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Rich Cardona

In this fun and informative conversation Rich Cardona takes us into the budding world of NFTs. He explains what an NFT is, how they work, and helps make sense of the jargon associated with them—gas fees and all.

NFTs For Newbies
NFTs For Newbies

NFTs For Newbies

Ep
175
Feb
09
With
Rich Cardona
Or Listen On:

Art, people, community, and utility.

Rich Cardona is a retired Marine, podcaster, and NFT enthusiast. In fact, his podcast NFTs for Newbies, is one of the most popular shows on the subject.

In this fun and informative conversation Rich takes us into the budding world of NFTs. He explains what an NFT is, how they work, and helps make sense of the jargon associated with them—gas fees and all.

It is a fascinating new world, filled with both potential and problems. Rich shares his experience with both sides of that coin.

On the one hand, this powerful technology is relatively new and ripe with opportunity, beyond solely financial benefit. On the other, there is a massive energy cost that may have a size-able ecological impact.

According to Rich, it’s too early to tell if the hype is real or a fleeting trend that will devastate our planet. One thing he’s certain of though: NFTs aren’t going away.

Whatever your opinion on NFTs, give this conversation a listen and let Chris know (via Twitter) what you think of his idea. We won’t spoil it for you. You’ll just have to listen to the end of the episode.

Hosted By
special guest
produced by
edited by
music by
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Episode Transcript

Rich Cardona:

I may never have this opportunity again, this kind of success, so to speak. If I don't capitalize it and go into fifth gear as soon as possible, and if I'm not relentless about it, then I already know I would regret it. So I decided, "You have to start eliminating things that aren't necessarily that fun, or making you money, or income-producing activities, or making me smarter in the NFT world." And that's exactly what we're doing, addition by subtraction.

Chris Do:

Cue the audio. All right. Okay. So, Rich, I really looking forward to today's episode because NFT is skyrocketing in terms of Google search trend, you can't go anywhere. We have mutual friends who've done really well as creators and also investors. And I've been slow to get on the NFT train. One is because there's a lot of negative downsides to this, but I also don't want to be the guy who has to explain to his grandchildren when one day they're like, "Grandpappie", where were you in the big NFT gold rush?" And I'm like, "Sheldon, boy, I missed out because I was too slow to get on this one."

Rich Cardona:

Exactly.

Chris Do:

And have that be one of my biggest regrets. Okay. So I know some wonderful things have happened also in your life recently in the change of direction with your content and everything. Your world is exploding in every dimension.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

So I can't wait to get into today's conversation. And so for Rich, for people who don't know who you are, can you introduce yourself please?

Rich Cardona:

Yeah, absolutely. Rich Cardona. I own a media company called Rich Cardona Media. I had a podcast called the Leadership Locker, which Chris was on, but I terminated that after 200 episodes because my new podcast, NFTs 4 Newbies, went absolutely ballistic. And I am a podcaster. I thought I was a video guy, and I do love that, but I love having conversations just like this. And I'm also a retired Marine who worked at Amazon for a couple years before I quit and jumped into this creative life. And I'm so glad I never settled because the outlook is very bright.

Chris Do:

And you and I have had many conversations about your business, how to service people, whether you should position yourself as a veteran, and now, it's like those conversations seem kind of moot at this point, right?

Rich Cardona:

It's so-

Chris Do:

Or not yet?

Rich Cardona:

It's so important to recognize the opportunity when it presents itself. And all I can tell you is, although those things are part of my overall identity, being a podcaster, being a veteran, an aspiring entrepreneur at 40 whatever years old, when this started to happen, and we started to see ... it wasn't a flat line anymore. We said, "We got to go to two episodes per week." And then we got to three episodes per week. And then all of a sudden, it's just absolutely crazy. So then we're all in, we're in YouTube, we're in this, we're doing that, we're doing sponsorships.
And even though it's so unknown to so many people, I didn't feel self-conscious at all because I made it very clear from the beginning that I wasn't an expert. And to a lot of people, a lot of business coaches, they might say, "You need to niche down, you need to know what you know, and go all in there." This made complete sense to me. And I have zero confusion about running towards it. And I'm just very fortunate to have recognized, and just gone all in.

Chris Do:

Okay. So I don't want to make any assumptions on our audiences, whether or not they know who you are. So for this to make a lot of sense, we need some context here. So let's talk about the business that you had, and had run for a number of years.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

Give us the macro view of that. Tell us a little bit more about the podcast where you did 200 episodes on-

Rich Cardona:

Sure.

Chris Do:

... so that they can understand, when an opportunity presents itself, it's not always clear, but you have to be clear and decisive in when you move.

Rich Cardona:

Absolutely.

Chris Do:

Okay. So you're walking away from some things, it's not just like ... you're starting out from zero.

Rich Cardona:

Yes. It kind of started when I quit my job. That was the first time where I would actually ... I could say this now, reflected. And I was like, what am I curious about? I started dabbling photography. I was like, "This is not going to end well." Started doing some videography. I'm like, "I'm decent." And I started editing. And then next thing I know, I'm just like, "You know what? I really, really just want to talk to people." I got in front of someone who influenced me very highly, Gary V. And then I was like, "Okay, let me really, really take content seriously." But the only content I truly enjoyed making, Chris, was kind of the podcasting. But that wasn't something I felt I had social proof enough to do business on. My personal brand, and personal branding, and showing up authentically on camera was something I could do very well, and I felt like I could coach people.
So ultimately, it led me to doing video production, doing this kind of show up and shoot model where I would go out to Santa Monica. I'd see Chris, who had no creative anything, I'd spend half a day with you and you would leave. I'd leave and then get started on about 40 something clips of LinkedIn content or Instagram content so that way, you didn't have to worry about it, and you had someone there who could coach you and make you very, very comfortable. That was the business. Eventually, the podcast that I was doing, The Leadership Locker, it started gaining really good traction. Some of the guests I had allowed me to get bigger guests and bigger guests, and I was really fortunate to have people like you on, who were educating entrepreneurs, who were probably at that middle stage of their life.
From there, that was the first time I was able to monetize. I was like, "Wow, I have an amazing audience for these couple companies, let me reach out." It was like a no-brainer for them. So now I'm like, "Okay, everything's working, everything's working." And then this NFT thing just came out of nowhere. Go ahead, go ahead.

Chris Do:

Okay. Okay. Before you ... I don't want to get to that part just yet.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Do:

Okay. I think you said you used to work at Amazon, right?

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

What did you do at Amazon?

Rich Cardona:

Operations. I was an operations manager.

Chris Do:

Operations? Did you enjoy that?

Rich Cardona:

No. The first day I got there, I knew I was in the wrong place.

Chris Do:

Okay. And how long did you last at Amazon?

Rich Cardona:

Two years.

Chris Do:

Okay. So it took you a while, even though you knew on the first day it wasn't right for you.

Rich Cardona:

My financial advisor pleaded with me to stay for four years, and I couldn't do it.

Chris Do:

Tell me what that conversation was like with your financial advisor.

Rich Cardona:

"This can make a significant impact on your future," essentially. The amount that could vest, the way the stock was going up, the increases in salary, all the perks. But Chris and anyone listening, I was in a warehouse 14 to 16 hours a day. I never got to see my newborn. I was acting out of character, drinking excessively and just spending money really frivolously. And I was just so completely unhappy. And I just realized, like a lot of entrepreneurs do, there's so much more. And you recognize that somehow there's just this potential inside of you to do something else. And at that point, I just decided I can't do this anymore, and I kind of walked off the plank, which I don't suggest, but you can't go to bed knowing there's more, it's the worst feeling on earth. The worst.

Chris Do:

So it sounds to me like you're kind of self-medicating and escaping your day job through alcohol and through buying stuff-

Rich Cardona:

Yeah.

Chris Do:

... just to get through it.

Rich Cardona:

Essentially.

Chris Do:

Until you're like, "This is not my life."

Rich Cardona:

Yes. Yeah. I mean, it was all band-aids, all of it.

Chris Do:

Yeah. And I know this about you, you're a family man. So the financial consequences, tell me what that looked like in your mind, in that moment, to walk away from a good job that is in a fast growing company with a lot of upside potential.

Rich Cardona:

It was the ultimate relief. Believe it or not.

Chris Do:

Oh.

Rich Cardona:

I felt tied to no one. And even though, as a 38 year old man with an MBA, who was a retired Marine, and had worked the most well known company on Earth, arguably.

Chris Do:

Yeah.

Rich Cardona:

Living in that basement, I had supreme confidence that I would find my way. I just did, because at least I was in the driver's seat now. And that just is ... I don't want to say an empowering feeling, but the upside, as you know, in entrepreneurship, is limitless. And I was like, "I will figure this out." And somehow, Chris, I was able to really put up a wall from my mind, venturing out into that world where you think everyone's talking about you, or people are making posts about you, or people are like, "Dude, what is Rich doing?" I didn't care at all. I was thrilled.

