Today I am speaking with Chidebum Okeke. In addition to being a Graph Advocate and member of Graph AdvocatesDAO, Chidebum is behind the recent launch of Graph Central, an all-in-one resource for community members seeking the latest information about GIPs, grants, and events.
As you are about to hear, Chidebum is incredibly humble and kind. He is also another great example of why Graph Advocates and AdvocatesDAO are producing some of the most engaged and active members in The Graph ecosystem. Chidubem’s story is another archetypal journey, with many common threads found in others’ stories, for how regular people outside of crypto first hear about The Graph, enter the community, and then evolve into a high-impact contributor.
During this interview, we talk about Chidubem’s background in entrepreneurship and e-commerce, his home country of Nigeria, how he first became aware of The Graph, and then how he went from an apprehensive attendee of The Graph’s 1st birthday event in Lagos, to hosting the birthday event only one year later!
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Chidubem Okeke (00:18):
When I read this, it really blew me away because I was impressed by The Graph solution for web3. I soon quickly realized that The Graph was leading the charge in the decentralization ethos of web3 by indexing blockchain data and delivering it in a decentralized manner.
Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Chidubem Okeke. In addition to being a Graph Advocate and member of Graph AdvocatesDAO, Chidubem is behind the recent launch of Graph Central, an all-in-one resource for community members seeking the latest information about GIPs, grants and events. As you’re about to hear, Chidubem is incredibly humble and thoughtful. He’s also another great example of why Graph Advocates and AdvocatesDAO are producing some of the most engaged and active members in the entire Graph ecosystem.
Chidubem’s story is another archetype with many common threads and examples of how regular people outside of crypto first hear about The Graph, enter the community, and then evolve into a high impact contributor. During this interview, we talk about Chidubem’s background in entrepreneurship and e-commerce, his home country of Nigeria, how he first became aware of The Graph, and then how he went from an apprehensive attendee of The Graph’s first birthday event in Lagos to hosting the birthday event only one year later. As always, we started the discussion talking about Chidubem’s educational background.
Chidubem Okeke (02:18):
I will be very happy to share my educational background with you. From a young age, I had always been drawn to computers. I found them intriguing and I was curious. My first experience with a computer was during the era of floppy discs. However, I ended up with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, because I had a lot of pressure from my dad to pick that up instead of computer science. But during my time in the university, I was actively involved in student union committees. There I learned how to work with a team of people planning and hosting events, being a voice for other people.
I also interned at an IT company, where I first learned about cryptography. There I had to deal with sending encrypted files with a public key and then the receiving party would have to use the private key to decrypt that and get the file. There was the first time I sort of learned about cryptography. Then after that, I graduated and then I started a course on database management with Oracle, but I didn’t finish that. This was because a friend of mine from school told me about e-commerce, which was relatively new, and it’s offered a new way to solve problems using technology. I believe it could help millions of people. I took the leap of faith.
When you think back about your interest in computers and technology, why do you think it drew your attention? What was it about that that sparked your interest?
Chidubem Okeke (04:05):
I would say I’ve always had a very curious mind. Growing up, I would see things, objects or maybe toys. I would break them up and try to fix them back together again. I was always trying to go into different products that looked strange and I would try to pull them apart and put them back together again.
When I saw computers for the first time, I was intrigued because I was like, “This device, I can connect with other people in different parts of the world.” I could type, fax, send messages, but I think I was just really curious about it and it sort of raised my interests.
You’re not the first guest who started their exploration of technology with this interest in figuring out how things work by taking them apart and rebuilding it. I love the fact that this is a theme that shows up every once in a while on the podcast. I want to ask you about that move into e-commerce then. Essentially, you decided to become an entrepreneur and pursue some opportunities in e-commerce. What did you do there and how long did that last?
Chidubem Okeke (05:16):
I think that lasted for probably about seven years because I just graduated. Like I said earlier, I was doing a course on database management and the opportunity opened up with a friend. He had already started up a company and he asked me to come and join him. When he explained it to me and I did my research, I found out that it was already existing in other parts of the world, like Amazon. That was 2014 to be precise.
