It’s been two and a half years since we founded the Horizen project. I know exactly how we started, and I know, big picture, where I would like to see the project in three to five years. I know that we’re going to be successful one way or the other, because we have a good team, a good community, ongoing funding, and we’re in a rapidly growing technology space with lots of opportunity.
I don’t know the exact path that we’re going to take to get to success. That depends on so many different things. As we grow, we continue to learn from the marketplace and the feedback the community provides to us, and are able to make adjustments. Also, as new technologies become available, new opportunities to differentiate and provide useful tools for users are possible. And unfortunately there are always issues that come up, whether it’s malicious attacks, government regulation, or naysayers working to bring everybody down.
There’s a lot of things that we can’t control, and so it’s worthwhile to be aware of them, but not spend too much time worrying about them. For example, we can’t control if anybody’s going to do a technology-based attack on the project, and just worrying about it is not helpful. In fact, we have to assume that the project is always under attack from one direction or anther. What we can control, though, is our software development methodology, our gaming to think of all the possible different attack vectors people might use against us, and the prioritization of our operational and software improvements to minimize the potential success or impact of any attacks.
We also can’t control what type of regulation that governments are going to put into place. As an international organization, Horizen is always open to being affected by regulation by any government or government based bureaucratic organization that decides to make a rule. We can try to stay informed about upcoming changes, plan for responses based upon those changes, and work to influence the rule makers and the people who have to interpret the rules, but at the end of the day we have to abide by them. The majority of our users would probably not take part in a project that’s deemed criminal by governments.
One of the interesting things about cryptocurrency projects that are open source based and have an open community is there is always a path for naysayers to talk to the community and tell them all sorts of perceived bad things about the project. Twitter, Telegram, Discord, all are paths where anyone can come in and say whatever they want.
It used to bother me, and I would get involved in discussions to talk about how we were working on things and in the future we would have something wonderful. The perspective I have of the project from the inside, where I see the plans, the accomplishments, the hard work, and the continual striving to reach the goal that’s years out in the future is different than what is seen by the naysayers, many of whom only have a snapshot in time of what is going on.
There are people that come into discussions and point out something they believe is wrong about the project. To them, the project is just a static point in time, and if it hasn’t realized it’s full vision, then it’s a failure. in many cases, these are people with good experience and knowledge and capabilities, and probably from their point of view they think they’re doing people in the community a favor by pointing out the flaws and the issues.
Anybody that’s been in the working world for awhile knows that organizations have problems. In fact, the problems and issues that need to be worked through are the entire reason that people have jobs in the first place. Just because there are problems, does not mean there is not progress and improvement.
In order to grow a project, write software, gain users, develop partnerships, and get close to the accomplished goal, there’s a lot of work that has to take place. There are decisions to be made, choices regarding trade-offs of time, money, resources, security, hiring, layoffs, compliance. The funny thing is, all these choices don’t make a difference if the project fails. And if the project is successful, those decisions and choices will turn out to have been the right ones.
The project creators only have a certain amount of energy to accomplish stuff during the day. It is certainly worthwhile to listen to people that point out problems, issues, and concerns, but most of those are based on not having a complete vision of where the project has been and where it’s going. An even bigger disconnect between naysayers and the development team is having a different time scale on which to judge the issues, and not knowing the track record of performance and the years that the team has of working together successfully.
For example, if you look at the Horizen project right now, there are issues regarding centralization. We’ve always wanted and fully intend to get to a point where the management and operation of the project is so decentralized that is resilient to any potential attack or regulation that can come about. And we are working toward that goal. There’s a lot of software and structures that have to be put in place for that to happen, and most of those have not yet been created.
So it’s very easy for the naysayers to claim that Horizen has not met its decentralisation goals. And that’s absolutely true. For three to five years the naysayers will be correctly pointing out that the project has centralized decisions. When the team that’s doing the development finally gets everything put in place and working, the naysayers will be finally proven wrong. It’s going to be true or right up until the day until it’s not.
Of course, by then they’ll have moved on to go cast stones at other people that are working to accomplish great things at a different project.
One of the things that makes it difficult is that during the entire time of growth, the company needs to maintain profitability in order to keep everybody employed. This means that during the growth stages, a plateau is reached then the company has to change and improve to be able to reach the next stage. This might mean adjusting to service different types of users or customers, or discovering a new market by having been in the market.
For example, when I was growing my information technology company, I started out doing work with small businesses, and as we were successful and grew we moved up to medium businesses, then cities and counties and universities. If we had tried to service universities from day one, it wouldn’t have been possible at all. And once we got to be a bigger organization, if we tried to spend all our time working with small businesses, we would not have been profitable. As companies grow and improve, their customer and user focus shifts.
People that have been building companies and projects for a while realize all this of course. They’ve got a tough outer skin, refuse to engage with a naysayers, and spend their time and effort working with people who actually want to get things done, solving real problems, and working towards a goal. This of course presents another target to the naysayers, who are quick to accuse the builders of arrogance, not listening to advice from more experienced people, and not sharing relevant information with the stakeholder community.
Theodore Roosevelt is always an inspiration when the naysayers get you down. This part of his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech is best known. Read this out loud for full effect:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
If you are building a project, a company, something that is worthwhile, and you’re using all your time and ability and effort to get it done, know that there are people that have already walked the path you’re on, recognize what you’re going through, and are fully supportive of you. They have a longer time horizon, and look to see what you accomplish through the years and all types of troubles. They look to see if you’re doing the hard work the right way that builds a sustainable project, a good organization, and something to be proud of. They watch to see if you stand by your core principles, learn, adjust, and look for advice from the more experienced people out there. And they look to see how you deal with the naysayers.
For all the builders out there, you’ve got my support. I know exactly what it takes to come up with an idea of creating something that doesn’t exist, gathering up the gumption to make it happen, and taking effective action day after day.
Dare greatly, and I wish you the triumph of high achievement!