Raúl Badillo
Country Manager
FTX Mexico
Startup Contributor

Wealth Has a Simple Face

By Raúl Badillo | Fri, 10/08/2021 - 09:06

How have cryptocurrencies gotten a $2 trillion market capitalization? Based on dreams. In fact, reality is the result of the dreamers, and in the crypto case, the dreams came from people who were previously ignored: the everyday people (and some nerds), who built and believed in something so big that they have even influenced the way we see wealth today: something that could be simple, something without filters.

In future articles, I will write about the exponential growth of FTX as a cryptocurrency exchange, the leadership of 29-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried, and the world-class institutional and sponsorship relationships that the company has achieved in the last two years, but for this article, I would like to focus on something more reflective: the need to see ourselves as human and set aside appearances.

I remember watching the classic movie “American Psycho” (2000), directed by Mary Harron and starring Christian Bale, who played the role of “Patrick Bateman.” He was a wealthy young man who was in his 20s and was already a part of a major Wall Street investment firm (Pierce & Pierce - Mergers and Acquisitions). 

For a moment, let’s forget the psychopathic side of the character and concentrate on what this vice president reflects in others. He has an ability to influence; he is independent; he has a narcissistic personality and an insane love for fashion and luxury. As a Harvard graduate, he is someone with a prestigious education (although that does not necessarily mean that it is being taken advantage of).

We can observe the social circle to which he belongs, which is full of young people like himself. For them, an ordinary day would be going to an expensive restaurant to consume and socialize to impress people, who would not hesitate to ignore them in an adverse environment, while maintaining an excessive fixation on their person and materialistic things.
This type of person would be what at the time was called a “yuppie” (Young Urban Professional). This image of the ambitious American executive of the 1990s would have a high income, they would mostly come from renowned families and they often end up being an exact portrait of what it means to establish appearances and prioritize the family name above any skills.

Proof of this would be how the lack of these traits could end up knocking them down, just as happened to a great extent after the financial crisis of 2008. Who was left standing? Those visionaries who were considered “the uncommon people” or those who bet on following them (as exemplified in The Big Short, 2015).

As you can see, more than 30 years of the yuppie stereotype have passed and it is still very present (whether unconsciously or not) when it comes to doing business. As the new ways of doing business have evolved, education has become more easily accessible to the point that someone can learn more on the internet than attending a costly university and businesses can be built in a matter of months thanks to new technologies by people who were anonymous at the beginning or whose personalities were not all that common.

With the information stated above, I want to be clear that the conditions of one’s own privilege are not in themselves bad. On the contrary, being aware of them can help us to be better professionals and people; however, the criticism is of those who in their prejudice have been losing great opportunities not only to do business, which would be their own business, but the opportunity to contribute to the development of socially responsible solutions because they cannot see where reality is going and who are the new leaders who command it.

An example is the crypto sector, an industry that has been in existence for a little over a decade and was branded and frowned upon as strange at the start. Now, thanks to the interest of millions of people around the world, it has ended up being driven even by its former opponents, achieving a market capitalization of more than $2 trillion. Who has won? Those who bet on talent and not appearance. Who has won? The thousands of people who benefit from the foundations and social assistance projects promoted by crypto companies.

In this industry, many millionaires don’t present themselves as millionaires. They typically wear cheap clothes, are not opulent, don’t have a “heavy” family background, and sometimes they don't even have cars or apartments because they simply don’t like these things. They can be fans of anime, addicted to esports, don’t have a super-pro photo on their LinkedIn (sometimes they even have avatars or nothing at all), don’t care about what people will say, and usually have a great sense of humor and superior intelligence that surpasses appearances. Those are truly the ones we should look at and ask, why not? We should look for them as partners.

That is why this is a call to reflection for all those who hold positions of responsibility, mainly in the private sector: Let's put appearances aside and focus on the creativity, intelligence, and talents we have as people.

Photo by:   Raúl Badillo