As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who are encouraging and doing incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabrielle Pelicci Ph.D.
Gabrielle is the COO for Blockster, a global media-marketing platform showcasing the world’s top brands that are entering the web3 space, such as NFTs, gaming, metaverse enterprise, and crypto lifestyle. She holds a degree in Educational Technology from Columbia University and advanced training in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain from Wharton, UPenn. She is also the founder of Let’s Go Crypto Club, with bi-monthly zoom calls about cryptocurrency, and a Seshie workshop presenter for crypto-curious corporate groups.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve been a technology nerd for a long time- I did my Master’s degree at Columbia University in Educational Technology and worked for the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Education Technology 20 years ago. After the US DOE, I taught at many universities and worked with several tech start-ups. Most recently, I completed the Wharton UPenn course on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency and started a free bi-monthly community zoom call to educate others about this exciting space.
I fell down the cryptocurrency rabbit hole in 2021 after two years of doing humanitarian work in several countries, including Puerto Rico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and parts of the U.S. It was around this time that I started hearing words like “decentralization” and “cryptocurrency.” A young couple with a permaculture farm in D.R. started a recycling program, they encouraged families of the local village to bring their plastic trash, and then they recycled the trash into plastic composite boards which were then sold back to the builders. The whole project was built with a token which made global fundraising easy and accessible. I started researching crypto and fell down a rabbit hole. A few weeks after I started my community zoom calls, I was recruited by Blockster to do Communications. After a month or so, I was promoted to COO.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
In 1999, when I was doing my master’s at Columbia, there was a palpable excitement about the possibilities of computers and the Internet. We were inventing all kinds of things, from online video conferencing to touchscreen – I remember the first time I saw a touch the screen computer. I was at the MIT Media Lab for a conference in 2000, and the students gave me a demo – my head nearly popped off, and I couldn’t believe it was real. It just seemed like a magic trick. I don’t know if you remember where you were the first time you used a touch screen, but now it’s ubiquitous, we don’t even think about it – in fact, it’s almost weird if there is a screen that is not a touch screen. This is the same energy I feel about crypto now – it’s blowing my mind, but I know that in 10 years, it will be so common that we won’t think twice about it.
What do you specialize in, and why should someone choose you over your competitors in your field?
So I currently have a few roles. I teach crypto at events and online classes. What makes my teaching unique is my ability to make crypto and blockchain easy to understand. You don’t need a computer science degree or finance degree to learn crypto. All you need is a good teacher like me. You can watch some of my talks on my youtube channel.
My other role is Blockster COO. Blockster is the world’s gateway to the crypto lifestyle, telling the most powerful stories in crypto. Other crypto publications are overly focused on the technical dimensions of blockchain. Blockster showcases the world’s top brands in the Web3 space–across every industry–most notably those in gaming, sports, fashion, music, art, and events. We publish entertaining and easy-to-read stories about the visionary people, projects, and brands that shape and drive the crypto lifestyle.
What are the three things that mostly helped your online business succeed?
In my teaching, the most helpful habits are networking and self-promotion. The more people I meet, the more opportunities become available. The more I share my passion, the more people I attract to work with me.
At Blockster, we have an amazing team of smart, talented, hard-working people who contribute to our success. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I teach people how to be financially educated and empowered. I’ve been an educator since 2005, and my teaching inspires and uplifts others.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
At each stage of my career, I’ve had amazing teachers, mentors, and supportive people around me. Honestly, there are too many to mention. Currently, I am benefiting most from my membership in a community called Web3Equity, which a tribe of passionate and driven female community leaders who are pursuing gender equity in web3 by increasing knowledge, network, and resources for women investors, collectors, and creators.
What were your most important challenges? & How did you overcome those challenges?
I use a variety of personal and professional growth resources to overcome challenges. For physical and mental health, I use fitness, yoga, meditation, herbalism, self-help books, journaling, and other holistic practices. For business challenges, I use continuing education and my support network to learn, grow and improve my abilities.
