I AM CEO PODCAST

IAM1700 – How this Social Media Influencer and Side Hustler has become a Global Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Expert

Podcast Interview with Ian Balina

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Ian's podcast interview was a snippet from the CEO Chat Podcast. When talking about technology it's important to talk about things like cryptocurrency and blockchain and what that means and how to understand and get involved within these technologies. The snippet explains a little about cryptocurrency and blockchain, what that is, and Ian's journey.

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Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2022/08/15/iam1463-how-this-social-media-influencer-side-hustler-has-become-a-global-blockchain-and-cryptocurrency-expert/

Transcription:

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Ian Balina Teaser 00:00

The value of this is that it allows people all over the world who are right now called the unbanked population. People who don't have access to banks because of where they live, the infrastructure is not developed yet, It allows them to join the revolution, join the banking revolution despite whatever is holding them back from us.

Intro 00:18

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:45

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to their organizations.

This month we are focused on technology. We're a technology company that does dot, dot, dot. Technology is no longer an afterthought or something that you might do and is actually a core part of your business. If you are a real estate investor, you're using it. If you're a financial firm, if you're a cleaning company, an author, or speaker, you are using technology. If you are in any business, you are using technology, and if you're not, then you're probably going to be disrupted by an organization that is. So this month we are going to look into repurposing episodes that are around technology, whether that be firms or organizations that are actually using and investing in technology as a core part of their products and services or potentially those individuals that are using and leveraging CEO hacks and CEO nuggets that center around technology and sharing ways that we can leverage it as well. Remember that you are a technology company that does dot, dot dot. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I am CEO podcast.

This was an awesome chat with Ian Belina and he is an influential blockchain and cryptocurrency investor, advisor, and evangelist. He's a former analytics evangelist and is now investing in cryptocurrency token sales. And I thought the awesome thing about Ian is how he found that specific niche or something to focus on and he's just went out running with it. Something that all entrepreneurs and business owners can learn from.

For Ian, his cryptocurrency, for us, might be a multitude of another thing. But I really appreciated the fact that he's had a lot of side ventures, which in businesses which show his work ethic, and he seems to be able to find and see opportunities everywhere from Airbnb sales to a multitude of other things that he's doing.

So what I want you to do is just sit back and enjoy this CEO chat with Ian Balina. All right Ian, are you still there with me?

Ian Balina 02:55

Yes, I am.

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Gresham Harkless 02:56

Awesome. Awesome. Well, I wanted to thank you so much for taking some time out of your schedule. I know you're juggling a lot, so I truly appreciate you for taking some time to tell us a little bit about you and your background, and your business. So one of the first questions I usually have for everyone is if you could introduce yourself to us, tell us a little bit about yourself, your story, and what kind of led you to start your business.

Ian Balina 03:15

All right, sounds good. So, hi everyone. My name is Ian Balina. I'm a full-time crypto currency investor. I'm investing in cryptocurrencies, so things like Bitcoin ,Ethereum. I'm also a social media influencer, I guess is the term they call it nowadays. I create educational content on different channels like YouTube, podcasts, blogs, and different private groups educating people on how to invest in cryptocurrencies because I think this is the next way thing in the future.

I got involved in this space about a year ago. Prior to that, I worked for four years in IBM. I worked for one year as a software big data and analytics under IBM open source brand. And prior to that, I worked for three years as an engineer for IBM Watson Analytics. Prior to that, I worked in IT as an IT consultant at Deloitte Consulting Group. I have a technical background, but I've also been an entrepreneur at heart. I love the side hustle. The entire time while working in the corporate world, I always had different side hustles from a video production company to an eCommerce business. So I've done everything as a side hustle. Most of the authors of the Complete Freelancer Guide have a book on freelancing, and I also have a startup called Peer Hustle, which is basically, think Uber for freelancers, Uber for local freelancers.

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So these are multiple different things I'm working on at the same time. They let me basically live out my passion for entrepreneurship and other cultures I like and of just being able to work with people and build something into something big.

Gresham Harkless 04:32

Oh, that's awesome. You definitely threw out a lot of terms. I'm gonna have to ask you more about it, especially the idea of cryptocurrency. It's gonna be hard for me to spell even harder for me to say, but what exactly is cryptocurrency and why is that important?

Ian Balina 04:45

Alright, so cryptocurrencies are basically just digital currencies, online currencies, right? So regular currency is physical paper cash, right? Then it became digitized with credit cards and online payment. But digital currencies, cryptocurrencies, are a new form of digital currency. The biggest one is Bitcoin. But the value of this is that it allows people all over the world who are right now called the unbanked population, people who don't have access to banks because of where they live, the infrastructure is not developed yet, it allows them to Join the banking revolution, despite whatever is holding them back from us. Dictatorships with governments, whether it the economy, infrastructure, whatever. Anybody in the world now has access to money, but not just that they have access to money in a decentralized manner, meaning that they own the money. It's not owned by the government, right?

