Today Mike Berland and Trevor Briggs join us to discuss how to build momentum in your business and life.
Prior to founding Decode_M, Mike was CEO of Edelman Berland and president of Penn, Schoen & Berland. He has more than 25 years of experience as a strategic advisor and communications consultant. His areas of expertise include consumer behavior and trends.
Trevor is a recent quantitative economics graduate from Dartmouth College and is a Business & Research Associate for Decode_M.
*Disclaimer. None of this information is financial advice.
The following transcript was created using artificial intelligence. There will be some grammatical errors below.
00:00:03:10 – 00:00:26:00
Richard Carthon: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Crypto Current, your host here, Richard Carthon, and today I got two special guests for you. We’re going to be talking about something that is very important right now within both Crypto space, Blockchain space and just within your life. And we’re going to be talking about how you can be building momentum. So, today we have Mike Berlin, who’s the CEO of Decode and also a business analyst, Trevor. How are you all doing today?
00:00:27:13 – 00:00:29:22
Mike Berland: Doing fine, thanks, how are you?
00:00:29:24 – 00:00:31:08
Trevor Briggs: Doing great, Richard.
00:00:31:16 – 00:00:44:13
Richard Carthon: Looking forward to learning more about both of you. Also, learning more about Decode and also, Mike, your book. But before we dive into all that first, let’s just do some intros. Mike, let’s start with you. Can you give us some background on yourself?
00:00:46:14 – 00:01:31:20
Mike Berland: I started as a political pollster way back in the 80s for an audacious congressman who wanted to be mayor of New York, Ed Koch, and for the next 20 years, I pursued a career as a pollster trying to get people elected like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Mike Bloomberg. And I realized that we could take lessons from political polling and from the campaign trail and apply it into the boardroom. And so, I started working for corporations. Over that time, as datasets became more widely available, I expanded from just being a pollster to get into analytics and other types of artificial intelligence to build a new company called Decode M, where we decode data into momentum.
00:01:32:15 – 00:01:35:09
Richard Carthon: Nice. It’s awesome. How about yourself, Trevor?
00:01:36:19 – 00:01:45:15
Trevor Briggs: I’m a business analyst and data scientist for the Decode M team, as well as a crypto enthusiast. So, I’m very thankful and glad to be here.
00:01:46:14 – 00:02:04:12
Richard Carthon: Well, looking forward to diving deeper into Decode M and again diving into building momentum. So, Mike, how about you kick us off? Tell us more about this. You know, you’re able to create a book and you really are topical on building momentum. So, can you kind of speak to that for a moment?
00:02:06:01 – 00:03:06:11
Mike Berland: It all starts with one question, are your best days ahead or behind? And with your yourself, it’s your company, it’s your business career, whatever it is. Momentum starts by the understanding of you’ve got momentum, if you’re moving forward. I took that to a larger issue of how do you understand if a brand, a person or an issue has momentum. Is it relevant in today’s culture? And when I thought about it in my political career and even in my business career, momentum was always in a motion. We had, we lost it, what have you. But when I thought back to high school science, momentum was physics. It was the study of things in motion. It was mass times velocity. And so, I spent the last couple of years of my career building a new company called Decode M, where we actually quantify momentum in culture.
00:03:07:12 – 00:03:30:28
Richard Carthon: Yeah. Let’s stick there for a moment. So, building momentum and culture, I think one of the hardest parts of any either entrepreneur or someone getting started in a new field, right? So, a lot of our listeners are brand new to the Crypto and Blockchain space or even have been in it for a long time and we see the peaks and valleys of price movement in the space, right?
00:03:31:00 – 00:03:31:15
Mike Berland: Right.
00:03:31:17 – 00:03:44:27
Richard Carthon: And, when the movements there, when the bulls are running like it feels really good and, there’s a lot that can be done within that time. But like, not just in the Crypto space, but in your life. Like, how do you see people being able to not only create the momentum, but sustain it?
00:03:45:26 – 00:04:39:00
Mike Berland: First of all, momentum requires continuous transformation, so, you always have to know where you are today and how you’re going to transform to the next thing and so on and so forth. And what I realized and you see in the book, there’s five drivers of momentum that you have to understand: disruption, innovation, polarization, sticky issues and social impact. And you have to understand where you are on those five drivers, no matter what, whether it’s a business situation, whether it’s a Cryptocurrency, what have you. How are you pulling those drivers to get your velocity? And that’s, to me, that’s been the most interesting part of understanding momentum. I always thought that momentum was about mass, but I realize now the momentum is about the velocity. And if you can get moving in the right direction, the mass will actually grow.
