The Bitcoin Matrix Podcast | John Vallis: Bullish on Bitcoiners
Cedric Youngelman [00:29]: As the host of the Bitcoin Rapid-Fire Podcast, John Vallis explores the future of money through the concepts that drive him the most, which are: Truth, Freedom, Curiosity, and Possibility. John recently wrote a piece that was published in Bitcoin Magazine that really spoke to me, titled, “After An Unforgettable Year, I’m Most Bullish On Bitcoiners”. Welcome to the Bitcoin Matrix Podcast, John, how are you?
John Vallis [00:56]: Ced, I’m excellent man! It’s an honor to be here. I’m a fan of your show, and I’m looking forward to this.
Cedric Youngelman: Wow man, I really appreciate that! You know, to be honest, after kind of catching you on a few other spots over the last few months, you’re my favorite Bitcoiner of 2020! I really like the way you speak about Bitcoin and these words you’re going for — Truth, Freedom, Curiosity, Possibility — you know, maybe The Great Unseen. So I heard you speak some other spots, like particularly Nico’s show BITVOLT just kind of about where you were going with your life before Bitcoin, what you were trying to do. And I heard you on the Cosmic Deep-Dive, hosted by Jon Chenot. And I was really blown away by the material that you were covering there. You know, I think we’re probably about a decade apart, and I think in this conversation age is just a number — it doesn’t matter — but I touch on that because you did these things maybe chronologically after me but I think you took a lot of the feelings and emotions I had and took them further! Or just had a lot of conviction, and I’d kind of like to explore that, if you will. And what I got from that is: you were exploring, you were looking for Truth and the world didn’t always seem fair to you. Or it didn’t seem to speak to you. The externalities seemed a little bit darker than you wanted. So what I’m getting at is: you graduate college — I don’t know where you went to school — but you were like, I’m gonna go into the world, I’m gonna make money, I think you went into investment management, but what was really interesting to me there was that you jumped to China! And you wanted to see the future — you wanted to live it! And I’m really curious to know how big of a decision that was for you? What other things you were thinking about in terms of careers or locations, really? And just some of the things you might have got from China — was it the future? I’m more talking about the 10 years that you were there, I’m not talking so much about where we are with China now.
John Vallis [02:56]: Yeah, sure! Yeah in hindsight, reflecting back on it, I’ve always been anti-establishment, anti-authority, not to say that I was a troubled kid. I pretty much was able to maneuver my way by being bad enough that I could have some fun and that kind of thing, but maintaining good enough relationships with older people that I could always smooth it over. But that was always my sense, and I was always a curious kid, and I was fortunate as a youngster to have exposure to a lot of unique individuals, both through travel and through my dad’s occupation and the people he came across. And so I say that only to kind of speculate where or why is it that any of us are more or less curious? That was kind of an open question — I don’t have an answer to that. But as I grew up, money was something that I recognized as giving you access to the world. Increasing your optionality I guess would be the terminology we’d use today in Bitcoin that you hear a lot! And I also saw the stresses that money placed on my family growing up, and I didn’t want those! I wanted to be free of those! And so I was focused on making — you know, when I was younger I just wanted to be as rich as possible. But simultaneously — and totally unintentionally—was just, this is the only definable moment I can really say that it really took flight for me. Because I think we’re all just in the world trying to figure it out, so we all have a certain level of curiosity, of course. But I remember playing with one of the kids on the street when I was 11, 12, and she was my age but she was ahead a year in school. And I was like, What the fuck? I hate school! How are you getting out a year before me? And she was like, Well I just read a lot! And I was like, What the fuck do you mean — read a lot? That doesn’t have anything to do with what we do in school, does it? And she was like, Well, I dunno! School was just easier for me as a result, so they bumped me up! And so I never got bumped up in school, but I took that as — that kind of set my mind on fire and I was like, This reading thing must have something to it! [05:18] And so I went back to my dad’s bookshelf that day and picked out a book, and I still remember the book it was! It was Hidden Power: Unleashing the Power of Your Subconscious Mind, which was quite an interesting book to start with! Because I’d never considered even the influence of my subconscious mind till then. And so it was kind of revelatory to me, really, and it probably served as a bit more of a foundation than I’ve ever given it credit to subsequent to reading it. Anyways, I started reading a lot and really enjoyed that, and read all the classic Buffett and Graham investing books when I was in high school because I thought, You know, the way to be rich is to work your money! You don’t want to be a wage slave — you want to basically make money by rent-seeking of other people’s money! So that’s what the plan was in high school. And I did a rotary exchange after high school — I was in Japan for a year. And it was probably around that time that I realized that China was the future. I think that was 2004–5. I’d done a lot of reading about China with all the books available at the time, and it was very clear to me that the 21st Century was gonna be China’s century, as the US was the 20th Century and the UK was for the 19th Century and so on. And Shanghai was the New York, and so I thought — I actually didn’t want to go to university, I wanted to actually leave high school at grade 11 and just go! — but I was corralled out of those decisions. In hindsight, unfortunate, but heigh-ho! And so after I finished university, I went down to South America and spent 3–4 months there. Part of that was exploring Ayahuasca and learning about that, and another part was partying a little bit too much and traveling around and backpacking and that sort of thing. And then—to answer your question — there was no trepidation or it wasn’t a very well thought-out thing, I just said, Shanghai is the New York of the 21st Century, that’s where I wanna be! So I booked a one way ticket and I booked a few nights at a hostel and I said, I’ll figure it out, you know! So I flew home from South America, switched out my bags, filled out my backpack with a few different items and booked a one way ticket to Shanghai. I mean I wanted a job in finance, I put my resume around, didn’t get anything, and then I’m a die-hard UFC fan, a guy on a forum said, We’re watching the fights at a bar one night, I end up going to the bar, sitting next to that guy and he ends up being HR for the biggest ex-pat wealth manager at the time, and so I got an interview, got a job, and worked in that capacity for a few years. And all the while during university I had started to change my tune about the principle aim in life being wealth accumulation, and that coincided with exploring the psychedelic realms, or let’s say different aspects of consciousness via certain psychedelic substances. And you know that leaves an indelible mark on you! It’s really difficult to have those experiences and not be changed, and I think a current of change was already happening in me but that certainly accelerated it. And so it took a little bit of the hunger and edge and whoop-ass and take names of my intent of going to Shanghai — so when I found myself in the wealth management industry, (1) I was a bit disillusioned because I thought it would be a little bit more sincere in terms of what the role of an asset manager is, but you’re a glorified salesperson and you’re told to sell, sell, sell, basically. And that’s the same pretty much everywhere. And so I ended up not liking the industry, not liking the job, but still wanting to be in China because you know this is where the Bitcoin narrative kind of has really impacted my life is: I hate to say this, but my initial years in China I kind of lost myself, which is weird for me to say because I’ve always been someone who took care of my health and took care of my intellect and tried to learn and tried to grow and tried to continue develop myself and not be wrapped up in a lot of the things that people get wrapped up in, whether they be substance abuse or bad lifestyle habits or bad relationships or all that kind of stuff. [10:05] But my assessment of the world at the time from having consumed a ton of resources about anything I could find about every industry and how it all worked — we all try to piece together the world in our own ways and that’s what I tried to do. And I wasn’t left with a great impression in terms of what was in store for the world. And so once the kick-ass nature of my desire to go to China and work in Finance dissolved away, I was a little bit left with — a bit aimless is I guess the way to put it! So I probably didn’t treat myself as well as I should have during that time, but I still felt that China was the place to be: I still thought it was the future and I thought there was opportunity there, and I loved the energy there. I mean Shanghai is a modern city and there’s a great ex-pat population and the young local people are awesome. It’s a really great place to live, if you can handle the pollution. I stayed there and I ended up going back to school for 3 years and I studied natural medicine and then I worked in that capacity in Shanghai also. But I guess it was in 2014 I came across Bitcoin, or finally got in. And then in 2015 I interviewed Bobby Lee who at the time was the head of BTCC which was one of the longest-running Bitcoin exchanges in the world and he was kind of a “central figure” or “popular figure” in the mix of Bitcoin. And that really started turning my perspective around, because—as is so often the case these days when you hear anyone talk about Bitcoin, and I think Saylor has done a great job amplifying that message — is: Bitcoin is hope! Bitcoin represents so much hope for the future, because it remedies so many of the fundamental issues that plague society and culture and markets and economies today. And that started to dawn on me. And like I think is the case for everybody, you go down the rabbit hole and you say, This is interesting! And then you go a little bit further and you go, Wow! This is really interesting! And then you go a little bit further and you go, Holy shit! And then you go a little further and you find yourself obsessed and not able to really think or do anything else beyond the obligations that you have! And that’s kind of what happened with me. And so I left China in mid-2018, I went down to Thailand and ended up meeting someone there and we just basically have stayed there for over a year. And I find myself stuck in Canada at the moment with the COVID nonsense that’s going on. That’s the closed-notes version of the story. But I think the more relevant point, because that may have been boring to some, what Bitcoin has done for me is — I mean it dramatically reorients many things in your perspective — but I kind of thought that like it was a fait accompli that China was gonna take over the world, and it probably still is even if everyone’s on a fair playing field. Let’s say it’s a Bitcoin standard everywhere, I think that’s probably still going to be the case! But because of Bitcoin, it’s kind of reinvigorated everywhere else in the world, and Bitcoin is everywhere, right? And so I can get my rocks off about being at the vanguard of a momentous shift, and one that—far more the case in Bitcoin than in China — is representative of an extremely positive change, I can be involved in that anywhere. And so part of the reason why I was in Shanghai was I just didn’t want to miss out on it! I thought this was like a massive historical shift and I kind of wanted to be at the center of it! I wanted to be in New York at the turn of the 20th Century, or early 1900s, right? And now I don’t so much feel that pull, because I think the big story—the macro narrative of our time — is definitely Bitcoin now. And Bitcoin is such that you can be involved in it anywhere! So now it’s sort of re-framed in my mind that the most important thing, and the thing that I most focus on, is maximizing sovereignty and freedom. How can I construct my life so that I have the highest degree of optionality and freedom to live the life I want to with my friends and family and loved ones and all that kind of stuff, and that’s the big story that I think is unfolding for a lot of Bitcoiners right now.