So if you and I corrupt region, the government can't tell you what to do. The government can't just take your money. So the money is being put in the hands of the people and they have control of it. So this is why I think it's the next big thing. Bitcoin was the best-performing currency as of  last year beating out any other currency worldwide. When I joined this whole cryptocurrency community, Bitcoin, the biggest crypto cryptocurrency was valued at only about $900. Right now as we speak, it's worth over $7,000 for one Bitcoin. So what other investment asset class can you get a seven x return in less than one year?

Nice, so, this is why this space is blowing up. It's been featured in the Wall Street Journal. A Bitcoin investor was actually on the cover of Forbes, I think a few months ago. So this is a very hard space and I think it's the biggest innovation since the internet itself in terms of blockchain technology, which we can talk about later, but the underlying technology that makes cryptocurrencies work.

Gresham Harkless 06:22

Awesome. And so I would like to hear a little bit more about like what exactly blockchain is and how it's related, but I guess even a further question I have is, when you say you became involved with it, like what does that mean? What does that look like? So I'm sure a lot of people are listening and would love to be involved or learn more information, but they're not sure exactly what that means.

Ian Balina 06:39

So for me, it started last year. I was working at IBM and had a friend of mine from DC a while back. I met up with them in Silicon Valley, just to see what he was up to and he told me about the blockchain Bitcoin. He was pestering me for almost a month to get me to introduce him to the director of the blockchain at IBM. So I'm like, why do you care about this blockchain, Bitcoin stuff? So he told me he was launching a cryptocurrency fund, basically a hedge fund to invest in Cryptocurrencies and I'm like, aren't you my age? What are you doing to start a hedge fund?

So we're not talking about the space and how much money he was making, and I'm like, alright, so tell me the actual numbers. How much money are you making? He told me he was making about 200% in one year just buying and holding Bitcoin and Ethereum and me being an investor, an entrepreneur, and somebody who likes money said okay that beat the stock market. So that's when I woke up and I had that coming to Jesus moment and I was like, wow we can actually make money investing in cryptocurrencies and stuff like Bitcoin? Because back then I had the notion that this was just for like drug dealers, anarchists, people trying to break away from the government, and the Fed all those kinds of people. But once I realized they are actually investors in this space, I basically went through this and got the value from this phase, that's when I began looking into it.

So I just went to sites like coinbase.com. It's probably the main site most beginners go to. It's like a standard exchange. You just pick up your bank account, credit card, whatever. You can buy Bitcoin, buy Ethereum. So I began small, I just bought a hundred bucks worth of Bitcoin, a hundred bucks worth of Ethereum, which is a different cryptocurrency and I just bought and held that for about a month, and it went up 25% in the first month. That's when I was like, wow, this is pretty legit. So then I bought some more, bought like $250 worth of Bitcoin and Ethereum. Then in about two months, it went up 25% again. But it wasn't until like, I would say probably early this year, probably around February or March, when I had more confidence in the technology, right? I'm again adding more money. I put in 2,500 hundred bucks in both Bitcoin and Ethereum, and Ethereum doubled in about a week and a half, so I doubled my money in about a week and a half, and I'm like, you know what guys? This is it. Like sell everything, put in as much money, and stop sending money to your 401k, put it in Bitcoin, Ethereum.

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That's when I began becoming more active in this space. I began attending conferences, so when I went to the conferences, I went to be pooled in this space, in real life. And I met other people who inspired, met other people who made millions just investing in this about three years back and having dinner with them, being able to ask them questions and see their journey through this is what really made me become full-time in this space. So in terms of where people can start, I would say start small. I began by just going out there. I went on Amazon, and got the best two books on cryptocurrencies, in my opinion, and also based on Amazon's rating, one book called Digital Gold is by, I think New York Times writer and the second book is called The Age of Cryptocurrency. These two books pretty much give you the history of where cryptocurrencies came from, like Bitcoin, and Ethereum, and where the space is today, and they're basically getting guys to educate you. And those two books are pretty much what gave me the confidence to start betting big on this space.

Gresham Harkless 09:31

That's awesome. That I guess it's a way of investing. Is that the correct way to term it? Like, if you're investing in stocks, you can also invest in cryptocurrency and kind of like a similar way, just like the stock market or the New York Stock Exchange.

Ian Balina 09:42

Yes. Yeah. Correct.

Gresham Harkless 09:43

How has social media has helped you to build that brand and helped out your business?

Ian Balina 09:47

Yes, so I say social media influencer. I basically launched a platform early in the year just to create content and educate people about finance, mainly millennials about finance. So initially it was just how to make six figures, how to find a six-figure job, how to have a side hustle, how to be an entrepreneur, and how to make money on the side. So I was doing that and then made content via YouTube, Instagram, blog posts, and podcasts. But after a while, just doing content every single week eventually I start to have a few contents. I made videos and articles go viral, and that kind of began getting me a bigger and bigger audience. And now to a point where I've become an influencer and when I say something, basically people really take my word or my opinion, they value my opinion.