00:04:39:26 – 00:05:09:03
Richard Carthon: For sure. And you brought up some points there that I want to spend some time on. The drivers. So, a lot of people, I believe, are busy. It’s the typical, someone says, “Oh I’ve been busy, but, you know, I’m doing well or X, Y, Z.” Busyness, I don’t necessarily think always equates to productivity and effectiveness and momentum creation, right? But drivers, I believe by having drivers, you can start to see momentum and things move in the right direction. Can you just spend some time expanding on that?
00:05:09:25 – 00:05:39:26
Mike Berland: Understand that drivers help you get momentum to achieve. For many people, it’s business growth or achieving personal goals. But you have to understand where you are. In disruption, are you willing to turn things upside down and do something different to really disrupt the way you’re doing it? In innovation, are you looking to make something incrementally better create, but create FOMO so people want to be part of it.
00:05:40:11 – 00:06:11:11
Mike Berland: Polarization is a fancy word for targeting, who do you want and who you are okay not having and how are you going to line that conversation to understand that polarization? Stickiness is really about something that is memorable and social impact is something that is better for society in general. What happens is people don’t know where they are on any of the five, let alone choosing one that’s going to propel them.
00:06:12:16 – 00:06:46:18
Mike Berland: The reason that Trevor and I wanted to come on this show is we’ve seen the momentum for Crypto and we see it is a casebook study of momentum, of it’s disrupted. It’s used disruption to completely change the way that we think about monetary exchange, how things are valued, how money is kept. So, that disruption we feel is absolutely essential to that, to the disruption and then having the trust that it works.
00:06:46:20 – 00:07:04:22
Richard Carthon: For sure. And real quick, actually, Trevor, I’ll turn it over to you. As being a data analyst and Crypto enthusiast, what was your first introduction to the Crypto space? And then as you began to learn more about this and how do you see Decode M in building this momentum? How are you able to translate that into what you’re currently seeing in the market?
00:07:05:27 – 00:07:21:21
Trevor Briggs: That’s a great load of questions. I was first introduced to Crypto back when Bitcoin was kind of bubbling around maybe $400 a coin, $500 a coin, something like that.
00:07:21:26 – 00:07:22:11
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:07:22:13 – 00:08:24:06
Trevor Briggs: A couple of years back. One of my cousins actually was super bullish on it back then. Of course, you know, it turned out to be a great thing to be bullish on. And so, I became interested in that and fell off for a little bit and then sort of as sort of a side interest of mine, I’d always been interested in 3D art. And so, I’d followed a lot of 3D artists for a great amount of time, as well as musicians. And so, of course, seeing NFTs begin to come around in 2019 made me quite interested. And then of course in 2021, we have this massive eruption of NFTs on the market. Of course, Beeple and Christie’s listing, Beeple’s 5,000 days. Of course, a massive disruption if we’re talking in Decode M terms, in terms of how people view art. In terms of how we, I guess, look at Crypto and NFT, for example, in terms of the five drivers.
00:08:24:09 – 00:09:06:21
Trevor Briggs: I think the interesting thing about Crypto in general is that it kind of hits on all of the five drivers because it’s so wide. In terms of disruption, it’s changing how people view currencies, decentralizing, not having to rely upon government entities or a single person to create those currencies. Obviously, it’s pretty clear in terms of how it’s innovative. And it’s quite polarizing. There are, of course, investors like BlackRock that think this might be the next big thing. There are investors like Warren Buffett who say that, “No I’m just going to stick to my US dollar and that’ll be fine.” And of course, it’s memorable, right?
00:09:07:15 – 00:09:53:13
Trevor Briggs: I think it’s hard to talk to anyone and not hear Bitcoin or NFT right now. And in terms of social impact, I think there are a lot of ways in which this can be perceived as social impact. It’s giving money back to the people, it’s allowing for retail investors to dip their fingers and toes into what investing really is. In the NFT space, it’s bringing the power back to artists. And so, when it came to momentum, we see that when we have a brand, a company, an idea that is hitting on all the five drivers, we are super bullish on it because we know that it has way to it, it has both mass and velocity.
00:09:53:15 – 00:10:55:06
Richard Carthon: For sure. Something you brought up that I just want to spend two more seconds on is the social impact. You know, I call Cryptocurrency “the great equalizer of our generation.” It’s giving access to banking the unbanked, creating wealth generation that a lot of people otherwise wouldn’t have access to, being able to truly give power to the people to own their own money and being able to transfer that money for different services. However, universally throughout the world, without needing a third party. It’s a really decentralized way to get things done and there’s even more in the books for what’s to come. But with that momentum, right? We look back at, I like to look big, I talk in decades. So, Bitcoin first came out first, you know, was made in 2008, really became like, published in 2009. So, from 2010 to 2020, we saw Bitcoin that was a couple of dollars all the way up to roughly $20,000, right? That is a ridiculous jump, right?