Cedric Youngelman [15:06]: I really appreciate everything you said. There’s lots to unpack there that I want to get into. One of the things you said, I think in the Cosmic Deep Dive, is before Bitcoin, the external world caused you to withdraw, and that there were bright and dark spots then. And I really related to that in the sense that I think in my 20s I really wanted to find Truth and Fairness and Freedom, but I think a lot about this fair side of it, where I didn’t think the world was fair, I didn’t like a lot of what I was encountering in the external world, and I did withdraw! And I really waffled between whether I’m an introvert who built up extroverted skills, or I’m an extrovert who just reverted from the world and didn’t want to deal with a lot that was coming my way. I didn’t feel that I could get ahead fairly. Like you were saying, it seemed that the best way to get ahead was rent-seeking! I remember in college I studied Finance, I learned all the tricks, I learned how really big players made a lot of money. None of it seemed fair to me. I think that was one of the reasons I dreamed — you know growing up I watched things like Family Ties. I wanted to be an investment banker like Alex P. Keaton and by the time I got there I was like, I don’t want to spend my life doing that! Sucking — you know, being a parasite! Because I don’t think that — I recognized that, while the intellectual capacity of the globe was going to Finance, that’s not really what was creating value for the world. You were just moving around digits and monetizing transactions. And so in my 20s I think it made me really think about exploring myself, and I think that was one of the reasons I fell into things like “partying” or making that kind of lifestyle, where you’re looking to be with your friends, you’re living for today. And it wasn’t until — I think without Bitcoin I had a lot of despair! The world just seemed dark, and it didn’t seem like a place you could get ahead unless you worked more than other people at some hamster wheel someone else created, or was a rent-seeker. And that was just not fun! And you just looked for fun elsewhere, and you lived for today, I think. One of the things you said that really stuck with me is that at 11 years old you discovered reading, and you went to your father’s bookshelf and you picked off — I’ve never heard of that book but it has a fascinating title for an 11 year old or any age. So I’m wondering, Did your parents encourage reading? And what I’m getting at there is: Did they encourage curiosity and truth-seeking?
John Vallis [17:43]: Yeah. I can’t remember — I think it was 11, 12, 13, somewhere around there. But that was definitely the book. No! They didn’t! There was no encouragement of that type whatsoever. You know, my parents — I think this is a positive thing: they’ve always been very supportive, which, all you can really ask out of parents is love and support. I mean, because who the fuck knows how to bring another human being into the world, right? What are the best ways to treat a fresh mind and mold it and form it into someone who’s fit to go out into this crazy world and succeed and be happy? Who the fuck knows how to do that? So I think you gotta default into just saying, Did they love you and did they support you in the best way that they could? And in my case the answer was definitely, Yes! But there wasn’t much specific direction of that kind. They weren’t like, Hey man, you gotta read in order to be smart and successful in the future. They just wanted me to go to school, behave, do well at school, and come home and not cause too much trouble! And that’s what I did, but I think maybe why that worked for me is because it just gave me the space to explore on my own and to say like, Nobody is pushing me in one direction or another—I get to choose! And I chose to — like I said before — I think I benefited from having certain people in my life as a result of both my family and my dad’s occupation, who in hindsight, I can look back now and say that they were very unique people. And I think for the right type of mind, which was mine, who would be curious about unusual people, I think that fed the flames of my curiosity to say like, Why are those people like that? And what makes them tick? You know, just getting different personalities and looks and types of people — exposure to them when you’re younger I think is beneficial because you kind of see that its not a cookie-cutter approach to “how people are”. People can be a lot of different ways! And there’s a lot of different positive attributes and negative attributes that people have. And to see that spectrum when you’re young and to perhaps naturally gravitate towards one end of it, like the more curious, unconventional, anti-authoritarian — however you want to characterize it — I think that that was an initial push in that direction, and then my own curiosity just took over and it led to this life!
Cedric Youngelman [20:20]: Yeah. Was witnessing your parents dealing with money — and I’m not really digging into what their money situation was — but just what money is to a family, and I’m assuming maybe your parents were really smart, they had smart books in your house, whether they encouraged you to read them or not, and yet money was still an issue. I remember when I was really young, I was probably at 7 or 8, both my parents were public school teachers. And I turned to my dad and I turned to my pop and I said, I want to be a teacher like you! And he kind of grabbed me by the elbow and was like, I worked too hard! Don’t ever become a teacher! And he wasn’t telling me don’t become an educator. I don’t think that was the lesson. It was more about like—
John Vallis: Financially.
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah! Figure out a way to provide more for your family. I think maybe his dream was to be like lawyer and to go into Manhattan with a briefcase, you know? And at the same time, I’m amazed with what they’ve been able to provide for me just by being teachers! And I don’t just the word “just” there lightly. I mean, they busted their ass and I’m really happy with everything they’ve given me, but it was very striking to me that — it was a little bit of a lesson of, Take care of yourself, it felt like! It wasn’t trying to teach me to be selfish, but I wonder how much watching your parents deal with money was a lesson, maybe if they weren’t speaking to you about it directly.
John Vallis [21:39]: Yeah it’s definitely had a profound impact. And look, parents insulate their kids from everything they deem — that they don’t want their kids to have to concern themselves with, for their own benefit. So I don’t know what the financial situation was at the time, and to be honest I’m not sure it matters much.
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah I’m sure it was fine!
John Vallis: Well I’ve been privy to extremely wealthy families that squabble over money, and extremely poor families that feel the stress of a lack of financial capacity or means or whatever. So it’s almost like the nominal amount of money probably wasn’t the issue. It may very well have been their relationship to money and to wealth and to their spending, and so whatever it was, it was definitely something that was very very seared into my mind, like I don’t want to have that kind of stress in my life. Like I can tell that that kind of stress is unhealthy. That type of stress—it just isn’t good and I didn’t want it. So I think that kind of fostered that desire to really go after money, but as a said, you can’t help what you really believe. And this is something that you only learn maybe when you get older, or for most people. But you can’t fool you. You can fool everybody else for a time, but you can’t fool you. And that’s the tricky part, and that’s the part that requires courage when you come to that — a lot of people have difficult times in their life, and maybe it’s a crisis moment or maybe it’s just an accumulation of experience where you say like, I gotta just step up and do what feels right and true to me. Not to anybody else, not for any other reason than, This is actually who I currently am, and this is the journey that I’m on, and the place in that journey that I’m at. And you know, that’s difficult! And one of the things that gets me so excited about Bitcoin is that a big impediment to people being actually able to do that is the financial concern, right? Like I have to be Lawyer John because every day I go and be Lawyer John — if I’m anything other than Lawyer John I can’t put food on the table, I can’t pay my bills, I can’t support my family, whatever it is. But Bitcoin is providing a very very very unique opportunity I think for people to put themselves in a situation where the financial concerns are becoming less and less and ultimately, hopefully, no impediment to them expressing who they truly are! I’m not saying that it’s super easy. I mean a big part of my development and all the traveling and escapades that I went on was trying to figure out and refine what exactly that was. And trying to explore. We talk about looking out on the world and being a bit concerned with how it looked and not very motivated to pushing to the future — that despair that you mentioned. And you know, a big part of my searching — traveling and trying different experiences and stuff — was kind of me saying, Surely there’s more than this! Like once you put together a piece of the world and you see maybe it doesn’t look so good to you, you come away with like, Surely there’s more! And I kept just following that impulse and I refused to believe that there was no answer to that question. [25:25] I maintained the belief that surely there was! Again I’m not saying that it’s easy to do but I think a lot of people who are set free financially by being involved in Bitcoin now and into the future, I think the degree of sovereignty that permits is going to allow them to have the choice to actually become or be or express who they genuinely are, and I think that’s of huge benefit to the world and of course it’s of massive benefit to the individual, because there’s nothing worse than having to act in a manner that is not genuine. Having to be someone who you’re not. And that characterizes probably most people in the world today, and I’m really excited for more and more people being able to step out of that façade and start to explore and express who they really are!
Cedric Youngelman [26:20]: Yeah. I can relate to a lot of that! I wonder how much watching our parents — like my parents were hardworking people. My father even had a second job working at flea markets and kind of just trying to provide more. I don’t know how much what we saw was their relationship to money as to inflation. Because they were doing what they were supposed to do and it was still a struggle to do and accomplish all the things that we wanted or needed. And I use wanted and needed interchangeably there but I know the difference. But it’s interesting you told a particularly interesting anecdote on the Cosmic Deep Dive about — and I think it relates to what you were talking about with genuineness — where you came home and you were out drinking with your friends, and instead of telling your parents you were having having snacks with Johnny and Tommy, you were like, This is what I did, I’m a little tired right now, and we can deal with this later. And in that reference point what struck me was you were like, I’m about truth, and if I lie to this important people, all I’m doing is forking reality. And I thought that was a really interesting concept. I also wonder how much — have you always been a wanderer and are you still a wanderer? Or do you think you were searching for something and you might have found it? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but do you still feel that wandering spirit?
