One web3 learner’s journey
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April 2nd, 2022

The why, where, how and most importantly, who

Back again. Not as soon as I said I’d be, but things have been busy and for now I’m only human despite all that AI helping me be more efficient.

In my last post, I wrote about learning. It was very fitting for the start of a new year. You should go read it. But the TLDR is:

  • Learning something well requires multiple types of learning, from reading and writing to doing and teaching
  • Complacency is not only the enemy of building, it is also the enemy of learning
  • Technology can make us more productive, but it can’t necessarily make us more creative; and productivity and creativity are not the same thing
  • Productivity tools do not equal learning tools, but today there are tools that are enabling a learning renaissance powered by accessibility, individual contributors, and interconnected community
  • Peer to peer learning is central to that learning renaissance, based on the fact that we retain more of what we learn when we teach it to others
  • Creativity is ignited by learning, and made even more powerful when ideas are more readily distributed and debated

This last post brought on some really interesting debates related to learning. There was talk of:

  • Headline learners — those who pretends to know about a subject when all they read was the headline
  • Attention deficient learners — those who learns a lot about a specific topic but then get bored and move on without transferring this knowledge into a skill
  • Regurgitating learners- someone who learns something they like and just keeps repeating it without deepening their own knowledge
  • Peer to peer learners — those who assume roles of student and teacher fluidly, creating symbiotic knowledge sharing
  • Community learners — those who learn from the collective mind — or third mind — effect of a community they’re part of

Turns out, it’s really hard to learn something new as an adult — and by learn I mean process new information in a way that makes it actionable or usable towards creating something new. Most people I spoke with felt this way.But a certain segment — those who were deep in the web3 space — felt very differently because of one thing: peer to peer learning.

I personally know peer to peer learning to be a powerful knowledge source. I’ve never consumed and assimilated knowledge faster than I have in web3 and I credit that to people (and the community factor) more than anything else.

A lot of people have asked me about my personal journey into web3 - how I got in, what resources I used, who I connected with. Today, I’m going to tell you why you might want to pay attention to web3, how to get your foot in the door, and who to lean on for support (from finding a buddy to discovering your tribe.)

If you already like where this is going, subscribe.

Why care about web3?

Quick step back — for those of you reading this who might not know anything about web3 at all: web3 is the next phase of the internet’s evolution. Web1 was websites and email, web2 was the social web where we could participate, web3 is a decentralized web that allows us to control our data, our identity and how we engage with individuals, platforms and organizations.

If you want to jump right in, here’s a starter pack created by a fellow web3 builder.

Web3 is relevant if you care about any of the following things:

  • Wealth
  • Art & Culture
  • Education, Science & Technology
  • Social Impact & Connection
  • Personal Fulfillment

Meaning, it’s universally relevant and you should be paying attention. It is shifting how we relate to each other, to brands, to money, to the world around us.

The World Wide Web was originally decentralized — meaning anyone could build on it freely. But this internet wasn’t user friendly — in fact, for every thousand users browsing the Web, only a handful of them had the technical skills to publish content. Additionally, when the web started, it had no native opportunity for monetization.

New platforms emerged that made it easier and financially friendlier for individuals to contribute, which led to widespread popularity and a new opportunity for monetization: ads. Advertising turned user data into the most valuable commodity for these companies.

(I love this quick read on the evolution of web1 to web3, if you want to dive a bit deeper but not go fully down a rabbithole)

Currently, we live in a world of centralized ownership over the internet where value is accumulated by a few companies, and the companies fight their own users and partners to keep their power and wealth. It stifles collaboration and innovation and simultaneously turns us, users, into the product from which value is extracted.

Centralized platform dynamics via a16z
Centralized platform dynamics via a16z

Here’s a favorite read from a16z that nicely summarizes why web3 is important

The return of decentralization will foster new opportunities for us to create and earn. In web3, participants can work together to achieve a shared goal, and the growth of the number of participants results in value creation that benefits the collective as well as the individual. So, it’s safe to say it’s worth paying attention.

The web3 emphasis on decentralization and democratization applies directly to knowledge. There is a pervasive understanding across web3 that we’re all learning together. Right now, it’s so early, the word “expert” is often laughed at. Hence why peer to peer learning opportunities are not only abundant, but significant to learning and thereby unlocking opportunities.

Begin by finding the right door

Meme via makeameme.org
Meme via makeameme.org

Getting into web3 can be dependent on finding the right door — that is, a personally relevant entrypoint. Finding that entrypoint can also depend on finding the right peers to talk to.

I remember the first time someone intelligent whom I trusted told me about buying NFTs. I did some more of my own reading. I learned what the letters N-F-T stood for, then promptly forgot. That was in late 2020 and at that point, I didn’t see the relationship between NFTs, me, and the world.

During the 2021 NFT NYC conference, something changed when I felt a palpable energy buzzing throughout the city. For every crypto bro in it for flipping NFTs, I met a creator or builder who shared a reason that resonated with me: democratization of wealth, access to information, independent contribution, future of work, community.

