September 11, 2020

Meet Edmund McCormack, Founder & CEO of Dchained (Cryptocurrency Literary Network)

Credit: Edmund McCormack
Edmund, welcome to Kreative Circle. Please introduce yourself and share with us why you decided to transition from working in the tech and media space to focus on creating a Cryptocurrency Literary Network. 

I have been involved in cryptocurrency and blockchain since 2012. The initial draw was the technology and how it can address glaring issues with the current internet model: 1) censorship by governments (i.e. the internet experience of someone in China is much different than you and I; 2) relentless data breaches of governments & corporations by hackers; and 3) lack of consumer data protection & privacy. 

The latter became tangible for me in late 2015 when I was working at Apple and I saw Tim Cook speak about Apple’s rapidly-growing stance on user privacy. Personally, it meant that my days were numbered at Apple as they moved to distance themselves from the advertising world; however, I also realized that the current internet model – where companies & governments store your data on their servers – would need to be disrupted. Blockchain offered the solution, and it would not only disrupt how we surf the web but banking and even the money that we use (i.e. crypto). 

Coincidentally, this is when the crypto market started its historic rally that brought the word “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain” into the mainstream. It brought in droves of investors that “threw caution to the wind” and invested into markets that they didn’t understand from a technical or financial standpoint. Unfortunately, many of those investors were caught off-guard 12 months later when Bitcoin, along with the rest of the cryptocurrency market, collapsed. I can’t blame those investors though because most of the credible sources on crypto were highly technical. Individuals who could understand the financial indicators and updates on development knew that the end was near. With a little information and trusted hub to be a “safe haven,” many of those investors could have mitigated their losses.

Today feels very much like early 2016. Crypto is gaining in popularity, except this time they are backed by major financial institutions and significant development advancements. I wanted to create an online destination that made the information, often seen as intimidating and inaccessible to those outside of tech & finance, available for all. This is where the name “Dchained” came from – unlocking this investment & technology space that could change people’s lives. 

What were the common misconceptions related to cryptocurrency when it was initially introduced in the market? What misconceptions still need to be addressed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology today? 

In the early years, cryptocurrency had a stigma of being the currency to finance illegal activity. I’m happy that we’ve out of the “dark days” of the Silk Road, as it becomes further embraced by governments and financial institutions. 

The biggest misconception today is that you need to be technical to invest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The terms "blockchain" and "crypto" sound foreign to many, but so did HTML and IP Addresses in the early 90s (i.e. the internet). While most people still couldn’t explain how the internet works, it's hard to argue that investing in the early players involved in shaping the internet was a bad decision: Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. They're also the #1, #2, #3, and #4 largest companies in the world, in order. This has the potential to match or exceed that investing opportunity (no time travel required).

Dchained provides a platform to educate oneself on cryptocurrency without complexity. Which topic is the most popular within the Dchained community that delivers utility value among members and potential investors? 

By far, most traffic has come to our section outlining Bitcoin. However, it’s been fascinating to see that nearly half the traffic is over the age of 50 to our Bitcoin content. In general, investing strategy for many starts to shift to assets with less risk as the individual moves closer to retirement age. However, this trend makes sense as the yields from Treasury bonds have decreased steadily as the Federal Reserve has increased the supply of money to support the US economy during COVID. This practice, known as quantitative easing, has led investors to seek out two of the most stable investment assets available: gold and Bitcoin. 

Cryptocurrency serves as a potential investment vehicle for investors. What are the top three questions prospective investors should ask, or research, before extending their resources into the cryptocurrency market? Are there any insights you've acquired through your investing activities?

The top three questions that investors should ask themselves: 1) what is your goal and risk tolerance, 2) how diversified do you want to be (i.e. should you invest in an exchange traded fund (ETF) or purchase a coin directly from an exchange), and 3) what trusted sources are available to stay up-to-date.  

My advice to anyone interested in starting, or growing, their crypto investing portfolio is: 1) take the time to learn the fundamentals (i.e. how is Bitcoin different than Ethereum), 2) store your cryptocurrencies on a hardware wallet instead of the exchange you use to buy from, and 3) do your own research before you make any investment decision.

