Meet the Writer: Hacker Noon’s Contributor Richard Downing, Blockchain DeFi CEO

Richard Downing HackerNoon profile picture

Richard Downing

Retail and enterprise technology entrepreneur with a management consulting background. Into blockchain. MBA.

This story is a part of Hacker Noon’s Meet the Writer series of interviews. The series is intended for tech professionals contributing the most insightful Hacker Noon stories to share more about their writing habits, ideas, and professional background (and maybe a hobby or two). If you too would like to start contributing to Hacker Noon, you can do so here.

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So let’s start! Tell us a bit about yourself. For example, name, profession, and personal interests.

38 year old male, full name Richard James Downing III.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for fifteen years – started six companies. Most of those were “failures” that taught me tremendously. Got going in tech in 2010 with a mobile payment company called PhoneTab, which failed quite gloriously after two years of striving. Everything that could have gone wrong with a startup, seemed to go wrong with PhoneTab. PhoneTab taught me one hundred lessons, and one thing above all: The significance of transaction fees, which are a major key to liberating commerce from the banks and credit card companies, who defend their market positions jealously. Free transactions for increasingly complex “contracts” are now part of our future – closer every day with blockchain tech like Telos – and we’re lucky to live at this time of digital transformation. But yah, that was the first and most painful failure. I was convinced we’d be billionaires and the plane just crashed into the mountain. Long story, maybe for another post.


After PhoneTab closed down in 2012 I was pretty jaded about tech world. I worked briefly with a consulting team helping Verizon launch their enterprise cloud, but was still depressed about PhoneTab and needed distance from the Boston tech scene, so I decided to do something to keep myself healthy and happy above all. Some college friends and I got together and started a retail group fitness company that grew to five locations in four years – a group cycle and TRX business in Boston, called Turnstyle Cycle, where I was CEO and Master Instructor. Sold my shares in Turnstyle in 2017 and discovered bitcoin around the same time, as well as ayahuasca – five ceremonies over two weeks in the Amazon in October 2017. Especially with Bitcoin skyrocketing into Jan 2018, I can’t stress what a trippy and healing year that was, and while it left me somewhat decoupled from ground reality, it also left me with enough hope to return to technology.

While exiting Turnstyle, I had designed, built (with a dev team) and launched a scheduling app for instructors, called Subwhisper, which was tested at Turnstyle and another larger gym. I started traveling to pass the time between development sprints, but then, as crypto Winter set in, I couldn’t afford to pay Subwhisper’s lithuanian development team, and eventually we had to stop development. Anyway, crypto had my attention.

The driving purpose behind my interest in psychedelic experiences has been to heal a debilitating chronic inflammatory condition – ankylosing spondylitis – that started when I was 25. I do believe most autoimmune diseases can be largely cured with an alignment of body and mind. My mind was certainly misaligned, and psychedlics have been crucial tools on my journey to this point, where I’m doing well off meds (so far). Fingers crossed.

My travels started with six months with a Remote Year trip – group name “Exupery” – through Europe and Southeast Asia, until splitting off in Thailand for four months to cruise the crypto communities in Chiang Mai, Bankok, and the island of Koh Phangan. I returned stateside briefly, working as a VP at a software services firm with operations in Medellin, Colombia, called Ballast Lane Applications. My crypto interests persisted, so I left to explore the crypto scene in Puerto Rico, where I lived for six months, before heading to Virginia to do Ayahuasca again, which led to three months in a conscious community in Washington DC, where I did healing ceremonies involving mushrooms and smoked frog venom (set and setting is everything). Next was Peru for four months, then Florida for two months, and recently El Salvador for three months after Nayib Bukele made Bitcoin the country’s official currency. I now find myself married in Maryland, and quite settled and happy indeed. I’m super excited to have discovered the Telos blockchain community, and thrilled to be helping to grow the Telos Ecosystem.

Before all of that, my professional foundation (how I “learned to learn”) was in management consulting, for a company called CSP Associates(.com). CSP is a very small shop that advises all the top contractors in aerospace and defense – I mean all of them – and they’ve totally dominated that space since the 90s. For decades they were like an isolated secret extension of The Carlyle Group, providing advisory services for all of Carlyle’s M&A activity in the aerospace & defense sector. I used to kid that my bosses planned 9/11, which of course sounds ridiculous, and can’t be proven, umm, and is certainly not a productive road to go down regardless. Nervous giggle. So I guess seeing the defense industry up close sort of woke me up early… given recent events.

I worked at CSP for two Summers during college – Colby College – and two years after, before earning an MBA from the Darden School of Management at the University of Virginia. Darden is (or has been) ranked #1 in the U.S. in a few key areas, including (1) program difficulty, (2) quality of learning experience, and (3) ethics, and if you look at graduates from Darden versus other programs… I’d say it shows (especially with respect to ethics). I don’t mean to be immodest but it’s important to me – what motivates me professionally – because today, humanity is basically being led (and destroyed) by smooth-talking psychopaths, a large portion of whom have been to top MBA programs. I’m talking about Fortune 50s, where there’s abuse – conscious causing of widespread harm – almost across the board. Darden alum are by no means unsullied, but we’ve definitely been exposed to the right ideas, including a constant suspicion of ego, seeking feedback, and honest assessments of the net impact of our personal and corporate activities. The righteous path is generally the harder one, often the less profitable one, but I do believe the sacrifice pays off eventually, invariably. I also believe that we as a society are embarking on a new era in which makers and creators will see greater fruits for the labor than ever before, enabled largely by cheap transactions. So much is possible.