So for example, if I say, hey, I like this currency I'm investing in, or, hey I like this project, or hey, I like this. People really take that into account and you can measure that effect in terms of analytics, data, and traffic. So now I travel, and I get invited to travel around the world for different conferences. I just came back from a press trip for a project in Poland. They basically pull me out there just to meet their team and show me what they're working on because they respect my opinion and they think I have a good audience and a good following. So I did this just by trying out multiple channels at the same time, I basically try to diversify different channels because you'll always be surprised what channel gets the biggest reactions. So initially I wasn't really big on Twitter, but after a while, I figured Twitter out then I went viral on Twitter. Now Twitter's one of my top two social media platforms. YouTube took a while as well, but after a while when I also found the topic that my audience liked the most, which happened to be a cryptocurrency, and basically just kept on doubling down on that.

That's when I really began to go viral and get that network effect. So now I have a video, which I filmed in my basement about four months ago. Now it has over 120,000 views. So that video as well has brought in that additional attention, right? That's where right now most of my audience comes from that video.

Gresham Harkless 11:44

Awesome, awesome, awesome. So I think a lot of people don't necessarily see like there's a tremendous amount of opportunities around. You just have to have your eyes open and look at them.

Ian Balina 11:51

Right? Yeah, absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 11:53

Well, awesome. So I know you mentioned a little about the Washington Redskins, which I'm a huge Cowboys fan, so. I'm not crazy about them, but I do respect the fact of being in this area and there are so many opportunities and things to do for people here. So I guess being in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area, what do you think makes this a great place to be an entrepreneur and business owner?

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Ian Balina 12:12

Because you have so many different people. It's one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. And because you have DC you also have Maryland, you have Virginia, but you also have the colleges. You have Georgetown, GW, Howard, American, College Park, George Mason. So almost anything you want to do, is within reach here in DC.

Maybe you have to go to Virginia or DC or Nova, whatever. But everything you want to do doesn't matter what kind of business, what kind of skill you're trying to do, what kind of hustle you're trying to do. It can be done here in DC. If you just find that right place and kind of delve into that niche, go deep down, and build your brand there, right? I think anything you're going to do is available here. That's what makes it great.

Gresham Harkless 12:51

Yeah, I would definitely agree and definitely echo that. And I know you mentioned some things that you had in the work for the future. Could you give us an idea of maybe some projects that you're working on in the future?

Ian Balina 13:00

Yeah, I left IBM about a month and a half ago. Now, full-time investing in particular seeds from traveling the world as I'm basically playing like Shark Tank, right. Trying to find the next blockchain startups to invest in. And while doing that, I'm also creating content around that. So, following one of the people I look up to, as I mentioned earlier, Gary V starting a video log where I travel around the road, and I basically have a camera crew to document the process journey of investing in this space, right? So it's pretty exciting.

I have a photographer that used to work with Will I am. So now they're gonna take what I'm doing already. Just documenting that, I'm making content out of that, that we can then repurpose into different platforms for YouTube, for Instagram, and what have you. Well, I'm also, after investing in this space.

Gresham Harkless 13:46

Awesome, awesome. Yeah, that's definitely in the vein of Gary V. where he is always traveling around. He has a videographer. Kind of document everything, so that'd be pretty exciting to see, especially for people that aren't familiar with cryptocurrency or learning just a little bit about it. You're like the tail end, or at the very beginning, I should say, of it taking off. So that'll be pretty exciting to see.

Ian Balina 14:05

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 14:07

Cool. I know we touched on a lot of different things. You gave us a lot of tremendous value and I appreciate that. Is there anything else that you think you might wanna tell our readers or our listeners? And then another question that I have after that is just what's the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Ian Balina 14:22

Yeah, so other things I'm working on, I'm just trying to put out as much content as possible in this space. I want to educate people and give people lots of content for free. So I think this is the next big thing, but people are still sleeping on it. So my job right now is just to go out there evangelize blockchain, evangelize investing in cryptocurrencies because this can really change people's lives.  People can retire from this.

As for me, I've been able to retire at the age of 29 from this, right? So I think this is definitely big. So I just want to go out there and educate people, especially millennials because this is the wave of the future. So wanna make sure people who are trying to, whether make extra money on the side, whether be the job full-time or finally a new way to make money. I think I just wanna make content around this space. Best way to reach me, I have a website, ianbalina.com. You can find me on social media. My handoff on all different platforms is @diaryofamademan. So that's my handoff for Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and everywhere.

Gresham Harkless 15:22

Awesome, Ian, I truly appreciate that. And we'll have the links for those in the show notes for anybody that might be driving or something to can make sure that you can still follow him. So I truly appreciate you taking time out of your schedule and there's a lot of great content, a lot of great information. I see why you're traveling across the world. So I just wanna thank you again for taking time out of your schedule and truly appreciate that.

Ian Balina 15:42

Well, thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 15:43

No problem. Have a good rest of the day, Ian.

Ian Balina 15:45

All right, you too.

Outro 15:46

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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