Chris Do:

Lots of things here. And when you get to the NFT and the pivot, what was the conversation at the dinner table like with your wife? You're like, "Okay, I have a responsibility, I'm a provider, but I need to walk away from this, and walk from something that's very well-known, and to been to the abyss, the complete unknown." What was that conversation like?

Rich Cardona:

Well, I'm the luckiest man on Earth because she was actually the one who's like, "I think it's time to go." And what I had been doing ... this is probably the most important thing I could say on this entire podcast, is I had buried that, even the option of leaving in my mind, because I was like, "How am I ever going to present that to her?" So what I did was I was a very high performer at work, I was so obsessive about work. And I did really well, even though I hated it, because that was the only thing. If I could achieve results, at least that made me feel something, but it was her who could see all these changes.
My behavior had totally just ... it was just dramatic. I don't even like that person, thinking about that person. And she's like, "I think it's time to go." So she's actually the one who kind of gave me permission. And knowing that she was going to be supportive at that level, I knew I was in good hands, which if you're not in that situation, that conversation's going to be really tough. But long term, I knew she was looking out for me.

Chris Do:

There's a bunch of things here to highlight. And I say this to my young friends out there. You said you're the luckiest man in the world, but I don't think it's luck because you chose your partner in life, and you made a very smart decision back in the day, someone who looked out for your best interest, who was going to be your partner in crime for life.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

Someone who's going to potentially be the mother or the father to your children.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

This is a really important, big decision. And a lot of people don't think about it like that. They think, "I'm going to have fun with this person, it's a lot of passionate, romantic affair, and it's great." But they don't really think about this. I say to young people, "Probably the biggest and most important decision in your life is going to be who you wind up being a partner with." You don't need to get married, but whoever it is you attach your wagon to, it's a critical thing because this person saw in you, and gave you permission to do something that had buried away, right?

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

And there's something remarkable about the people in military service that I know, I'm not saying everyone's like that, but your sense of duty, it's like, "You know what? This is not a job I look forward to, but I will do the best of my ... to the best of my ability, and make the sacrifices I have to make for a greater good." And so she saw this in you and she said, "You know what? I think it's time for you to change." How did that feel for you in that moment when you heard those words?

Rich Cardona:

Oh, man. I'm not a person who practices gratitude. I just don't outwardly or explicitly focus on that. At that moment, I was probably the most grateful person on the planet, because what really happened after that was this ... since that day, Chris, every day that passes, I'm the best version of myself. It's just this trend. I'm just running towards self-improvement, including reading. I never would've read your book if that didn't happen. I'm telling you, I never would have read your book or anyone's book, going to the gym, getting up crazy early, going to bed at a ... having a routine.
I always want to be the best version of myself. And I had lost that. It was in the abyss. So ever since then, it kind of was like a spark. And then now I'm just obsessive about winning. And actually more importantly, kind of leading as an example for my family, be like, "Look at what can happen. We were just in a basement a couple years ago, now we're in this beautiful home in Wilmington. It can work." So that's how it felt, is gratitude. And then it just ignited me.

Chris Do:

We had a guy on our podcast before, his name is Kyle. And he served hard time in prison, and he's a most wanted man in Hawaii for a period of time. And he now goes to speak to young people, and he comes out in an orange jumpsuit, because he's got tattoos, and he's got his handcuffs. And he walks out there and he says, "This is who I am, and you're one bad decision away from being where I'm at right now. One bad decision." And the opposite is totally true, too, as a testament to you. An idea that I've been sharing with people is you're one decision away from your life changing for the better, for you to get joy, to be loved, to be successful, to achieve whatever it is that you want. It starts with that, just very innocently, that first step. And it's a chain reaction, as you talked about.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

So I love hearing this. This is wonderful.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah.

Chris Do:

Thanks for sharing.

Rich Cardona:

Thank you.

Chris Do:

Okay. Now what years is that you resigned from Amazon and you venture off into your own business?

Rich Cardona:

June 2018. And I didn't have my first client until March 2019. It was just kind of-

Chris Do:

Wow.

Rich Cardona:

... tooling around and trying to figure things out. And that was an accident.

Chris Do:

Okay. That is a long time from June to March.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

Okay. What was going on in your mind in those times when you're like, "I need a client, I need to make money."

Rich Cardona:

It was very strange. I don't want to say I took advantage of the situation, living where I lived, I thought it was only going to be a couple months, it ended up being more like six months. But I guess I was doing a couple freelance gigs. I had no idea what I was doing video work-wise, but I had some connections at VaynerMedia that I knew, I started making free content for these people. I was like, "Gary's helped me so to speak, so I'm going to help the people around him." So that was really the key because these people are like, "He's coming up here on a train eight hours away from Virginia to New York city to film me at this panel and make content for me."
I was literally just experimenting. And these people just ... anytime they had a conversation with anyone who mentioned LinkedIn, or, "I don't do well on Instagram," they'd be, "Oh, you got to talk to Rich." And again, now, I'm 39. You think of a guy in a beanie, and a graphic tee or whatever. And these kind of videographers with a gimbal, and it's just like ... me, I'm totally different.

Chris Do:

And you're like the 40-year-old intern.

Rich Cardona:

Totally.

Chris Do:

Okay.

Rich Cardona:

But they could see the maturity, they could see the work ethic, I believe. They felt very comfortable. They knew I wasn't trying to pull anything over on them. And ultimately, some of those gigs just finally added up to someone approaching me, being like, "I really need someone to take care of my LinkedIn content full time." And then that just kind of kick started it. But yeah. I mean, all it was ... I don't want to say it was a networking. I think free work gets a bad rep.

Chris Do:

Yeah.

Rich Cardona:

Just build free work so you could get the paid work because these people ... if you do a good enough job on that free trial, so to speak, then they might hire you. Then they might talk to you about you to someone else. They might give you a testimonial. They might give you a LinkedIn recommendation. That's how it started. It's called collecting the dots and then connecting the dots.

Chris Do:

I like that. You've mentioned Gary's name twice now, and I think he plays a big part in the story that we're about to have, but you said you had a relationship or something with Gary. What are you talking about?

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. Since that day, again, where I quit, I have no fear of approaching people who have inspired me, which is why I ended up sitting directly across from you at the Futur headquarters, and hanging out, and interviewing you. Same thing with Gary, same thing with some of these other people. And that's going to happen with Jimmy Fallon and The Rock one day. Mark my words, Chris. So-

Chris Do:

I believe you.

Rich Cardona:

... the reason is I don't have a fear about that. That's truly try me trying to express my gratitude. It's not to FaceTime. It's not about me thinking in some way I'm going to be best friends with these people. It's literally like ... the first two minutes are always, "Thank you." And then I just interview them. So Gary, I've had the opportunity. I just tried to always give back. So when the situations have presented themselves, where I could talk to someone on his staff and be like, "Hey, Veterans Day is coming up, blah, blah," whatever angle I want to use, I will get that 10 minutes, 15 minutes, half hour with him, one-on-one, which is something people would consider priceless.
But it's just a way to say thank you. And I take care of the people around him, who I know have no content. That guy has content for the next two centuries. People around him, not so much. So that's part of how I really try and give back to people, is serve the people around them, and then they kind of know I'm good to go. And I don't do it just to do it, I'm very interested. I forget, I'm sorry, who the person was at your office, but she was incredibly cool, super kind. She's been with you for such a long time-

Chris Do:

You talking about Monica?

Rich Cardona:

Yeah.

Chris Do:

Yeah.

Rich Cardona:

And I'm like, "It makes sense. It's a way for me to validate that I'm following the right person who I believe has influenced me." And that's why I do it. So yeah, the impact has been huge. And he's given me, on four different occasions, time to just sit with him and give him an update on my life. And it's huge.

Chris Do:

So you're talking about offering to feature him on a podcast, or a video or something? Is this how your relationship begins with him?

Rich Cardona:

To him, it's just another meeting. For me, it's giving back to my audience. But yeah, I've featured his COO, his chief heart officer on my podcast, things like that, or I've just offered to-

Chris Do:

I see.

Rich Cardona:

... make them content. So yeah.

Chris Do:

I see. Interesting strategy. So you talked about a couple different things, regardless of where you are in life, if you're a 19-year-old person or you're 39, is to leverage a strategic kind of thing where you're going to help the people that you admire and look up to, and no money is being exchanged, but then you're building on a relationship, but you have a plan. It's not, "I need to do free work for the rest of my life. I need to do something to give value to others so I can get on their radar." It is an act of generosity.

Rich Cardona:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Do:

Right? Where you are genuinely trying to help them and potentially build relationships with people.

Rich Cardona:

Absolutely. And let me say one other thing, Chris, and I know this to be true because of Mo. Try and be someone's case study. If someone does all the things that you're preaching about on Instagram, or on your Clubhouse rooms, or in the Futur Pro Group, you've recognized that. You can't avert your eyes because you're proud of that person. It's not narcissistic, you just know some formulas that these people don't. So if you try and become a case study to some of these people that you look up to and you're able to demonstrate, "Hey, Gary, by the way, I ... I'm actually one of those people who moved in, quit my job, moved in, downsize, and here I am." He's like, "This is way better than money," he said to me. "This is way better than any money could ever amount to. This is what I love." And there you go.

