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Hard Decisions Require Empathy

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In the past two weeks we have entered perhaps to most surreal experience in any of our lives. I think intuitively many of us believe it may be a more lasting impact than just “60 days at home,” which is why we almost have a nervous laughter when we call (Zoom!) somebody we haven’t spoken to since before the crisis and acknowledge how bizarre we all feel right now. I have seen the insides of more people’s homes and apartments than I probably ever have as we’re invited into this intimate world of videoconferencing.

Just two weeks into it we are just starting to come to grips with what will no doubt wreak big financial, emotional and obviously dire health consequences and suffering for many.

In our business lives we’re having to deal with decisions that could have lasting impacts on our companies without any compass to guide us in the direction we’re heading . It feels a bit like choosing a fork in the road amidst dense fog and with nobody to guide us what to do.

In our personal lives we’re having to change our routines and figure out how to remain productive — often with other people sharing our homes who have their own ideas of how to use our collective space and time. What do we eat? Where do we shop? What is safe? What are my parents doing — are they being safe? Can I plan a Winter vacation or attend a wedding or travel anywhere again this year?

Who the fuck knows.

But you should know that everybody is in exactly this mind space. That’s what makes this so surreal. I find myself struggling to fully relax at bedtime, with my mind spinning about the world that lies ahead and the infinite amount of weekly decisions I’m having to process. I imagine many of you are, too. It goes without saying that if you find yourself in a really negative headspace PLEASE reach out to any trusted mentor, friend or family member. I promise we’ll all get through this some way and there’s always tomorrow, whatever that holds. I have lost friends who didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel in past economic hardships.

For founders of startups or for executives tasked with making decisions with all of this incomplete information, the moment calls for decisiveness on every front:

  • how to deal with customers,
  • what to do about expenses,
  • what to tell board members / investors,
  • what happens with fund raising,
  • do I need to lay off employees or deal with a furlough,
  • do I qualify for government assistance?

If your head isn’t spinning you haven’t fully grasped the severity of the situation.

Each of these decisions could be a blog post in its own right but for today I want to avoid tactical advice and offer something more about your temperament as you wade through complexity and deal with decisions that affects the lives and the livelihoods of others. To say it simply ….

Show empathy.

I know that I shouldn’t have to say that, as it seems obvious. But in the past two weeks I’ve heard many cavalier comments about: cuts, renegotiations, changing terms, “the market environment dictates this” or “never waste a good crisis” or “you just need to cut 25% of your staff” because it seems everybody is doing it. I know that many people are just short-handing given stressful times but do try and pause and think about your actions & words and how they will affect others (or whether they’re the right actions in the first place).

In the words of my friend and a CEO with whom I work,

“Yeah, I know I need to make some cuts because our demand has changed, but I want to do this with a scalpel and not with an axe.”

He produced a very detailed analysis of his customer base and which would be affected. He enacted a program to proactively offer payment holidays to customers in obviously “hit” industries like travel & entertainment. He showed industries where demand was likely to hold strong and he outlined a case for how he could protect as many jobs as possible. He asked for a few more weeks to gather market signals before enacting change. It was the thoughtful response of an empathetic leader.

The driver of your decisions must be logical, rational and economically sound. You need to consider:

  • Has demand for my product fundamentally changed in ways that will persist?
  • How long is my cash runway if this demand doesn’t recover for the foreseeable future?
  • Is there a viable path to raising money / strengthening my balance sheet as one solution?
  • If not, how much must a reduce costs to give our company enough runway to weather this current storm?

The inevitable decisions may mean you shed employees, suppliers, offices, bonuses, contractors — you name it. But here is where empathy becomes most critical. It is very easy to want to insulate yourself from feeling the extreme emotions that will come from the loss of a job or for a supplier of yours with the loss of an important customer. Don’t insulate yourself — handle things personally and be a leader that is present in times of crisis. And if you have to make these hard decisions, empathy goes a long way.

If you have to let employees go or have to furlough them do it 1–1 or have senior members of your staff divide up employees and do each one 1–1 (or 2–1 if you need to have HR in the room (or “in the Zoom”) but my point is that each affected employee deserves a private meeting. And they deserve compassion because whatever stress level you are under, your actions are going to make their stress levels just as bad if not worse.

They don’t need to hear you say in an antiseptic way, “Look, we have no choice. It’s your job or we all run out of cash.” That might be true, but it lacks empathy. It should be something more like, “Sadly we have made a decision that your job is being made redundant. I’m very sorry that this will affect you and I don’t take lightly what a burden it must be to you.” Of course that doesn’t change the outcome, but it’s the humane thing to say.

You can insert you own wording or phrasing but the point is to acknowledge the pain, the cost, the consequence of your actions — even if you had no choice. Let the other person speak. Let them emote. It might be that they have to cry or they might have to yell at you — whatever. This isn’t the time to argue back that you had no choice or that “they weren’t really pulling their weight anyways” or whatever else is playing in your head. This is the moment to let them have their say. It doesn’t change anything. This is a moment to be calm, let others vent and politely move on.

