Op-ed: Why Bars Are My Favorite Places to Talk Bitcoin
By nature, I’m a bit of an introvert. But being new to San Diego, I’ve been making a concerted effort to reach out and get connected to what this city is all about. And I’m not going to lie; I love sitting at a bar with martini in hand conversing with any stranger who dares sit next to me.
Fast forward to last week when I discovered a cool local spot called Martini’s Above 4th. The guy seated next to me struck up a conversation which of course led to the topic of bitcoin. Delighted to discover that I was a bitcoin writer, he began shooting questions at me in rapid-fire succession. One question that was particularly amusing amid an eye roll from his girlfriend was “gee is there a way for me to create my own digital currency.”
I just smiled and proceeded to show him the basics of setting up a bitcoin wallet on his phone. “Let’s just get you a wallet now. Creating your own crypto is a bit advanced, so it’s best that we discuss that at a later point.”
“OK,” he responded with a big ass grin. He then proceeded to buy me a martini.
In the meantime, the woman seated on my other side had been listening in. “Hey,” she shouted while carefully jumping off her bar stool to head home for the evening. “Here is my business card. Can you send me a few recommendations for places where I can buy and sell bitcoin online? I’m really interested in learning more about all of this.”
When these sorts of encounters take place, I’m often reminded of how I first learned about bitcoin. You guessed it, it all happened at a bar.
The year was 2013 at a Meetup of the Colorado Bitcoin Society. It was held in a cavernous, dungeon-like bar at a place called Southern Hospitality in downtown Denver. The General Manager of the place at the time happened to be Shawn Owen, now the founder of the Salt Lending, a firm that supports loans denominated in national currencies backed by blockchain assets including bitcoin.
Upon walking in, I was struck by the motley crew of attendees. Some who I met at the bar shared tales of not having showered or shaved for months amid their newfound interest in crypto. Over time this group became my community. It’s where I crossed paths with the likes of Erik Voorhees, Roger Ver, Charles Hoskinson and tons of others in the Bitcoin space.
There are many lessons I learned from those that I crossed paths with over the years around our common interest in crypto. In terms of newbies you might meet while sipping a martini or otherwise, here are a few tips that I suggest to help them feel welcome:
Get ’em A Wallet Right Away: Have them download one right on the spot. Otherwise what you share might be a bit fuzzy for them the following day after those drinks. Airbitz is my favorite starter wallet because it’s so damn simple.
Send Them a Few Dollars of BTC: Every time I’ve done this people just light up with excitement. It’s an excellent way to get them engaged immediately.
Recommend a Resource: Because they’ll leave with lots of questions, I always try to recommend a website or book for them to reference. My favorite of late is Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investors Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar.
Invite Them To a Local Crypto Meetup: Get them connected with others. Believe me; it will help to make their experiences with crypto that much more enriching.