Chris Do:

When you say moved in and downsize, you're talking about move in with your in-laws or your parents, right?

Rich Cardona:

Yep. Yeah. With my in-laws when I quit. Yep.

Chris Do:

With your in-laws? Yeah. Did that affect you at all in terms of like, "Man, this is kind of embarrassing," but we got to move in and downsize.

Rich Cardona:

Yes. I mean ... Dude, yes. There's no way around it. I just knew though. This is just one of those things. I could take these two steps back because I think it's going to lead me 10 steps forward, and that's exactly what happened. But yes, I did not like relying on anybody. Trust me. That was a gut check, but I did the best I could, and was as cordial as possible for as long as possible. I had a roof over my head and just got to be happy about that.

Chris Do:

Do you attribute that decision also to things that Gary Vaynerchuk has said, where he's "Downsize, reduce, cut it all down so that ... No?

Rich Cardona:

No, no. I didn't blindly listen to that and go do it, it actually just kind of happened, but what I did attribute was not caring what anyone thought.

Chris Do:

Yeah.

Rich Cardona:

Anyone who's skeptical or critical of what you're doing, there's something else going on with them, period. And I didn't know that for so long until ... it's just like lightning struck me and I'm like, "I don't care what anyone thinks, this is for me." Let me just share this one personal thing. I quit drinking alcohol a couple years ago because I showed up hung over and kind of slightly drunk to a podcast I was doing in person. This is not-

Chris Do:

Oh, my gosh.

Rich Cardona:

... long after I quit. I was still kind of dealing with it. And the reason was I was back in Austin, Texas, where I used to work. And I hung out with Amazon people, and all they talked about was Amazon. It triggered me and I was drinking. That next day, that woman on the podcast said it was the best podcast she's ever been on. I was totally freaking out-

Chris Do:

Oh my God.

Rich Cardona:

... the whole time. I was like-

Chris Do:

Oh, my God.

Rich Cardona:

I was freaking out the whole time. She's like, "Can you come to lunch with my husband and I?" I'm like, "No." I've never touched anything since. And I'm a Marine, I've lost a couple buddies since then, and I meet up with my buddies every year, and ... Do you know how hard it is to not? And for some reason, Chris, I'm just telling you something's come over me where I know what's more important to me. And that is showing up on a daily basis, not foggy, and just ready to get after it. And that never would've happened if I actually had a perception of what other people thought, period.

Chris Do:

So you're saying a slightly drunk, hungover Rich is a great conversationalist? But you had a moment, you had a moment there, right? So that's pretty wild.

Rich Cardona:

I know. So I think it was-

Chris Do:

Maybe you were just so self-conscious that you're on your triple A game.

Rich Cardona:

Dude-

Chris Do:

[crosstalk 00:22:54].

Rich Cardona:

I'll never forget that.

Chris Do:

So if we were to listen back to that podcast, could we tell that you were a hungover?

Rich Cardona:

No.

Chris Do:

Okay, good.

Rich Cardona:

No way.

Chris Do:

All right. All right. So when you were feeling that ... I'm just curious how your brain works, it sounds like we're very similar in a lot of different ways. Did you make yourself a promise? Like, "Dude, never again, this is not the way."

Rich Cardona:

No, it was just, "This needs to stop." And I've had that conversation probably a thousand times in my life. Like, "This is the last time." What happened was I realized it had been 30 days, then all of a sudden it was like six months. I was like, "Wow, I can't believe I tied my record," because in Afghanistan, you can't drink. So when I was on deployment, no alcohol. And I was like, "I'm just going to keep this streak alive." I'm not craving it, I don't want to smell it, I don't want to buy it. I've been saving a lot more money, not spending on the $13 drink at dinner. And that was it. And now I'm just kind of all in. I'm not saying I never will again, but I feel like a million bucks when I see other people drinking and I'm like, "Cool, I don't have to worry about that."

Chris Do:

Yeah. Okay. So I'm mapping the timeline here. So you're getting your first client in March, 2019. So this is a relatively recent history.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

How does one produce 200 podcast episodes in a very short amount of time?

Rich Cardona:

I was relentless about creating as much content as possible. I'm always testing. I mean there's methods that you use. I've literally tried to completely copy some of the things that you've done, and other people have done. And you know what? I think once you find your own voice, you're not completely worried about some of the metrics that we hang on. But for me, I always wanted to test what felt the best to create, what resonated the best with the audience, and what was actually sustainable, okay? Because when I was kind of a one man operation without a team, I mean ... it's a lot of work. I mean, you're manually posting and doing all these different things. So I wanted to have as many conversations as possible.
Like I said, collect the dots, connect the dots, and it has been incredibly fruitful. And the biggest thing that changed for me, Chris, was I started doing self-podcasts. When a couple guests canceled on me because of the pandemic, and I was going to go see them, I started doing the solo ones. I was like, "How is this doing better than that interview with Patrick McDavid? How is this doing better than this interview with Andy ... how is this happening?" So I doubled down on that and then it just took off. There was a point where I was doing four a week, which is insane, but it was-

Chris Do:

I see.

Rich Cardona:

... worth it. It was worth it.

Chris Do:

And you would sit down, and write, and think about what it is you want to talk about, and just go solo?

Rich Cardona:

No, I just had a note in my notes app on my phone. I just would have something, and I would kind of riff, but just be very careful not to just ... riff, but not rant, if that makes sense. And I would put something like ... I'd just put a note in my phone, like the between desire and ambition. And then I would just make sure I sat down and recorded it. I would sit down and talk about how to land your dream podcast, whatever it was, entrepreneurship-wise, that I had experienced in my couple short years, I knew was valuable for the people that were on day one. I am not able to put myself in the same light as you because you've been at it forever. So there has to be kind of ... you could graduate from people like me, and then get to Chris and whoever. But I wanted to be that kind of initial entry point. And it worked very well for me. And that's why I was really committed to making so much.

Chris Do:

I see. All right. So you're doing this, you're doing the podcast, you're running your business, you're producing videos for people. And then something weird happens. In the hero's journey, this is your call to adventure.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

And the Herald comes in and says, "Rich, there's something new on the horizon." What was this call to adventure? How did it sound like?

Rich Cardona:

So Gary V, again. Case study is one thing, and then investing. I've invested in some of your courses. I admire you, I respect you. Same thing with him, same thing with a couple other people. But this VeeFriends thing, I was like, "This dude's out to lunch. What is he talking about? He wants to me to spend $3,000 for this ugly doodle. And that's going to give me an entrance to his conference for the next three years?" I was like, "I don't think so, because I've gotten time with him that people will never get in their lives." So, that was me. And I was like, "I have to set up a wallet like crypto?" Someone's going to just rob my bank account. I'm literally the way my parents are about online banking. My parents are checkbook people. So I was just like, "This is insane."
Then my friend, Heather, is like, "I'm getting two." I'm like, "Okay, whatever." I was like, "You're crazy." Well, that was in May. And then I ended getting a couple little NFTs, not VeeFriends. She and I met in August for the first time in person at a podcast conference. She's like "Rich, my VeeFriends are up to $26,000 a piece." So she made essentially something like $40,000 on them. And I'm like, "What is that-

Chris Do:

Which is for three or four, or what? 20 something each?

Rich Cardona:

Each, yes.

Chris Do:

So 7X return?

Rich Cardona:

Yes. And she sold way early. She should never have sold. So we're talking about it. I'm like, "Why did we buy these things?" It's one thing to trust the person behind it, but like, "Why did I get this one that I got? This one called World of Women NFT?" I was like, "I appreciate the art," but I didn't really look into it that much. It was 200 bucks. I'm like, "Let me just try and do something." So we're at this conference, talking about it. She's like, "We should just start a podcast because I don't know anything. And there's a lot of money going around on this, and we might as well just educate ourselves because you're a father, I'm a father," she's a parent. The propensity to get on the hype train on this thing is very, very real. And the amount of money you can lose super fast is very, very real as well.
So it was kind of just really trying to be accountable for one another, learning on the fly, literally documenting it and learning. And that's what we did. And I was like, "This is the only way I'm going to actually commit to learning, because I'm all in on my business and the podcast." And then it just became super interesting. And then obviously I had a conversation a couple months later, but it exploded because adoption of this, of crypto, the knowledge and NFTs is skyrocketing. So there's plenty of newbies, just like us, who are curious. And that's what happened.

Chris Do:

Right. So where did the idea of like, "Let's make a podcast together with ... I assume with Heather, right?

Rich Cardona:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Do:

When was that born and what was the plan?

