Raise your hand and say “I can”. Once back in the day, when I was a correspondent in Moscow, my editor-in-chief was complaining to the team that the editor in New York was not good enough and she didn’t know who could fill the job. I raised my hand and said that I could do it. It was a very rare opportunity to take on that responsibility, move to a different country and lead the American branch, and I know a lot of my colleagues dreamed about it, but I was the only one who dared to raise her hand.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ksenia Semenova. Ksenia is the CBDO at Cindicator. Cindicator is an award-winning fintech company creating the social and technological infrastructure needed to make effective decisions under the volatile conditions of the new economy. Ksenia is a blockchain enthusiast, business developer and communications expert, and also an avid business traveller, using every minute to spread ideas about symbiosis between human minds and artificial intelligence as well as equal rights for all. She is also passionate about good Russian–American relations, being a part of Track Two: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I love this series of yours! I’ve read a lot of interesting stories from strong and successful women. Stories like these always inspire me, and I truly believe that through storytelling we can achieve a lot of changes for the better. As a professional journalist I know the value of a good story, and through my work I always did tell stories: about companies and about people. My first job was the perfect training ground — we created Winzavod, one of the first independent art centers in Moscow, in an old wine factory. For Moscow at that time it was almost unheard of to convert industrial architecture into art spaces. My role was to communicate our stories and ideas to the public.
Then I moved to New York as chief editor of a magazine called Snob. I was creating a community of Global Russians — successful professionals who speak Russian but live all across the globe and are cosmopolitans by nature.
My journey continued in educational startup GlobalLab, where we were building a platform that could unite students and teachers across the globe for joint scientific activities. I was doing business development, PR and marketing for the company, as well as speaking at conferences and booths.
My story with blockchain started when I was editor-in-chief of media platform TheQuestion, where my editorial team answered the best questions from among our 5.5 million-strong readership. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain topics were being hyped and in September 2017 I started to dig into this topic, soon becoming a huge admirer of the idea. From Moscow I went to the heart of the blockchain world, to New York, and went to every meetup, conference and summit I could to learn more about the industry and to meet all the incredible people who were building this new crypto world. That’s how I became a part of the Cindicator family, where we are building an ecosystem in which thousands of people invest their intellect to create effective decision making tools. We collect people’s forecasts on traditional and crypto markets, applying sophisticated machine learning models and neural networks to create signals, sentiments, and indicators that can be used for effective asset management.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
I love how fast we are moving with the development of Cindicator. As chief business development officer I lead two tracks: marketing/PR and business development. One of the most interesting projects from the marketing track is our Avantgarde program. When we held our token sale in September the most important part of it was to create an engaged and viable community. Now our work with the community is moving to the next stage. We want the most engaged people to literally become part of our team, regardless of their location or background.
The other project that I am personally working on is the action plan for expanding to South Asia with a focus on South Korea. It’s a real challenge for me. Being a young white woman in Asian countries doesn’t win you any favours. You need to prove that you are professional enough to lead the track and to establish partnerships on behalf of your company. But I love challenges, and I love to show people that no matter what gender, color, or race you are, you can achieve your goals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would say that I am just a very lucky person. I have no unwanted people around me, and everyone who I spend my time with is highly valuable to me. I don’t have a mentor but I have my friends and family, and each of them knows the exact time when I need them or their support the most. I’m not the easiest person to be around, but I believe that we meet people at the exact moment of our lives when we need them/their knowledge/their skills/their emotions the most. And I’m always ready to help and share my knowledge with those who need it.
What are the five things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- That it is just a protocol, literally a chain of blocks, a distributed ledger where the information is stored permanently. It’s very hyped now and so many people are trying to grab hold of it and understand it. Soon we won’t know or even think about blockchain — like we don’t think about TCP/IP now — and we will just use it as a very convenient tool that helps us to be more transparent, to eliminate middlemen, to regain control of our private information and use it according to our own wishes.
- That blockchain — being a technological phenomenon — has raised so many non-technological questions about the role of government in our lives, issues of trust, the importance of regulation, the willingness of so many people to see and accept changes, and its social impact and how we can all be a part of it.
- It has wide implementation. Most people still think about Bitcoin when they hear about blockchain, but as a tool it can be used in so many sectors: voting, ID storage, money transfers, copyright, and many more.
- The relief that you can trust code and stop thinking about the mistrust of human organizations. It’s a monumental and very important transfer of social trust.