00:10:55:15 – 00:11:32:05
Richard Carthon: Now, all things considered, we’re at the beginning of 2021 with already a ton of momentum built in this space going into this next decade. And I think we are just at the beginning of what is going to be an amazing chain of events that is going to create the greatest amount of wealth to people who otherwise wouldn’t have had it ever. What are some ways that you think people who are beginning to learn more about Cryptocurrency, Blockchain can continue to use your principles to educate themselves and to inform others so that they can be prepared to be ready for this gigantic opportunity?
00:11:32:23 – 00:12:12:09
Mike Berland: First thing is to realize that it does have great velocity right now. All of Cryptocurrencies are moving. We wrote a column on NFTs and you could just see it’s almost a 45 degree angle straight up with momentum. The challenge is, is what’s going to be the transformation? And that’s what we’re really seeing that is actually sort of blowing us away. So, the transformation is when it goes from a theoretical and a small group and it’s like, insider to now it’s currency that you can use. You can use Cryptocurrency to get your Dallas Maverick tickets.
00:12:12:11 – 00:12:12:26
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:12:12:28 – 00:12:55:16
Mike Berland: So, when it starts to go mainstream, that’s the transformation. Small group transformation accepted by select group. Third, transformation completely as acceptable as any sort of regular currency flight. Another thing that’s interesting to us is it’s generational. So over time, as younger generations are more comfortable with it and accept it, it just becomes the norm rather than exception. Right now and I think Trevor can expand on this, it’s still been with those in the know versus those not in the know. So, what happens when that gets equalized?
00:12:56:08 – 00:13:16:22
Richard Carthon: Right. And really quick, I want to stay on that for a second. On your website, Decode M, it says everything is knowable. And I think this is a great place to just talk a little bit more about, like your company and what y’all are doing. Like, if I’m a company and I learn about Decode M, how would I be able to engage with you and learn how I can build this momentum for myself and my company?
00:13:17:20 – 00:14:04:22
Mike Berland: First of all, if you have a company and you’ve lost your momentum, how do you get it back? If you have momentum, how do you grow it further? And data now is available in so many different forms that can help you grow. So, when I was a pollster, you asked a question, you got an answer, we wrote a report, we handed it to you. Now, we have behavioral data. We don’t have to ask you what you did, we can see what you did and we can see where you came from so we can market better to you. We have all sorts of conversation and this is really where Crypto comes in. We have all sorts of conversation analytics to understand what is the volume of the conversation, what is the sentiment of the conversation and that turns into our M form factor to understand what the momentum of that conversation is.
00:14:04:28 – 00:14:36:24
Mike Berland: So, whether you’re trying to grow your base, target your customers, enhance your business, that’s where we come in. Nobody comes to us when they think things are flying high, it’s when you have that pit in your stomach, that you know something’s going wrong, but you can’t figure out what it is. We use all of our data sets available, even your customer data set to diagnose the problem and to understand how we can use the five drivers to get your brand into growth mode.
00:14:37:25 – 00:15:20:13
Richard Carthon: Where I think that’s very useful and I’ll pass this over to Trevor is there are a lot of Crypto’s out there right now that are being formed and are having these ICOs and are coming to pass where they’re just initially hitting the market and they’re trying to build for the future, they’re trying to build for the next decade to be one of those steady Crypto’s that everyone uses, right? That becomes part of that mass adoption. So, even if they feel like they have some momentum going, but they’re like, we’re kind of stuck. We just built all this momentum to launch this thing, now we’ve launched it, now we don’t really know what to do with it. And now we need to build this community, what are some ways that people can use the drivers to try to get that initial momentum going with growing their audience?
00:15:22:00 – 00:15:57:15
Trevor Briggs: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think we live in a time right now sort of categorized by various different bubbles. There was GME a couple of months back, we’re seeing NFTs being popular now. I think sort of Mike and my suggestion isn’t to say exactly come to Decode M and have us do a plethora of data analysis to tell you whether or not your next alternative Crypto or Blockchain idea is the next big thing. Certainly we’d be more than happy to work with you.