John Vallis [27:46]: Right. So that story is true, and you said it perfectly! I can’t remember how I articulated it at the Cosmic Deep Dive, but I’ve always felt that way. I always had a reverence for truth, and I’m sure it’s a little bit more complex, but the most simplest way that it manifested in my mind was, If I don’t tell the truth, then I’ve created a false reality. Right? Both for myself and the person whom I’m lying to. And I’ve always had such a burning curiosity and desire to understand reality. I mean this is what all this searching is about, and this is what going into the jungle and spending time with psychedelic brews and that kind of stuff is all about. It’s like trying to figure out what is really going on here! And it was repugnant to me to be complicit in the creation of illusion, and to fostering more false reality than I already perceived there was — even at that young age! So that’s why I always did my best to tell the truth, even if it landed me in the hot water sometimes. Now in that particular case it wasn’t that hard because I was already caught red-handed. [28:58] Like, I might as well own up to it because I wasn’t getting out of it! But that has always been definitely something that — not necessarily intentionally — I just always felt really uncomfortable to do anything but [tell the truth]. And to the second part: definitely a lot of wandering, for that very reason! But Bitcoin has grounded me, in a way. It’s also caused a lot of my previous interests and education and knowledge acquisition or whatever you want to call all of that, to converge on something that seems to be able to house all of those interests and all of that knowledge, and really give it a gravity and really make it relevant. So in a way I think the wandering has maybe been exacerbated, but it’s been far more focused, right? Like I don’t have to tell you the Bitcoin rabbit hole is very deep and so I don’t feel like I’m consuming less information these days and I don’t feel like I’m contemplating what I know and trying to recognize patterns any less. If anything I think it’s more, because Bitcoin kind of forces you to do that, but it’s grounding in that I’m no longer searching for the thing, you know? My universe of really meaningful things — I’m happy where that is right now! I think Bitcoin is — well not that it was ever going to be, because it didn’t exist at the beginning of this journey — but to me it represents a tool that can dissolve a lot of that despair that I previously felt, away. It can restructure and reorient both individuals and as a result of that, the structures and institutions that we see in society. And then once you begin to explore that relationship a bit more, you start to be not just relieved but excited, because you understand the relationship between the money and the individual and the culture. And that I think makes us all excited, and this term “The Bitcoin Renaissance” that we all often use I think comes from a recognition that this can be the foundation for something amazing, incredible, extraordinary! And so why not feed into that? Why not give that your energy? Your intellectual energy, your financial energy, whatever. Like, how could you not, basically is where I’m at! And I love that, because in my search for meaning before, the psychedelic realms were probably it, right? Taking care of your body and being healthy and all that kind of stuff, but the apex was just the mystery of the psychedelic state of consciousness. Like, what is that? And even though we can’t answer that question, you could tell that it was extremely personal, extremely beneficial experience, and that’s kind of why I kept going back to that well. But, it’s almost like it’s imbalanced if you only derive meaning — not to say only derive meaning from that realm, but to hold that realm or that experience up as like the apex — I think it leaves a lot to be desired in meat space, in the physical world. Because you can have this Godlike experience, but you come back down and the world still looks the same, like it doesn’t change anything, and so my greatest hope prior to Bitcoin was that I always believed the world could change in an instant! Because all that needs to happen is that people need to change their minds, and then we’d have a different world. But practically speaking, well that’s not very practical! I mean how do you get 8 Billion people just to change their minds on a dime? And it seemed like the forces at work at society, like yes there were bright spots and maybe even their brightness was growing, but there are also big dark spots and that seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle. And Bitcoin has come around and embodied a lot of those principles actually that are represented in the psychedelic realm as well. Of: individual responsibility and individual sovereignty and control over your own domain, and represented that in the “physical realm” to actually be a tool to foster a lot of those things. To take individuals who are like-minded — and I kind of hate this term but let’s say awakened individuals — people that are kind of waking up from the malaise of the cultural conditioning that so many people are subjected to from the time they’re born, and saying, Something’s off here! How can we make it better? I think Bitcoin represents such a great tool to foster that! And so you put those two things together and I feel like we’re kind of attacking it from both sides, and simultaneously, because of course neither one is restricted to one domain, but of course what I love about Bitcoin and what I love exploring with people that I talk to, is how Bitcoin is changing people! [34:31] And not just their financial circumstances and not just how much optionality they have to move around and that kind of stuff, but like, Why is it affecting what you eat and how you treat your body and who you spend time with? And your aspirations for your family in the future? And the amount of time you spend in nature? And I don’t want to cast too wide a net here and I know everyone has a different experience, but those are very common things that crop up, and I think you could put them all under the category of: People are trying to better themselves in more ways than just their bank account. And so there’s a lot of overlap there with people that were on the psychedelic pursuit and exploring those realms. I just think it’s awesome! So I find that they balance each other well, so to answer your question a little bit more succinctly, I think I have stopped wandering a lot! I’d love to find a place that valued freedom and sovereignty that was settled already — I don’t think that we’re there yet — but I think hopefully in our lifetimes that’ll become clear. And really put down some roots. But otherwise, I can’t imagine being involved in anything more exciting right now, so I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be here for a while.
Cedric Youngelman [35:51]: Yeah. It’s really interesting that you bring up the psychedelic realm and some of the truths or things that that unlocks. I think before Bitcoin I felt that things were fake, the world was fake, I was struggling with that. Was it a huge leap of faith with you to be honest with people about your psychedelic explorations? And I’m getting at that more maybe with family but also career-wise? Did you feel that you were putting your career off? At that young age you want to create wealth, you want to seize opportunities, and you also want to — regardless of how you feel about the external world — you kind of have to put out your resume and talk about things. Was that a concern of yours at that point? To take that sojourn and even share that with people?
John Vallis [36:46]: It never was! And this may go back to the, Tell my mom if I could just go to bed and we can deal with this in the morning. To me the trade-off of not expressing how I truly felt about something was never worth it. And that’s probably held me back at least financially in my career or in different domains. I can’t give you a specific reason why, but I’ve never catered to that end. Right? So I think a lot of people cater to the end of climbing the corporate ladder or getting more money or whatever. I always — the highest priority was that nobody felt that I wasn’t telling them how I really felt about something, that I wasn’t telling the truth. And not even for the other person — that’s always been for me! I couldn’t put up with being afraid to say something that I actually felt was valuable or that I believed in! The most common place I’ve bumped up against this was with my parents, because I always felt like I was never crazy. I always felt like I could logically justify and articulate why it is I was pursuing what I was pursuing. And even if those things were unconventional from a mainstream perspective, I still felt like I could justify them. And if you wanted to challenge me on them I’d be more than happy to entertain it. But I think my parents and friends and stuff like that figured out early on that you better have your shit together if you’re gonna challenge me on certain things, the things that I’ve chosen to be vocal about or engaged in. Because I don’t do things willy-nilly! Like, I didn’t just go down to — to use an obvious example — like my mom was terrified when I told her at 20 or 21 that I was gonna go down to the rainforest for 3–4 months and take the most powerful psychedelic known to man and live in a hut with a shaman. Like, you know, for some moms that’s a bit worrying!
Cedric Youngelman: And she can’t run the numbers on the network there! That’s what I get out of it: You’re seeking Truth! But you can’t prove it to others in that realm! That’s a very — that’s the differentiator for me on that sojourn of yours. Or for anyone who takes that sojourn.
John Vallis [39:12]: Yeah. 100%! But I would always just say — or what my point was there is: I didn’t do that in an unprepared or irresponsible manner. Like I would spend the previous several months reading everything that was available, making sure that I knew — like there’s certain elements on a trip like that that you can’t plan for — but I knew what I was doing. It wasn’t by accident. I was going to seek something in particular, and that’s what I did! And I could always — because of that — justify it and she or other people in my life may not have liked it or respected it or agreed with it, but that’s always been irrelevant to me.
Cedric Youngelman [39:56]: Yeah. I really want to touch on what you said about, Bitcoin is a tool. And when you put it that way it almost demystifies it for me in some regards. When I first heard that, it was sort of mystifying. But now it’s demystifying — it’s just a tool! You know, you can take a hammer, you could build or you could destroy. And when you put it in that framework, do you think Bitcoin is revelatory, or it’s just something that we found in nature and we wanted it and now it’s here? At some point when Bitcoin is just money, the conversations that we’ve been having around money dwindle a bit. You’ve still gotta educate people about money, saving for their future and stuff, but it’s not so big a deal anymore! It’s just the thing we use! And so in that regard, do you think Bitcoin is a revelation, or just something that we’ve been waiting for and now it’s here?
John Vallis [41:01]: That’s a big one. I would say that first on a very basic level, we won’t be talking about Bitcoin in 50–100 years. Because it’ll be so fundamental and foundational to the culture and society at that time that it’s not novel anymore. People don’t really talk about the Internet broadly anymore as they did maybe in the early 90’s. Any tool, I guess we value any tool, maybe even revere tools, dependent upon what they permit! What are the possibilities that the tool represents? And to that degree we revere them. And I think what’s happening now is a lot of people that think about this deeply are starting to realize that this tool — like everything, all technology’s a tool — everything outside of our physical bodies that we want to use to take action in the world is a tool, right? And I just think what’s happening now is a lot of people are starting to understand what this tool represents for possibility now and into the future. What kind of novel possibilities for action does this tool represent? And I think that’s why the rabbit hole is so deep, and that’s why understanding money is so deep, because when you understand what we use money for and how it’s evolved in the history of money and that kind of stuff, and its implications and the relationship that individuals have with it and how it fosters the culture and the society that gets built on top of it. I think what we’re realizing is that this tool represents a dramatically positive shift in how we relate to one another economically and then of course as a collective where things grow on top of that. So on that level maybe it’s just a tool, but everything speaks to us as more than just what it is. There’s an affect to everything. You may just say value is subjective, so this acorn here that’s on my table now, it’s kind of worthless to me, it’s nothing. But to other people they might really like it, so what’s going on there when people really value something, like what it “means” to them is a pretty tricky and deep question, but I think what Bitcoin’s gonna end up doing is allowing us to explore further ourselves about what the potential for human action and human coordination and cooperation is, and what can result from new and novel methods of interacting. And that may sound boring or mechanical, but I don’t think it is. I mean I think that’s what we’ve been talking about, right? We’ve been talking about exploring our own consciousness, exploring the world, trying to tease out who and what we are and what we want to do with this opportunity that we have as being human beings on Earth, and a tool like this dramatically expands those things on many different levels and domains, and that is a deeply deeply meaningful thing and I think that’s part of the reason why it’s being treated with such reverence by the hardcores right now.
Cedric Youngelman [44:45]: I agree with everything you said. And something else you said earlier on one of those podcasts was that Bitcoin self-selects. And I’m kind of curious how maybe Bitcoin changed your behavior, because I find that you were — like my parents and maybe myself — Bitcoiners before Bitcoin! Like, trying to find that fair world. Trying to match your internal with your externalities. Trying to find that stasis or that peaceful dynamic. So I’m kind of curious how that changed your behavior. And you said something very early on in the show that you interviewed Bobby Lee. And I remember Bobby Lee as a heightened character in the earlier Bitcoin days, so that was a get! That was someone important to talk to at that time. He was prominent. But up until that point where you were talking, interviewing wasn’t a part of your job-set per se. You were working, you came across Bitcoin, but now all of a sudden you were interviewing someone! I’m kind of curious a little bit about that moment and how you came to change from just learning about Bitcoin to actually interviewing someone and thinking that that was something that — I don’t know why you thought that would bring you benefit — I’m not saying it doesn’t! I interview people, it brings me tremendous benefit. But how you came to that notion that you should, could, would interview someone, and how it just changed your behavior personally?