What’s your piece of advice for readers who want to achieve wealth and success in life?
Follow the leaders -> someone has already done the thing that you want to do. Find them. Talk to them. Volunteer for them. Live with them. Whatever you need to do. Hands-on experience is the most valuable way to ground you on your new path and teach you what you need to know to succeed.
Pay attention -> you’ll be drawn to a person, place, or thing. You will have a dream, a premonition, synchronicity that speaks to you. Stop, look, listen.
Follow the impulses even if they don’t make sense -> you’re called to reach out to someone, sign up for a class, go to a certain destination, pick up a book. Just do it. Don’t overthink it. Stay in the discomfort of not knowing who you are, not knowing where you’re going, not knowing what you’re doing or where you will end up. All roads lead somewhere.
Use healthy TOOLS to stay calm and centered. Phone a friend. Go for a walk. Do a meditation. Write in your journal. The more you worry, the less clarity and confidence that you will have. It’s normal to experience self-doubt, frustration, loneliness, and insecurity. You’ve got this!
What do you think is the key to a truly successful online business?
1. Create a Strategy
If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail. It’s kind of harsh, but it’s true. You can post a million times on Facebook, but if you don’t have a product that meets the needs of your target market – and a clear, concise way of sharing that product information – then you won’t turn your posts into clients. Are you blogging because everyone else has a blog? A doctor doesn’t take blood because that’s what all of the other doctors are doing. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I started working online was trying to copy what others were doing instead of figuring out what worked for my unique business. Don’t try to be like anyone else on the Internet – admire them, learn from them, but then find a strategy that feels good, brings in revenue, and has measurable results.
2. Find a Mentor
It’s hard to argue with the fact that having a mentor is amazing – but not all mentors are created equal. I had an academic mentor for ten years that was super helpful in teaching me how to do research and publish academic literature, but she couldn’t help me at all when it came to building an online business. You need a mentor that has traveled to the destination where you are trying to go. She doesn’t have to be miles ahead of you, but she should have some mastery over branding, social media, marketing, sales, and so on. She should have strong networks that she is very willing to share. And she should be accessible and passionate about working with you. Find a mentor that inspires you, doesn’t cost too much and helps you achieve your goals.
3. Get Support
Support is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of building a business. Entrepreneurship is lonelier and more challenging than I expected. I’ve been overworked, overwhelmed, and confused about what to do — and finding a community of strong, smart, like-minded people has made all the difference. There is a perception that online entrepreneurs are achieving success all on their own. Don’t be fooled by the clever branding. If you are really trying to grow, you need to find a group of people like the women in my club that will allow you to be vulnerable and give you unconditional empathy and emotional support. Don’t try to do it all on your own because you are too proud or stubborn or ashamed to admit that you need help. Even the smartest, most psychic entrepreneur doesn’t have all the answers.
And lastly, just because you are building an online business doesn’t mean that you have to be online all the time. Get out from behind the computer and meet with people in your community. You have beautiful energy and a passion for sharing. People will feel that when they meet you. I make the most valuable connections at the local parks or cafes – and the outdoors does wonder for our health and happiness.
What’s your business model? How does your online business make money?
Blockster generates revenue with advertisements, affiliates, and marketing services.
Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
In 5 years, I hope to still be bringing the best content to millions of crypto-curious people around the world.
What’s your piece of advice for people who want to quit their 9-5 job and start a business?
1. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about business. It’s about self-actualization. We have to be leaders. We have to leave our comfort zones and our corporate jobs and follow our soul’s calling wherever it may lead.
2. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about making money. It’s about creating the ‘self.’ Entrepreneurship is both a catalyst and a vehicle for us to create our identity, our character, our confidence, and our autonomy. Entrepreneurship gives us the opportunity to say: “You don’t define me. I define myself.” Which is an act of revolution for many women who engage in this radical life path. It’s empowering and life-changing
3. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about the products. It’s about relationships. We create things to solve problems for others. The most prosperity comes when we solve the biggest problems- even if it’s something as silly as a pair of panties that make our tummy look flatter. Spanx is no joke – it’s a billion-dollar company.
4. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about being clever. It’s about being authentic. I know that it is only when I am in touch with the real me that I am able to truly be my creative best and expand my thinking and views of the world. This is the birthplace of innovation. Our “Unique value contribution” comes from authenticity.
5. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about work, work, work. It’s about life. It’s about the freedom to have self-care time, family time, creativity time, etc., when we need it. It’s about having non-toxic products to care for our children. It’s about having gardens in urban communities. It’s about the blurry lines between doing what we love for work and working for what we love.
6. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about solopreneurs or the lone genius. It’s about community. We are not in this alone – not in business, not in life, not in entrepreneurship. Our decisions affect people – they affect the environment — they affect the future — and it’s naïve and irresponsible to pretend that they don’t. We need to uplift and empower each other to do the impossible. I believe that this is going to be one of the defining themes of business in the next century.
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?
I don’t believe in sacrifice. I follow my joy and my passion.
The future of the digital world might be ruled by blockchain and cryptocurrency. Do you think it would be challenging for all age groups to gain knowledge about the same? How can we educate them?
No, I don’t think it is challenging if you have a good teacher like me.
What do you think could be the future of NFT? How useful can they be for everyone?
But when you invest enough time studying the future, you begin to see the tsunami of change that is coming to global and local industry, not to mention the ideological movement that is birthing a new culture and paradigm shift for millions–maybe billions–of people.
Unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was an inconvenient protest at best, the Web3 movement is organized, altruistic, and prepared for change.
They’ve got DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), Daaps (applications that use blockchain technology to disrupt business models or invent new ones), smart contracts (automated execution of agreements), a well-funded market (2 trillion dollars and growing), an army of developers, designers, inventors, and creators; meanwhile, investors are begging to join the party.
What does this mean?
Remember when Dubai was just a desert? Well, now Dubai has a 22,500-square-meter ski resort.
Web3 is going to be bigger than Dubai. You’ll be able to ski in your underwear in your living room wearing your V.R. headset or cash in your NFT for a first-class ticket to Aspen to ski IRL.
The sky’s the limit–or should I say, the possibilities are limitless.
This kind of future-casting makes Web3 enthusiasts giddy–sometimes manic–and it’s reflected in the constant communication of anticipation, excitement, and not-happening-fast-enough-frustration.
Web3’s conception comes from the mixing of millions on the Internet, widespread financial crisis, and a global pandemic.
Artists are leading the way in Web3. Their kooky drawings, electronic beats, animations, and digital fashions are the Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel of our time.
These creations are more than art or entertainment; they are symbols of radical social transformation, cultural change, and a return to humanism, which focuses on helping people engage in community and think for themselves.
Web3 is dominated by the Creator Economy–a.k.a. 50 million content creators plus technology designed to help them with monetization–and it offers a pathway to asset ownership outside of traditional systems, disrupting a financial model as old as the Renaissance itself.
For 500 years, centralized banks have dominated our financial lives, serving as intermediaries between our neighbors and us. Web3 gives us more self-control, self-regulation, and self-reliance to buy whatever Bored Ape we want!
Do you think NFTs, which are open to virtual reality, could adversely impact our health due to increased screen time?
All digital life needs to be balanced with healthy practices, which is why I have so many habits for physical and mental wellbeing.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
I embrace uncertainty because it is part of the creative process. I don’t think we ‘need to know many things. I think we need to cultivate skills of resilience, critical thinking, healthy habits, social support, creativity, and so on. Skills are not taught in schools but rather learned in experiential ways.
What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?
Prioritize feeling good and enjoying the journey.
Lastly, what do you think this world needs the most?
The world needs your wildest, craziest, most unconventional gifts right now. The universe is begging you to share your song, your story, and your vision of the future. We used to live on autopilot. We could just go with the flow and get by ok. Not anymore. The well-being of the planet depends on your willingness to fully step into your power and be the person that you were meant to be.