I think there’s a general misconception that success is predicated on having “aha” moments and the work just spilling out from there. Ultimately, any good idea will be the byproduct of a few inspired pieces of thought, coupled with hours of dedication to bring it to fruition.
Aside from his work with cryptocurrency since 2011, Gabriel is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in cognitive science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has a background in data sciences and has contracted for the Air Force Research Labs conducting applied research for intelligence analysts. His current dissertation work focuses on the cognitive factors within behavioral economics. Gabriel is heading Tokes platform development and the technological infrastructure of the company.
Where did the idea for the Tokes Platform come from?
My partner, Michael Wagner, and I had been casually operating in the cryptocurrency space for a few years before starting our own company. He was working in professional finance, while I was completing a Ph.D. in cognitive science. During this time we had an ongoing dialogue about blockchain and emerging trends in financial technology. The idea for Tokes was a logical synergy of two bourgeoning but fringe industries; cannabis and cryptocurrency. Making the unbankable, bankable, by utilizing technology few understand. My partner ultimately had the idea, which we then refined together.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves getting up early, usually having coffee in the morning, and then working for two to four hours before taking a break for some exercise. After that, I usually have a reasonable lunch, followed by tackling the deluge of emails waiting for responses. I try to engage in “deep work” (e.g., writing, design, complex thought) in the AM hours before the day is full communication interruptions. I try to minimize working into the evening hours, as human cognition tends to be a bit sharper in the AM. I make my time productive by setting clear goals for the day and developing routines around specific types of tasks. Have a space you work consistently in, whether this is at home, the office, or a coffee shop. (Oh, and noise canceling earbuds are a nice aid)
How do you bring ideas to life?
Work, work, work. I think there’s a general misconception that success is predicated on having “aha” moments and the work just spilling out from there. Ultimately, any good idea will be the byproduct of a few inspired pieces of thought, coupled with hours of dedication to bring it to fruition.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Cryptocurrency, blockchain, token economies, and decentralization. That’s really four trends, but they’re under the same umbrella. Cryptocurrency is disrupting a myriad of industries (finance and banking being the biggest) and could allow for a redistribution of wealth and power that we’ve never seen before.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Making small goals. To achieve your larger aspirations, you will ultimately take baby steps to get there. Entrepreneurship can be frightening, as it requires taking that leap into the unknown, but there are incremental pieces to that larger puzzle. Identify those pieces and tackle them, it will keep you motivated, and give you a sense of achievement along the way.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take more risk. I had a lot of complacency in my early years, being only moderately content with my jobs and interests, but deep down having some itch I couldn’t scratch. It took me a great deal of time to jump off that ledge and take the leap, but I am ultimately happy I did.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We work in a relatively small space by tech company standards. As such, one strategy of ours is to engage in strategic partnerships, rather than competing with other small teams to create the same software products. This approach may not work for all industries, but in cryptocurrency and blockchain, it’s a way of growing our network of affiliates, minimizing development costs (and mistakes in development), while reducing our overhead.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A membership to a small powerlifting gym. I’ve been fairly active most of my life; baseball in my youth, and yoga, competitive running, and cycling in my adult life. Last few years I found my typical endurance sports have been too time-consuming to be sustainable during my business and academic pursuits. I still needed a psychical outlet, and powerlifting has been a great boon to my mental health and happiness. Having a small private place where I can lift with a handful of dedicated folks is a nice respite from the busyness of my work life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Notepad software. It seems silly (and perhaps obvious), but I like to make lists… Whether its lists of tasks, lists of ideas, lists of goals, grocery lists… etc. It helps keep my life organized. Find something that facilitates this for you and use it regularly. When I’m constantly task switching (there’s no such thing as multitasking), it helps keep me grounded and productive.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. The book succinctly demonstrates some common errors and fascinating shortcuts in our thinking. It’s a great primer on why and how we make the decisions we do and might prompt the reader to introspect a bit more about their own decision making.
What is your favorite quote?
audentes Fortuna iuvat, Latin for “fortune favors the bold”
- Make small goals to reach large achievements
- Take risks
- Engage in strategic partnerships
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.