Risk comes with all forms of investment. On a scale one to ten, how would you rate the risk factor for cryptocurrency investments in general? Has the risk factor increased or decreased due to the Coronavirus pandemic? What does the potential forecast of cryptocurrency demand look like in the next five and ten years? 

The cryptocurrency market delivers opportunity at both ends of the risk spectrum. For example, Bitcoin has been drawing praise from major institutional investment firms, such as Goldman Sachs, and publicly traded companies in the face of our current economic situation. Its limited supply and strength in the face of the weak US economic and jobs data have drawn parallels to the stability that gold offers. In fact, MicroStrategy (a publicly traded business intelligence company) exchanged USD for Bitcoin in its reserves to more effectively store value due to fears of USD devaluation from the Federal Reserve’s steps to increase the supply of money to support the economy during COVID.

While I don’t have a crystal ball to predict where prices will go, it’s clear that cryptocurrency (specifically Bitcoin) is being rapidly adopted in developing countries. For example, the rate of adoption of crypto in Latin America has been inspiring as they turn to cryptocurrency as a solution to staggering inflation and increasingly unstable banking systems. It’s also worth noting that there are 2 billion people globally who do not have access to banking systems, often referred to as “unbanked,” but are actively using mobile phones. It will turn a mass amount of people into participants in the global economy, while creating demand on the limited supply of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (increasing the value for investors).    

You've been engaged in the cryptocurrency market for at least a decade. Engagement in this niche requires good sense and implementation of good strategies. What has this form of investment taught you about decision making skills in life and business?

Behind all the acronyms of the cryptocurrencies are people who are leading technology projects. I have taken a focus of trying to invest in technology that I believe can be transformative, and I’ve used this approach to build confidence and conviction in my investing strategies. The crypto market is heavily influenced by emotion, as seen in the last bull run in 2016 and 2017, and there is no shortage of people who will give you their advice. It’s important to remember that there is no shortcut for doing the due diligence, creating a plan, and maintaining composure during short-term challenges.

Investors are constantly seeking opportunities to acquire diversified return on investment in their portfolios. What are the top four types of cryptocurrency popular in the global markets? Are cryptocurrency investments ideal for individuals seeking short term or long term returns?  Is there any way to offset risk for short term losses?

The crypto market has assets that can appease varying levels of risk & reward that investors can incorporate into their overall portfolio. Personally, I think investors should analyze what is the function of the crypto and what it represents.  

1. Stablecoins, which is cryptocurrency that is backed by fiat currency (i.e. USD or British pound) or commodities such as gold, offer a conservative investing opportunity with minimal volatility and modest returns. Given its association with national currencies, stablecoins provide a higher level of stability. 

2. Bitcoin offers a unique opportunity where it’s a proven store of value but it has significant upside potential given its limited supply. The use case where it can be utilized for large-scale payments, such as government to government, draws further parallels with gold.  

3. Ethereum is an investment in whether it will be the future backbone of digital infrastructure. Investments can net higher returns as Ethereum becomes more widely adopted across industries and further development enables further growth for the platform. However, there has been an influx of competitive technologies that are creating a technical “arms race” with Ethereum to provide the foundation for our connected lives.  

4. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is a high risk/high reward investment. Its goal is to remove “intermediaries,” such as banks, by allowing individuals to conduct financial activity through “smart contracts.” Investments resemble the practice of stock-picking as you’re financially back that a specific project or offering will become the leader in its specific sector of financial services, such as lending or earning interest on asset holdings. 

Is there a recommended minimum amount needed to invest in the cryptocurrency market? What type of investment strategies have led third parties to lose money in this specific area of investment?

There is no minimum required to invest, as long as you cover any necessary fees charged by the exchanges to buy the cryptocurrency. With that said, there are a few things to consider. The golden rule is that you do not want to invest any amount of money that could put yourself in financial distress if you were to lose it. Additionally, it’s advisable to utilize a dollar-cost averaging investing strategy where you are investing a consistent amount of money consistently on a scheduled basis. This strategy helps investors avoid mistakes often made when trying to “time the market.” Lastly, it’s imperative to do your research and not invest based on the potential of “missing out.” This led to a lot of investors making poor decisions in the last bull run. 