Amazon had already grown and then Zappos as well. I also looked up Zappos at the time, so I sort of did a research to try to find out how they offered their services, how they run their companies. I was interested to be able to provide a similar kind of service in Nigeria, because it was still new and it could help millions of people. I joined my friend to work with him in his company.
At the time, I had to go into the markets, like into the streets of Lagos meeting with different, what I call them, people that were selling, people that had products to sell, and they had the traditional brick and mortar stores. I would usually go into their stores, try to introduce them to the concept of drop shipping and try to come to our agreement on terms of payments and try to convince them to let us list their products on our sites.
For a while I did that and I kept getting rejected, but after some time some people decided to try it out and then from one person, another person, and then the word started to spread and then we had people trying to list on our platform and that’s how we kicked it off. Then, I ran that with my friend for about two years, and then I traveled to China to actually meet with people that could manufacture a certain kind of product, and I was able to come to an agreement with them. Then I came back to Nigeria and launched my own e-commerce company, which ran for about five years until 2020.
Well, Chidubem. I have a lot of questions for you about some of the things you just mentioned there, including growing up and living in Lagos and becoming a Graph Advocate, which is how you and I first met. Before we turn our attention to some of that, what are you doing for work presently? Are you still working in e-commerce or have you gone full-time into web3?
Chidubem Okeke (08:06):
Right now I currently offer digital marketing services to both individuals and companies by running campaigns across various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. For instance, I could help maybe an artist promote their music or album or assist a business in promoting a product. Interestingly, my journey into digital marketing started 2020 after the pandemic, because it sort of put a hold to the e-commerce business that I was running.
After being out of business for a while, I had to close it down and cut my losses, but the skills that I had acquired over the years… Because interestingly enough, I handled the digital marketing campaigns for my company and even when I was still working with my friend at the time, so I gained experience running digital marketing campaigns. After the 2020 pandemic, I decided to adapt to something that I knew that I could do. If the same situation repeated itself, it wouldn’t affect me. That was how I started in digital marketing, which I still do now, but I spent most of my time in web3.
Well, Chidubem, as I mentioned, you’re joining me from Lagos, Nigeria. What can you tell us about the crypto web3 community and some of the interest of the folks there in Nigeria?
Chidubem Okeke (09:44):
I would say it’s becoming increasingly clear that crypto and web3 tech is gaining traction in Nigeria. A UN report from 2022 revealed that approximately 13 million people or about 7.3% of the population either hold or own some form of crypto. The number is quite significant and it highlights Nigeria’s position as a major player in the global crypto markets.
Furthermore, Nigeria ranks third in mobile active users on MetaMask, and this indicates a high level of adoption of decentralized applications. Additionally, there have also been several educational events focused on web3 and crypto in Nigeria, which suggests a growing interest. Personally, I have noticed more Nigerians getting involved in web3, which is very exciting to see. I think considering all these factors, it would suggest that the adoption of crypto is on the rise in Nigeria, and I truly believe we can expect to see more growth in the future.
For longtime listeners of the podcast, they know I’ve always been super enthusiastic about the growth and opportunities in Africa when it comes to web3. I’ve had the opportunity to interview a lot of different guests from Africa and every time they’re so optimistic about what’s happening there and the opportunity for more and more Africans to get involved in the industry and contribute. I want to know why it’s taking such a strong foothold. I know you can only speak for Nigeria specifically, but why do you think people are interested and that there is such a growth in adoption?
Chidubem Okeke (12:42):
I think the greater adoption of crypto in Nigeria and Africa, it has and it can have more impacts on the population in so many different ways. I think firstly, it provides access to financial services for people who have been excluded from the traditional banking systems. For a country like Nigeria, where a large population is on banks, it could enable more people to participate in the economy.
