To honor those who serve and support our veterans, ZenLedger is offering 20% off all purchases today through November 13th, with code VETS20.
ZenLedger will give 25% of funds raised from this campaign to The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) – a charity foundation helping people grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in our Armed Forces or as a result of his or her service.
Serving Every Day, in More Than One Way
Today, we celebrate Veterans Day and honor the ultimate sacrifice that so many have made to protect others.
After their service careers, many veterans continue to help others in new ways, like by going on to become business owners. According to the US Census, veteran owned businesses employ over 3.9 million people with $177 Billion in Payroll. Their leadership helps individuals, families, and other organizations continue to grow every day.
We want to take some time to hear from veterans who have been able to establish their careers in the crypto space and understand how their experiences have shaped their decisions and what the rest of us may be able to learn from.
Lessons Learned from Veterans
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Pat Larsen, had the chance to sit down with a few industry veterans to learn more about their past and what advice they might have for others. Pat is a former Amazon business manager ($100M P&L). M&A investment banking, marketing analytics, and e-commerce startups. Chicago Booth MBA. US Air Force Academy grad and former Navy helicopter mission commander.
Pat Larsen, CEO & Co-Founder of ZenLedger during his service as a mission commander for the U.S. Navy
DK works at MobileCoin, which is a layer 1 blockchain focused on fast, frictionless, private payments compatible with mobile devices and applications like Signal Messenger. Prior to MobileCoin he served in the Navy for 10 years where he deployed 3 times to the Middle East in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
Bobby began his career as a US Army logistics officer at Ft Campbell, KY in the 101st Airborne Division. After 5 years of service, and one deployment to Iraq, transitioned to business school at UVA’s Darden School of Business where he earned his MBA, and Co-Founded Veterans in Digital Assets (VIDA). He currently leads strategy at Elementus, a web3 data intelligence company.
Pat: Why did you decide to work in crypto?
DK: Some of my civilian friends, whom I highly respect, were working in crypto and so I thought it was something that I should pay closer attention to. I became particularly fascinated by the privacy preserving protocols, as I’ve always been interested in encrypted comms and messenger apps, mainly due to OPSEC considerations. I was also attracted by the speed at which crypto moved and evolved. Above all, I saw clear, real-world use cases for crypto, particularly borderless payments. This was highlighted to me during my last deployment to Iraq. We had to spin up multiple air missions in order to get cash so that we could pay local interpreters and contractors. We literally spent several orders of magnitude more money on the logistics to get the cash, compared to the actual amount of cash we needed. Not to mention that we severely increased the risk to force everytime we flew across enemy controlled territory. If something like MobileCoin or eUSD had existed, it would have made everyone’s lives easier and safer.
Bobby: I decided to work in crypto because I saw first hand dealing with local contractors overseas the difficulties imposed on people when you have environments where there is no trust or faith in the monetary infrastructure. I could text our partners on any number of internet-enabled messaging apps such as WhatsApp, but often had to pay people in duffle bags of cash. All of the sudden Bitcoin made sense to me, I fell head first down the rabbit hole and never looked back.
Pat: What lessons or ways of thinking have you used or adapted from the military to business?
DK: I think there are several elements of mission planning that I’ve been able to apply to my job in the private sector. Crypto can be very ambiguous and dynamic, and having a plan with thorough contingency considerations baked-in can be helpful. I imagine that this is true for any start up, but this is my first job outside of the military so I don’t have much perspective to go off of.
Bobby: I have used backwards planning to help wade through uncertainty by first figuring out where I want to be (or think I want to be), and trying to trace out the steps of how you get there all the way back to the next decision I have to make in the moment I am in.
Pat: What advice do you have for those that may be considering or afraid of taking the leap into crypto?
DK: Recognize that it’s a very nascent industry rife with scams and several bs projects. Make sure you do your due diligence, just like any other job. Ideally find a project that really interests you and become a SME. What’s nice about crypto is that you don’t have to have a traditional educational background or pedigree to add value to a project. If you have a solid work ethic, average intelligence, and access to Twitter, Telegram and Discord, you can learn a lot very quickly.
Pat: What are some of the major challenges military personnel will face in their career? What’s really different about the corporate or startup world?
Bobby: Honestly, the startup world is very similar to the military in a lot of ways, particularly for those who have deployed. It’s chaotic at times, and there is always more to do than there are hours in a day. You will wear many hats, and be expected to be able to pivot on a dime. In a lot of ways it reminds me of being the new lieutenant with 9 additional duties, and some days you feel like you never got to do “your job”. Except in this context the additional duties tend to have a lot more relevance and significance. The major difference is that in a startup there are no additional resources, offices, or assistance at your fingertips. It’s on you. There’s often no CONOP folder of things you can change names and dates on. If it’s the first time you’ve done it, you’re building from scratch most times. At times it can feel overwhelming, but it’s also empowering to know that you are truly the master of your own destiny and captain of your ship.
Pat: Any other advice you’d like to give?
DK: If you’re on the fence of getting out, consider joining the reserves if that’s an option. It’s much less of a commitment than active duty, but you still get to keep a foot in the door. From what I understand, it’s much easier to go back into AD if you’re in the reserves compared to if you completely separate. Skillbridge also sounds like it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of before getting out. I don’t know too much about it, but it sounds like its an opportunity to do an internship that’s paid for by DOD.
Bobby: Enjoy the ride and be patient. Crypto has decades to go (in my opinion) before it hits where the internet is today. This is just the beginning. Learn about it, and if you can become great at something in it. The payoff is likely to be worth all the blood sweat and tears.
PODCAST: Fundamental advice on how to successfully enter the crypto market from Veteran Pat Larsen (ZenLedger CEO & Co-Founder).
ZenLedger simplifies the tax reporting process for digital currencies by importing transactions and automatically making these time-consuming calculations. You can even auto-fill popular IRS forms and determine if it’s tax-advantageous to sell existing digital currencies to realize the tax loss and minimize tax exposure — known as tax-loss harvesting.
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