Rich Cardona:

It was born August 9th. Our trailer was August 16th. And our trailer was just like, "We are going to cure you of your FOMO with our unqualified opinions," we always said. We would literally have two screens. We'd be reading off in Investopedia and Forbes, and we'd be reading things, and we would just have fun interpreting it in our own way. So we're like, "Okay, what do we want to know? What is Ethereum?" She didn't even pronounce Ethereum right the first three episodes. We literally have a bad review for that. It's hilarious. And all these different things. So we're like, "Okay, what is Ethereum? How do I get a wallet? Why do I need a wallet?" Every single little question is just how we decided to attack it.
And we just started getting ... you know how it is, DMs like, "Hey, thanks so much, I had no idea what that was," or, "Hey what's the difference between Ethereum and Solana?" And all of a sudden, those questions clearly become the content. The market is telling you exactly what other people need to hear. So it just became super fun. And we just kind of dove. Now, look, even though you and I talked not long ago, and I felt pretty smart after that conversation, being able to say ... give you answers to some of the questions you were asking, just generally about the NFT landscape, there's people who are just like ... been at it for years. Our goal is to never make anyone feel stupid that they can't keep up. It's just it's moving too fast. And that's our goal, is to keep it fun.

Chris Do:

Okay. So you start making these episodes kind of as a curiosity of your own and documenting that kind of like in the way that you were talking about your Leadership Locker podcast, which is, "I'm still relatively new in business, so I'm here to help." So it sounds to me like it's the same person, but just talking about a different topic, same concept, "I'm going to bring you up. I'm still figuring this out," so no one's telling you, "We're super pros or experts at anything, but you'll learn with us and it's kind of a fun, wild ride, we'll do it together." Right?

Rich Cardona:

That's exactly right. I mean, it's just fun. There's no pressure. There's literally no pressure because I could always say, "Hey, if someone understands a little bit better, send me a DM or send me an email." I mean, no pressure, it's fun and ... I mean, even though the Leadership Locker was along the same line as far as style, I did feel a little bit more ... I don't know, like I really had to deliver something very, very tangible. This is a little bit different, it's more about having fun and educating at the same time, so people don't run away.

Chris Do:

Yeah. How many episodes in are you now?

Rich Cardona:

We are at 30, I believe, 31 episodes.

Chris Do:

Okay. 31 episodes. And you are no longer doing the Leadership Locker. And why is that?

Rich Cardona:

I'm all in on this. And I shared this with you. We did 100,000 downloads in the first 100 days. 17 days later, we had 200,000 downloads. We have a YouTube expert who is a partner of ours on our YouTube channel. We have our Discord, we have everything set up to just dive in completely and build a community of people who are unafraid to kind of learn about these things. So I cannot tell you how strange it was for me to talk to my team about all these plans for this kind of subsequent podcast that I was going to have, and just be like, "By the way, that's out the window." But you have to run at the opportunity, like I said, at the very beginning. So these kinds of numbers, the ability to sponsor, the ability to go talk to people who have massive projects, it was impossible to ignore.
And let me just say this. I may never have this opportunity again, this kind of success, so to speak. So if I don't capitalize it and go into fifth gear as soon as possible, and if I'm not relentless about it, then I already know I would regret it. So I decided, "You have to start eliminating things that aren't necessarily that fun, or making you money, or income-producing activities, or making me smarter in the NFT world." And that's exactly what we're doing. Addition by subtraction.

Chris Do:

Let's just do a comparison per episode download. At the height of the Leadership Locker, how many downloads are you getting per episode in a month?

Rich Cardona:

The highest I ever had was a 50,000 download month on the Leadership Locker. The-

Chris Do:

Per episode, or cumulative for the-

Rich Cardona:

Cumulative for one month. We did 50,000 downloads this week. But for example, your episode, I think that did like 5,100 downloads or something like that. Our top episodes here, one of them has 20,000, for example. So the trajectory-

Chris Do:

So they range.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. They range. But the trajectory for this is, it is the most beautiful thing. I love to look at the peaks. I mean, it's insane. And by the way, that 50,000 download month I'm talking about, I put money behind ads. This has been all organic. This has been completely organic.

Chris Do:

Right. So you're talking about in the first 100 days, you are doubling your best ever performance from the previous podcast.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. That took two-

Chris Do:

2X?

Rich Cardona:

... years. Yeah.

Chris Do:

Yeah. God. So I think that's one of those things where they say, "The writing is on the wall," because alarm bells are sounding, lights are flashing. It's telling you, "This is what you need to do."

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

Okay. And then-

Rich Cardona:

A 100%.

Chris Do:

... you've got sponsors lined up.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. Quickly.

Chris Do:

Are you the number one podcast for NFTs?

Rich Cardona:

I would say we are.

Chris Do:

Yeah.

Rich Cardona:

I just submitted a sponsorship to people who inquired with us. Here, I'm going to tell you, I'm so sorry. I'm going to have to take this opportunity to brag for a second. In the world, we are number 813 in reach of all podcasts that exist. In the U.S., we're number 67 ... I'm sorry, U.S., we're number 44 in education, and globally, in education, we are number 60. It's crazy. So-

Chris Do:

Huge numbers.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. I mean, I'm very proud of that, and I understand that could change dramatically, but I will tell you this. A lot of people have said to me ... This is actually very, very important for your audience. A lot of people said, "Oh, well, the right words and the right subject." And I'm like, "It's the right experience." Heather and I have been podcasting for a long of time. There were periods where we both wanted to quit, separately, we had business things, we had all these things. And it was all those times where you're just like, "I'm going to continue to do this podcast no matter what." All that culminated into this moment where we're like, "We know what signals to look for, we know how to host, we know how short to keep it, we know how to keep people engaged, we know how to engage back with comments on social media." All of that came together. And that's why it's happening. If we were cold, I could virtually guarantee you, none of this would be happening.

Chris Do:

Yeah. How is the YouTube videos performing for you?

Rich Cardona:

We're only a month in, we had 200 subscribers yesterday. They're okay. But the watch time is starting to go way up, which is a very good sign because that's what YouTube wants. So I think in the first couple weeks, we were about a 1:12 average view duration. Now we're up to about 5:05.

Chris Do:

Oh, that's a huge jump.

Rich Cardona:

Yes. Huge jump. We're really lucky.

Chris Do:

Okay. So the reason why I think this is all working on different platforms is because I just randomly was typing in something on Google Trends on NFT. And the chart was like ... and it just goes up, it just goes up, and it's even higher than it's ever been. And so there's a lot of interest because there's confusion, and there's people who need to know certain things about it. So now let's get into the NFT part. So for the uninitiated, based on the 31 episodes you produce here, let's give them the macro understanding of NFT, cryptocurrency, the blockchain. Give us the NFT for dummies part.

Rich Cardona:

In the NFT landscape, this is ... let me just define what an NFT is in the way I understand, the simplest way. If Chris Do makes 100 prints of this beautiful art, or graphic, or whatever it may be, that can be repurposed into posters, into whatever. But those 100s usually come accompanied with that kind of certificate of authenticity, or maybe your signature on it, or a note, whatever it may be. At that point, it's kind of scarce. I obviously would love to be a holder of one of those. But if I don't want to pay 5,000, or $10,000 or whatever it is, I'm cool with something I could just screenshot and put on my desktop wallpaper, or something along those lines. Well, the same thing goes on here. A lot of people make fun of NFTs because they believe it's just digital art, that it's just like something on a camera screen.
Well, what happens is it's non-fungible, and that's where non-fungible token means. It's not able to be replicated. The reason this graphic that Chris decided, "I'm not going to do physically anymore, I'm going to do it digitally." The reason it's non-fungible is because there's kind of like this ledger. Heather and I joke, we imagine this old woman with this big book, and she logs it in. Chris minted this ... minted means made it public for purchase. And he minted it. And now it's stored in the blockchain forever. The blockchain is a essentially ledger. The big books that that woman's holding is the blockchain. Now it's logged in there, and every transaction on that piece of digital art, or that NFT is always going to be traceable. That is the difference.
So I could take a screenshot of Chris's cool art, and I can try and sell it, but that's not going to happen because could someone's going to go try and verify it, and be a like, "It's not real." Now the next question is, "Okay, but still, why would I pay two Eth," or the cryptocurrency, Ethereum, "For one of those things?" And you and I kind of talked about this, and you could cut me off if you need to, but it's not just about the art, it's about the person behind it. Does Chris have a community? And is Chris a good dude? Absolutely, of course. So now I'm supporting you. I like the art, I believe in your community, but the real piece is, what is the utility?
Let's just say Chris wanted to start some sort of program for men and women in prison who wanted to learn how to get into design. And that was the purpose. And some of the proceeds were going to go to there. And some of the people who purchased NFTs would have ... that token would represent the ability to have a one-on-one with Chris at some point in the future. It's all about the utility. So it's not just the art, it's the art, the person, the community, and the utility.

Greg Gunn:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

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Greg Gunn:

Welcome back to our conversation.

Chris Do:

Let's talk about this, because I've been doing a lot of thinking, and there are different analogies that people talk about. So the way that we understand is we think, "Well, this is not real. Ethereum's not real, NFTs aren't real." But then you stop there because then you ask yourself, "What is a $20 bill?" It's a piece of paper made from hemp, I believe. And we say to each other, "This has value." So it's an agreement. So as long as enough people agree that is a form of currency that we're willing to exchange goods and services for, it has value. So any kind of currency is really built on trust and an agreement if we all think it has value. Where money gets hit with inflation is because we no longer believe that this has value anymore.

