Today we are talking with Aaron Lasher who is the former Chief Strategy Officer at BRD.
- BRD is a simple and secure onramp to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies, and whose wallet allows people to buy, exchange and sell these digital currencies.
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
I always loved science fiction and technology, and since I grew up before the internet was widespread, I spent a lot of time taking things apart and playing with the pieces. Watching the characters in Stranger Things mess around with radios brings back good memories!
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
I always thought that movie stars and musicians were cool, and figured I could be one someday. But as I got older I realized that the real fun is in building business empires, so I decided to pursue entrepreneurship and investing instead.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
Honestly, my childhood was pretty great. We lived in Waterloo, Belgium and I had wonderful parents. Attending an international school exposed me very early to difference cultures and ideas; I still keep in touch with old friends. I made a couple bad plays in varsity baseball that still make me cringe, but that’s about the extent of my bad memories.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
If there was one thing lacking in my early influences, it was an education on money. My parents did a good job of espousing the benefits of “saving” but as far as I was concerned, it wasn’t important. Many kids (particularly in the US) are asked to make enormously important financial decisions right out of high school in the form of taking on student loans for university, and are woefully unprepared. My REAL education in money, investing, and how the machine works - and even basic stuff like budgeting and paying bills - began after I had completed my formal studies. My advice to aspiring individuals today is to undertake your financial education autodidactically. Get on Google, watch Youtube videos, buy some books. It’ll prepare you for the real world in ways that traditional classes won’t.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
I am very patient and I’m a good listener. The first strength allows me to be a highly risk tolerant and unemotional long-term investor, and the second enables me to form deep and meaningful relationships with others both personal and professional.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
Not sure how controversial this is, but I’m in favor of raising the Bitcoin block size. When balancing the risks of centralization (due to the burden of running a node) vs. adoption barriers (due to high on-chain fees), I believe the latter poses a larger threat to the viability of the system. I understand why many believe Bitcoin can thrive with a 1MB block size forever, I just respectfully disagree, and believe all the low hanging fruit in terms of optimization have been picked.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
It’s even worse than that. I have two kids under the age of 3! Plus my wife works a high-stress, high-profile job too. Replacing alcohol with exercise has been a good step recently, and prioritizing sleep, but you’re right that the pressure can be crushing at times. On the other hand, I’m grateful for the position I’m in and all the opportunities available, so it’s welcome and self-inflicted.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
Once upon a time I was a serious sailor, and completed a 2-year circumnavigation as captain aboard a 43-foot cutter. My wife and I lived aboard a sailboat for 4 years, until we had our first child, when we sold our dream for a college fund. Someday, I’d like to do more sailing, but for now it’s all hands on deck at BRD.
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
I once was a judge at a Bitcoin Hackathon (I won’t mention the location out of respect for the person I’m about to mention), where an individual, we’ll call him A, decided it would be a good idea to drop LSD to improve creativity and the ability to stay up all night. During his presentation, he was clearly still under the influence, and proudly displayed a working prototype of “hello world,” which was all he could manage to do after 24 hours despite his clever plan.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
When you left Bitcoin, what project did you move on to?
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
You may get a sense for some of my influences here:
1. The national currency has a defined supply cap.
2. The state cannot interfere with private contracts that do not adversely affect a 3rd party, including good title to property.
3. No taxes on income, dividends, distributions, capital gains, real estate, or estates. (Maybe some sales taxes just to keep the lights on).
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) What do you feel makes the BRD community unique compared to others?
We’ve always strived to be accessible to non-techy people, and our favorite community members are people who use our app to introduce their friends and family to bitcoin. These people have used us for a long time, and we try to never let them down by continuously improving the app and its functionality. I think the thing that sets our community apart is that they trust we’re in this for the long haul, and seem to have in common a certain optimism and excitement for the future, along with noteworthy good taste for simple aesthetics and beauty.
13) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
Binance had just done a phenomenal job of creating a mass of fiercely loyal users. Gotta hand it to CZ on this one.
14) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
I’ve come to the conclusion that social media really is just brain sugar, and bad for your mind in the same way that sugar is bad for your body. It’s addictive, creates tolerance and compensatory effects, messes with your other organs and creates health problems. That said, I spend the most time on reddit, where I can quickly scroll through subreddits to catch up on recent news.
As far as improvements, I think that social media in general is optimizing for the wrong thing (attention), and it’s having serious blowback. People are “overdosing” and shutting off their accounts. I’d be interested in some innovation that optimizes for something new, like mental health or information fidelity. I’d invest in something like that. It may be the next unicorn!
15) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
I’m not sure. Are there still influential world wide web communities today? It seems to me that clout is shifting from enthusiasts to entrepreneurs and businesses, which is probably healthy. But somehow I feel like we’ll need the old guard to stand vigil once policymakers get more involved. Maybe due to the sheer volume of new users, and new communities springing up, the role of current evangelists will be diluted, but there will still be an important role to play in protecting the protocols from being co-opted over time.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding BRD.
16) What do you feel sets BRD apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
Broadly, we’re non custodial, meaning that our users control and protect their own funds. We think this is the right “decentralized” security model for the future (note the ongoing frequency and severity of exchange hacks).
Among other non-custodial wallets, we are mobile only, using the secure enclave to sign transactions and hold encrypted private keys. We think this is the right place to store large amounts of cryptocurrency, compared with web wallets, desktop wallets, and (yes) even hardware wallets, which are still good but suffer from firmware/hardware attack vectors and lack convenient usability.
Narrowly, we focus on security, simplicity, and privacy. Other non-custodial mobile wallets may get check marks for one or two of those, but we believe we are the only one that gets top marks in all three.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
17) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
As a global society, we’re so accustomed to trusting third parties that we can’t envision a world without it, and we don’t know what we’re missing.
Most new technologies just twiddle the nobs of society, making things faster, cheaper, quicker, more powerful, etc., but blockchains are special. They aren’t chains at all, they are liberators. They unlock shackles that you never knew you were wearing, in money, property, and policy, and you can’t see them until you take a small leap into this parallel universe.
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