John Vallis [46:13]: Yeah so to attack the first one, you’re right! The cliche changes that get bandied around as what Bitcoiners do when they fall down the rabbit hole, many of them had already been integrated I guess into my character and into my life, but you cannot discount the impact and the power of hope. And not even just hope, like I was saying before, like not only that the future doesn’t look so dark anymore, but that it looks really really really bright and exciting — I think part of the reason it inspires change is because like if you don’t have something drawing you forward, then the relevance of novel information that you encounter on a daily basis and even the radar you have up for your sensitivity to acquiring useful knowledge, is dramatically diminished! Because if you don’t see a reason to refine yourself now in order to function better in the future, there’s nothing pulling you forward, then you’re gonna be kind of numb, your sensitivity is gonna be much less to all the things that you could pick up in your environment that could make you more fit for the future. And I think this was part of the reason why so many people today treat their bodies and their minds really poorly! They consume junk television and Netflix and binge-watch all this stuff, several hours a day they stuff their face full of shitty foods, their consciousness is not sensitive to all the different cues and pieces of information and knowledge in their environment that might go toward making them more fit for the future. And so obviously time preference plays into this, but I just think, when you don’t see much on the horizon, there’s no real natural impulse to make yourself more fit to take advantage of it. And if you see really not-good stuff on the horizon, you’re far more incentivized to kind of ignore the noise of information that you might use, and just get your rocks off now! Just go for sensual pleasure! But if you see hope on the horizon, then it shines a spotlight back, and especially the more you learn about the relationship of money to the structure of society, and when you go down that Bitcoin rabbit hole, you see the potential for what it could create in the future, well then the spotlight comes back on you and says, Are you as ready as you could be to take advantage of that? Because that shit’s gonna be awesome! Are you ready? Like, are you taking care of yourself enough? Are you cultivating yourself physically, intellectually, spiritually, all these different ways in order to maximize the benefit of that thing that you now see on the horizon? And I think that’s part of the reason why a lot of Bitcoiners are inspired to change in the ways that they have, and I think we’re just at the beginning of this thing, man! This wasn’t really a big part of the narrative like 3–4 years ago. I would say that this whole Bitcoin changes you thing, at least as it’s talked about today, is like 2 years old! Maybe a little bit longer. But it’s really amazing how quickly it can take effect, and that’s why I like to joke what we’re all gonna be like at the next halving — that’s more than 3 years away! Like, what are we gonna look like then, when people are reporting — you know I’ve talked to people that got in on March of 2020 and 6 months later they’re telling me all the different dramatic ways they changed their life in 6 months! I mean what happens when it’s a year, 2 years, 4 years? So I think that’s one of the powerful impacts of hope, is that it actually sensitizes you to interact with your environment as though it had greater meaning, because it now held greater purpose and prospects for a better future, whereas before it didn’t. So I feel like that’s one of the ways that it really tunes you to just act differently and treat your environment differently. [50:46] What was the second part of that question?
Cedric Youngelman: To be honest I was just really focused on what you were saying, and I lost the thread myself! But you know, I want to say my parents were Bitcoiners before Bitcoin: They lived for the future. They always sacrificed today for tomorrow, and they sacrificed themselves for their children. I don’t know what their lives were like before us. But I had despair and I think that’s why in my 20’s I was just seeking pleasure. I wasn’t — I’m not saying I was all about pleasure in the physical world— but I was living for today. And just trying to enhance myself. Like yourself I spent 5 years actually at one of the Big Four accounting firms, and then I left to go on a 3-month journey through the South-Pacific by myself. Really just to chisel out myself and you know there’s nothing like — when you’re a tourist and you’re with people you might go see the Grand Canyon but it’s like, What do you think? I don’t know! What do you think?—When you’re by yourself it’s like, I don’t have to be here if I don’t want to be here. Why am I here? Why am I doing whatever I’m doing? Before Bitcoin the external world caused you to withdraw and it would bring dark spots. But one of the things is it’s like, Now the future is brighter! And you did touch on this thing: In the Western World we have a crisis of diseases of despair. And a lot of times when you hear news or narratives, you don’t know if it’s someone’s opinion — well it’s always someone’s opinion — but some opinions you hold a little bit more closely or value. So when you said something to that effect, it really struck a chord because I see the despair, I don’t know if it’s greater than before! So in my 20’s I’m wandering but in my 30’s I happened to get married, I fell in love, I found my wife, my soul-mate, and I had children. And I kind of had to give the wandering up for them, and give my own despair up for them, and just get it done and not bring it home, and figure out a way to get ahead. And it was a constant scramble, because you’re doing the job, you’re trying to figure it out, and things are always running away from you. But I had to just buckle down and figure it out! There’s no excuses, right? But when I found Bitcoin, things got a lot brighter, because I had — I’m not gonna say a way out — but I had control over my own money in the sense that no one could debase it. Not control like censorability or seizability or any of those things, but like, No one’s gonna eff with my money! And that really changed my whole outlook. So I’m just curious what your thoughts are on this crisis of despair for people who haven’t found Bitcoin? And when I say that I don’t want to make it sound like Bitcoin is their salvation, as much as it can be for us — again I think the salvation comes from within, and we were looking for Bitcoin, that’s why we found it. You said it before: Bitcoin self-selects! Ideas have people, we had that idea in our head for some reason that we needed to find a better way. But what do you make of the despair around the globe and how real or actual or heavy that is?
John Vallis [54:17]: Yeah as you said, it’s difficult to compare something like that because most people lead lives of quiet desperation and as a result it’s not broadcast, it’s not a statistic, so it’s difficult to compare that across time scales. But I think most people if they’re empathetic enough, if they’re sensitive enough, they’re paying attention enough, they can see that there’s a lot of [despair] in the world today. And it’s covered over in myriad ways and like what I was saying earlier, people don’t act like how they truly feel! They act like how people expect them to, and how they need to act to advance their position whether that be familial, corporate, whatever! Whatever games they’re in, they’re acting in the manner that will advance their position in those games. And on that note you could say that fiat currency is creating a perverse meta-game and it’s creating all these avatars of people that are not acting in accord with who they truly are, but in accord with what the game requires of them. And I think the last year has been really revealing of this. But I try to be empathetic, and I think at a core level we’re all the same, and I think we’re born in different locations to different families in different languages and all that kind of stuff, and as a result we appear different, but I don’t think there’s anything really that separates us on a fundamental level. But people seem to be very confused, I guess is the nicest way to say it! And consumed by fear and not taking it upon themselves to construct their own worldview, but having one imposed on them, and they’re complicit in it, of course. You don’t have to go that way! But most people do, and they end up being a shadow of themselves, and they end up being avatars of this extremely perverse system that we have. And look, I don’t want to be exclusively critical of this. Like, obviously there are bright moments: We could readily admit that people are conditioned by the mainstream media and the nation state and the fiat currency regime, but when you have a nice moment that [it’s] your kids birthday, or when you have a beautiful moment with a loved one, or when a family member — you know like there are pockets of pure, genuine joy and experience all over at all times — and to me that’s real. There’s nothing intermediating that experience when it happens for real. But that’s the exception. Most of the time people kind of withdraw into the conditioned, culturally determined behavior that people have come to believe is the most effective way of maneuvering themselves in this world. And I can’t remember who said this quote but I remember as a youngster it always — I said it to myself often, actually, as a way to console myself for being frustrated and also curious why the world seemed so weird to me—It’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society. I want to say it was Krishnamurti but I don’t think it was him.
Cedric Youngelman: Was it the kid from Into the Wild? Chris —
John Vallis: Oh, no I said it might be Jiddu Krishnamurti, the philosopher. But I can’t be sure about that. Anyway, that was a bit of a mantra for me for a time, because I was seeing a lot of what I thought was irrational, crazy behavior around me and wondering why I didn’t feel compelled to mimic it or to engage in the same type of behavior. And my assessment was: The society is quite sick! And I didn’t at the time know that the huge reason for that was the money, I just knew that that was the case, and mainstream media and government and all the rest — I knew those were all influences. And so that quote and that way of thinking helped me maintain my steadfastness perhaps in not acquiescing and going into that. But to circle back to your question, I think there’s a ton of [despair]. I think the system as it’s structured right now and the siphoning off of wealth surreptitiously from people and also the macro structure of society and culture as a result of being predicated on this unfair monetary system that dominates globally, it’s definitely exacerbating the propensity to fall into despair. [59:43] And all the different downstream effects — the mental health issues and the substance abuse and the anger and the frustration, and all of these things that are toxic to the individual and to relationships and to society. Obviously they’re all latent within us, but I think it exacerbates them tremendously. And so I think if we wound up on a different monetary standard — one that could not be corrupted, like Bitcoin, one that was fair for everybody —I think we’d see a lot less of that. And in fact, when I was working in natural health, mind-body medicine or psychophysiology was something I was very interested in, and I’ve said this a bunch only half-jokingly and I actually don’t consider it a joke at all anymore, but I think for a therapist, someone in a therapeutic setting where they’re dealing with these issues all the time now, I think it’s critical that you include education about Bitcoin into the therapeutic stack, because understanding — I mean a huge element of despair is looking out at your environment and feeling like it doesn’t jive with you. It doesn’t make sense, or it’s overbearing, or there’s no hope, or there’s no place for you in it, you feel alienated and isolated and all this stuff, I feel like if you understood Bitcoin and what it meant for how the external world might change, that would dramatically change your perception of how well you could integrate with the external world. And I think that’s a huge aspect of mental health issues! So I think it should be integrated into the protocol stack, the therapeutic stack for mental health professionals. We’re a long way off of that, but I think it should! So I see a lot less despair, mental health issues, on a Bitcoin standard. I know for a fact that it’s had dramatic impacts on Bitcoiners. I’ve talked with Bitcoiners, and they’ve said this publicly on shows I’ve done with them, that were basically suicidal. I’m not gonna dig into the reasons for that, but that was where they were at. And as a result of grokking Bitcoin and starting to see it, their life has completely turned around! Ended up coming out of that and starting a family and being more financially secure and having hope for the future. And this is a huge part, man, that we haven’t touched on yet, but we talk about Bitcoin as a tool and what kind of affect it has and why it draws out these behaviors and what it means for the future. But one thing that is becoming a more and more clear element of this phenomenon is the people that are communicating with each other, the “community” that’s emerging, the culture that’s around this thing! [1:02:44] Like I’m starting to think — Number Go Up is hands down the most, what brings people in — but in a world that’s increasingly divisive and tumultuous and in conflict and vicious and all of this stuff, I think more and more people are gonna be looking at this community of people that are hopeful for the future, committed to intellectual refinement, and have very strong principles and integrity and are expressing themselves genuinely and also like to have fun, like I think part of the reason why we, you and I and everybody listening to this, feel good about being in Bitcoin is definitely the natural attributes of Bitcoin and what that means for how we can conduct our life, but it’s also the fact that I can jump on a call with you now and I know that we’re exactly on the same wavelength! And I can do that and I have done that with hundreds of other Bitcoiners! You know, I do a lot of calls that are not broadcast, and it just amazes me that every time I jump on one it’s like there’s no lag — we’re immediately running right out of the gate. And going back to that piece about feeling isolated — you on your journey, me on mine — we’re kind of looking for meaning and being like, There’s not many people that I feel like I have a connection with, I’m just really not jiving with a lot of people. And then to come into this thing and be like, Holy shit! Now there’s hundreds if not thousands of people that I’m sure when we meet in real life we’re gonna become friends really quickly, and who are thinking like I do and who are articulating themselves in a manner that I articulate myself and there’s so many similarities! And that’s so powerful, man! The power of community! And I think that’s one of the elements of why there’s so much despair, because people are increasingly cut off, but I think that’s also why this phenomenon is gonna be so therapeutic for people and draw so many in, because they see this positive culture emerging from this thing and they’re gonna want to be a part of it!