Rich Cardona:

100%.

Chris Do:

And so you have to accept that part. So if I give you five $20 bills, they're interchangeable, they're fungible. Whereas if I give you a $20 bill with a serial number and my signature on it, it's different for each one. Right? So that's what an NFT is. I've been thinking about this a lot. And then people say, "Well, what is an NFT?" It's because you're not actually even getting the art, it's like a treasure map, it's a complicated link to get something. Okay, is that worth something? Well, here's the thing. I was watching the documentary on Netflix about the greatest art heists in the history of the world, right?

Rich Cardona:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Do:

And then what we say is, "This painting has a value because we believe the authenticity of the artist who made it, and their signature," and it becomes a scarce and valuable thing. Therefore, forgeries are not valuable even though to the untrained, even to the trained eye, we cannot discern the differences. But the story that we associate with either of these two paintings, for example, if I said, "I'm going to give you an original Picasso or a forgery," you might not be able to tell the difference, but you're going to, "Which one is the real one? Because that's the one I want." Because not only do I find this to be more valuable, but other people find that to be valuable, and then I can exchange this for other things like a mansion in Paris if I wanted to, because it's worth that much.

Rich Cardona:

Yep.

Chris Do:

So the way I see the NFT is that I can sell the same piece of artwork, but I'm not the artist. And what you're really buying is the person's digital signature in the form of an NFT, is say, "This is 1 of 1, or 1 of 10, and this is 2 of 10, but they're not exchangeable."

Rich Cardona:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Do:

Do I get that right?

Rich Cardona:

What you just said really helped me kind of define it in my own head a little bit better than I have been. It is the adoption of an idea. If people decide that VeeFriends or this piece of art is valuable, then that's what changes. Ethereum, which is probably the predominant cryptocurrency used to purchase NFTs, it was less than a $1,000 a year ago. Now it's at $4,000, sometimes $4,600. And the only reason is because it's being utilized so often. If you think of a cell phone, and I joked about this. I used to have a T-Mobile Sidekick, so I'm dating myself. When iPhones came out, they were cool, but a lot of people are like, "What?" As soon as it starts getting adopted more and more, all of a sudden, these things have value. And of course, they could charge $1,500 for a new iPhone.
Well, NFTs are the same way. If people are looking at that landscape of NFTs or a certain project, it's the people who are adopting an idea that increases the value. And the crazy part about this whole thing is that it's not only NFTs that are increasing in value, but Ethereum is increasing along the way, too. So it's like a ... is, you're double dipping, essentially. So we are making the decision to add value to this although in reality, it could add absolutely mean nothing. But the utilization of Ethereum is the quickest adopted form of technology, ever. Second, only, to Bitcoin. And Bitcoin is actually scarce because there's only 21 million of them. Ethereum's just going to continue to be adopted. And then here we are, all of a sudden, you're going to be using an NFT to get into football games. So, the adoption, I think, is adoption of an idea, the adoption of art, and people suggesting that this is a big piece of art, and that it is worth this much money is really what I see going on more than anything.

Chris Do:

So I know that there are people who make fun of folks who pay a lot of money for an NFT, where the only real utility is it's a JPEG, and they can't fully understand it. But it's not that different than you running out and buying a Ferrari, or buying a Fendi bag because it's about status.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

It's about saying to other people and to yourself, "I can afford it. I'm successful. And I've done things in my life." So what people ... I'm seeing people do now is they get one of those Bored Ape things, and then they change the avatar because the people who know are like, "Oh my God, that person has the one that's worth 50,000, $200,000." And that's their avatar, right?

Rich Cardona:

Yes. So Twitter is rolling out a program where if you change your avatar to an NFT, you could actually connect your wallet, your crypto wallet to Twitter, so that way, it's verified. So you're a big deal if you got a blue check mark because I know it's the real Christo, the real Kevin Hart, or whatever. And this is a real CryptoPunk, it's not just someone who changed it. It's, "You nailed it," it's about the status. It is just literally a flex at this point. And one way I heard it put is ... this an amazing analogy. If I went to your house, Chris, you might have some cool art and things, but there's probably not a lot of foot traffic in your house, right? Of all this things that you're kind of proud of.
This is a little bit different. If you have a crypto wallet, which is visible to the public, I can be like, "Oh, Chris is down with this artist, and this artist, and wow, he's got to collab with so and so. Wow, he's really into pop culture. Wow, this is just incredible art. I see what he's about. He's not about the pixelated CryptoPunks style. He's about this style." It's kind of like your culture, it's demonstrating your culture. And I think that's the direction we're going. But yeah, when Twitter did that, I was like, "Something ... Steph Curry changed his picture after he bought a Bored Ape, Jay-Z has a CryptoPunk, he changed his picture. I was like, "Wow, this is really about status." So I could say, "I roll with those dudes, too. I'm one of 10,000."

Chris Do:

Yes. Okay. I want to get into the Gary Vaynerchuck model, which is adding a layer of utility above the NFT, the artwork itself. But before I do that, I would love for you to tackle some of the criticism of NFTs, and cryptocurrency, and the blockchain itself. So why are people not happy about what's happening right now? And how do you reconcile that?

Rich Cardona:

I think anytime we are unhappy about something, it's because we don't understand it. That, or we inherently understand it. Like something like racism. We know it to be wrong and we have a very a sharp reaction to some of those things. But when it's something like this, when it involves money, when it involves seeing people make a ton of money on it, when it involves people losing a ton of money on, it just seems like this very volatile world that you could see that the world is kind of heading, and you're trying to be one of the people that are like, "We don't need to go that direction." And I was joking earlier about my parents and their checkbook, but, Chris, they make me feel like I'm the smartest dude on earth when I'm able to reset one of their email passwords, it's crazy because they didn't adopt.
So this is actually real, in my opinion. And I've never been on the front side of anything, but I am starting to see that it's being adopted obviously, but that the metaverse people are buying land in the metaverse, which is insane. And that web 3.0 is all about how businesses can be creative. Now, that being said, where is the resistance? I mean, there's a lot of resistance on the individual level, but now you're starting to see Budweiser, Adidas, Nike start to do these major, major collabs. And these are the people that we buy from regularly. These are the people who you would go and buy a pair of Air Jordans from at a ridiculous price. Now they're saying, "You're not only going to buy our physical products at a ridiculous price, you're going to buy some of our NFT collabs at a ridiculous price, because this is going to get you into the 2028 Olympics," because that's how it's going.
So the criticism is simply by not knowing. And even after you educate yourself, of course, you have the right and the ability to just avert yourself if you want. But I think we're heading in this direction. And let me say one thing about the crypto part, because you asked that as well. The whole point of cryptocurrency is decentralized finance, not how having a middle man. If I want to buy a home for something ... I doubt this'll happen, or maybe it'll happen, and I have bad credit, no bank's going to talk to me. But if the lender or the person who's selling the house accepts Ethereum, and I happen to have 400 Eth, and I could buy this house, then it's the fastest, most ridiculous, quick transaction. It's all about speeding up the process and eliminating the middle man. And that's why people are so behind it, because it's kind of like an F U to the man. Like, "No, you know what? We're going to do it our own way." And that's another reason, is people feel like they're a little bit more in control.

Chris Do:

Yeah. But that also means that there's greater opportunities, oddly enough, for it to be manipulated by really big players, right?

Rich Cardona:

Yes. Yes. Of course. There's-

Chris Do:

Yes. We can see that. Like when China says, "We're not going to allow Bitcoin to be accepted," it took a nose dive.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

And then Elon Musk, because of pressures from people saying that it's horrible for an environment, that he's creating a company built on improving the conditions of the environment, he stopped accepting Bitcoin and then it went down again. And so the market can move really in wild swings because it is now susceptible to individual players who have enough clout or enough money to move the entire market. And you're susceptible to that as a smaller player, right?

Rich Cardona:

A 1,000%. There's these things called Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, I believe it's autonomous, DAOs. It's just group of people who put a pot of money in together, and they just make big purchases, sweep the floors, sweeping floors, a project is just basically buying all the ones that are left or anything like that. And I saw the most ridiculous article on how DAOs are going to start fighting political players in the future because they're going to have so much money together, these people, and they're going to start competing with those people who have old money and big money. And I was just like, "I can't even imagine where it's going," but yeah, you're absolutely right. It's susceptible.

Chris Do:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). You're talking about now individuals can combine their resources to become powerful lobbyists, and to manipulate the political scene itself. Whereas before, it's like, old money, dark rooms, we don't know what's going on-

Rich Cardona:

Exactly.

Chris Do:

Right?

Rich Cardona:

Exactly right.

Chris Do:

Let me bring up a huge criticism that I can't reconcile myself right now, which is the immense computational power and energy that's being used to have this public ledger workout, all these mining of coins so that we can confirm that this is who you say it is. So I read some crazy stat that said that when a cryptocurrency and mining draws, and uses more energy than all cars use on Earth, combined, something outrageous ... and I believe it is true because these are very computationally intensive operations that draw massive amounts of power, generate a tremendous amount of heat, and are horribly inefficient because whenever a transaction happens, I guess it's called gas fees, you pay the gas-

Rich Cardona:

That's right.