As someone with a background in branding, I began to see how web3 DID impact me, in a big way. I began my career in Corporate Strategy at Estee Lauder, then went on to work in Brand Marketing at several of their brands, then worked in Brand Management at Unilever before starting my own branding turned venture studio. Brands were my life, and from what I could tell, web3 was going to fundamentally change the way brands and people interact. Here’s why:

  • It was a new way to build authentic community in the wake of the iOS changes that created so many challenges
  • It created opportunities for brands to connect with consumers more directly, and to involve them more closely in their
  • It answered the growing needs from Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha to feel part of the brands they supported - and gave them the sense of ownership they so desperately desired
  • It gave consumers the opportunity to act on behalf of brands, creating a network effect and furthering a brand’s reach and relevance
  • More specifically, NFTs could serve as a digital imprint of a physical good, as a way to share exclusive content with your most engaged consumers, and as proof of attendance, creating opportunities for follow up and bounceback content

 So, I had found my door. These reasons were compelling enough for me to want to walk through the door and at least learn at least the basics.

After finding the right door, the next challenge is learning the basics and getting your footing.

Learn the basics to get your footing

Meme via makeameme.org
Meme via makeameme.org

I’m a person who likes to have at least contextual understanding before I start asking questions. Mastering the basics doesn’t happen overnight. It can be overwhelming to navigate and understand. The breadth of resources to consume can feel like drinking from a firehose. Most of all, it’s full of misinformation.

So, I focused on quality over quantity. I didn’t try to keep up with every opinion, but sought out materials that seemed verifiable. I also looked for sources that weren’t totally on the web3 kool aid. My initial go-to’s were: Mercedes Bent, a16z, Packy (newsletter writer turned VC but still, VC), Prof G (a tried and true source of wisdom for me, though we may not see completely eye to eye on web3 these days). I also looked for some manageable (meaning quick headlines and not-so-grueling content) web3 native media orgs and subscribed to TLDR Crypto and Forefront’s newsletter (I later became a contributor as well — this community has been great throughout my web3 onboarding and learning journey).

Not all resources are ideal for the right type of learning. Here are my favorite resources for learning web3 on my own:

  • Twitter threads: great for quick downloads on a single topic with sources to go back and read later
  • Twitter spaces: great for casual listening and learning plus getting to recognize influential contributors in web3
  • Newsletters: great for a headline roundup, opinionated research or deep dives on single topics
  • Medium/Mirror posts: great for deep dives on single topics
  • A Podcast: great for hearing different perspectives from builders and creators in the space
  • Youtube videos: great if you’re an audio-visual learner
  • Discord servers: great for identifying people with similar interests at similar stages of their web3 journey (Note: I found it difficult to learn in NFT Project Discords but some are better than others. Personally, I enjoy the DAO discords a bit more — but they all get easier to navigate as you spend more time in the space)

BTW, recommendations across all of the above platforms can be found on this curated list we created (with a LOT of help from Lightspeed Venture Partners) for HerHouse, an ecosystem of web3 women and non-binary leaders and builders. One thing to note here — there are not enough mainstream resources created by women thought leaders in the space and I hope we can change that.

These resources are great for helping you learn the what and the why of web3 — but in terms of HOW to action those basics, I recommend:

  • Opening an account with an exchange (I used Coinbase)
  • Buying crypto funds (again, Coinbase)
  • Creating and funding a wallet (I used Metamask first)
  • Completing a transaction (I bought my ENS domain)
  • Join a DAO ( I joined a few “buzzier” DAOs that could provide some social learning, including FWB and Forefront)

Once you’ve done this, congrats, you’re through the door.

Figure out what you want and how to get there

Once you’re through the door, have your basics set up, you might find yourself thinking, now what? You’ve got your wallet, bought your first NFT, memorized the buzz words, read those intro articles, and now you want to actually build something with these skills but you don’t know where to go next.

I call this the web3 lobby. You’re in, but only hanging out in the entryway, and there are many options for which direction you choose next. Remember, though, that web3 is quite literally an interconnected web, so you’ll have opportunities to learn about all the areas over time.

So how to choose where to go? First, I recommend knowing what you want to get out of web3. Go back up to my aforementioned list of relevant areas and choose what’s important to you. I surveyed some friends and here’s what they were looking for when they decided to go into web3:

  • Wealth: I want to diversify my portfolio; I want to get rich; I want to find a new job; I want to increase my earning potential; I want to work for myself
  • Art & Culture: I want to create art; I want to collect art; I want to have new cultural experiences around art, music, food, theater, etc.; I want to support artists and musicians in a meaningful way
  • Education, Science & Technology: I want to better understand how technology is shaping our world; I want to use technology more regularly; I want to sharpen my skills in a particular area
  • Social Impact & Connection: I want to have a meaningful impact on a cause that’s important to me; I want to meet new friends; I want to belong

Based on your goals, there are different areas of the web3 world to spend your time in to get you where you want to go faster and more effectively.

Here’s a somewhat overwhelming landscape of web3 — I suggest getting to understand this ecosystem before diving into one particular area.