Cedric Youngelman [1:04:50]: Yeah. I agree with everything you said and I really recognize that power of community. I don’t think I’ve felt that at all since maybe college when you’re spending a lot of time with people and you’re really connect very quickly. I also related a lot to what you said about [being] consumed with fear, and like I said I made a commitment: I have a family—I was gonna get through this thing no matter what! Not through this thing, I am gonna get through this thing no matter what, and I’m gonna do everything I can for them. But before Bitcoin I can relate to that lack of control, and you’re doing everything you can but there are certain elements — there’s this tool, the money’s the tool — the denominator is out of control. But before we turn to the really fun stuff that I want to get into with you, I’d love to ask you a little bit about China in the 21st Century — what you’ve gleaned? You haven’t been there — I don’t know where you’ve been — but you left living there in 2018 so it’s about 2–3 years, but you still seem to have a lot of conviction about where they’re pivoting going forward regardless of what Bitcoin does! And so I’m just kind of curious a little bit about what you saw in China and why you had this conviction of them being the leader of the 21st Century? I’m not even getting into whether that’s good or bad! Just what is it about that that steers you in that direction, that foresight?
John Vallis [1:06:16]: Yeah. So any conversation of China is tainted with the bad things, the evil stuff the government gets up to, right? Obviously I’m no defender of what they do, but when I first tried to understand the world, one question that comes to anybody who looks at this is like, Why is the US — like in our lifetimes the US has been the dominant global power — why? That’s a pretty obvious question lurking out there. I remember — I think it was in high school, maybe it was a little bit after — but Jared Diamond wrote two books: Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse. And he was basically trying to illustrate or explore why the world ended up looking the way it looked. Why does Europe have all the countries that it has? Why is America there and Canada there? And the sovereign individual is probably an extension of that in the 20th and 21th Century, but it basically looks at what are the factors, the technologies, the demographic factors, the geographic factors that lead to the world looking like the way it looks like. And obviously the way the world looks is in constant flux, even though right now it seems pretty set, but I mean if you look at a map of let’s say the geographic boundaries of Europe over the last 1,000 years I mean it’s nothing but fragmentation and consolidation and fragmentation and consolidation and change! Like, that’s just what we do! So why are we at where we’re at right now? And that in addition to China — I love ancient history, and of course it’s instrumental if you want to understand how the world and humanity has developed. So Ancient Egypt and Ancient Sumeria and the Indus Valley civilizations and Ancient China have always been super interesting to me, and so China’s always had an extremely rich and extremely ancient culture, and a highly developed one! And they were kind of isolated from the world for a large part of their history, but as far as they were concerned, they were top dog for most of their history. They had the most highly advanced civilization that they knew of, and you could make the case that it was! Ancient Chinese history and Chinese culture pre-20th Century is extremely rich and fascinating. So I just looked at it and said, Look, 1.3 Billion people, the geography and the natural resources to support it. They had a difficult time in the 20th Century, a lot of tumult and changes, but things were coalescing into a more organized and efficient state now. And I remember when I first went there, everyone was like, Ah, they’ll never do anything but copy American or European goods — they’re just not the same, they’re a different breed! I’m like, What are you talking about? We’re all just people responding to our environment! There’s no difference between a Chinese person, an American person, an African person, in what they’re capable of as a human being! It’s all just them responding to their environment and their incentives and all that kind of stuff. So to me it was very clear that China’s story was gonna continue to unfold, and with a population like that and as they became increasingly rich and with the natural resources they had and with a proud legacy of being an advanced dominant civilization in the world prior to the 20th Century, I just felt like that was gonna be the natural order of things! Ultimately I know in the current geopolitical dynamic you may say like, Yeah but the US military is like way way bigger! It’s like, Yeah, well, so is the Spanish military and the Portuguese and the British and the fill in the blank, fill in the blank, fill in the blank. They have a billion more people than the US! They have a lot of space for them. They have resources in their own borders and of course they’ve been going all over the world buying resources. They’re extremely hungry and driven and motivated people. There are no more entrepreneurial, capitalist-minded people I’ve ever come across in all my travels than Chinese people! And their structure of government is deserving of a lot of criticism especially from a freedom point of view, but one, I think a lot of Bitcoiners would be critical of the state apparatus in many jurisdictions. It’s not like one’s good, one’s bad. It’s like degrees of bad that we’re talking about! [1:11:10] And as far as economic development is concerned, I’m a critic of central planning and I think the best way to foster growth and innovation is as an emergent property of free markets, and perhaps their development would’ve been better if they went that way — who knows — but I can’t knock the fact that they’ve just set the parameters of the game, and then pretty much let the natural entrepreneurial energy of the people play it, and then pour on some gasoline in different areas where they want to see more development. And I think based on that maybe there’s bubbles forming, but I think the overarching story is: How could you stop that? And even if we go onto a Bitcoin standard where let’s say the playing field is fair and even for all countries in the world — and now the kicker here is the US is getting a massive head start on the world presumably, at least as individuals, because Bitcoin is probably adopted more in the US than most other countries in the world! And that’s awesome, because that’s gonna be probably a huge determining factor in the future. I also suspect that the PBoC is actually and has been accumulating Bitcoin, but that’s pure speculation. That’s my own feeling about how they operate. But if the world is operating on an even playing field and people can’t manipulate their currencies and it’s strictly a matter of who produces the most and best things that the global market wants, I think China wins at that game ultimately! Now one of the things that may influence that that I’m really excited about, because I don’t like the prospect of any one massive country having a huge asymmetry of power in the world, I think the shift toward — umbrella term — the means of production shifting to a local basis, so with the advent of 3D printing and all the stuff we’re seeing now: An individual can generate their own power, they can grow their own food, they can make their own tables and chairs. Like, we’re not there yet but that seems to be the trend that production is coming down to the individual level! And I’m sure there will be other things that people end up doing, but I’m hoping that that brings the locus of power back to the individual and the efficiency gains of these massive states — these centrally controlled massive states that try to control economies — will diminish, and if that’s the case, maybe that influences how the geopolitical winds blow and what changes take place. But if things kind of remain on the current trajectory, I mean I just think people, geography, level of wealth now, organization, I think it’s just kind of natural that China will be dominant player in the future whether we like it or not!
Cedric Youngelman [1:14:29]: Yeah I just want to turn to that notion of China is the future: Do you think that they’re out-playing us through central planning or through the fact that they have 5,000 years of wisdom? And I’m only gonna buttress that up to or contrast that to the fact that — and I didn’t run the numbers on this, I’m not an historical expert — but it seems like they moved to the gold standard a little slower than other nations, and that cost their civilization a lot of time, so I don’t know if they’ll get everything right! And I’m just coming at this as an agnostic—I don’t know so I’m just curious what you think! But do you think their locus of power comes from the history, or from the fact that they’re more centralized planning? And maybe we could argue that there are other states that are just as centralized. And the notion of centralization. Or is it a combination of both? I’m just curious what you think?
John Vallis [1:15:28]: Yeah it’s a weird — I don’t want to disrespect them — but it’s a weird mentality they have! Like we just simply can’t appreciate what the 20th Century was like for mainland Chinese people. Like, fill in your number: 50 Million, 100 Million, dead of starvation under Mao, right? And then the Cultural Revolution where all that stuff about the past — because they felt like the world had become modern and they had lagged behind, and so the “Great Leap Forward” was basically: Do away with history, all of that tradition, that’s holding us back! We’ve gotta modernize and move forward! And so they destroyed ancient monuments and they tried to basically destroy the culture so that nobody would be focusing on that, and everyone would be aligned on moving forward. And you know, under that form of communism — and that was horrible, the society at that time—and when I went there in 2009 and probably today in certain pockets but increasingly rare, but when I went there in 2009 you could still see vestiges of like the abject poverty and the kind of toll it took on people’s mentality, to the point that now, still, the cultural mentality of the people is like, it’s a bit weird! If you’re under 40 that’s less and less the case, but there’s still a generation of people alive today, people that are 40+ that experienced a lot of that stuff. So on the one hand they know that they had this glorious past, this rich culture, but they also know that it was basically shaken out of them! And so now the nation identity — I mean they’re very nationalistic people. Obviously they propagandize and all that kind of stuff, but like, basically they think this is China reascending. And the opportunity is right there in front of ’em and they want to get after it both for themselves and for “the glory of the nation”. And so that’s how people feel! And for younger people — and to kind of answer the question about how I feel it’ll shake out — regardless of central planning and government structure and Bitcoin and fiat currency and whatever, the people under 40 that I knew in China, and it was pretty consistent this way, was: I meet them and you could see it in their eyes that they’re curious about the world, right? They want to learn about the world, they want to travel, they want to educate themselves, they want to dress well, they want to kick ass in their chosen field. Like they’re a really well put together people that are focused on — eyes on the prize, right? They know that a better life awaits, they know the opportunity, they want to get after it! Because it’s been held back from them for so long! Versus, on the Western World, obviously as a result of having had it for so long there’s an element of complacency — obviously in varying degrees to different people — and I hate to be too critical of our culture, but a big portion of the culture goes to work so they can come home and watch Netflix and chill out on the sofa until it’s time to go to bed. Like there’s not much drive beyond doing what is necessary to get by! And in China, honestly man, like that’s why cities like Shanghai and Beijing and Shenzhen have such a strong energy, because everyone is after it really hard! And that’s a tough thing to beat! Like people will work their goddamn asses off! It doesn’t matter what the job. Like there is just such a hustle and bustle there! And I don’t feel that’s gonna stop anytime soon. So I think that’ll feed into the economic and geopolitical dynamic that plays out.
