Welcome to our comprehensive interview series – Humans of Blockchain™ where we get the best in the business to answer diverse questions.
This series will clear the air of doubt in the blockchain space today by focusing on bringing more transparency to the readers.
Our guest, today, is the Founder of BlockLeaders.io, an experienced Journalist and an Influential Blockchain Personality. We found her story so inspiring that we would personally recommend you going though her journey mentioned below from which we all can learn a lot about life.
Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Jillian Godsil herself.
1. We would love to know more about you Jillian. Your journey and how you entered the blockchain space?
“For the first time in my working career my age and gender is an advantage. I’m a woman and I’m in my fifties (early).”
Jillian Godsil is CEO of Blocknubie, a company in the blockchain sector helping startups get on board or should we say onchain. She is on the board of EOS Dublin. She has been named one of the top 50 women globally in blockchain as well as a crypto queen (although she prefers crypto princess aka the British comedian Dick Emery lol). She has been featured in Al Jazeera, Russia Today, BBC2 Newsnight, UK Telegraph, RTE, TV3, Huffington Post, New York Times The Irish Times, Vogue Italia and the Irish Independent amongst others.
She is also a founder and lead reporter Blockleaders.io as well as freelancing for the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and many more broadsheets and business publications. She is an advisor for twenty plus ICOs (Companies working in the Blockchain industry). She travels the world speaking and chairing Blockchain conferences and has been to Kiev, Austin, Muscat, Columbo. Dublin, Burgundy and London so far this year.
She hosts two weekly terrestrial radio shows, DubinCityFM and East CoastFM, as well as a regular youtube show called the CryptoDivas.
However, two years ago she was evicted from her rented accommodation with her two adult children. She had no job and no income. She found a tiny cottage for her two girls to rent and went couchsurfing with a friend.
What on earth? Let me tell you a story…
In 2008, Jillian had hit divorce and recession. She could not cope with both. Previously she had travelled the world (London, Sydney and Singapore) for work before relocating to the Irish countryside with her family. She ran a successful PR business. There she had a large mortgage on her country house (half the value of the house).
With the divorce, her ex husband went back to the UK and went bankrupt, thereby giving the entire mortgage debt to Jillian and her two girls. In 2008 there was a hard crash happening in property prices. She tried to sell the house and made a video that went viral. She got a cash offer of €500,000 but the bank refused consent to sell as the mortgage was more. They preferred to repossess the home and sell it for €165,000 the following year. (It is now back on the market three years later at €550,000).
In the interim she became politicized. She lost her business and it collapsed, bailiffs called to the door and she lost everything. But she also became aware of the false narrative that began to take shape – “that people were gaming the system and messing with moral hazard”. There were also a rising number of financially inspired suicides. She got angry. She got very angry.
So she started ranting and raving at every opportunity – and she had a lot. This was around 2012 and most people were still ‘shamed’ at failing financially. She went loud and proud and said that while it hurt a lot to lose everything that she had done nothing wrong and was not ashamed. In the end, she was the first female bankrupt under the new insolvency laws in 2014. She was not allowed to run for public office under archaic Victorian law.
She then took the Irish government to the High Court and all the way to the Supreme Court claiming that her constitutional rights were being infringed. She won. Then she had to run – after all she had won the right. So, Jillian ran in the European Parliamentary elections in 2014 and while she did not win a seat she earned 11,500 votes. This is where blockchain came in. She been through the ringer and was hung out to dry. She thought that life could offer me no more. She was at a standstill – or worse a personal recession.
THEN SHE MET BLOCKCHAIN in September 2017 and she said to herself – “Mama I’ve come home. Now is my time to shine.’ And so it has been. She’s had an amazing year – travelling the world, speaking and chairing at blockchain conferences and she has hope again. Not just for her alone but for humanity.
2. Can you tell us more about Blockleaders? What is the vision and mission of Blockleaders?
Blockleaders is a project very close to my heart for a number of reasons.
The first is that, as a fintech journalist working in the blockchain space, much of the so-called editorial is advertorial – i.e people pay to be featured and there is little real interest in the person or what they are doing and more in what they can pay. So, for that reason I love that we write our main stories based on interest. [note – I can say too that this interview is pure editorial – I have not been asked to contribute any bitcoin for the pleasure of being featured here].
The second is that being editorial led, we can seek out the most interesting people in this space – and trust me blockchain produces the most fascinating people ever. This freedom to be interest led is amazing. As a fintech journalist for almost 30 years I have meet some cool people – but nothing like the people working in blockchain. Not only are the projects more diverse, they are also re-imaging the world and that is very, very exciting.
The third reason is that we promote editorial freedom for the writers – myself included. So, we look to get inside the head of our subject and really tease out what is at the heart of their work. The end result is long form journalism – which is a great way to write. It’s tough too – writing 1000 words is easy but going to 2000 words is like going from a two kid family to a three kid family – the result is much bigger and more challenging than the sum of the parts. So, every week I get to meet and interview some of the most impressive people on this planet – and then write about them. My favourite job of all time.