00:15:57:20 – 00:16:49:08
Trevor Briggs: I think the most important thing is to take the concept of the five drivers and maybe, you know, pick out one of them and apply that to your business. If you are, for example, trying to like, Hash Graph, Hedera Hash Graph is a great example, shifting the way that we think Blockchain should be used and instead relying upon a different measurement and method in terms of passing data upon individuals that isn’t as computer intensive. You know, that is a great example of a company that has social impact in terms of reduced sustainability and environmental cost, as well as disruption. It’s causing people to think about Blockchain differently. So, I would say take the idea of five drivers and maybe pick one and apply that to your business and see if it sticks.
00:16:50:25 – 00:17:13:11
Mike Berland: And identify the market of who it’s for, who it’s not for through polarization, and then drive that throughout the adoption and the marketing of the Crypto because what we’re seeing now is there’s going to be an abundance, right? We’re starting to see the emergence of several different brands emerging. They’re not all going to make it.
00:17:13:22 – 00:17:14:07
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:17:14:09 – 00:17:44:03
Mike Berland: And so, how does that shakeout happen? And we know how ugly that is, right? So, we’ve seen when bubbles burst. And so the question is, in the next transformation, who survives? In the next transformation, who survives? Actually what my company specializes in, is we can help you increase the probability that you’re going to make it, because we’re going to teach you how to get momentum and make the transformations when you have to. Nothing stays the same.
00:17:44:15 – 00:17:45:00
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:17:45:02 – 00:17:50:10
Mike Berland: That’s the most important thing of momentum. You know, if you get to stagnation, you’re gone.
00:17:50:18 – 00:17:51:03
Ricard Carthon: Right.
00:17:51:05 – 00:17:58:23
Mike Berland: So, you’re always going to be moving. Momentum doesn’t have a moral compass and always going the right way, you’ve got to lean into it and always make it work for you.
00:17:58:25 – 00:18:17:24
Richard Carthon: For sure. Something I want to bring up on that is, you know, right now there are over 8,000 Cryptocurrency out there. Now, again, all Cryptocurrencies aren’t meant to be a currency, a lot of them are startups that are under the umbrella of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain projects. And if you think about all startups, which most of these companies are, 90 percent of all startups fail.
00:18:17:28 – 00:18:18:13
Mike Berland: Right.
00:18:18:15 – 00:18:56:28
Richard Carthon: So again, that 10 percent though that makes it, man, it’s going to be really, really great. But how do you pick the winners? And, you know, that’s a question that gets brought up to me all the time, is like, there’s a ton of knowledge out there and sometimes it feels like drinking through a firehose to try to like, get all this information at once. So, I’ll pose this question to both of you. And again, going back to the statement on your website, if everything is knowable. Sometimes knowledge can feel overwhelming, so, how would a person who is trying to educate themselves in this space create the momentum to get started and to build that so they can become really more knowledgeable and empower themselves to take action?
00:18:57:19 – 00:19:32:03
Mike Berland: Well, I’ll give the quick answer, I’ll let Trevor do the long one. The first answer is call us with your idea and we’ll help you understand how to prioritize and where that white space opportunity is and what the viability is at scale. That’s the easy answer. There is a lot of data, but you have to have the tools to digest it and to understand what are the key data points that are going to make your market or if you miss, are ultimately going to fail. But I think with Crypto it’s more nuanced. And I’ll let Trevor go a little deeper.
00:19:33:26 – 00:20:22:02
Trevor Briggs: I mean, Richard, as you said, there’s thousands of Blockchain and Crypto type companies that are coming to market right now or at least coming to a seedling. If we take it from the business perspective, as a business, you are not going to maintain a base, you’re not going to maintain your mass unless you resonate with a certain group of people. But from a personal standpoint, whether it be investing in Crypto or becoming interested, like from my personal view, find a group of people, find a group of friends that are interested in Crypto who might be able to help you understand Crypto as well. Like, that’s how I got into it.
00:20:23:02 – 00:21:29:06
Trevor Briggs: I got into NFTs and NFTs were sort of the most interesting, easy to grasp thing because I was into digital art and I already followed these digital artists for a long time. And so, it made sense that there was a new way to sort of be purchasing and maintaining ownership of these digital products. So, what’s amazing about Crypto is it’s this vast ocean of knowledge and possibility. And so, what I would say is with that, of course, it’s kind of hard to find the school of fish that you like, but, you know, pick something that you understand already without Crypto. And I can guarantee you that there’s already a company that is using Blockchain technology to try and change the way people think about that industry. And find a group of friends, find a Reddit sub board, find a forum, whatever. I think it’s really about creating that personal attachment that will make you take the leap in understanding and wanting to understand the Crypto space.
00:21:30:11 – 00:21:51:21
Mike Berland: Trevor talked about a sea of knowledge, and I’ll say there’s a sea of lack of knowledge. It’s so wide open. We wrote a column on NFTs and three quarters of our audience didn’t know what an NFT was.