Cedric Youngelman [1:19:26]: Yeah. It’s a great insight! Before we turn to your awesome article, After An Unforgettable Year, I’m Most Bullish on Bitcoiners, I really want to bring up another article that you’ve published on Twitter, it was just a great post. This was on December 16th: Just fuck me already, Bitcoin! John, this broke me! I didn’t see it on December 16th, I was researching you, I went down your timeline, this just absolutely floored me. I think this took absolute balls and chutzpah to post! I’m a married man, my wife would throw me out of the house if I posted this! But I want to know what you were getting at? What feeling were you trying to capture?
John Vallis [1:20:16]: Well, I mean what I was capturing was: Bitcoin was flirting with its all-time high and it had been flirting there for a while. And I mean you know when you’re a younger man perhaps and you’re doing this traveling around the world, you come across the odd lady and you know there’s an element of playfulness and teasing and stuff. And you know maybe we’ve all been in a situation where like the foreplay is done and you want to get on with it! And I think that Tweet in particular was obviously spoken from the female side of things if we’re gonna frame it up that way. But no it was like, Bitcoin had been flirting with the all-time high like, C’mon let’s go! And what’s funny about that Tweet is I don’t think it was long after, but things really rocketed up after that one, which is why I think it became kind of a funny Tweet because it seemed like it was speaking to the gods of Bitcoiners, speaking to Satoshi or something like that!
Cedric Youngelman [1:21:17]: It reminds me of something — I used to listen to Mike Rappaport podcast before I got a little sick of him. And he would say, You fuck you! And you could interpret that in so many different ways! It just really floored me and I really applaud you for Tweeting it out. So I’m gonna ask you: Why are you so bullish on Bitcoiners?
John Vallis [1:21:40]: Well I mean I think we’ve touched on a lot of it in the course of this conversation, but to me it just keeps coming back to what we were saying: Bitcoin is an amazing tool, and represents so much possibility, but it’s us who use the tools, right? And we shape our tools and we are shaped by our tools. So the story here is the changes in behavior, the changes in the methods and ways in which we interact with one another, and in which we interact with our future selves of course. That’s the story here! That’s the phenomenon! The attention gets placed on Bitcoin obviously because it’s the novel tool that’s emerged to let all this happen, but we are the story here, and the changes that happen in people as a result of this tool emerging and obviously importantly using this tool to maximum effect, to its maximum potential, the effects it has on individuals and the community that it creates — I mean, that’s the phenomenon! How could it be any other way? Bitcoin is just a nothingburger if we don’t use it and engage with it to actually interact in novel ways. And so that’s kind of what I was getting at with that article, and the fact that I’ve just been — I guess as a result of that being true or as proof that that is true — I’ve had the good fortune to interact with so many Bitcoiners through the podcast and through other means and hearing the stories of genuine transformation! And irregardless of age, sex, creed, nationality, whatever — I often come back to the example of Michael Saylor: It can’t just be the fact that people are getting wealthier as a result of owning Bitcoin and the price going up, because here’s a guy who was already extremely wealthy, and once he went down the Bitcoin rabbit hole like it’s very apparent all over his face and his — you know? You can tell that this guy was changed by this thing! I think he was probably — we were discussing before, like — a bit of aimlessness, a bit of despair as a result of thinking, Is this it? Is this all there is, world, that you’ve got for me? And then having this thing emerge and having the world expand as a result of this thing emerging, right? Our worlds have expanded dramatically as a result of this new tool! And people seem to be changing in dramatic and consistent ways as a result of the emergence of that tool. And going back to that phenomenon of our tools shaping us. And it was also going back to what I was saying about the psychedelic — you know, when I was kind of hanging my hat on the capacity for [the] psychedelic, or the change in consciousness or mindset to change the world, you know there was no real tool to foster that en masse. And with Bitcoin now I think we have one! By whatever means you come in, Number Go Up or the community or sovereignty or protecting from inflation or whatever, I think if you stay with it, like if you pay enough attention to it, it starts to change you! I mean this is the very consistent message in the community: Bitcoin changes you! [1:24:57] And I’m so stoked by the type of changes that I see in people! And to a certain degree I’ve seen in myself! That’s how the world gets better, is people! Upgrade people—upgrade the world. We always say, Fix the money, fix the world. But it really is: Upgrade people, upgrade the world, because that’s all the world is. It’s just us here on this rock. And I’ve met so many — I can’t say it enough man. I’ve had very good fortune to have very good friends and relationships in my life: family and friends and stuff. I’ve got a lot of love in my life. But it’s definitely been the case that I’ve always been a bit of a — felt somewhat isolated intellectually let’s say. And now to see all these people from all over the world having kind of a simultaneous awakening, and like I was saying earlier — I mean I could just pick up the phone and talk to them like we’ve known each other for 10 years — kind of like what we’re doing right now, as a result of the seemingly consistent changes that this thing engenders in people, is nothing short of amazing! So both on a larger macro scale of seeing these positive changes in individuals, but also on a selfish individual scale saying like, Man, the number of people that I feel connected to now has grown exponentially, has exploded as a result of Bitcoin and my involvement in it! And I think that’s the case for a lot of Bitcoiners! The connection, again back to that despair component, that’s one of the things that make human beings happy, is genuine connection with other human beings! And the fact that Bitcoin is fostering that with like, a lot of other people, is amazing! And I think we’re just starting to see the effects.
Cedric Youngelman [1:26:59]: Yeah the only thing I want to add on that tip is, Yeah I’m amazed by the connections. And the instant vibe, and I think that speaks to — I stopped making connections like this when I graduated college. And pre-graduating college my world was guaranteed in terms of I just did what I had to do and everything was paid for in terms of either loans or financial assistance from my parents. And then I was out on my own and the world was running away from me and it was a lot harder to connect to people in an unfair world where no one has time to spend on each other! But like I said before: I think you’re the dopest, freshest Bitcoiner in my mind this year. We all have longstanding people that have influenced us and we really relate to or gleaned a lot from, but in this past year of my exploring — especially as a podcaster — there’s no one I want to hear more than you! I really enjoy your outlook, especially when — you know I love your podcast — but I love hearing you outside your podcast because I get to hear you! And you speaking on it instead of you asking questions! But I don’t want to hear anyone else ask questions — I love your questions! But I love your answers, too.
John Vallis: Man I really appreciate that. For real, and it’s an honor to hear that.
Cedric Youngelman [1:28:16]: It’s the truth. And we got this new thing up around here now which is Bitcoin Clubhouse. And I have mixed feelings about Bitcoin Clubhouse — not bad — but like I don’t think it’s like going to the opera, it’s not a polished show, it’s not a one-on-one, deep heavy conversation, but I like the fire, I like the ephemeral spontaneity, I like the ability to connect. And I think you were in there for the first time yesterday, but I did get to hear you in the Peter Schiff room, and I’m not trying to get into the Peter Schiff thing too much, but I just loved hearing you. But I also just really enjoyed your questions to him, and so I’ll speak it out a little bit from what I remember, I’ll paraphrase. So you asked him, Peter, what would it take for you to understand and/or admit that other people know something you don’t? Or understand something you don’t? And he gibber-gabbered and didn’t really answer that question and I appreciated the fact that you said that that doesn’t really answer the question. But I want to know from you, what did you take from that interaction? What did you take from that? Did you enjoy that interaction?
John Vallis [1:29:33]: Well I mean I was cooking beef when Cory called me up so I was entirely unprepared — I mean I was just lurking right? I was just in the audience listening to it all go down. But look, we all feel the same about Peter, right? He’s out of his goddamn mind! There’s no convincing him, clearly! So I didn’t want to go in with something like, How can you say intrinsic value? We all know value is subjective! Or something like that, because none of that plays with Peter. So I tried to ask a question that maybe got away from speaking past each other on specific terms and stuff like that. I knew he would do his typical thing and route around it. But I just kind of wanted to hear him admit, and I think he did kind of show his hand, because I said, What would it take for you to — I said something about ego and hubris and if you really want to learn we have to engage in discourse where we genuinely allow for the possibility that the person we’re speaking with might understand something that we don’t? I mean what is the point of the conversation if you’re not gonna grant that to the person you’re speaking with? And his answer was, Yeah but what is it that I don’t know? And I think everyone in the audience — you know? Exactly! That exactly characterizes his entire perspective and his approach to this. I think maybe in hindsight a better question would have been simply like, Have you ever read cover-to-cover a book about Bitcoin? And I think his answer would be No. And I think it would be great to say to him like, You’re speaking from a position of presumed authority on this subject and there’s a certain cohort of people that actually value your opinion and are listening to you as if you are educated on the subject, and if you haven’t even taken any time to educate yourself on the subject when anyone in this space will tell you that it takes a lot of self-education to really come to understand what this thing is — I mean every Bitcoin that I talk to is like, Half my day is trying to continue to try to understand and learn about this thing! And certainly when you first got into it you were probably set on fire and just consumed every resource you could get your hands on. And for you not to do that but still presume to speak from a position of authority is a profound moral failing on your part! And so if I had my time back I maybe would’ve went that route, but I think at this point and for a long time, the only reason why I don’t get a ton of enjoyment out of it is because I don’t like that people are being misguided by his opinion, but as far as entertainment value, I kind of love that he’s around! That he’s just this irrational holdout that’s kind of never gonna capitulate that we can kind of just use as a punching bag for fun as we march towards hyperbitcoinization. And it makes the process fun. This isn’t all serious at the end of the day. No good revolution doesn’t have some fun mixed into it, and this is a revolution. And us Bitcoiners gotta get our kick somewhere and I think Peter Schiff is probably one of them!
