make it through medical school, residency, intern, and fellowship years. Then there are another two or three decades to pay off their student loan debts. Most physicians fall into "middle class" socio-economic indices. by income. Most physicians struggle to find a fair balance between spending time with their patients or their own families.
It was just two years ago when the cheers, applause, banging of pots and pans, and cacophony of noise echoed throughout major cities and suburbs at 7 pm each night in celebration of medical professionals and first responders battling the COVID pandemic. They were our heroes. Our soldiers. Our saviors. But in our divided, vitriolic society now irreparably torn asunder, the respect for, and belief in, physicians and the medical profession has dissipated among many factions. Unabashed, nonsensical attacks (verbal, digital, and even physical) are the most evident sign of our society’s deterioration.
The medical and scientific community has been overwhelmingly aligned that more precautions were (and remain) necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But vaccines, masks, and other mitigating health protocols were politicized. The ignorant class feared a "loss of liberties" more than the loss of life, even though all functioning societies agree to mitigate certain individual freedoms for the common good. Most people seem ready to "move on," exhausted from the past two years. Yet here we are again, with COVID cases rising again because even the most basic of common sense is being ignored. We were close... so close. But impatience got the better of us. Now we're hearing about multiple positive cases per day in the schools, among friends and our professional network at a staggering rate (7-10x more than last month).
Unfortunately, we are just beginning to learn about the long-term health effects that will be incurred by many of the early (and repeat) victims of COVID, even with kids who had minimal to no symptoms at the time. Even more long-term side effects and permanent damage reports have yet to even be revealed. Far too many will suffer lifelong complications and shorter life expectancy who don't even know it yet.
Yes, I still go out. I interact with people. I even travel for work and attend conferences again. But I remain among the small percentage of those wearing masks on the airplanes and in airports... and I will for the foreseeable future. Maybe forever. No, masks are not 100.00% effective, but they are far more effective when everyone is wearing them collectively. Last week, the old man sitting next to me on my flight home was coughing up a lung for three hours. Wouldn't it be far more effective to reduce contagion spread if he AND everyone around him were still wearing a mask? The doctors are the ones shouting now. Shouting to be careful, take caution, be smart, and wear a fucking mask. It's time to reverse the surging curve again and push it back in the other direction. Let’s call it a comeback… We’ve been here for years.