As a subject matter expert and entrepreneur, how have you built your investment network of highly skilled team members which include lawyers, financial advisors and business leaders? Did you find them or did they find you? What guidance do you have for business professionals building a robust network? 

Over the years, I have met individuals both professionally and personally who provide their clients with advice on cryptocurrency in their respective fields. I’m a client of many of these specific individuals, as I’ve sought advice on topics such as filing gains/losses on my tax returns or how to claim crypto holdings when applying for a mortgage. It’s interesting how people involved in the crypto space have sought to offer introductions to help build the community. I want to help open that community up to those who are now getting involved. 

Some people perceive the cryptocurrency market to be a clandestine network which hosts fraudulent activities. How can prospective investors find a peace of mind knowing their identities and resources will not be compromised when participating in the network? 

The clandestine reputation was deserved in the early days, as crypto became associated with the “dark web,” but the world is a much different place with cryptocurrency today. Large financial institutions are focusing their long-term strategy on building crypto investment options for their customers. The Federal Reserve is collaborating with MIT on if/how they roll out digital legal tender. 

Blockchain, which is built to provide anonymity and security, is looked at as a solution to consumer data privacy. I would ask someone to think about how many times they’ve had issues with illegal activity on their credit card, or even worse if their identity was compromised. It’s extremely easy to do because that information is stored on a physical server that hackers can attack. With blockchain, there is no central target for hackers and its use of cryptography make it almost impossible to breach.

How can this form of investment win over the trust of millionaires who strongly oppose investing in a cryptocurrency market that isn't reliable enough due to its young age, and/or the bad information circulating on the financial platforms online? What are the credible stock exchanges that provide valuable information and services to clients wanting to start their crypto journey?

The opinion of wealthy investors have shifted more in favor of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, more in the last year than the 9 years preceding it. Regulation and policy changes from the US government and financial regulatory groups have set the stage for crypto to become mainstream. Large institutional banks are creating funds dedicated to cryptocurrency, such as Fidelity’s upcoming $1B Bitcoin fund, while several leading players in the crypto market are contemplating the move to becoming publicly traded companies.  

Similar to the stock market and politics, there is no shortage of misinformation and people willing to offer it to you. This is why we wanted to create a platform that acts as a safe-haven, where you can build an education in the overall space and stay up-to-date on the latest developments.

Edmund, do you have a favorite quote or a favorite song? How does it inspire you with the work you do? 

It’s a bit cliché to quote Warren Buffett, especially if you’re involved in investing, but he has a quote that is spot-on in the crypto world. “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Crypto is dangerous for investors who think that it’s an apples-to-apples type of market with the stocks and bonds. It’s a whole different beast and you have to know what’s a market signal out of all the noise. This is where we come in as we are focused on building a platform where investors can learn about cryptocurrencies and leverage all the services that we offer our members to invest more effectively. 

 Please share with audiences how they can support your work. 

We host a volume of free content and instructional information on our site  Also, follow us on our Facebook page as we will be announcing a virtual video workshop on “How to Get Started in Cryptocurrency.”

September 10, 2020

Meet Natalie P. Jenkins, Author of After The Storm

Credit: Natalie P Jenkins
Natalie, welcome to Kreative Circle! As a professionally trained writer, do you recall the first time you aspired to pursue the craft of writing? Do you remember the very first piece you wrote early in life?
I do remember when I first wanted to pursue writing. I was actually a sophomore in high school and I joined a club called JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates). The club had a state competition and I was given a project to write a script for a video that we had to make. Technically, that the was the first piece I’ve ever written. My love for writing extends all the way back to elementary school. The very first piece I ever written that I personally consider to be my first professional piece was a poem that I crafted in college.

Prior to authoring your two books, you worked as a translator interpreting Spanish and French stories into English. How did you come across this valuable opportunity which grants writers leverage in better understanding diction from a cultural and linguistic perspective? Were there any insights you acquired which surprised you pertaining how foreign authors write and what they value in their stories?

I studied Spanish and French in college, and majored in that. I started translating books as a side hustle to make a little extra money. Reading other people’s work gave me a lot of insight, so I am very lucky that I had that advantage. I already knew how to format a manuscript before I wrote my first book. One thing I definitely did learn, though, was that the French are a little more dramatic in their writing. 