I think the second reason would be that the use of crypto, it can result in lower transaction costs compared to the traditional financial institutions, particularly with the emergence of new Layer-2 solutions that offer near zero transaction fees. I mean, they could really benefit people who need to make cross-border payments or send money to family and friends in other parts of the country or in the world.
I recall when I ran my business, trying to send money to a different country would usually take almost a week, but with crypto it can be done in seconds and with a fraction of the costs. It can really benefit a lot of individuals. Then, I also think that the growth of crypto and web3 in Africa could create a lot of new job opportunities in areas like blockchain developments, cybersecurity and finance.
Chidubem, I always take the opportunity when I speak with a guest from different parts of the world, to ask them if one of our listeners ever travels to Lagos in this particular case. What do you suggest they see? Is there something specifically they should go see or is there a specific food or something they need to do while they’re in Lagos?
Chidubem Okeke (14:39):
Wow, there are so many activities in Lagos. I like to compare Lagos to New York, because I think there’s this slogan that says, “New York never sleeps.” I would say Lagos is very similar to that. There are so many side attractions in Lagos. Then the foods, I would recommend trying the Nigerian jollof rice.
There has been an ongoing war amongst other African countries about which jollof is better. I would say try the Nigerian jollof rice, so that if you go to a different African country and you try the same, or their own type of jollof rice, you can make comparisons. I would also say try some of the more traditional foods like eba or fufu and the traditional soups as well to go with them. I think there are a lot of things to do that you can do to have fun in Lagos for the first time.
How about your name, Chidubem, where does that come from and what does that mean?
Chidubem Okeke (15:51):
It’s funny you ask, because I grew up in a very traditional home and Christian background, so my parents were very spiritual. The name Chidubem means, “God leads me.” It translates to, “God going before me to guide me and lead me with every step that I take.” That’s what the name means.
Very beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. I want to ask you about when you first became aware of crypto. Do you recall when you first became aware of it and what some of those initial thoughts were?
Chidubem Okeke (16:35):
Oh, it’s so funny that you asked that, because my first encounter with crypto was in 2018. At the time I was still running my e-commerce business. I think this one time I had dispatch riders to go out and deliver the product, but they were not available. I went myself to deliver products to a customer. When I got there he asked me if I accept bitcoin as payments. I was like, “What is bitcoin? What does that mean?”
He tried to explain it to me, but I think he did a really bad job explaining it to me, because I left there thinking bitcoin was a Ponzi scheme. It didn’t really make much sense to me. However, I think towards the end of 2020, that was when my interest in crypto piqued again, because I heard about Ethereum. Then I began to read more about various crypto projects and started exploring different platforms, until I discovered The Graph.
I’m noticing something else that’s come up in other interviews and that is the important year of 2020, as all listeners know, this is when a global pandemic really set in and changed the normal behaviors and routines of everybody in the world. I’m getting the sense that that was the case for you and that 2020 and the disruption maybe to your business, your own life gave you the opportunity to dive deeper into crypto. Am I right about that?
Chidubem Okeke (18:11):
Yes, you are absolutely correct. 2020 gave me a lot of time to reflect and try to make changes to the way I saw the world. I became more open to exploring new things, because there was this intense need to adapt with my current situation. I went down the rabbit hole of crypto with basically zero technical knowledge and I felt very overwhelmed by how vast this space was, but I was very determined and I had time.
I started immersing myself in various resources like books, there were articles, there were videos, there were podcasts. I also took some courses as well. Then, I took it a step further and started trying to join different communities to explore the projects, try to see if I could contribute and learn while doing so, because I really believe in learning by doing. I felt like the best way for me to learn was to really just jump in and try to help and learn on the go. I also started experimenting with Testnet transactions, trying to understand how to use a wallet, trying to understand how to interact with smart contracts. I spent quite a lot of time doing that and really getting a better understanding of what web3 and crypto was about.