But I digress…

Interesting! What was your latest Hackernoon Top story about?

Telos FORCE Protocol – current project. Before that was Telos Build.

Do you usually write on similar topics? If not, what do you usually write about?

I like writing about decentralized governance, business strategy, systems theory, cosmic science, spirituality, all things inter-dimensional/quantum whatever, and of course psychedelics/healing. I write to make statements about what I believe and what I do, generally – discoveries. The topics I most enjoy don’t really pay, so that’s been a recent challenge.

Great! What is your usual writing routine like (if you have one?)

No I do not have a routine. I do get up early and sometimes I write at that time. I like writing, and I write a lot, but there is no real routine. I sort of just stew until something pops. Maybe there should be a routine. I’m starting to give myself credit for writing in my mind during the excruciating periods that precede spurts of writing – periods during which I’d say I form my best ideas – because most people call that “procrastination”, which I view as crude and unfair.

I’m also much more insecure than I thought I was when it comes to exposing my writing – sometimes I’ll toil and spin for days before posting something publicly – so that takes time and energy as well, but less as time goes by.

Being a writer in tech can be a challenge. It’s not often our main role, but an addition to another one. What is the biggest challenge you have when it comes to writing?

Routine, certainly. And capturing ideas when I don’t have a pen/paper or my phone with me.

What is the next thing you hope to achieve in your career?

Next thing is Telos FORCE Protocol success.

Wow, that’s admirable. Now, something more casual: What is your guilty pleasure of choice?

Love weed. And chocolate. Doing a three day fast on Wednesday, so, that’ll suck.

Do you have a non-tech-related hobby? If yes, what is it?

I really like dancing, but don’t do it in any formal capacity. Doesn’t need to be formalized. But let me tell you something: I’ve got a special kind of rhythm.

What can the Hacker Noon community expect to read from you next?

Probably updates on Telos FORCE Protocol. Righteous rants? Never know. Watch out!

Thanks for taking time to join our “Meet the writer” series. It was a pleasure. Do you have any closing words?

The pain we carry is the love we withhold.


Enter the Blockchain Writing Contest

This story is a part of Hacker Noon’s Meet the Writer series of interviews. The series is intended for tech professionals contributing the most insightful Hacker Noon stories to share more about their writing habits, ideas, and professional background (and maybe a hobby or two). If you too would like to start contributing to Hacker Noon, you can do so here.

image

So let’s start! Tell us a bit about yourself. For example, name, profession, and personal interests.

38 year old male, full name Richard James Downing III.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for fifteen years – started six companies. Most of those were “failures” that taught me tremendously. Got going in tech in 2010 with a mobile payment company called PhoneTab, which failed quite gloriously after two years of striving. Everything that could have gone wrong with a startup, seemed to go wrong with PhoneTab. PhoneTab taught me one hundred lessons, and one thing above all: The significance of transaction fees, which are a major key to liberating commerce from the banks and credit card companies, who defend their market positions jealously. Free transactions for increasingly complex “contracts” are now part of our future – closer every day with blockchain tech like Telos – and we’re lucky to live at this time of digital transformation. But yah, that was the first and most painful failure. I was convinced we’d be billionaires and the plane just crashed into the mountain. Long story, maybe for another post.

After PhoneTab closed down in 2012 I was pretty jaded about tech world. I worked briefly with a consulting team helping Verizon launch their enterprise cloud, but was still depressed about PhoneTab and needed distance from the Boston tech scene, so I decided to do something to keep myself healthy and happy above all. Some college friends and I got together and started a retail group fitness company that grew to five locations in four years – a group cycle and TRX business in Boston, called Turnstyle Cycle, where I was CEO and Master Instructor. Sold my shares in Turnstyle in 2017 and discovered bitcoin around the same time, as well as ayahuasca – five ceremonies over two weeks in the Amazon in October 2017. Especially with Bitcoin skyrocketing into Jan 2018, I can’t stress what a trippy and healing year that was, and while it left me somewhat decoupled from ground reality, it also left me with enough hope to return to technology.

While exiting Turnstyle, I had designed, built (with a dev team) and launched a scheduling app for instructors, called Subwhisper, which was tested at Turnstyle and another larger gym. I started traveling to pass the time between development sprints, but then, as crypto Winter set in, I couldn’t afford to pay Subwhisper’s lithuanian development team, and eventually we had to stop development. Anyway, crypto had my attention.