- The community. I’ve never met so many people who are willing to help and support each other. I live in New York, and the Telegram group for New York crypto people is where I go when I want to get information about the most important events, to ask for or to share contacts, to ask for advice or share some recommendations and, most importantly, to find someone to go for dinner, to a club, or just for a walk with, no matter that there are almost 1,800 people in the group, since we are friends now. It’s amazing.
What are the five things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
1. Like every new technology or idea spreading around the world, the blockchain industry is suffering from a lack of basic knowledge. One of them is the mistaken idea that blockchains are immutable and unchangeable. It’s false: blockchains are resistant to tampering, but they are not tamper-proof.
The industry knows the examples where blockchains were reorganized and transactions were reversed. Last year the Ethereum ecosystem struggled with a painful hacker attack. Hackers stole about $60 million in funds that time. Then the vast number of community members decided to rewrite history. It is obvious, but blockchains can be changed significantly: by hackers, by a powerful fraudster or maybe by the miners. It is difficult to do but possible.
2. Another great delusion is that blockchains are fully decentralized. This sentence is accepted by the majority as axiomatic, but it should be discussed very loudly and clearly. The fact is that power concentrated in some points of the ecosystem could influence key events and decisions, as in the example with Ethereum.
To be accurate we should characterize a blockchain as a much more decentralized ecosystem compared with traditional financial structures. Besides, it’s very important to emphasize that the complete decentralization of blockchains is possible in an ideal world populated by ideal people, but we live in this one.
3. The most attractive and passionately held myth about the blockchain is that it is totally “censorship-proof”. That sounds reasonable — if you want to make a bitcoin transaction nothing can stop it from being completed. In the majority of cases this is true, but we know that ways of censoring blockchain transactions really do exist.
It is not a secret that when a group of people or an entity with a sufficient concentration of mining hash power wants to block a particular address from transacting, they can do that. Just simplify the idea: a powerful enough miner could censor any address on the network from making any transactions. So, blockchains are surely more resistant to censorship than other networks, but they are not 100% censorship-proof.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I would say it’s too early to call this success — I’m not retiring yet! It’s still a journey and that’s why it’s so exciting. I’m very happy to be part of Cindicator, a fintech company that really changes lives. For example, one of the analysts on our platform has found a new calling. Before making forecasts with Cindicator she never thought that financial analysis, yet alone in the crypto sphere, could become her full-time job. It was just a completely different world for her, a parallel reality, but she started making forecasts with the Cindicator app. She took the time to learn about different assets and about various analytical tools. After our token sale, she got a small lump sum as an early supporter and she used her new skills to successfully trade and turn it into a small nest egg. While for someone from the US the amount might not seem meaningful, it was truly life-changing for her. She has moved to a big city, solved her health problems, and found a job she loves. It’s amazing to be a part of these transformations — this is how borders based on geographies and gender/identity stereotypes are being erased now.
What the things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
2. Raise your hand and say “I can”.
The example: once back in the day, when I was a correspondent in Moscow, my editor-in-chief was complaining to the team that the editor in New York was not good enough and she didn’t know who could fill the job. I raised my hand and said that I could do it. It was a very rare opportunity to take on that responsibility, move to a different country and lead the American branch, and I know a lot of my colleagues dreamed about it, but I was the only one who dared to raise her hand.
2. Put forward your vision and be ready to lead.
Another example: you are hired as, let’s say, a PR manager. You look deeper into the structure of the department/company and see that something is wrong and you know how to fix it. Draw up the new structure, explain the connections between the roles in the company and suggest that you can spearhead the development of this new structure. Lead.
3. Always doubt but move forward.
You are not sure if your experience is sufficient for the job? You can do two things: doubt and stay, or doubt and move. Doubts are essential and normal for everyone. Very often they are the motors of development. So doubt but, no matter what, act and move forward.
Some of the biggest names in business, VC funding, sports, and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US who you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
Dear Satoshi Nakamoto, I hope you are reading this column. I would like to ask you to have a lunch with me. I have so many questions! How do you see the development of your ideas? What is your long-term perspective on Bitcoin and the other tons of cryptocurrencies? What is your ideal world you’d like to live in?
Satoshi Nakamoto is one of the people who, through his mind power, created a new world. In a way. But there is another person who really did create a world and filled it with stories and characters that now live by themselves. That person is J.K. Rowling. And I would love to meet her in person. I think she found the balance in her life that I’d like to find as well.
Originally published at medium.com