Chris Do:

... fees, because a bunch of people are trying to calculate this, and whatever system rewards whoever gets the right answer first. So the first 50 or the first 100 answers. But then that means there's a ton of extra horsepower being used that never make any money, that use a tremendous amount of power. So what are your thoughts on the ecological damage that cryptocurrency and the blockchain is causing?

Rich Cardona:

So I'm going to be super transparent and say this is somewhere where I'm trying to improve my knowledge base as well. I understand some of what you said to be true, but I've also heard arguments that the actual environmental effect is completely negligible. Here's how I imagine it. I imagine when I am going to buy an NFT, and I see the gas fees ... let's just say the NFT is $200, and the gas fee is $200 as well. I'm like, "This is ridiculous." Heather and I joke, there's all these dudes in their basement with boxes of pizza in their games around them or whatever, and they're just typing away, trying to compete to be a cheap gas fee for you. I have no concept of the actual energy output. It is imaginary to me. And the reason I say that is because who am I going to call if a transaction doesn't go wrong? This is the part that probably has those very acute reactions to cryptocurrency and NFTs, is because who are you going to call when someone doesn't deliver on the smart contract?
Nobody. There's nothing you could do. Who are you going to call when someone robs your crypto wallet because you didn't have it on a cold storage ledger? I have no idea. So the same thing when it comes to the environmental thing, I'm just not sure we all actually know what's happening. I believe a lot of what you said to be true, but the verdict is still out on how much it's actually taking. I've heard, like I said, it's negligible, but I could be completely wrong.

Chris Do:

Yeah. The things I've read online by credible sources, it's not negligible, it's massive. But-

Rich Cardona:

Wow.

Chris Do:

... the counter argument that people in the crypto space make is, everything at the beginning is horribly inefficient and an overtime, because we will make it work. But to deny that this is moving in this direction is to say that, "I don't believe in the internet," or something. So there is a massive environmental toll. There's also this thing that why gas fees are what they are, and they're only going to go up. Because from what I understand is the system, whatever the blockchain rewards whoever gets the answers right by giving them cryptocurrency and offsetting the cost of the gas fees. But there's only so much that can be mined, it's becoming more and more expensive to mine.

Rich Cardona:

Sure.

Chris Do:

And tokens or coins are becoming rare so that now the gas fees are going to be ridiculous, and the whole system, itself is going to collapse because it can't sustain itself. Maybe technology will save us. I don't know.

Rich Cardona:

Maybe. Here's all I could say on that, is we have a sponsor on our show who used the Solana blockchain, and there's no gas fees. I mean, there's nothing. And then Gary V, as a matter of fact, he's doing this thing with his project, and they have what's called Immutable X, which is going to eliminate gas fees. I'm like, "How are you going to do that?" It's a layer on top of Ethereum. I have no idea how they're doing it, but I believe everything you're talking about, that's kind of like the next thing that's going to be extremely lucrative. Whoever can figure that, just like Amazon figured out two-day shipping, whoever can figure out how to eliminate gas fees, and to make it environmentally more safe is going to be the big, big winners in this game.

Chris Do:

Yeah. Okay. Let's move on to Gary V, and then I need to run some ideas by you because I'm kind of excited about what the potential looks like. So Gary V adds a layer of utility because let's face it, I'm trying to say this as politely as possible, but the artwork sucks.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

The artwork's terrible. It's like, "Please, Gary, you could have hired someone in Fiverr to do better," but the point of it is not the artwork itself, it's what it means. You're essentially paying $3,000 for a digital ticket, which gives you access. So now, the NFT is really a digital ticket that proves that you own it, that can't be forged, that can't be manipulated somehow because there's a ledger that shows that you indeed own this access, right?

Rich Cardona:

Correct.

Chris Do:

So tell me about this idea, this concept, in the macro level, and then specifically, with Gary.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. So on the macro level, it is about him and other people like him creating their own intellectual property, and not being susceptible to kind of a ... I would say the traditional business. This is all him collecting every everything. Again, no middle men, no nothing. Now, the reason it's working is because these are very lofty ideas. There's one NFT called a Gift Goat. I forget how many of them there are, I don't know. Maybe let's just call it 100 out of his 10,000. And the Gift Goat, they get a gift from Gary every six months. So they showed the first release, and it was this amazing piece of art that he signed on the back, that showed him in this Brooklyn dude's apartment. And it was a real ... you know how he is. And then they sent them out. And it's like, "Okay." There's this one called Podcast Parrot or something like that, and they get a podcast with him, Hangout Hawk, that's one-on-one time with him.
Here's something I've learned in business very recently, that I love. And it is a model about revenue, which suggest that once the transaction between Chris and I is over, I'm relieved that Chris purchased from me, and I just need to keep him happy. Well, the thing that keeps Chris happy is if I continue to bring new things to the table over and over. So his idea, which is a lot of people's idea, it's starting to catch, on is like, "I cannot, in any way, shape, or form, limit it to this digital, whatever, or a ticket to this game. I have to do airdrops of unique Halloween NFTs that I could sell. I need to give people one-on-one access to me. I need people to be able to come to this conference," all these different access in the Discord channel for all these kind of private things.
So accessibility is a huge one, but that is the premise of the model. So there's layers. I have a core VeeFriend, it's called Reliable Rat. I don't really get anything except like praying it continues to go up in value, and I get to go to VCON three years in a row if I want. But there was one, I think with that night, we sold for $260,000. I forget which one it was, it was one of the ultra rare ones. $260,000. Now here's the downside of it all. Some of those people with Gift Goats are like, "Dude I'm turning down offers for $100,000. What kind of gift are you going to give me that's going to equate to that? You better send me a Tesla." Now it's like-

Chris Do:

He can't exactly, right?

Rich Cardona:

Exactly. So that's the downside, it's a double-edged sword. You have to be able to bring it, but at the same time, what happens if those things climb value and it's out of control?

Chris Do:

Well, you have to make hard decisions. Is it worth getting the gift every six months of "a piece of art" signed by Gary? Or is it make more sense to put a down payment on a house? Or in some instances, buy a whole house altogether.

Rich Cardona:

Yep.

Chris Do:

And that is actually now out of Gary's control, I believe.

Rich Cardona:

Sure.

Chris Do:

Because the value of your NFT art has far exceeded the initial value of the transaction.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

And it's questionable what the initial value was anyways, but now it's a whole different realm.

Rich Cardona:

Yep.

Chris Do:

Because now you're in the hands of speculators, right?

Rich Cardona:

Exactly right. I want to give you an example. Tom Bilyeu, who I highly respect, and I believe in him a lot as well. He had what was called a Founders Key launch. And you know what? It didn't sell out. And you know what the mint price was? Pretty freaking high. And-

Chris Do:

What was it?

Rich Cardona:

Like one Eth three, Eth. There's three layers, but there was ... I think the middle one was 5 Eth 10 Eth for the top one. And then the middle, I don't even remember. But now-

Chris Do:

10 Eth? What is that? 40 grand?

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. For the Legendary key, yeah, something along those lines.

Chris Do:

Okay.

Rich Cardona:

Now-

Chris Do:

And they didn't sell out? Okay.

Rich Cardona:

The floor price on some of these is 0.1 for some of these-

Chris Do:

Okay, okay hold on. You're using terms they do no know. When you say floor price-

Rich Cardona:

Oh, sure.

Chris Do:

... what does that mean?

Rich Cardona:

eBay. If you go on eBay, and you look for a microphone, if you select the buy now price, it'll just ... you know what I mean?

Chris Do:

Yeah.

Rich Cardona:

That's what it is. So the lowest buy now price on a project, on a platform where you could buy it. So OpenSea is a predominant platform. The floor price, meaning the lowest price anyone is selling it for is 0.1. And that's not a good sign.

Chris Do:

Oh, yes.

Rich Cardona:

You know what I mean? So he actually did a kind of refund call with ... he had a call, and on his Discord, he's like, "If you want to refund, you get a refund. This is long game, I'm going to make all this right. This is a 10-year play."

Chris Do:

Wow.

Rich Cardona:

But that's kind of like the kiss of death if you're not someone with kind of clout that he has, and who knows if he's going to be able to make it right? But what happens if you're on that project? Exactly. So it was-

Chris Do:

This is tricky now. Okay. Everybody, we need to kind of just stop, and rewind the tape. You need to listen to this part again, because we want to explain something here, okay? Gary's NFT project has done well, they're increasing in value. For how long? We don't know. Yeah. But Tom, who's ... release this thing where he's initially set the price, let's say 10 Ethereum, has now dropped significantly lower. And so that means the people who bought this thing, Tom is saying, "I'll do right by you. Instead of just cashing in, and using the money you gave me, I will give you refund for anybody that wants it." This is really upside down now, because there are all kinds of things that are happening behind the scenes, because you bought something that ultimately it has no value anymore.