Web3 landscape via Arcane Research
Web3 landscape via Arcane Research

Here’s my personal example:

My professional and personal lives are closely intertwined, so I wanted new opportunities for professional growth that would also be socially stimulating. I love collaborating with others to build things, so I started learning about DAOs (rather than evaluating NFT projects).

Then, over time I learned more about NFTs but through the context of how they’re useful in a DAO setting, to unlock value, or create utility. This proved to be relevant to my professional and personal goals. I joined a few more DAOs specifically related to my professional interests, like Jump, the Marketer’s DAO, and Seed Club, a leading venture DAO. Joining DAOs — and being interested in starting one of my own — forced me to learn about tokenomics and go deeper into DeFi. The point is, my learning journey has been entirely based on my personal and professional goals for web3.

A few more reasons why aligning your learning journey with your personal goals:

  • It acts as a filter and narrows your focus, making the space less overwhelming
  • It helps with identifying the right questions to ask
  • It helps determine which communities you should join
  • It clarifies the right people the right people to talk to and the right connections to make

Next, I recommend finding a buddy who shares some of those goals, or who is at least at a similar stage in their web3 journey.

Buddy up

For me, that buddy is Candace. I met Candace the week after NFT NYC through a very serendipitous series of events. We connected at Art Basel, where we co-hosted a Women in Web3 event, which featured an incredible panel including Avery Akkineni, Gaby Goldberg and others (at the time, I didn’t even know how amazing it was that they showed up to support us). It’s hard to believe I hosted an event the same week I opened my first wallet. This would not have been remotely possible without Candace.

Why having a buddy is so important:

  • You don’t feel so alone in this wide open web3 ocean
  • You get to bond with someone — sometimes it’s a trauma bond (yes, you might get rugged or scammed, and you’ll want an empathetic shoulder to lean on)
  • You’re held accountable to someone
  • You can divide and conquer subjects, then teach one another, deepening your own knowledge
  • You can catch each other up after mental breaks
  • You can hit all the events together

If you’re not sure where to find a buddy, some recommendations:

  • Join a Discord community: Do some prelim DAO/project research and join a Discord server of one that seems aligned with your goals — a lot of them will foster buddy systems OR will be a place to find like minded individuals at similar stages of their journey
  • Embrace the Twitterverse: Get on some spaces and begin to identify the users you’re seeing over and over again, then shoot them a DM and see if there’s a potential fit
  • Use your existing network: Post on Linkedin and Instagram and see if anyone in your existing network is interested in joining your learning journey — for me, this happened pretty organically (and actually helped revive some really incredible relationships)

Find a tribe

There are two ways to find a tribe. The first is to join an existing one. The second is to build your own.

Ideally, your tribe will share or embrace your goals, fostering a sense of empowerment and belonging. Finding your tribe can take a while but no matter what you’re looking for, there is definitely a tribe for you. And if for some reason you can’t find it, you can build it and others will come. That’s part of the magic of web3.

After spending some time participating in several DAOs, I found there to be something magical about collaborating with women in the web3 space. There were several women’s led initiatives that have been essential to my web3 learning journey. To name a few: BoysClub, Eve Wealth, Crypto Besties, Surge Women, SheFi, HerDAO and WellnessDAO,. Over time, I, along with Candace, saw potential for a cross-community ecosystem that fostered meaningful collaboration and partnership between these groups and their leaders.

So, we set out to build our own tribe, which we called HerHouse (previously mentioned). Our aim was to have a community of builders and creators. Generally, I’ve found going directly to the source — whether that be the founder/builder, the thought leader on the topic, or the creator/artist — to be the most valuable resource in terms of high level knowledge and additional resource recommendations.

As we met more women leaders in web3, we began building the tribe. started as a group iMessage became a casual happy hour, which blossomed into a WhatsApp chat and now is turning into an MVP launching this summer. We’ve grown this tribe completely organically, woman to woman.

Together, we’re able to share learnings and discuss challenges. Nowadays, this is my learning and knowledge hub. On top of that, we’re working to build a coalition of women and non-binary led groups to establish more transparency around compensation, benefits, systems, etc. On the horizon, as this tribe grows, we see the potential for a network effect that opens more opportunities for peer to peer learning and teaching.

Let’s recap

So, now you know my personal knowledge journey. Where I am now is very different from where I was six months ago — so although it might be scary to get started, I promise once you get your footing, buddy up, and find a tribe, it’ll be a fun ride.

To recap what I covered here:

  1. Web3 is worth learning about. It’s undeniably going to impact our world.
  2. Learning in web3 is not a solitary task. The best way to learn — and to get really immersed — is through collaborating and sharing knowledge with peers
  3. To get started in web3, find a door that makes sense to you personally
  4. Learn the basics and action some of the simpler ones to get acclimated
  5. Decide what you want to get out of web3 personally and/or professionally
  6. Choose a buddy to lean on
  7. Find a tribe to build alongside

One final tip — reach out to me. I’m always happy to chat no matter where you are in your web3 journey.

Ok, that’s it for now. As I keep learning I hope to keep writing. If you have any tips or feedback, you can reach me at alexa@alexalombardo.xyz or @alexa_lombardo.

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