The driving purpose behind my interest in psychedelic experiences has been to heal a debilitating chronic inflammatory condition – ankylosing spondylitis – that started when I was 25. I do believe most autoimmune diseases can be largely cured with an alignment of body and mind. My mind was certainly misaligned, and psychedlics have been crucial tools on my journey to this point, where I’m doing well off meds (so far). Fingers crossed.

My travels started with six months with a Remote Year trip – group name “Exupery” – through Europe and Southeast Asia, until splitting off in Thailand for four months to cruise the crypto communities in Chiang Mai, Bankok, and the island of Koh Phangan. I returned stateside briefly, working as a VP at a software services firm with operations in Medellin, Colombia, called Ballast Lane Applications. My crypto interests persisted, so I left to explore the crypto scene in Puerto Rico, where I lived for six months, before heading to Virginia to do Ayahuasca again, which led to three months in a conscious community in Washington DC, where I did healing ceremonies involving mushrooms and smoked frog venom (set and setting is everything). Next was Peru for four months, then Florida for two months, and recently El Salvador for three months after Nayib Bukele made Bitcoin the country’s official currency. I now find myself married in Maryland, and quite settled and happy indeed. I’m super excited to have discovered the Telos blockchain community, and thrilled to be helping to grow the Telos Ecosystem.

Before all of that, my professional foundation (how I “learned to learn”) was in management consulting, for a company called CSP Associates(.com). CSP is a very small shop that advises all the top contractors in aerospace and defense – I mean all of them – and they’ve totally dominated that space since the 90s. For decades they were like an isolated secret extension of The Carlyle Group, providing advisory services for all of Carlyle’s M&A activity in the aerospace & defense sector. I used to kid that my bosses planned 9/11, which of course sounds ridiculous, and can’t be proven, umm, and is certainly not a productive road to go down regardless. Nervous giggle. So I guess seeing the defense industry up close sort of woke me up early… given recent events.

I worked at CSP for two Summers during college – Colby College – and two years after, before earning an MBA from the Darden School of Management at the University of Virginia. Darden is (or has been) ranked #1 in the U.S. in a few key areas, including (1) program difficulty, (2) quality of learning experience, and (3) ethics, and if you look at graduates from Darden versus other programs… I’d say it shows (especially with respect to ethics). I don’t mean to be immodest but it’s important to me – what motivates me professionally – because today, humanity is basically being led (and destroyed) by smooth-talking psychopaths, a large portion of whom have been to top MBA programs. I’m talking about Fortune 50s, where there’s abuse – conscious causing of widespread harm – almost across the board. Darden alum are by no means unsullied, but we’ve definitely been exposed to the right ideas, including a constant suspicion of ego, seeking feedback, and honest assessments of the net impact of our personal and corporate activities. The righteous path is generally the harder one, often the less profitable one, but I do believe the sacrifice pays off eventually, invariably. I also believe that we as a society are embarking on a new era in which makers and creators will see greater fruits for the labor than ever before, enabled largely by cheap transactions. So much is possible.

But I digress…

Interesting! What was your latest Hackernoon Top story about?

Telos FORCE Protocol – current project. Before that was Telos Build.

Do you usually write on similar topics? If not, what do you usually write about?

I like writing about decentralized governance, business strategy, systems theory, cosmic science, spirituality, all things inter-dimensional/quantum whatever, and of course psychedelics/healing. I write to make statements about what I believe and what I do, generally – discoveries. The topics I most enjoy don’t really pay, so that’s been a recent challenge.

Great! What is your usual writing routine like (if you have one?)

No I do not have a routine. I do get up early and sometimes I write at that time. I like writing, and I write a lot, but there is no real routine. I sort of just stew until something pops. Maybe there should be a routine. I’m starting to give myself credit for writing in my mind during the excruciating periods that precede spurts of writing – periods during which I’d say I form my best ideas – because most people call that “procrastination”, which I view as crude and unfair.

I’m also much more insecure than I thought I was when it comes to exposing my writing – sometimes I’ll toil and spin for days before posting something publicly – so that takes time and energy as well, but less as time goes by.

Being a writer in tech can be a challenge. It’s not often our main role, but an addition to another one. What is the biggest challenge you have when it comes to writing?

Routine, certainly. And capturing ideas when I don’t have a pen/paper or my phone with me.

What is the next thing you hope to achieve in your career?

Next thing is Telos FORCE Protocol success.

Wow, that’s admirable. Now, something more casual: What is your guilty pleasure of choice?

Love weed. And chocolate. Doing a three day fast on Wednesday, so, that’ll suck.

Do you have a non-tech-related hobby? If yes, what is it?

I really like dancing, but don’t do it in any formal capacity. Doesn’t need to be formalized. But let me tell you something: I’ve got a special kind of rhythm.

What can the Hacker Noon community expect to read from you next?

Probably updates on Telos FORCE Protocol. Righteous rants? Never know. Watch out!

Thanks for taking time to join our “Meet the writer” series. It was a pleasure. Do you have any closing words?

The pain we carry is the love we withhold.

by Richard Downing @Downing.Retail and enterprise technology entrepreneur with a management consulting background. Into blockchain. MBA.

Big fan of EOS.io

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