Well, I’m amazed at the threads that keep showing up on the podcast. Like I said earlier, this taking things apart and studying them is one, this entrepreneurial fire within a lot of guess is another. Then, that important year of 2020, giving people more time changing perspective and sort of opening the door of opportunity for people to explore and think more about crypto. In your case then, you started researching, you started studying in 2020 and eventually you find your way into The Graph Community. Can you talk to us a little bit about that journey? What happened as you started researching and then eventually found The Graph?
Chidubem Okeke (20:26):
Yeah, when I was researching and learning more, I was also actively exploring other communities. One for example was Polkadot and I was exploring different apps on there. I tried out Talisman, I also looked up Remark, and then I tried out a DAO, I think Cure DAO at the time.
But while I was doing that, I met, I connected with an old friend. His name is Jerry. He’s also very active in the main Graph Discord as a Subgraph DEV. He introduced me to The Graph. He recommended an article for me at the time, it was The Graph Network in depth by Brandon Ramirez. When I read this, it really blew me away, because I was impressed by The Graph solution for web3. I soon quickly realized that The Graph was leading the charge in the decentralization ethos of web3, by indexing blockchain data and delivering it in a decentralized manner.
I joined the Discord, I found a supportive community, like a supportive network of people who were eager to help me and answer questions. Then, I think at the time The Graph was also celebrating the first birthday in Lagos, so I volunteered for that event too. I helped them with the planning and then the setting up too. At some point, I also answered questions for people that wanted to learn more about The Graph. I did all of that.
Then I started holding weekly DEV sessions with Jerry at the time, would meet every week. Myself, Jerry, Simone from Edge & Node would meet weekly for DEV sessions, trying to understand Subgraph developments. Then while I was doing that, I think there was also another event that was held, a very big tech event that was held in Lagos here.
Nader Dabit came down to Lagos. I also met with him. I was also able to ask questions, he was able to answer them. It was fun with each step. I think while I was doing all of that, I started trying to get involved in the community, trying to see where people would ask questions, maybe on this call already that I could answer those questions. Then an opportunity opened up with the Advocates program. The Advocates program launched with the initial cohorts, and then I applied, I got accepted, and then I joined the first wave of Advocates and that was how my journey started.
I want to go back to your first impressions of The Graph. By way of contrast, you said when you first became aware of bitcoin as someone explained it to you, it had the feeling of being potentially a Ponzi scheme. In the case of The Graph, your friend Jerry introduced you to it, you did some reading, you mentioned the Brandon Ramirez article, which a lot of listeners have probably read and are familiar with. But contrasting that, what was it then about The Graph and what you understood about it that sparked this energy, such that you start dedicating time to learning about The Graph, and contributing it, and starting to become a member of the community?
Chidubem Okeke (23:51):
I would say reading articles and watching video contents, those actually did pique my interest and then with that article that I mentioned, but the turning point for me was when I volunteered for The Graph’s first birthday event. Then it was more than just something far away or something on my computer people were working on. Besides Jerry, I never really met anyone in person but volunteering for that in-person events. I got to see other people that were also interested in this technology. Then, I also started listening to the GRTiQ Podcast.
I think that was the game changer for me, because there I got to hear so many different people’s perspective on web3 and The Graph and how it was solving a very big challenge for web3. I think that was really the turning point for me, getting to meet other people that were also interested and getting to hear other people’s stories and their perspectives, their journeys as well. I think that really lit the fire for me and I was like, “Okay, I think I can really contribute here and make a difference as well.”
Chidubem, I can’t tell you how humbled I am that the podcast played a small role in your journey into web3 and The Graph. I’m thrilled to have you here, because your story is very inspiring and I think a lot of listeners are going to appreciate hearing your journey. Thank you for all of that. I want to ask you about what you tell your family. Now you’re going down the quote rabbit hole, you’re turning a little bit away from e-commerce and probably what you’ve been working on for a lot of years, and now you’re exploring this new industry, this new technology. What are you telling friends and family about what you’re doing?