Cedric Youngelman [1:32:46]: Yeah word up. I agree. I really vacillate between playing with the foil or just leave ’em alone. And I still think he’s still playing with because I do think he is listening and rejecting consciously and not willfully ignorant. But we’ll see!
John Vallis [1:33:07]: It’s funny to see his son dunk on him in the posts now.
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah I think it’s a scam! I think he’s selling the gold out the front door and his son’s buying Bitcoin out the back. And one day he’s gonna turn around and say, Umm my son’s taking over the business and we’re gonna go sell the Bitcoin out the front door and it’s not my fault. It’s what he wants to do!
John Vallis: So you think Peter’s accumulating right now?
Cedric Youngelman [1:33:32]: I do! I do, and if he’s not he’s an idiot! I do.
John Vallis: Well see I get such a kick out of this!
Cedric Youngelman: But I believed him when he was talking to you! I didn’t think he was lying when I heard him in real life! So I don’t know. And you know what? At the end of the day it doesn’t matter because Peter Schiff if just another brick in the wall. It doesn’t matter, and that’s why I’m more inclined to leave him alone. But I like fuckin’ with him too — I’ll go at him on Twitter and I don’t mind because it’s entertainment for me, but I do think it’s a scam, just like everyone’s a scammer.
John Vallis [1:34:06]: Well I agree with that. And he’s definitely, obviously engagement-farming.
Cedric Youngelman: Yes engagement-farming, that’s the number one scam.
John Vallis: Right. But Occam’s Razor, right, is that like he’s accumulating and that’s what a lot of people say on Twitter, but I actually don’t think that’s the case! I think he’s literally that stubborn or crazy or whatever you want to call it, and he’s that closed-minded to it that he’s really being serious! And yes he’s engagement-farming from Bitcoiners, so that he can grow his gold business, but I think he’s actually that crazy and that’s hard for a lot of us to believe because it’s so goddamn obvious to us because the case for Bitcoin is —like it’s not even a counterculture and it’s not even a contrarian bet anymore. I mean BlackRock and BNY Mellon and corporates and Tesla, like it’s not even a contrarian bet, but you know I still think he’s not gettin’ it!
Cedric Youngelman [1:35:02]: I had never heard of Peter before Bitcoin. I wasn’t a gold bug. I think gold is better than dollars but I wasn’t buying gold! And my feeling on this is that — and it’s completely uninformed — his daddy showed him the gold business and his son, he either expects his son to listen to him or he’s gonna listen to his son because his son is right. And I think that there’s a chain of command here. But I don’t know, and I’m fine with it! If he doesn’t accumulate, so be it. But I do think that he’s engagement-farming, I do think he knows, and that to me says that he knows the power of Bitcoin, because it’s bringing him more engagement, and engagement is dollars! Engagement is purchasing power, and engagement is everything! I think he knows! I think he might consciously refute it in public but I think deep down in his heart he knows. And that’s why I want to walk away from the discussion, the same way I don’t care about Elon, and I don’t even care about Michael Saylor! Like, the individual doesn’t matter in this! We would buy stocks in the individual if we were betting on a person.
John Vallis [1:36:18]: You’re 100% right.
Cedric Youngelman: And you asked the best question possible. Because you were brought up for a question, and I didn’t know if you had been sittin’ on it, or you came up with on the spot, but it was the best question. It was the question of like, What would it take for you to admit that you’re wrong? What number? What fact? What data point? And talked about, you know, he lost money, he lost his password, Voorhees didn’t set him up right. I mean, it didn’t go anywhere! And he had no ground to stand on. And one of the things he said was, I still regret that I didn’t buy it at $10. So to me it’s very clear that —
John Vallis [1:36:57]: He said, I regret nobody convinced me to buy at $10. And I’m like, Dude!
Cedric Youngelman: Whatever! Yeah someone else! Right! But I think his son is smart as a whip! I think most people are smart as a whip, they just gotta choose to exercise it. [Peter’s] a smart dude and his son is probably smarter, or just as smart. And I think he’s listening to his son. I don’t buy it at all! I think he’s trying to play sides of his mouth.
John Vallis [1:37:22]: You know this brings up a broader point and I guess my question was somewhat addressing this, that when we talk about what kind of changes Bitcoin is gonna have or what kinda impacts it’s gonna have, and this is clearly evident in the Bitcoin community at least in as far as it’s represented on Twitter, is like, I’m hoping — and I think you can observe this now — that as people are able to opt out of the old system, the old job, like you asked me like was I afraid of speaking my mind, when people are less and less afraid of speaking their mind, like how they really feel because they’re not afraid of the consequences, they are not afraid of the axe falling. They’re sovereign! Like when they are sovereign, you can say what you want and not be afraid of the consequences. But I’m hoping that what comes from that among other things is that people will both develop better principles and values internally, and will hold people to account more to — will judge people more on their principles and values rather than just their position or their wealth or whatever. And so I do think we see that in Bitcoin Twitter where sure you can be successful, you can be rich, you can be whatever, but if you’re caught being disingenuous, being dishonest, promoting something that’s totally self-serving or all these things, people get called out! And I love that! I want to see more of that! And I think Bitcoin is a great tool for that as well because it kind of shines a spotlight on bullshit and I think someone like Peter Schiff — that’s kind of why I asked that question — because it is a moral issue that you don’t engage in conversation as though the person you’re speaking to had anything from which you could learn! Right? To presume that your knowledge is complete — that’s a moral failing! And I hope that as we become more sovereign, our lips become looser, but our conviction and our principles and our values become stronger, and we hold people to account more on those variables, not on the typical ones of status and wealth and that kind of stuff. And I see that that’s what happens now in the very small Bitcoin Twitter community, and I’m hoping that that proliferates further.
Cedric Youngelman [1:39:51]: Yeah. Before Bitcoin I was an eternal optimist who was always pessimistic.
John Vallis: How do you explain that?
Cedric Youngelman: I think that I can always overcome anything in my way! I have a lot of faith in myself!
John Vallis: So you can overcome anything but the situation is daunting?
Cedric Youngelman: It’s just always getting dire! And always getting worse! And no one was hearing it. No one was waking up to it. And to be honest I think it’s gonna take a generation and a half for people to recognize and reflect on Bitcoin and change their behavior en masse. You know? I think we’re a select — not a select few like we’re special, I’m not trying to say we’re special —but we’re early, is what I mean. And I don’t think it’s permeating as quickly—even if people make gains—what this thing is, that it’s this tool, that it could change their behavior, that it will change their behavior! But I do think that they will be forced to change their behavior, and that it will take a generation and a half. It will take our children and even our children will be subjected to what their parents think of for the last 5 years and the next 5 years. And I don’t think everyone’s coming around very quickly. Most people think of it still as Magic Internet Money, Super Mario coins, it’s not real. They don’t see their dollars shrinking or they get stocks and the stocks go up 20% a year and that’s good enough, even though that’s keeping up with inflation. I don’t have a lot of faith. Again I’m an eternal optimist, I think it’s going to work out! I think we now have the tool to solve this problem for ourselves, but I think it’s gonna take a long time for it to affect people en masse. But that being said, for me it’s been eye-opening because I now feel freedom that I’ve never felt before! A freedom that comes from being able to grasp something that I couldn’t get in my hands before and now I have it. And no one can take it away from me metaphorically — I could lose it, I could spend it, but no one can take it from me! No one could debase it! And that’s a really big deal! So now I’m an eternal optimist but I’m a little bit more inwardly pessimistic about everyone getting on board. But now I’m very optimistic for myself — I’ve got the keys in my hand! And before this I was afraid that I would never get the keys in my hand, that it would always be out of my reach and that I would always have to do someone else’s bidding to get there. Now the bidding is my own.
John Vallis [1:42:28]: 100%. And I mean I think we all try to manage our expectations on this stuff so that we’re not disappointed how fast we progress, but I will say that freedom is at first scary and then it’s intoxicating! And that’s been my experience, because freedom is the assumption of responsibility, right? So I think that at first is very scary, people are not used to that. But once you do it and you get comfortable with it, then you just want to do it everywhere. You get addicted to that sense of freedom and sovereignty. So I think that’s what’s going on. I think once this narrative really breaks through like what’s happening in the macro landscape and what Bitcoin represents, I can see scenarios where it happens way quicker than we all might expect. But I do try to remind myself that as is often said in this space, The future is here it’s just not evenly distributed, but another way I look at it is: Everything is always in flux. There is no stasis. So when I try to imagine a future point in time where the Bitcoin Renaissance is well under way, I try not to look at reality in terms of where we are as a static current moment and where we will be at a static future moment. Like, it will always be underway! There will always be more things we’re striving for, more things that are changing. And that’s just the way it is. So when I think about, When will this happen? When will it be adopted? When will people change? Well the answer is some people — and a growing number of people — are actually having that transformation now! And that’s awesome! And look at this great community that’s growing up as a result of it. Other people it’ll take them another 5 years and then they’ll come in, another 10 years, another 50 years, you know? So we don’t want everything to be the same everywhere at the same time, right? And that could never be the case anyways! And I think that’s maybe an outlook that allows you to be a little bit more accepting of the ups and downs and the unexpected things that the flow of time throws at you, because you’re kind of like, I’m not gonna hang all of my hopes and dreams on some imagined reality coming to pass in the future. Because there’s getting there anyways! I’ll just be passing through that place if it even happens at all. [1:44:49] That’s why speaking about values and principles and this journey that we’ve both seen when we were younger of just trying to find ourselves and find meaning and understand the world, I think part of the reason we do that is because we know that there’s something inside of us, and perhaps in that realm of things, that can be immutable and unchanging, right? Like, that I know who I’m gonna be and the principles that are gonna guide me and the values I’m gonna hold, irrespective of the circumstances that surround me! And there’s something really liberating about that, because it’s saying that no matter what happens in the world, no matter what happens in my environment, those things are still my anchor, those are me. And I think that’s powerful and in a way that maybe I can’t explain right now, but it gives you a sense of comfort maybe about the chaos of the external world, and having a North Star to guide you through all of that. And maybe that’s part of the function that religion has served in the past, and maybe that’s part of the reason, the motivation behind spiritual seeking and that sort of stuff, but I think that’s one of the main benefits of taking the time or being on a continuous journey of self-understanding and refinement, is finding those things about yourself that you kind of know are immutable and unchanging, and using them to give you some level of comfort about the uncertainty of the future and the world around you.
