Success starts from within — If you’re in charge of a team of people, it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that each team member feels valued and appreciated, and is satisfied with the working process. The more supported that your team feels, the better they will perform. If my team is happy and fulfilled after we’ve completed a difficult task together, I consider that to be a major win.

Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Diane Dai.

Diane Dai is the co-founder and CMO of DODO, a decentralized digital asset exchange based in Singapore. As a young female entrepreneur in crypto, Diane is passionate about making finance more accessible to all. She has been honored as a Hurun China 30 Under 30 (2021), and is a successful founder several times over: in 2019, she founded CypherJump, a public relations firm that specializes in blockchain projects. In 2018, she founded “DeFi Labs” a prolific blog that introduced western DeFi projects to a Chinese audience. In April 2019, Diane started the first major DeFi social media group, dubbed “DeFi the World.” She previously served as the Head of PR and Marketing at DDEX.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

One of the most important things that shaped my perspective is witnessing the financial limitations of those around me as I was growing up. I saw that the traditional financial system was designed to benefit a small group of powerful people. And I saw the way that this played out in my own family.

My parents weren’t super-rich, but they always made a point to support me in whatever I was doing. They respected my choices, and they allowed me to control my own life. Their priority was always that I was healthy and happy, and they wanted me to pursue what I was most interested in, even if it wasn’t the most conventional path. And it hasn’t been: I’m 24 years old, and today, a lot of my peers are still studying in universities or pursuing jobs in big companies. By those standards, a career in crypto — and being a founder, no less — is pretty “far off the beaten path.”

But when I discovered DeFi, I was inspired. I saw an opportunity to use my skills to make the world a better place. I started by sharing my knowledge of DeFi with a Chinese audience through my blog, DeFi the World, and a WeChat group that I led. I saw that by sharing knowledge, I could empower myself and others with tools to improve their financial lives. That was the beginning of my journey. Today, I am proud to say that DODO exists to provide a wide range of financial services to all kinds of people.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

A lot of people seem to believe that success is about numbers — how many followers you can get, how much money you can make. But numbers in isolation mean nothing. They are not good indicators of what you are really building nor of how it will serve people over the long term. There’s also a lot of pressure to be quick — the “move fast and break things” attitude is still really prevalent in the innovation space as a whole. But I’ve learned that it’s much better to approach problem-solving and innovation with a slow, stable approach. I always do everything step-by-step, one day at a time.

How has your definition of success changed?

Actually, I don’t really use the word ‘success’ — I don’t really think about it. I think it implies something far off in the distance — to me, it’s kind of this idea that you’re heading toward something that you may never (or can never) really achieve. Like, ‘If I do xyz, then I’ll have success,’ or ‘If I achieve abc, then I’ll be successful.’

I don’t approach the concept of ‘success’ as if it’s this intangible thing that may or may not ever happen. I like to think that success is about the process of whatever it is that you’re doing. I think of my work at DODO as a ‘success’ because I love the work that I do every day — it brings me happiness and gives me freedom. When I have ideas, I have the ability to put them into action and see the results. Even if they’re bad ideas, the act of putting them into the world gives me invaluable knowledge and experience.

I think that for me, ‘success’ is whether or not the work that I’m doing is in alignment with my personal values and philosophy in life. I’m not working on DODO because I want it to make me a lot of money, or bring me recognition, or improve my social status, or anything like that. Maybe those things will come, sure — but I’m doing this work simply because it’s what I love to do.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

The pandemic was definitely a moment of “pause” for the world. It also really separated the wheat from the chaff in terms of the systems that work in our society, and those that don’t.

One of the things that the pandemic showed me is the importance of structural transparency. Since day one, we’ve been a fully-remote organization — there are more than 30 people located across the globe working at DODO. Using tools to make this work as transparent as possible is crucial to our success. Everyone has the ability to see what is happening at every level of the organization, and to communicate directly with one another.

I think that there are many more systems in our society that could benefit from higher transparency. Not only does transparency make it easier to communicate, I also believe that it’s a form of inclusivity — it encourages people to become more involved.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

I love to see the way that people began exploring new ways of earning money. At the beginning of the pandemic, people were suddenly stuck at home, and many of them were suddenly left without an income — that certainly was not a positive situation at all. But it did cause many people to begin seeking new streams of income, which ultimately contributed to the growth of DeFi.

Now, nearly two years after the pandemic began, I think that people are much more financially literate than they were previously. And DeFi continues to provide new and more accessible ways for people to earn money — for example, I think the rise of play-to-earn games is a perfect example of that.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • Prioritize well-being as the number one metric for success — if what you’re building isn’t making the world a better place, then what are you really building for? For example, our work at DODO always prioritizes the users’ needs — we keep a very open and active channel of communication with our users, and we respond dynamically to their feedback. We’re also working on eventually transitioning DODO into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) so that the community will one day hold full control over the future of the platform.
  • Quality over quantity — Whatever you’re building, it’s better to have a smaller number of satisfied, well-served users than a larger number of people who aren’t getting value from what you’ve created. When you have users who really love your platform, they become your number-one advocates — they will spread the word to their own social networks. The opposite is also true — if you’re not serving your users, they will let other people know.
  • Success starts from within — If you’re in charge of a team of people, it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that each team member feels valued and appreciated, and is satisfied with the working process. The more supported that your team feels, the better they will perform. If my team is happy and fulfilled after we’ve completed a difficult task together, I consider that to be a major win.
  • “Move slow and build things” — Innovating slowly and deliberately is much more effective in the long-term than creating with a “move fast and break things” attitude. When your platform is built, or your product is launched, people won’t care about how fast you made it — they’ll care about how well it’s made.
  • Building with intention — if the things you create are thoughtfully and deliberately made with the users at the center, people will find them useful. There’s no greater success than that.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

I think that post-pandemic, we have a unique opportunity at this moment in time to rebuild systems to focus on human need.The pandemic was kind of a ‘reset’ button for everything — and it showed that we have a lot of broken systems in place. As it turns out, systems that are designed to benefit only a few of their participants, while failing the majority of their participants, just don’t cut it.

So I believe that we need to redefine success by measuring the positive effects that products, services, and organizations have on the world. Not, “how much revenue did this service make?” but instead “how much value did this service create for the people who are using it?” I think that if we can adopt this philosophy toward the things that we create and support, we can build better and more useful systems that are better for everyone involved.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

I think the biggest obstacle to redefined success are the outdated systems that continue to hang on long after they have served their purpose. In the financial world, the biggest challenge is the outdated and destructive concept of the ‘extraction economy’ — that idea that platforms, companies, and services should do everything they can to extract as much value from their users and customers as possible. But we already have the tools that we need to recreate the financial world — DeFi and the principles of decentralization offer us an opportunity to rebuild outdated centralized systems as decentralized ecosystems that benefit all participants. This is precisely what we’re building with DODO — anyone who uses the platform can gain value from it.

When it comes to advice, I would say that the two things we need the most are curiosity and persistence. The more that people explore the opportunities that DeFi has to offer, the closer it will come to meeting its full potential. And the more that people continue to build and expand these platforms, the more opportunities for exploration there will be. With these two ingredients, we can create a virtuous cycle.

Where do you go to look for information and information about how to redefine success?

Truthfully, DeFi’s community of users and innovators is a never-ending source of information and inspiration. People are constantly building new tools and platforms, and users are always finding new ways to expand the ways that platforms can serve them. And the community is so active — there are a million ways to get involved and start learning.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best way to get in touch with me is through Twitter or through the DODO community forum. And be sure to check out DODO while you’re at it!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.