Chidubem Okeke (25:49):
It’s really funny, because I think when I started initially… 2020, I was home with my family and then they noticed that I had been spending some time to myself. I told them I was working, but that no one should really disturb me or anything of that sort. After a while they came around and they were asking, “So what’s this thing that you’re doing that is really taking your time? What is this thing that you’re working on?” I mentioned crypto and I would say they’ve heard about crypto, but the way they heard about crypto is the only thing they understand at the time, or the only thing they understood at the time was, “Oh, it’s just for trading or you buy this and you sell this.” That’s really all they understood about crypto.
I now started explaining to them, “Oh, it’s a lot more than this. There’s so much more that is going on that you’re not even aware of. Okay, look at The Graph, for instance. Have you heard about Google? You use Google every time to search for information. The graph is like the Google or web3. Basically what Google does for web2, is what The Graph does for web3.” When I use that line, it helps make them understand the concept of what The Graph is trying to do and web3 in general.
Chidubem, you mentioned earlier that you decided to become a Graph Advocate. You were one of the early waves of Advocates to join that program. Why did you decide after getting involved in The Graph that you also wanted to take that additional step and become a Graph Advocate?
Chidubem Okeke (27:30):
I would say because prior to joining the Advocates program, I was actively involved in The Graph Community. Like I mentioned earlier, I regularly participated in weekly Subgraph DEV sessions with Jerry and Simone. Then I had also joined Graphica, the community at the time. We also held several sessions, lean coffee sessions, exploring web3, exploring smart contracts, but I think a large part of it was heavily focused on tech, on the technical aspects of The Graph.
But when The Graph Advocates program launched, I found out that I could contribute to The Graph in so many different ways. There were many roles there as a Graph Advocate that didn’t require too much technical experience. With the knowledge I had at the time, I could already start contributing in a way where my efforts would be recognized by other community members as well.
Let’s talk about those contributions. As you mentioned there, there’s six different role types that someone can apply and begin contributing as an Advocate. What Advocate role do you have and what are some of the things you’re working on?
Chidubem Okeke (28:50):
Yeah, so when I started out as an Advocate, I started out primarily with community care. I was everywhere in Discord, in Reddit, on Telegram, just looking for people that needed help and helping them to answer those questions or pointing them to people that could help out. But after spending some time there, I also took on the role of a content creator. As a content creator, I craft articles, threads. I also run a community newsletter.
Then after a while I took on the role of an event evangelist, and then I hosted The Graph’s second birthday. I also support other Advocates in their hosting efforts as a speaker or panelist. Lastly, I’m also a technical teacher as well. So far, I’ve written several documentations for Subgraphs and I occasionally provide technical support in the Discord. I would say the experience has been both rewarding and interesting.
Your answer to that question is the primary reason I wanted to interview you and feature you on GRTiQ Podcast. You’re everywhere and making so many contributions and I just felt like the community should know who Chidubem is and what’s driving him and his story and how he’s able to do as much as you’re doing. What’s that experience like for you, going from curious about crypto, joining a friend who the friend is going to organize and launch The Graph’s first birthday celebration in Lagos, to then you leading and directing the second birthday in Lagos? I mean, what was that experience like for you?
Chidubem Okeke (30:38):
Wow. I would say the experience has been amazing. It has been a very interesting ride for me because I always, sometimes I try to look back at how it was when I started. I was so nervous. I even recall my second interview when I was applying for the Advocates program. I think my interview was with Lorena and I was so nervous I had to tell her to stop and we should take a break, maybe a five-minute break or a water break before I would continue the interview.
I was really nervous starting out, but as time went on and I started contributing, my confidence started to grow and then I was able to take on more roles. I started out with one role and when I felt confident with that, I took on another role. When I took on the roles, the second role I took on as a content creator. When I started putting out articles and threads and seeing that I was getting support from the community, it also grew my confidence as well.
It grew to the point where I was able to host an event. Hosting an event, it wasn’t my first event that I was hosting because I already had prior experience hosting events before, but now hosting an event for The Graph, I think that was where I would say I got really confident and it has been a very interesting journey for me. I would say it’s very, very interesting journey. I’m excited and I would say I’m really excited because I feel like there’s still so much more that I’m yet to do that I haven’t done. I’m very excited.
