Last week Bitstocks released their second eBook penned by content creator and industry commentator, Liz Louw. I caught up with her to get the backstory on the project and to dig a little deeper on what it’s like to be a female commentator in the male-dominated industry of fintech.

Tell me, what sparked the idea for this new eBook?

The eBook is a result of a creative conundrum I had to solve…

When I started working in the cryptocurrency industry, the most enticing promise of Bitcoin was to help you get rich quick. Over time, my research showed me that Bitcoin was much more than a speculative asset and that it’s going to play a pivotal role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the data-driven economy.

I wanted to set the story straight, if not to change the minds of the ‘number-go-up’ fanatics, then for non-technically minded people like me, with an interest in the topic. But, how do you translate more than 2-years of intense research into a format that’s accessible to the mainstream?

While hiking in the mountains over December, the solution came to me: I should format it as a story. The story of why and how Satoshi Nakamoto came to design the protocol, the problems it solved for his time, and the futuristic problems he sought to address.

How long did it take you? It’s extensively researched - clearly a labour of love!

I started off with a folder of drafts I’d written the previous year. The angle I took was pretty technical (trying to explain the technology) and I ended up scrapping all of it.

Once I started approaching the topic as a narrative, I had to start my research from scratch. With every new source I looked into, I had to correct my assumptions and reformat the outline. I realised it would be a mistake to plan the narrative from start to finish off the bat. 

Instead, I completed one chapter at a time, then released it to our audience on the Bitstocks blog. I didn’t always know which topic or angle I would be taking in the next chapter, and I had to scrap a ton of drafts, but I knew I had to trust the creative process. In the end, it all came together 3 months after we published the first extract. 

Did you encounter any hurdles while writing it?

The revelation that Dr Craig S Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto, and his subsequent presentations, interviews and blogs have been the greatest help in writing on this topic at this point in time. Previously we all had to guess…

The biggest hurdle was to piece together a narrative from Wright’s material. When we tell our story to other people, we choose the angle and format that suits that audience and channel. When our audience changes, so does the focus of our story. 

I realised that I couldn’t cover the story from every angle, so I had to work towards understanding the intent and context of each source, before using it in my narrative interpretation. 

Is there a section you’re particularly proud of?

I got a tremendous kick from finalising chapter 3, on Bitcoin’s economic incentive system. It’s like finally grasping a geometric concept, and suddenly you can see how it can be applied to the whole world around you! 

And how did you get into this industry in the first place?

I was working for a marketing agency, writing business articles for a number of companies in different industries from IT, Supply Chain, Financial software and services, and even mental health services. I realised that I only started producing my best work after working with the same organisation for an extended period, so I started looking for an in-house position in an industry that would challenge me creatively and intellectually.

A mutual friend connected me with a member of the Bitstocks marketing team, and the rest is history...

So do you actively trade and use bitcoin yourself?

I’m quite risk-averse, so I leave the day-trading to the professionals, but I have some funds saved in bitcoin. Though I most often use Bitcoin SV on apps (like Twetch) that makes use of its microtransaction facility, I once bought an airline ticket with Bitcoin Cash (pre-BSV days).

It’s fair to say that the cryptocurrency industry is pretty male-dominated. As a woman in fintech, how do you navigate this?

The work environment at Bitstocks makes it easy to forget that it’s still a male-dominated industry. Michael Hudson, our CEO, judges on individual merit and nothing else. Naturally, the company culture has followed suit and women are well represented in most departments and all management levels.

When it comes to the crypto industry, I represent Bitstocks on many of our social media channels. Our audience doesn’t know that the brain behind the interactions happens to be female, and I often get the “thanks, mate” from a stranger. But when I connect with individuals directly, introducing myself as “Liz from Bitstocks Media” I’ve never (as far as I can remember) encountered surprise or awkwardness. For the most part, I find that people within our network (Bitcoin SV innovators) focus their energy on the vision of the project, rather than getting hung up on personal differentiators.

Are there any ways, do you think, to make crypto and fintech more attractive and accessible to women?

I’m not of the mind that we should try to attract any particular group to any specific industry. Instead, we should roll obstacles out of the way so individuals can gravitate to the field that suits them best. Rather like the (limited) role of the government in a true free market system.

What is almost more important than attracting talent, though, is creating an atmosphere where individuals can thrive; whether they are a mother with young children, a new dad, or a person with mental health issues. When employers and managers are agile enough to adjust their operations to the individual’s strengths and challenges, as well as group dynamics, the entire organisation wins.

So finally, if there was one thing you wanted readers to take away from the book, what would it be?

Yes, the world is evolving into a data-automated reality, but that doesn’t have to mean that robots will take away our livelihoods and purpose. If we use Bitcoin as infrastructure for this new data economy, we can all participate (and profit) in a million different creative ways.

The Bitstocks eBook ‘What is Bitcoin (11th Birthday Edition’ is available to download now.

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