Cedric Youngelman [1:46:29]: Yeah. I just want to sound out on you! So I’m gonna leave the parting words with you. I agree with everything you’ve just said, and you know I just want to ask you, Where do you think you’re going? Where do you want to be in 20 years? Almost aside from Bitcoin! What would be meaningful to you to accomplish over the next 20 years? Not where you want to start in 20 years. What would be meaningful to you? And that could include Bitcoin of course, but how do you want to spend your time?
John Vallis [1:47:08]: That’s a great and tough question! I think I have a two-part answer to that: One is, that’s a question that I kind of — and maybe we all — obsess over as we go through life, that we want to have some idea of what the future holds and what the best use of our time is and what’s gonna make us feel the best about life in general. And I think this has been largely a result of Bitcoin. I don’t think I answered earlier when you asked me what specific behaviors have changed in me as a result of Bitcoin, but I think part of it is letting go into kind of a faith that if you can just show up as yourself with your genuine curiosity and not be afraid to speak the truth and connect with like-minded people that you think are good people and you wanna connect with — like if you do that and you have a faith to push into that, then I kind of feel like the result of that is the best you could hope for! So I could say like, Well I want to be the head of a billion-dollar media company in 20 years. But that’s just arbitrary! Like, that’s just giving an answer. And I’m starting to realize that the best thing for me to follow internally is what gives me energy when I do it! What feels right! What aligns with my principles. What do I really enjoy doing? Don’t get me wrong, I’m just beginning to understand how to interpret that and how to push into it. Because most of my life has been — I’ve always been a bit spontaneous, but I’ve tried to graft an imagined future onto my life in my past, and I think that’s shifting a bit now to just saying, Look, I have a certain degree of freedom. I’m really interested in certain things. I just wanna be myself and see what happens, basically! But a bit more of a detailed answer is: I love spending time with people — well I’ll paint you my ideal scenario, and that’ll probably — a picture says a thousand words. But at some point in the future, I’d love to be in a natural environment, whether it’s rural Canada, rural Mexico, rural Thailand, wherever, just a beautiful environment — mountains, beaches, lakes, rivers, that kind of thing — and have a place that’s set up first of all for the things that I love to do. So I love to train Muay Thai and MMA and work out and go for swims and go for hikes and just be active and in nature and that kind of thing, and be with others who are just doing the same, because I love the vibe when you’re doing something difficult together and then afterwards you hang out and you talk about how hard it was and the camaraderie there. And have it be an environment where people can come and have these peak experiences that I’ve explored in the psychedelic realm. So basically combining health and fitness and wellness with these peak experiences that I think are incredibly beneficial and therapeutic to people. And then mic’ing up and having whatever conversation we like to have! I mean you also asked me earlier why I interviewed Bobby the first time. And the answer is two-fold: One, his office was — I could see his office from my apartment window, it was right across the street. But the other answer is, even at that time it wasn’t only Bitcoin-focused, but I was working in Shanghai and I was like, This is not enough! My job is not satisfying me, and the tech industry was really booming there at the time and really getting underway. And I liked that industry because I felt that it was solutions-oriented and it was building solutions to our problems instead of just complaining about things! And I was like, I’m gonna reach out to these people and say, How about we record a chat? And that’s a weird thing to do, and I got a lot of No’s, but once I got the ball rolling and people realized I wasn’t crazy, then I would get referrals from people and say, Do you know anybody else doing interesting stuff? And Bobby I think I hit him up individually and he referred me to some other people. But yeah man like what’s better than hanging out with someone and feeling good and then mic’ing up with no time horizon and saying like, What do you want to explore? Let’s hit it! Let’s go deep in any direction and see what we come up with! And maybe we don’t come up with anything novel and just connect, and maybe we do come up with something unique and we both learn something! You know that’s kind of the ideal day for me. And of course family and all that kind of stuff, but yeah that’s what the vision looks like right now. We’ll see how it turns out. So I think that’s a vague kind of goal, but the guiding force is just, We are all starting to have this opportunity where we really can experience what freedom and sovereignty is, and I think we should take advantage of that by allowing ourselves to be who we are and continue to try to understand what and who that is, and shove it out there in the world and see what happens!
Cedric Youngelman [1:52:44]: Yeah man! John this has been so wild. I really enjoyed this and I could listen to you forever. I want you to share with people where they could find you. They definitely should check out the Bitcoin Rapid-Fire Podcast. You got two segments there where you do full chats with people I believe, and then you’ve got the rapid-fire where you just get a quick glimpse of someone!
John Vallis: Let me ask you a question! I’ve got a question for ya! So I started that [podcast] because like you said I wanted to do an open kind of conversation and then do some rapid-fire questions at the end just to kind of delve into people’s minds, a bit of human interest. And it actually is kind of fun to hear how different people answer rapid-fire questions, although I’ve given it up recently because I just more enjoy the open conversations. But lately if I’m just having long-form discussions with people, like 2-hour discussions, then a podcast titled Rapid-Fire may be somewhat misleading or confusing! What’s in a name for you?
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah man! I’m looking to leave all this out of the chat, but like I think that it’s confusing to me in the sense that — the title’s not confusing to me — but the dilemma. Because it’s like, do I get 30 minutes of this dude and sum it up? Or do I go the full 2-hours? You know? And I would probably put it into two separate channels, just because I don’t think that one takes away from the other, but as someone who — I always want to go full-bore. Me personally. And that like Rapid-Fire I’m like, Well maybe I could just cheat-code it! So it’s a dilemma for me. But at the end of the day man I love what you’re doing. I love both of ‘em! And I don’t care, I mean what do we care? If they want to they will listen to it. And you see the numbers, but like, I like the long form, for me. Because that’s just more meaningful for me! And the short form has a purpose, I’m not saying it doesn’t, but if I see both maybe I’ll jump on the short form and skip the long form, I don’t know! But dude seriously, I really just want to hear you everywhere! I don’t even want to hear you interview people, and I love your interviews. But I love hearing you and what your thoughts are! And I think that’s really hard to get that across in an interview because you could share, but I just want to hear you speak. I think that you have a really interesting perspective on this outside of money, you know? You’re on that philosophical bent! What is this doing for us? Because at the end of the day it’s a tool, and it’s just a tool! It’s maybe the greatest tool we’ve ever invented, but I don’t know, maybe fire is! Maybe the printing press is. Maybe the Internet is. I don’t know how it’s gonna play out over the next 5,000 years, what made one thing more important than the other. I mean you can’t have Bitcoin probably without the Internet. But the Internet without Bitcoin is not much the way it’s gone! So I don’t know! But I love hearing you talk about things, I love the way you ask questions, I thought the way you cut into Schiff was gold! I’m done with him now! I was done with him for a while, but I was like, Yep after John asked that question, there’s no more! It’s pointless until he’s willing to acknowledge the question you’re actually asking! And that’s what you’re doing all day long! So I’m just enamored with you. We didn’t get into a lot of things, but you live in Thailand, you’re in Newfoundland now, you’re from there, you can’t get home. You’re a wanderer but you’re settling down. I think it’s wild man, and I’m so glad we connected. I really enjoyed our conversation and I just want to hear more from you! Clubhouse is a different animal, because it’s more talk radio and it’s more new to experts, and once in a while these experts get into expert conversations about different topics and I love the combination of people there. But at the end of the day it’s not as fulfilling to me. It’s kind of like Reality TV. I could jump in and just waste some time there. I go there to veg out actually. To listen to other people to be entertained. I don’t go there to share my thoughts because I’m just happy to hear everyone else’s! And I was happy to hear you get the opportunity to ask Peter a real question in a live format that he couldn’t sidestep without his own words and edit out. So that was dope. So I just want to hear you everywhere, I loved your article in Bitcoin Magazine, I liked your take on things, I’m just so happy we got to connect.
John Vallis: Yeah man again I really appreciate the kind words and I’m stoked that we got to connect to! And I agree with the Clubhouse stuff. I drop in every now and then and oftentimes I just find myself being like, Man I’ve heard this shit before, or it’s the same person who loves to hear the sound of their own voice, and I love that there’s a lot of orange-pilling going on there and I think it’s an interesting platform, but this is what I live for! You get to dial in with a person or a group of people and you really get to take the conversation somewhere! Like I’m doing one with Breedlove and Richard James next week and it’s looking at Jordan Peterson’s book Maps of Meaning and we’re just going to explore that book and relate it to Bitcoin in various degrees, and that’s the stuff that I really enjoy! Because like I said about my future, I’d love it if that could be part of my day, these intellectual conversations where we kind of ask the big questions and try to foil around and fumble around with them! And try to use each other to help refine them for ourselves. I mean that’s what gets me off. So the social media domain is fun and we like to have fun there and banter and other stuff, but I love this and man I couldn’t tell you how much I appreciate, one, the work that you’re doing — I love your work as well, and also for having me on for this chat, it’s been awesome!
Cedric Youngelman: Well I just really appreciate that you said that. That means a lot to me. I’m gonna leave it to you for parting words and include where people can find you, your podcast, and any writings you have and anything else you wanna share!
John Vallis: Yeah sure the podcast is Bitcoin Rapid-Fire it’s available at all the normal places. The best way to interact with me is probably on Twitter. My handle is @johnkvallis. And that’s it man, I really appreciate the time!
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah this is so dope. I hope I see you in Clubhouse. Again I just kind of see it as — I think it’s here to stay! I think it’s a wild format. Someone said in Clubhouse it’s the pre-party and the after-party. Like I could see like, and I think they’re gonna roll out features! You could do your podcast in there and they’ll record it, and you could have a pre-party and an after-party and people spill out. But the opera is the opera, the show is the show. I don’t think we’ll surpass that. But 100% man, this has been so dope to connect. I’m just so happy we got to do this. And I really appreciate your time.
John Vallis: Yeah me too brother, I appreciate it!
Cedric Youngelman: Peace.