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Events and Conferences

11 Things I Learned At Permissionless

Observations from the first Blockworks and Bankless event in sunny Palm Beach, Florida
by Megan DiasMay 24, 2022
11 things I learned at Permissionless

It’s hard to be bearish when you’re swimming with your colleagues in the ocean and basking in the warm Florida sunshine. While that was only one short moment at the end of the conference, the other timeless memories made at Permissionless in West Palm Beach cemented my enthusiasm for this movement. 

I’ve been at ConsenSys for about nine months now and witnessed the electric energy of ETHDenver, the nascent curiosity of NFT LA, and the headstrong optimism of Permissionless. I definitely feel birthed into this Web3 world by now.

Kudos to the Bankless and Blockworks team for heralding some of the smartest people in Palm Beach for a week. Totally worth the long lunch wait times on Rosemary Ave. 

Here are 11 things I learned from snooping, dancing, and boothing last week:

1. Register and get your badge a day earlier 

I thankfully have not experienced the long registration lines of ETHDenver and Permissionless, and don’t plan to. If you arrive the day prior, definitely go grab your badge so you can enjoy the early talks, and pick up booth swag when the conference starts. But, if you are in line, make a friend with someone new and get to know what brings them here. These conferences are melting pots, and you never run out of people to talk to. 

2. Practical swag is where it’s at

Shout out to Arbitrum for coming through with the most utilitarian items. Your lip balm saved my chapped lips in Denver, and your sunscreen saved many on the beach in Florida this time around. I also saw WAGMI beach towels, “probably nothing” yellow hats, and boba tea! Did you grab your MetaMask sunglasses btw? Show them off on Twitter 😉 

3. Institutions are still interested 

It’s not a fad! Yell it from the rooftops. The suits were marching towards DeFi and actually got to experience some of the Web3 culture in person. Crypto is sticky when you meet the people building and it did not seem like big companies were here because they thought “oh that’s cute.” No, they still want the pie. 

4. It’s looking like a wallet springtime season 

How many companies announced new wallets or significant updates to their wallets during Permissionless week? Robinhood is announcing a new self-custodial wallet, Coinbase is launching a hybrid semi-custodial wallet, and Ledger is coming out with a browser extension. As Taylor Monahan mentioned in her talk, The Infrastructure That Gets Us To The Endgame, we should be building products that allow people to exit easily. MetaMask is the biggest and oldest self-custodial wallet in the game, and if you’re not happy with us, we allow you to leave. Six years ago, there weren’t options like there are today.

decentralized wallet spectrum
Bankless wallet illustration along decentralization spectrum

5. People don’t profess their love on Twitter, but they will in person

There are a bunch of anonymous weirdos on Twitter that like pouncing on MetaMask. It can sometimes be disheartening to see such negativity, but you guys make it worth it when you come up to us at our booth and share your crypto story and ideas for improving MetaMask. We experience good vibes and we’re really grateful you care about MetaMask as much as we do. 

6. People love connecting with their internet friends IRL

I loved connecting with people that I last met at ETHDenver. I bumped into my favorite dad and daughter DAOpunks duo, my fellow noob boothmate at Denver and finally connected with him on Telegram, and even a fellow Crypto Coven witch who last brunched with me at a dreamy location. 

I could dedicate a whole memoir to my colleagues but I’ll leave it at this: Zoom will never compare to meeting your coworkers in 3D. Their height will always throw you off, they are definitely cooler in person, and you will get into some deep productive talks with them that will inspire your career. So yes, please meet your Web3 coworkers in person and forge that community that will get you through the times when the markets suggest otherwise.

7. “I’m like a sine wave, I get it and then I don’t”

I liked how Permissionless had multiple ‘tracks’ available, so you could focus on talks within your niche. It’s impossible to keep up with everything in this space and just when I think I get it… I realize you can go so much deeper on a topic.  At Permissionless, talks categorized as General Session, Institutional, Metaverse, and Future of Finance made it easier to attend with an interest in mind. 

8. You need time away from the screen, and work in general 

Being online 24/7 isn’t good for your mental health—or physical health for that matter. These conferences allow people to be social and sponge up those much-needed interactions and inspirations before heading back to their remote day-to-day. Permissionless reminded me how important it is to wind down and be able to talk about non-crypto things with your peers over a tea or a beautifully crafted basil smash cocktail. 

9. We need to use non-scary language if we’re going mainstream

One of my favorite panels of the week, What is this onboarding you speak of? had co-founders and community badasses from SheFi, Boys Club, and P00ls who shared their experiences and stories that stuck with me. I liked the language reframing of using words like “welcoming” instead of “onboarding” because onboarding is quite clinical. Also thinking deeply about the words we use in our materials. Terms like “hot” and “cold wallets” were SCARY to me when I got into the space so why would I use them in a blog post today? We need to be intentional about using jargon-free language when we talk to new people. “Danksharding” still takes the cake for weird and alienating Web3 term, though. 

10. Take notes in your phone app 

When you’re at such a dynamic event, you’re bound to come across funny one-liners, inspirational sentences, and ideas from brilliant panelists that you’ll want to remember. I open up a new page in my Notes app and start dumping anything I find interesting in there during a conference. I like looking back at it and chuckling, pondering, and dreaming. As a writer, taking notes is in my nature, but anyone can benefit from having easy-to-access materials to pull from. 

11. You need to figure out what your endgame is 

I mentioned her before but she’s too cool to not bring up again. Taylor Monahan gave a great talk at Permissionless—she reminded us that decentralization, trustlessness, and immutability are great and all, but they aren’t the endgame. They’re just the tools. That got me thinking, rightfully so. It can be easy to get swept up in the minutiae of daily work but you need a north star—your endgame—to guide you in this adventure. I hope you figure out what yours is, because I know I’m in this for the long haul.

what's your endgame? - permissionless presentation