3. What blockchain startups are you presently advising? What factors do you consider when deciding to take the advisory role in a startup?
There are a number that I am working with – Blocknubie, EOS Dublin, Worbli, Multiven, EDNA, Tenion, Tokpie, MyEarthID, launchbadge, Mingo, Mogu … and I have assisted with a number of others which have either completed or stalled in this bear market. I have to like the project but it is the people with whom I connect. The team is the most important thing of all – always has been, always will be – regardless of the technology or project.
4. There was a recent crash in the crypto market. What are your views about that?
It is a bit of a distraction – no more than the huge increase at the end of last year. People often ask me should they invest in cryptocurrency and I reply – do they think I am a trader or a financial advisor? I work in this industry – and I LOVE blockchain – but I am not an investor. WRT to the actual crash – it is misleading. Bitcoin actually out-performed Apple when using real world financial metrics over the past two years. For example Bitcoin has gone from $1000 to $3500 (or so) which is an increase of 200% plus. Apple moved from something like $115 to $145 which is only an increase of 43% or so.
So even allowing for the 85% crash, bitcoin is still doing better. Also the whole market cap for cryptocurrencies is tiny. It is down to under $120 billion today – but when you compare that to the dotcom bubble of $7trillion, or the great Depression of $6 trillion and even the Japanese meltdown of $26 trillion you can see how the bubble is tiny, prone to volatility and is at the mercy of whales.
It will stabilize in time and I would prefer to count instead the money being poured into blockchain projects, the numbers of people working in this sector and the change blockchain is effecting – now that would make more interesting and relevant reading. Finally, as the markets settle, so too will the FOMO effect and good projects will benefit and retail investors can invest with more security.
5. What is the status of blockchain in Ireland? (Both in terms of adoption and regulations)
In terms of adoption it is growing fast. Ireland is home to 9 out of the top 10 fintech companies in the world; companies such as Paypal, Twitter, Google, Facebook, AirBNB, Apple etc are all based here. This is a combination of a favorable tax regime but also native English speakers, a well-educated work force, a country that links both Europe and America and also as Brexit continues the only native English speaking country in the EU. We also have lots of excellent IT people – we as an Irish race are very good at IT/Programming – we have the gift of the gab if you will which translates very well into computers.
We also have a lot of international professionals based here to take advantage of the good jobs etc. This can be seen by the headquarters of Deloitte’s EMEA blockchain labs in Dublin as well as Consensys headquartering here. So, Blockchain is coming fast on the heels of other IT investments. There are also a lot of Irish people dominating the world stage in this area.
With regard to government and regulations – they are not as progressive as most blockchain advocates would like. Countries like Malta, Estonia, Gibraltar and Switzerland have all staked out first adopter claims. The Irish government is moving but needs a bit of a kick up the butt to get moving. I am part of an association that is led by government bodies and this is starting to pick up pace.
6. What are the hinderances to adoption of blockchain technology presently? What should be done to overcome them?
Currently we have big institutions and countries trying to block blockchain on one hand but on the other taking out multiple Blockchain patents. Everyone in power knows it is coming (or is afraid of it) and these organizations have done a great job in confusing the general public.
The FUD out there surrounding blockchain is incredible. What can be done? All of us who are passionate about blockchain need to use our voice in whatever way we can to talk about the technology in calm and reasonable terms. This is a revolution from the bottom up and it will not be stopped. Just hang in there!
7. What shortcomings do you feel are present in the blockchain space currently? What should be done to overcome them?
Similar to the political and status quo hindrances, we need to keep talking to remove the FUD out there. There are lots of really smart people working in this sector and they are improving the base technology all the time. Again just hang in there!
8. What are your views about the rising security token markets?
It is a natural progression. Go back to the Howie Test from the US – will the value of the token rise as a result of the efforts of the founders? Yes, that is normally the proposed trajectory.
So, financial experts tend to now advise that projects take in seed money in equity swaps – such as in the old fashioned way. Then issue a security token – use restricted investment criteria – on the basis that it will rise in value. Hence your security token. Finally, if your project needs a utility token, then do another round, restrict amounts, and sell them as a token for spending not for investing. Bingo!
9. What role do you think media has to play in the growth of blockchain technology?
The media has a huge part to play. I salute you in CryptoControl for creating a site that actually seeks opinions not just bitcoins. We too at Blockleaders.io are pursuing a similar path.
The media should act as the fourth estate in any country or globally, but up to now they have been very strongly controlled by the status quo and largely responsible for the FUD surrounding the industry. As a veteran journalist I cannot get any of my traditional outlets to take any blockchain content – this is very frustrating. It has taken me eighteen months to get a speaking slot at my local freelance journalist union conference – the organizer genuinely thinks it is all a Ponzi scheme despite my constant arguments and presentation of facts. Next February I will finally get a platform to talk about the industry.
10. Any last words of motivation from your end Jillian for the audience?