Your first book "Fourteen Day Fiance", published by Christian Faith Publishing, focuses on an autobiographical account of your fiance unexpectedly passing away following a brief engagement. The story focuses on how to move forward in life through these unplanned events without a proper closure. How did you perceive closure prior to these events in your life? How do you view the ideology of closure now? Where did you derive your strength from during your healing process?

I found closure in two ways. One of those ways was through writing. Writing my first book was very cathartic, because I was able to express feelings that I had bottled up for so long. I also did get closure in the court system as well, and I am very thankful for that. When I did get actual closure, because I had waited so long to hear it, it’s almost like it brought back all those old emotions and memories. I definitely got my strength from God and my family. My family was a huge support to me through my journey of finding closure but ultimately my strength came from God. I often say that it was God’s own strength that pulled me through and not my own. 

Faith is a word that holds many meanings in different hearts. Faith is a verb for some people, faith is a noun for others. How do you view the word faith in your life? What life guidance can you share with those grieving their transition out of their literal and metaphorical relationships? Do you have a life mantra that you live by now?

Faith to me is a lot of things, but I like the way the Bible puts it. The Bible states that Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of the unseen. I live by this verse, not only because it motivates me, it also assures me that God has heard me and will come through for me. 

Your second book "After the Storm" took about nine months to write. The book focuses on working through the grief following the previous events of your fiance Jason's passing and finding the strength to cross the bridge into the new reality waiting for you. Everyone processes grief differently. What resources, from people to tools, did you exercise to assist you through this process? 

My grief process was a difficult one. I not only grieved the death of someone I loved dearly, I also had to grieve the loss of a relationship and losing the chance to get married. Marriage is something that I’ve always wanted and accepting the fact that it wasn’t going to happen was one of the most difficult things I had to process. Throughout my grieving process, I went to see a therapist. I struggled a lot with thoughts of suicide and I was diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing such a traumatic incident.

In hindsight, do you believe Jason was brought into your life for a purpose? If Jason is listening, what would you like to tell him?

I very much do believe that Jason was brought into my life for a reason. He brought me closer to God and taught me how to love myself. If Jason were listening to me right now, I’d tell him how much I love him. I’d also thank him for teaching me the major lessons that he taught me in such a short amount of time. 

The universe has blessed you with a new partner in your life. How did you two meet? How did your overall being welcome this new person into your path? Have these events encouraged you to possibly write another book in the future?

I met my amazing new partner at a book signing of mine. There was just something about him that stood out to me. He was different than all the other guys. This man came into my life at the right time. I knew that I wanted someone new and I had been looking for while. It was honestly really strange, because when I stopped actively searching for partner, then he just shows up out of nowhere. Overall, it’s been very positive and I’m so glad that I opened my heart up to him. This incident has definitely inspired some ideas for more books in the future.

What are two writing tips you can share for authoring a memoir? Are there tips you wish you had known sooner to exercise?

One tip for writing is memoir is start with an outline. Write down every event in your life in chronological order and start building from there. The second piece of advice is build an audience up before you even start writing the book. The more audience you have, the better. 

What is the most useful constructive guidance you've received as an author? How has this improved your outlook on life and writing?

Honestly, as cheesy as it sounds, the best piece of advice that I was ever given as an author was to never give up. I had a quitter mentality and my friends, family, and everyone I worked with clearly saw that in me. They brought it to my attention, told me to snap out of it and not to quit. This has improved my outlook on both life and writing in a huge way. Whenever I start writing a new book, I get this feeling that it’s never going to be good enough or that people won’t resonate with it and hate it. So, whenever I feel like this, I go back to what my family told me. Don’t quit.

Natalie, what is the most fearless thing you've done in the past year? What new adventures do you look forward to now?

The most fearless thing I’ve done this year is opening my heart back up to love. I was scared of how people would react, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. What I look forward to this year is obviously the release of my new book After The Storm on December 15th. Personally, I’m looking forward to making new memories and just seeing where life takes me. 
Please share with audiences how they can support your work.

Author Site @ Natalie P. Jenkins
Natalie @ Good Reads

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