Rich Cardona:

The marketplace decided it wasn't ... If people are trying to flip one of the mid tier ones from three Eth to five Eth, and no one's biting, now, all of a sudden ... This is the short-term people. They're like, "Well, once it dips, what ... If they have something that they're trying to sell for five Eth, and all of a sudden they see the floor price, that lowest buy now price for 2.5, then they're like, "Well, there's no way anyone's going to buy it from me for 3 or 5, so I guess I'm going to have to go down." And all of a sudden, as we creatives know, that race to the bottom is ugly. And that's where we're at in some projects.

Chris Do:

Well, this is all about perception, and perception is reality. So when you see it head south, it triggers people to do a fire sell.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

It's not exclusive to NFTs, it's just how the market works. Any stock that starts moving south, you have a bad news, bad earnings call, people start liquidating. And once it starts liquidating, it's hard to reverse it. Except for in the time in which the company buys back that stock, builds the company up, and then puts it back in the market, and then they're able to move it back up, which sounds kind of like what Tom is trying to do.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

But if you can buy it for 0.1, why would anybody buy for anything else?

Rich Cardona:

Exactly.

Chris Do:

It no sense whatsoever.

Rich Cardona:

Exactly right.

Chris Do:

And it makes you question, "Why would I even pay 0.1 for it because that's still real money?"

Rich Cardona:

Exactly right. I'm holding onto mine. And it here's one thing he did, which I thought was amazing. He's like, "Anyone who has any of the keys is going to get a year access to Impact Theory University." I had been through some of Impact Theory University, his thing back in the day. And it's excellent. It's excellent. The value's huge, so I'm like, "That's great. At least someone's trying." You're all in, or you're not all in. Anyone can be easily just shut it down and be like, "Hey, it didn't work out. See you later." Not them.

Chris Do:

So the word of warning to anybody buying NFT, it's only as good as the person who's releasing or minting the NFT. How long have they been doing this? What are they for? Are they going to do a cash grab? I believe it's called a rug pull.

Rich Cardona:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Do:

When a celebrity drops an NFT, people buy it, and then they're out, then they don't support it, and it's done. And then it goes into the gutter, right?

Rich Cardona:

Yep. Yeah. I mean there's a lot of musicians and guys in the Logan Paul camp. All those guys could hype up each other's releases, bump up that mint price, and then be on their way out as soon as it falls and just be like, "Hey, cool. It doesn't matter." It's everything on the mint price, well, that initial sale. Let's just call it like this. I'm going to make 5,000 NFTs for $250. If I sell out of those, that's a million dollars. I could literally do nothing after that and just sit on collecting royalties, but it doesn't matter, I made that quick buck.
So it's easy for artists to really hype up each other's projects, even though there's probably no long-term roadmap, and it's really cool at the time. Any animal happens to be trending right now. And then that's it. And then you're all of a sudden stuck with this Logan Paul NFT. You're like, "Why do I have this? He's not planning on doing anything with this, this dude is trying to box. It doesn't even matter." So anyway. Yeah. It's a interesting space.

Chris Do:

I want to talk about the dark side before we get into the bright side one more time here. So the dark side is this ... as you may know, I love comic books.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

There's a special emotional connection that I have with comic books, the artists, and the art, and everything about it. So in the '90s, comics, for whatever reason caught the attention of investors and speculators, that it's going to be valuable. And image comics burst on the scene and did whatever it needed to do to capture all this excitement. So when I went to Comic Con in the '90s, it was like lines around the building, just circling for an hour and a half, just to get an autograph from Todd McFarland, Rob Liefeld, or Jim Lee. And comics were selling in the million copies. Whereas-

Rich Cardona:

Wow.

Chris Do:

... before, a 30,000 print run is a sizeable amount of comics. And comics, in theory, have some exchange value in that as they perish, that you have becomes more and more scarce.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

Right? Some get damaged, some are lost, some are thrown away, some are opened and mishandled. But now, all this money came in, new publishers popped up on the scene, really crappy books were released. Hollow variant, all kinds of weird covers and different bags, variant covers. It was ridiculous. And I got into that, not because I thought it was valuable, but because I wanted that comic. And now that comic should have been $2 is selling for $25. What the heck?

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

So speculating years do ruin the market.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

And NFTs are mostly speculators. Is it not?

Rich Cardona:

High 90s percent of projects are going to completely fail because there is no barrier to entry. Chris, we can make a NFT right now, a clip from this video, I could screen record this, and put it under NFT. There's no barrier to entry. So the supply is essentially endless, all these versions that ... essentially, it's kind of like you're talking about comic books. All of a sudden, it's not really scarce, and the people who actually appreciate some of these things aren't going to get anything. Beeple, that one artist had made that $69 million sale, that was his life's work. I would argue he deserves that.
And then there could be some 13-year-old kid, and I'm not hating on this kid, who was able to do some algorithm where he can make a bunch of designs of a dog who's wearing glasses, and has lasers coming out of his eyes, and a different background. And all of a sudden, he's blowing up, with absolutely no intent to be any kind of creative. I mean, it's really, really hard to kind of digest. So yes, I would say there's a lot of speculators, and I would also say that there's a ... I'm down on almost all my NFTs, and I'm okay with that because I'm getting educated in the process. But the majority of projects are going to fail for the exact reasons you mentioned, that kind of flood of comic books, and just the numbers went up, and up, and up.

Chris Do:

Yeah. When you say you're down on most of your NFTs, meaning the value of the NFT is less than what you paid for it initially?

Rich Cardona:

Yes, absolutely.

Chris Do:

Okay.

Rich Cardona:

Yep.

Chris Do:

Which ones are holding value for you right now?

Rich Cardona:

There's three, VeeFriends, then there's this one collaboration, World of Women NFT. They just happen to be a blue chip, they exploded. They absolutely have beautiful art, amazing community. That one is one I talked to you about on the phone. That was my very first NFT. I got it for $200 something, and $70 gas because I did it on a Saturday morning like an idiot. And now, I'm getting offers upwards of two Eth for it consistently, consistently. And I'm like, "No [crosstalk 01:09:35].

Chris Do:

It's like nine grand?

Rich Cardona:

Yeah, yes. Right around eight grand. So I'm very happy, but I try not to look at it. I'm just like, "One day." And the other one is a collab. It's Boss Beauties, and they collaborated with Marvel again. I will just say this, this is just an observation. There's some really, really heavy hitting female projects. And I don't mean to just kind of isolate females, but it's just kind of good to see, because when you enter into the space, you might just be like, "It's all about animals, it's all about apes, it's all about punks." And all of a sudden you're seeing really special different women-led art, and then you read their biographies, and you're like, "This is special." But anyway, those are the only three that are right now. But the rest are just kind of like, "Uh-oh."

Chris Do:

I'm telling you, this is very volatile. I don't want anyone listening to this episode and saying, "I'm going to run out and buy an NFT," because-

Rich Cardona:

Please don't. Yep.

Chris Do:

... high probability you're going to lose money, and you have to do your homework. I have a buddy. His name is David. And he's been deeply immersed in these NFT conversations on Clubhouse and on Twitter spaces. He's there at 3:00 in the morning, and he's a family man. So I asked him, "How you doing?" He says ... Oh, I can't tell you the numbers. I think it's private, but he's up 4X of what he would be making right now, because he's like, "I got burned on a couple of them." And now, you really have to spend your time learning about the artists and the community, and if they're in it for the long haul. But all of this turns around tomorrow when one person starts to decide, "I'm dumping all my NFTs," and it starts to chain reaction. It's really hard to stop that.

Rich Cardona:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Do:

It really is. And then you're stuck holding a roadmap. You're holding the signature.

Rich Cardona:

One thing about what you just said, which I know to be true, which is I'm a family man. I `refuse to be in Discords at 1:00 AM or Twitter space at 3:00 AM. But those people, I will say, there are some people who live, eat and breathe it. And those people are way up, they've been able to make good relationships. I know a guy who owns 100 of this certain project, and now, he's working for that project. He quit his full-time job and he's doing very, very well, but I'm not in a position to do that. I don't want to do that. But, yeah. I mean if you really want to "win," you literally have to just do nothing else.

Chris Do:

Yeah. The closest equivalent I can think of that might make sense for people is people who take this very seriously are day trading, I think, penny stocks. Some of them work, most of them are garbage.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah.

Chris Do:

Is that about right?

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. I would agree. I would absolutely-

Chris Do:

It's very volatile, very dangerous, everybody. Please, do your homework. You're going to have to look into this. Now, I'm not sure this part's going to make it on the air, but I have you here, and I want to talk about it in case my producer, Greg, thinks this needs to be part of the conversation.

Rich Cardona:

Sure.