00:21:51:23 – 00:21:52:08
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:21:52:10 – 00:22:12:25
Mike Berland: But they read it and they clicked on to all of our links, first time ever because they loved the topic. There is a voracious appetite to learn more and highly factionalized doesn’t help, but there will be a shakeout. So, we’re in very early stages.
00:22:13:17 – 00:22:54:04
Richard Carthon: No doubt. Real quick, for everyone listening, as you already know, every Wednesday night, we do have a Clubhouse where we are able to answer specific questions that you have, a great way to come directly to us so we can answer some of these deep questions that you may have, but also to have that community as well. So, just wanted to bring that up. But gentleman, I have two more good questions for you. That one is going to be particularly fun. I’ll start with Mike, if you could go back and tell yourself, went back when you were a pollster, back when you were first getting started, if you were to give yourself like one or two great core pieces of advice about building momentum, what would you tell yourself?
00:22:57:15 – 00:23:25:19
Mike Berland: The most important thing I would tell myself is it only gets better. When you’re starting your career and you’re starting your life, momentum seems like it will never take place, but if you just keep pushing it and keep those transformations, momentum takes off. So, a little bit of patience when I was starting would have helped me. I was highly impatient at times that I should have just let it ride.
00:23:25:21 – 00:23:38:07
Richard Carthon: For sure. I think that’s great advice. Trevor, a little bit of a different question, if you could go back with all of the knowledge that you have now about Cryptocurrency and tell yourself when you first got started, what advice would you give yourself?
00:23:40:00 – 00:23:43:20
Trevor Briggs: Clearly I would say buy a bunch of Bitcoin.
00:23:46:21 – 00:23:47:06
Mike Berland: Definitely should’ve bought more.
00:23:47:08 – 00:24:33:03
Trevor Briggs: That’s definitely what I would say. That’s a great question. I think it was something that I became interested in very quickly and then fell out of. I know that there is massive interest in Cryptocurrencies, but Crypto isn’t just Cryptocurrencies. And so, I would say take a step back and think about what is helping to build something like a Bitcoin or Ethereum or whatever, and begin to understand sort of the mechanisms behind it instead of just getting to understand the market discrepancies and differences every couple of minutes.
00:24:33:28 – 00:24:52:27
Richard Carthon: For sure. I think it’s a really great thought. And gentlemen, as we wrap up, you know, you left us all with a ton of great things to consider to move forward with and action items. But before we wrap up, what is a final thought that you want to leave with both of us? And Trevor, I’m going to let you start. And then, Mike, I’m going to let you bring us home.
00:24:53:13 – 00:25:14:29
Trevor Briggs: Stay inspired, because that is going to both continue to make you energetic and also sort of give yourself momentum as you continue to be interested in this growing space.
00:25:17:04 – 00:26:12:17
Mike Berland: My advice might be a little counterintuitive. The key to momentum is to transform before you have to. And one of the key things in the book is as you’re riding up and you’re reaching the top and getting to the apex. And once you get to the top and start sliding with Crypto, it’s the end where the next moment is and get to that one first. So, you’ve got to get in the game, you’ve got to be part of it. The pool is going to expand exponentially very soon. Go to 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 as fast as you can, don’t get caught up in your success now. Success is very fleeting. Momentum requires transformation.
00:26:13:16 – 00:26:26:18
Richard Carthon: Great final thought. Nothing to add to that again. Again gentlemen, thank you both for joining. What are some ways that people can learn more about one, your book, two, Decode M and other ways that people can connect with both you and your business?
00:26:27:05 – 00:27:10:04
Mike Berland: The pandemic has wiped out all the local bookstores, which I don’t think is a good thing. But I do love the place that you can buy my book, which is on Amazon.com, and they have plenty of them. So, that’s the best way. The book is called Maximum Momentum and our company website is Decode-M.com, D-E-C-O-D-E-M.com. And there you can sign up to our up and down newsletter, which is every week. We go through what has momentum, what’s up, what’s losing momentum, what’s going down. And I can tell you, people are making money off our up and down because it really does show what’s in the future.
00:27:13:00 – 00:27:20:23
Richard Carthon: Well, again, gentlemen, thank you both so much again for being on the show. There’s a lot of great takeaways. And of course, for everyone listening, stay Crypto Current.
Crypto Current will be guiding all of you who are new to the cryptocurrency world to becoming a cryptocurrency and blockchain expert. Crypto Current was founded to give access to information to everyone on current events occurring in cryptocurrency and blockchain in a digestible way. Since its creation, we have created content that impacted thousands of people through its podcast, blog, and social media.