We should also highlight the presence of The Graph within Lagos Nigeria. As a result of hosting that second birthday party, you probably met a lot of community members. Again, I can’t emphasize enough for listeners. There are a lot of members of The Graph Community and the Advocates program that live in Lagos and in Nigeria. What can you share about that community there?
Chidubem Okeke (33:16):
I would say the community is very vibrant and growing as web3 adoption grows in Nigeria. The first Graph birthday event that I attended, I got to meet with people that were just curious about The Graph on web3. But hosting the second events, I met people with stronger interest. Now they had moved from just being curious to being interested and asking, “Okay, how do I participate in this community?”
Then at the event I also got to meet with all other Advocates as well in different parts of Nigeria came for that events. I would say that those other Advocates that I met too are also growing The Graph Community in their regions as well. I would say The Graph Community here in Nigeria and Lagos is vibrant and growing and a lot more people would start adopting this tech as web3 adoption grows.
What does it say about The Graph Community, and maybe it also says something about web3, that someone like yourself who starts curious and in just a short period of time is a leader within the community, is hosting big events and contributing a lot of content starting initiatives? What does that say about The Graph that something like this is possible?
Chidubem Okeke (34:39):
Well, I would say it says a lot. Firstly, I would say that it says that community members are very supportive, because I truly would not have been able to do so much of the things that I’ve done without community supports. There have been so many amazing Advocates that I’ve reached out to that have helped me out. I would say firstly, there’s so much community supports. Secondly, I think if you’re really curious and you really want to contribute and you are willing to put in the work that is required, you can actually come in and learn and actually contribute and you’ll get a lot of support from the community.
Let’s talk about Graph Central. You referenced it earlier when you talk about the contributions you’re making. I want to encourage all the listeners to visit the show notes and make sure you follow Graph Central, because you’re providing a very cool service to The Graph Community. Can you just describe what Graph Central is and what your vision is for what it can do?
Chidubem Okeke (35:45):
Okay. Let me give the backstory before describing what Graph Central is. How I even arrived at the idea of Graph Central, it was at a role mentoring session, content creator role chats that is hosted monthly for Advocates. In that role chats, we were sharing ideas as to how content creators could contribute more to the ecosystem that needed more visibility or more awareness.
I thought about it and I’m like, “Okay, maybe it’s possible for me to put these different areas of the ecosystem that people are not really paying that much attention to, gathering all the info in one place and in a very digestible format where everyone can quickly go through it and be able to get more involved.” That’s how Graph Central started. Graph Central is a multilingual newsletter that covers community grants, hackathons events, graph improvement proposals, which are GIPs and so much more happening in The Graphs ecosystem.
The primary goal of the newsletter is to encourage more community members to get involved in different ways by raising awareness about the various community grant proposals. I hope to stimulate more forum activity and discourse on these proposals as well as increase the number of grant applications. Similarly, by promoting hackathons and events, the aim is also to encourage community members to team up and apply for these opportunities and also attend events. In addition, by highlighting these improvement proposals, the GIPs, it’s also aimed at getting community members to have a better understanding of these proposals and also feel empowered to engage on the forum and add their voices and to ensure that more people can also participate in the ecosystem.
The way the content is tailored is for a non-technical audience. I think that’s been a pattern that I’ve followed with creating content, because my content is usually for people that have a non-technical background, so that way it is not really scary for them. With the help of Graph Advocates, each publication is also translated into 10 different languages right now. Currently, each publication is translated into simplified Chinese, we have German, Spanish, Russian, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, French, Portuguese, and Turkish. This is to enable us to be able to reach an even wider audience and get more people to participate in ecosystem.
It’s remarkable to hear how the Advocates and one of the roles as text translator have coalesced around these content creators like yourself and supported it by making it bilingual. Graph Central, like I said, is something that I’ve come to rely upon for updates on things that are happening, especially those GIPs that more community members need to understand and be familiar with. But you’re also doing some really cool things with grants and keeping people up to date on that.
