Ken Kurson

Pay attention to great ideas, no matter if the person saying them is 80 or 18.


Ken Kurson is the founder of the cryptocurrency publication and the political site, whose founding was covered in Politico. In 2016, Kurson was welcomed to the board of directors of Ripple, the San Francisco-based blockchain company whose XRP token is the third largest cryptocurrency.

Ken Kurson was named editor in chief of the New York Observer in 2013 and served until 2017. The newspaper’s Publisher, Jared Kushner, told the New York Times, “Ken knows the ideas, stories and voices that make up New York better than anyone. He is a journalist and an author and through his years as a consultant observed the figures who create the framework of business, politics, media, tech, culture and real estate in our city.”

Over the course of Kurson’s leadership, the Observer became a digitally focused, national publication, growing from 1.1 million monthly unique users doing 3 million page views to 6 million unique users doing 20 million page views (source: Google Analytics) and from the 3,698th biggest site in America to the 275th (source: Quantcast). Kurson was named 2014’s Journalist of the Year by Algemeiner magazine and earned the Scott Turen Champion of Human Spirit Award in 2014. Ken Kurson is also the founder of Green Magazine and and was a columnist and contributor to Esquire magazine, where his Green column covered finance, for almost 20 years. Ken is the author of several books, including the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Leadership, co-written with Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

At the Observer, Kurson personally broke dozens of stories, including unearthing audio of Hillary Clinton proposing to rig Palestine Elections, a campaign by Samsung to undermine activist investor Elliott Management that resulted in Congressional inquiry and a change in Samsung policy, and the revelation that a boy investor who had supposedly earned $72 million made up the entire story. In his capacity as editor in chief, Kurson has appeared on television and radio hundreds of times, in many countries.

Where did the idea for come from?

I’ve been fascinated by money since I was a kid. Not about amassing stacks of cash and making a couch out of them like Richie Rich, but about how money worked. For me, it represented the most perfect kind of freedom. My favorite journalist, the late great Mike Royko, used to talk about having a little f you money to know you’d made it.
But crypto currency takes the idea of money into its purest theoretical ideal. What is value? Who decides that value? When I first heard about bitcoin and ripple, I was captivated. My goal for modernconsensus was to share my curiosity about cryptocurrency and to give readers a chance to discover a potential source of f you money.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I read as many news sources as possible. I like to read a wide range of information from all over the world. I check in with sources, I talk to my staff to hear about what they’re working on. Most of all, I write every day. Good writing atrophies when you stop writing.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Even though what we’re writing about is currency that exists only online, I remind myself that currency – money – is the force that controls people’s lives. My dad was a traveling salesman and found a way to talk to everyone he crossed paths with, from his clients to his waitress. He told them stories and listened to their stories. I try very hard to do the same, and remember that the stories I’m telling have a real impact on how people can live their lives with financial security.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m incredibly excited about blockchain being deployed in use cases beyond money. Last week a very smart young man came to my office and made a persuasive case for using blockchain to track songwriter royalties and other intellectual property.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I relentlessly, obsessively, always, save phone numbers and emails. I save the contact information of everyone I meet. As I have ideas, get excited, or get interested in something, I usually have a card for someone in that world.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Think a second time before you say something off the cuff. Act as if your high school principal is listening.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Trump will win a second term.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Return calls. Pay attention to great ideas, no matter if the person saying them is 80 or 18.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I’ve nurtured many young writers by encouraging them to pursue their instincts. I don’t micromanage. I try to find people who have great ideas, and allow them to flourish.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My laundromat! I absolutely love coin-operated machines, from vending machines to washing machines. I stocked the vending machines myself. I even fixed the machines myself. I personally cleaned out more dryer lint than you can imagine. But I just couldn’t turn a profit with the laundromat. I finally sold it and walked away. Lesson learned, thousands and thousands of quarters later.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Years ago I devoured Brian Wilson’s autobiography, Wouldn’t It Be Nice? He had ideas for tons of businesses, including a 24 hour health food store. I’d love to cook up ideas like that. A dream business would probably be a sports betting venture.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Always: noise-blocking headphones. I will try every kind and I usually do.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I always loved the mortgage calculators on Bankrate. I absolutely love following trending stories on Facebook and Twitter to map how many times they’ve been shared.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

So many come to mind. “A Random Walk Down Wall Street“by Burton Malkiel. “Irrational Exuberance” by Robert Shiller. “Liar’s Poker” by Michael Lewis. The classics, basically. Learn how money works before you start investing in bitcoin.

What is your favorite quote?

The phrase “hemorrhaging money” from the brilliant Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Sherman McCoy can barely exist on a million a year.

Key learnings:

• Know how investing works before you dive into cryptocurrency

• Relate online currency to real-world people

• Money is freedom


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