Empathy can also be financial. You need to make sure that you’re making sound economic decisions for your company so I’m not advocating being cavalier about money because ultimately if you run out of cash then everybody loses his or her job and every investor loses his or her money. But at the margin if there are things you can do to be compassionate about severance or medical benefits or helping people navigate government assistance — you should do all that you can. If your company can help with job search, or resume writing or providing references or calling other companies to tell them you did redundancies — you should do it.

The month of March, 2020 has been hard on our country and on the world and the sad reality is that this is still likely just the first act in a long series of heart-breaking stories and circumstances around the world. In times like these your friends, family, associates, colleagues, employees and business partners need you more than ever.

If we know each other personally and you think I can help you please reach out. I promise I will make time.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Hard Decisions Require Empathy was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: https://bothsidesofthetable.com/hard-decisions-require-empathy-1fa39fd75e6b?source=rss—-97f98e5df342—4

Blockchain

NFT Sales Heat Up as Rarible Marketplace Passes $5M in Volume

While decentralized finance (DeFi) has grabbed most of the recent headlines, the non-fungible token (NFT) market has quietly picked up steam over the summer.  According to a Sept. 16 report from crypto asset data website Messari, Rarible, an NFT marketplace, has passed $5 million in sales so far this month—more than quadrupling sales numbers from August. […]

The post NFT Sales Heat Up as Rarible Marketplace Passes $5M in Volume appeared first on BeInCrypto.

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While decentralized finance (DeFi) has grabbed most of the recent headlines, the non-fungible token (NFT) market has quietly picked up steam over the summer.

According to a Sept. 16 report from crypto asset data website Messari, Rarible, an NFT marketplace, has passed $5 million in sales so far this month—more than quadrupling sales numbers from August. The report also noted that $1.5 million of this new volume came on a single day, on Sept. 14.

Rarible is a place where you can create, buy, and sell digital collectibles and, as such, is the beneficiary of surging NFT popularity, driven mostly by digital art. On Sept. 21, the news of a record-breaking digital art NFT sale was announced, with a piece called “Right Place & Right Time” selling for more than $100,000.

art NFTart NFT
Source: PR Newswire

Rarible’s numbers, and the general buzz surrounding digital art, have caught the attention of a few big names in crypto. Morgan Creek Digital co-founders Anthony Pompliano and Jason Williams have reportedly made a “big bet” on digital art.

As outlined in Pompliano’s daily newsletter, the bet is based on the idea that digital art will become bigger than traditional art, a market that has had a cap of “$65 billion for the last few years.” By comparison, digital art’s current market cap is around $10 million.

Never one to shy away from a controversial stance, Pompliano went on to state, “my confidence level that we see a future 6,000x increase in the digital art market cap is fairly high.” Because of this, “we [Pompliano and Williams] plan to invest heavily in the space over the coming months and years” he said.

Others, however, were slightly less bullish. The CEO of crypto derivatives exchange FTX and Alameda Research, Sam Bankman-Fried, tweeted a more skeptical take.

The tweet prompted a debate over the value of art, the ease with which “unique” digital art can be copied, and the future NFTs may or may not have.

Adam Back, the well-known cryptographer and founder of Hashcash, chimed in, encouraging Bankman-Fried to consider buying digital art NFTs as art patronage, “you could photocopy it, but then you’re not a patron.”

Digital art is, of course, just one piece of the NFT pie. The fantasy soccer game Sorare, which allows players to collect “limited edition digital collectibles” while also managing a team, has also seen an increase—recording sales of around $750,000 this month, almost half its all-time total.

Source: https://beincrypto.com/nft-sales-heat-up-as-rarible-marketplace-passes-5m-in-volume/

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Blockchain

Iran to Provide Crypto Miners With More Electricity Subsidies

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The Iranian government has continued its crusade to support the country’s fledging crypto mining space. In its latest show of help, Tehran has announced a program that will allow miners to access a significant surplus of energy.

A Great Time to be an Iranian Crypto Miner

According to reports from local news media, the Iranian Thermal Power Plant Holding Company (TPPH) has announced a plan to provide three power plants’ electricity output to miners in the country. The program, which will be conducted after a tender, improves miners’ access to one of their most fundamental resources, thus improving their overhead efficiency.

Mohsen Tarztalab, the agency’s head noted that the country’s struggling economy had been a concern for the government. It now seeks to create an enabling work environment that will benefit companies and provide employment opportunities. The country’s electricity has also seen a significant gap between revenues and expenses, and the government sees crypto mining as a means to improve revenues and provide income for the state.

However, the initiative comes with a condition, as miners will only be able to get the output from expansion turbines in plants. According to Tarztalab, this process won’t include any consumption of liquid fuels. By using just natural gas, the government is hoping to make the process as green as possible.