What have you learned about The Graph Community by virtue of becoming an Advocate? Because not everybody within The Graph Community has the opportunity to work side by side with Advocates all across the world. But by virtue of your work in the program, you’ve met a lot of people, you’ve partnered with them and they’ve supported your work as well as you’ve supported theirs. What can you tell us about what you’ve learned about The Graph Community as a result of being an Advocate?
Chidubem Okeke (39:33):
That’s a very good question, because I think one of the very first things that I learned was that there is always someone that is willing to help. Starting out, I reached out to so many different people on several locations seeking clarity on various topics, and I found out that whether it’s on Discord, or Telegram, or any other platform, someone is always willing to at least point you in the right direction. Even if you are nervous or hesitant, I don’t think it’s really an issue, because if you ask your question, someone would answer and there are no such thing as dumb questions.
I was always worried that I was asking dumb questions at the time. I would always start out with asking questions and be like, “Hey, sorry, I’m about to ask a dumb question, but this is what my issue is.” Then the person is going to respond, “Oh please, there are no dumb questions. This is what the answer is.” I think one of the things that I learned is there are so many amazing people that are willing to help. Then also getting to really see other parts. I got to see how hard people in the community are working. There are different core DEVs, there are different communities like Graphtronauts. There’s so much work that is going on to try to bring about what The Graph is really trying to solve.
Shortly after becoming a Graph Advocate, you became a member of The Graph AdvocatesDAO. I’ve had other DAO members on the podcast, and so we’re not going to spend a ton of time here talking about what the DAO is and how it works, but for the opportunity I have to speak with you, I want to ask this question about how that experience has been because it is a step-up in contributions and time. You’ve got to commit more time now in the DAO beyond just the contributions you’re making as an Advocate. What can you share about the experience you’ve had being a DAO member?
Chidubem Okeke (41:36):
Yeah, I would say I’ve learned so many different things, working with the DAO. I mean, I started out as an Advocate and I kept on contributing until I was nominated to join the DAO of which other members voted, and I was able to join the DAO. I discovered that it was so amazing, because it’s like a community of like-minded individuals who are making decisions through a decentralized consensus-based process.
I’ve also learned how important it is to build a strong, engaged community and the power of collective decision making. There are so many amazing and talented people in the DAO and they’re always coming up with ideas, and then there’s usually a discourse and then a proposal for unchained voting. I would say the only drawback I’ve seen working with the DAO is making decisions might take more time, but then it usually does not reduce the quality of the decisions that are made. Then working with the DAO, everything is transparent and also flexible too. Yeah, I would say it’s a very interesting time for me.
What’s your advice to listeners that want to get more involved with The Graph? Your stories inspired them or something you said let the spark, so to speak, of them wanting to take an additional step to get more involved with The Graph Community. Where should they begin? How should they start that journey?
Chidubem Okeke (43:10):
Yeah, I would strongly recommend the first two resources that I would recommend. One is the GRTiQ Podcast and the second is The Graph Academy. These were the two platforms that I would say that I spent time using to learn about the protocol. With The Graph Academy, I was able to learn in depth about Indexers, Delegators, Curators. While the GRTiQ Podcasts provided different community members perspectives on The Graph and their experiences as well.
After those two resources, then I would recommend applying for the Advocates program for several reasons. I mean, the first reason is because there are several non-technical ways that you can contribute and you also get to learn by doing why you work alongside other Advocates. Additionally, I would say participating in events such as community talks, index office hours, or even the core DEVs meetings, these events can help provide a valuable perspective on how active the ecosystem is and how much work is being done to bring about a truly decentralized web.