Chris Do:

So I'm sitting here thinking, "Okay, Gary Vanderchuck was able to do, I think, $80 million in a relatively short period of time selling NFTs. And he's going to have to live up to those commitments, and whether they have value intrinsically to anybody, that remains to be seen." But here's what I'm thinking. I have been in very early discussions with taking on investor capital. And I keep thinking, "I don't want to give up my freedom." I want to run the ship the way I want. I don't want to have earnings reports. I don't want to say, "Now, we can't release this video because it needs to be a course, because it's not good for earnings." But I also think about how I can in-scale and accelerate what it is that I want to do. And so I just had this idea in my mind, because I've always wanted build a design compound where artists, speakers, educators, influencers can come and share their knowledge with a very small, intimate group of people.
But you need land, you need a space where people can stay. There's this Artist in Residence program. There's a theater, there's a place for us to learn, collaborate, create content together. And it's going to be slow going because I have to kind of earn money every year. Put some aside, earn some money. I want to build this community. And it's a extension of what we're doing in the Pro Group on YouTube, on Instagram, and elsewhere, on the Clubhouse. It's just a physical echo of that idea. So I'm thinking, "Should I sell NFTs to raise money, to build this kind of, I guess, Soho House, but for creatives?"

Rich Cardona:

So I equate it to the X-Men, like the School of the Gifted. You're doing that. I would say one million percent, yes. And here's why. You have enormous social proof. Your mission is very clear. This is not new. And I think what's lacking in this community is people who kind of come, I would say from maybe the traditional designer art space, to kind of infiltrate some of the nonsense that's going on, to stand out. You have an issue with Gary's artwork. You don't have an issue with the people you would collaborate with or their artwork, right? But then on the backside of it, there's very, very big utility. You guys align on that at least. But now, all of a sudden it's like a two for one. I'm not only getting good art, but I know he's been about this forever. He has a massive following. From what I know about you and your organization, if you really want to put these people in a position to win, or help people become the creatives they want to be, or creatives who we do that for a living, then it'll happen.
And this is absolutely probably a vehicle that is going to be much more fun than if you ever took on any money from anyone else. That, and it doesn't limit the amount of projects. You could literally do a test project, maybe probably raise two million dollars, considering your entire following, and then be like, "Cool, we'll do another one next year." And all those tokens, the non-fungible tokens or the NFTs, all those mean something. It means you are going to be able to come out and have access to our first symposium where we're going to kind of discuss how we're going to build this school, what everyone needs, why everyone wants that, how things are changing. I mean, it, to me is ... I think I said this when you kind of mentioned this, it's a no brainer. If you and I did the same exact project, I would probably make nothing. And you would probably put a lot of people in a position to win, like in a real ...

Chris Do:

Yeah. Okay. I want to talk a little bit more about that, but then I also want to ask you this, to get your insight on something else. So here's where I'm sitting. I have had the privilege of getting to know and work with some of the most amazing artists for my 20 plus years, making commercials and music videos. 3D artists, illustrators, people from all corners of the internet, some famous and some you never heard of before. I want to be a patron of their work, but I need a vehicle for this.
I also know people in the fashion space, and I am a lover of fashion in certain kinds of street style or street wear. And if we can just bring the artists, and these really boutique fashion people together, and use NFTs to propel everyone's career, to be able to get one of 20 really super cool handbags, or a sweatshirt that is just, "That's it, we're releasing it only to people who get ... who have NFT, are going to be able to get this thing." I want to bring all those worlds together, to have physical and digital avatars that are connected through NFTs. That excites me a lot.

Rich Cardona:

Renewing the value prop because you know it's not limited to you, it's limited to your network, which seems to be kind of infinitely talented is an incredible reason to get behind anything you would do. If I were someone who was starting to hear about your project, and starting to learn about you, I'd be like, "Wait a second ... And trust me, that is what's happening in some industries. When Nike partnered with RTFKT ... and I think it was, I forget who, Board Apes and Adidas. Nike was kind of like, "Oh, hold my beer, watch this." And I'm just like, "Wow." All of a sudden it's like, "You could get gifted these sneakers." It's exactly what you said. So the ability for you to collaborate ... I will say this about the NFT community. It's not all bad, of course, but the collaborations are so unique. You are starting to see people you never thought would collaborate on really special projects together, number one.
And two, the community, the people ... there's this phrase. If you ever see on Twitter, WGMI or WAGMI, in all caps, I was like, "What the hell does that even mean?" And it means "We're all gonna make it." And it is like so funny, but I am like ... again, this goes back to adoption. People want it to win. People want this kind of life to win, and this kind of asset to win. Same thing here. If you are going to ... especially, Chris, for you as being kind of the centerpiece, if you are the one who learns how to develop these projects and how to launch these projects, or mint, and do all these things, then if I'm a designer, I'm running to you, like, "Dude, I know you like these karate pants. Let's do this."

Chris Do:

I do, by the way.

Rich Cardona:

I know, I saw that tweet. But I'd be like, "Hey, let's do this right around Christmas time. Because we know it's getting cold and Cali." I mean, dude, forget it, forget it. So yeah. Absolutely. It's a very, very, very collaborative space.

Chris Do:

Okay. I've never done this before on a podcast. If you have a strong opinion on the opinions, or if you have a strong opinion about the ideas we've been sharing, I'd love to hear from you on Twitter. I'm a@ChrisDo. Rich, what is your Twitter handle?

Rich Cardona:

It's Rich.eth, for Eth. I fell into the trap of-

Chris Do:

Say that one more time.

Rich Cardona:

Rich.eth.

Chris Do:

You are all in on this.

Rich Cardona:

Yes, absolutely. It's a picture of a rat, so that's me. But, yeah.

Chris Do:

Okay. We'd love to hear from you. And the last question I want to ask you is this, how do I avoid the fate of Tom? Because I see us as both content creators, communities, teaching, interviewing people. But how do I avoid that?

Rich Cardona:

Under-promise, over-deliver. Like I said, I really, really respect him, and I believe he's going to win long term. But the promises on the front side were enormous. When you are a big personality in the entrepreneurial space like him ... By the way, in another universe, in an alternate universe ... I just saw Spider-Man. Gary VeeFriends could be a complete flop, a million percent, it could be a complete flop. It happened to blow up. So when someone who's close to him in a similar space, and they're going to make all these promises as well, you just don't know. So I would say under-promise, over-deliver. But it's almost out of your hands at some point though, Chris.
So let's just say you sell out of your mint, or you launch, and you sell out, and the resale price starts going up, up and up. That's good for you for royalties, if you have any. Or royalties could be dedicated to the School of the Gifted, or whatever. But you all of a sudden, if it's just starts climbing, it may, it may appear like, "Dude, who's this Chris guy?" You what I mean? All of a sudden, the floor is five Eth, that's cool for holders, but now, I can never get into that school. So how would you mitigate that? That's what I would ask you. That's probably what you need to brainstorm [crosstalk 01:21:24].

Chris Do:

You're looking too far ahead.

Rich Cardona:

I know.

Chris Do:

You're like, "When it works out really amazingly."

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. But-

Chris Do:

Then your core supporters can't afford it anymore.

Rich Cardona:

Yeah. Yep. And that's why maybe you have multiple drops a year or something like that. Who knows? But I would say under-promise, over-deliver, which is nothing we aren't familiar with. And the community is the really, really biggest thing. If somehow all of this eliminated the kind of community that you have, the way it is in the Futur Pro Group, and your YouTube channel, and everything else, then that would probably be the biggest red flag you could ever see in your life. If you weren't active in the Discord, and engaging with people, and had the team committed to the project like they are everything else.

Chris Do:

Yeah. I kind of look at it like if we're going to get into this, I need to treat everyone who's going to buy the NFT as a shareholder of this new entity.

Rich Cardona:

Yep.

Chris Do:

And I got to make sure the shareholders get their value in utility first, speculation, second.

Rich Cardona:

A million percent.

Chris Do:

[Crosstalk 01:22:22] utilitarian value to them so that they can better their lives. I don't want it to be all built on a puff of smoke, and hope, and wish and a dream.

Rich Cardona:

Exactly. I mean, that's exactly right. I would agree.

Chris Do:

On that note, Rich, this has been an informative, fun conversation. I'm really stoked for your success. And just to understand who you are as a man, and to be able to pivot as quickly as you've done is remarkable. It's something that I wish for everyone to be able to do because opportunity knocks all the time. Most of the times, we don't hear it or we close the door on it. You, my friend, opened it, ran through, welcomed it into your arms, and hugged it, and put it on your shoulders and celebrated it.

Rich Cardona:

Yes.

Chris Do:

So I'm rooting for you. I wish that you have continued success as you climb the podcast charts worldwide and just dominate. Where can people find out more about what you're doing?

Rich Cardona:

NFTs 4 Newbies, anywhere. It's NFTs, and then 4, and then Newbies, N-E-W-B-I-E-S. And that's on YouTube. That's on our IG, Discord, all of it. And we can't wait to see you.

Chris Do:

Wonderful. Thank you very much for doing this convo with me.

Rich Cardona:

Thank you so much, Chris.

Chris Do:

This is Rich Cardona, and you're listening to The Futur.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new, insightful episode from us every week. The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode, and thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.‍.
If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better.‍ Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to thefutur.com/HeyChris, and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business.‍ Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.

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