Tarztalab noted that the expansion turbines are independent and don’t participate in the national grid’s electricity production process. So, the government will be able to conduct this electricity transfer without necessarily affecting the country’s electricity production capacity.

A Structured Mining Industry Yields Results

So far, Iran has done a laudable job of legitimizing the crypto mining industry and providing an enabling environment for players. So far, the process has yielded some positive results. In July, local media house Mehr News Agency reported that the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade had issued 14 mining licenses to foreign companies, as investments in the country continued to surge.

Iran’s mining license requirement began earlier this year, as Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri issued a directive to that effect. To get a license, miners would need to disclose information on their officials, the mining equipment they use, and the size of their operations. A report from the country’s Banking and Economic System Reference Media (IBENA) back in January confirmed that over a thousand companies already got their licenses.

Another incentive for registered miners is a reduced power rate, with Mehr News Agency reporting that miners are now getting charged as low as $0.11per kilowatt-hour (kWh). For peak summer season (June to September), however, they will have to pay $0.46 per kWh.

The government has also set up a process that rewards citizens for blowing the lid on illegal mining facilities. Last month, Tavanir, the state power company, announced that it had shut down 1,100 of such criminal outfits already. Per reports, every whistleblower gets a 100 million rial ($480) reward for their help.

Source: https://insidebitcoins.com/news/iran-to-provide-crypto-miners-with-more-electricity-subsidies

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Blockchain

Litecoin Transactions Skyrocket as LiteBringer Game Takes Off

In idle fantasy role-playing game LiteBringer, every players’ move is a transaction—and that benefits the whole blockchain.

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In brief

  • The number of daily Litecoin transactions has exceeded 130,000 following the launch of LiteBringer.
  • The blockchain-based fantasy RPG allows players to trade their loot for LTC.
  • The drastic increase in cheap transactions is good for the blockchain, said LTC Foundation’s project director.

After rapidly growing for the past few days, the number of daily transactions on the Litecoin (LTC) blockchain has reached over 130,000 today—and all thanks to LiteBringer, a decentralized, fantasy game that officially launched on September 15.

“Transactions are exploding on the Litecoin blockchain!! This is due to the [LiteBringer Game] but the best part about it is everyone playing [the] game has to learn about LTC and [its] use as a currency. You can not play unless you have some lites,” Litecoin team member Jon Moore tweeted today.

According to decentralized applications (dapps) DappRadar, LiteBringer has already claimed the ninth place among the top blockchain games with a 2,584% increase in player base since it’s official launch on September 15. In the days prior to the game’s release, the number of daily Litecoin transactions hovered around roughly 35,000–50,000.

While recording every in-game move as a transaction may be seen as “spamming” the blockchain, Litecoin Foundation’s project director David Schwartz argued that the recent increase in transaction count actually benefits the network.

“So has the Litecoin blockchain benefited from the increase in [transactions], but decrease in median LTC [transaction] value? YES Litebringer from CipSoft has brought additional attention and usage of LTC, through micro [transactions] via legitimate gaming,” tweeted Schwartz.

Bringing the Lite

LiteBringer has been in development since 2018 by CipSoft, a studio best known for browser game Tibia Online that launched back in 1997—and still has active players (At the time of writing, more than 7,600 users were online).

CipSoft’s latest project is an “idle” fantasy role-playing game, a genre mobile gamers are quite familiar with. This means that most of the time players assign tasks to their fantasy adventurers—for example, to go on a quest or mine resources—and wait for them to finish.

According to the developers, Litecoin was the blockchain of choice from the start thanks to its low transaction costs and the lack of fee spikes. Another crucial factor is block generation time as every players’ move is basically a transaction on the blockchain. This is why Bitcoin, for example, wouldn’t suit LiteBringer’s needs—players would have to wait at least 10 minutes until the game recognizes their commands.

“Every game operation is stored in the blockchain. Because this can only be done with a tiny transaction, LiteBringer is very vulnerable to spikes in transaction fees. If there is a spike–which happens in Ethereum from time to time, our game would become unplayable for this period,” CipSoft explained.

As Decrypt reported, items in LiteBringer can be traded on the in-game market for LTC, so players can turn all their hard-earned loot into real money. The game also requires a subscription of roughly €1 worth of LTC per month.

Speaking to Decrypt, LiteBringer’s community manager Constantin noted that while it’s obviously too early to make any long-term predictions at this point, the team behind the project hopes that it can help promote the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies beyond the decentralized community.

“It is one of our main goals to reach people beyond the blockchain community. We don’t want to create and demonstrate just another use case for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. We wanted to make an intricate, well-crafted game!” he said.

Ethereum transaction fees are getting out of hand lately, making its dapps too costly for average users and creating a golden opportunity for Litecoin.

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