Two things that strike me about your story, Chidubem, are familiar themes to a lot of our listeners and people in web3. The first one is there is occasionally, and especially in traditional media, an argument against crypto because it lacks fundamental utility. Then there’s also this web3 ethos that you hear a lot about, that there’s a place for everybody and that the barriers to contribute are low. Someone like yourself who recognized early on the utility in crypto, but then also had the experience of reading a few articles, then becoming a Graph Advocate, joining the DAO and then launching Graph Central. I mean, do you see your story as kind of an example of those two points that there is fundamental value in crypto and the barriers to contribute are low?
Chidubem Okeke (45:16):
I think my story is an example, largely because one of the issues that I had when I first started learning about crypto was I didn’t think it was possible to contribute without a technical background. I would say I struggled in the beginning because I wasn’t sure of what to do or how to contribute. I felt like everything was just so spooky for me.
But I think as time went on and I asked questions and I started to observe things, sometimes all you need to do is just take a step back and try to look at everything from a holistic perspective. When you’re able to do that, you can find a way to contribute. Then I would say this Graph Advocates program is the best way to go if you are unsure of which step to take, because once you are in the program, once you’re an Advocate, by default there are other roles that you can contribute in that are non-technical. Then while you are doing that and learning on the goal, opportunities to contribute in other ways would also open up to you. That’s how my story was. I think my story is a valid example of being able to contribute without a technical background.
In terms of the utility of crypto, there’s no question in your mind about how important crypto is for humanity in the future of tech?
Chidubem Okeke (46:46):
Nope. There’s no question. I’m 110% in. I’m all in. There’s no question, there’s no doubt, there’s no wavering. My mind is made up. I think for me, the picture is clear and all that’s left is really just time, because over time there will be more adoption, there’ll be more improvements. I think right now it’s just being in the right place at the right time, positioning myself to be able to contribute to something much larger than myself.
I’d be curious to know what mileposts or important announcements or events that you’re tracking as you monitor the adoption or growth of web3 or The Graph.
Chidubem Okeke (47:28):
Well, I would say there are several things that I’m on the lookout for. The first is understanding that the user experience of web3 tech is currently still relatively complex, with users needing to manage their private keys, interact with smart contracts and navigate decentralized apps. I think as the user experience improves and becomes more intuitive, it could really help drive the adoption of web3 tech.
I would also say another thing that I’m looking at is regulation, because I think so many people are scared of crypto because they don’t understand it, but the more educated they are, the likelier they are to make better policies. Nigeria, for example, accounts for a very large volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside the US, but sometime in February 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria put a restriction on crypto transactions in the country. I think more favorable policies and regulations would trigger more web3 adoption. Then lastly, cheaper transactions too, which is what Layer-2 solves, because a lot more people will be able to conduct trustless permissionless transactions at a fraction of the current costs.
The last question I want to ask you before I ask you the GRTiQ 10 is this question about impact. In your case, I really want to hear the answers. My question is, how has moving into web3, finding a spot in The Graph Community and going to work as a contributor impacted your life?
Chidubem Okeke (49:15):
I would say it has impacted my life very strongly. The web3’s impression on my life is very strong, because I’m at the point where I would say I had to consciously take a leap of faith by diving really deep to, what I say expand myself by contributing in so many different ways. It has been, I would say, fulfilling, because first of all, I’m able to ask people questions where I have issues, and then I’m also getting support from community members.
It’s like a mind shift for me from web2 to web3 and seeing how web2 platforms can be censored, because I know even offering digital marketing services for people, there are so many different times where maybe the platform I’m using will be censored and I have to figure out a way to solve the problem. But with web3 here is solving that problem, is censorship and resistance. I’m like, “Whoa, this solves a serious problem.” I would say it has impacted me in a really great way. I’m very happy, I’m very excited, and I’m really looking forward to what the future holds.
Well Chidubem, now I want to ask you the GRTiQ 10. As a listener of the podcast, I know you’re aware of these questions and you’ve probably enjoyed hearing other guests. Now it’s your turn to share your answers. These are 10 questions I ask each week to help listeners learn something new, try something different, or achieve more. Chidubem, are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?
Chidubem Okeke (50:53):
Yes, I’m ready.
It’s the way. What book or articles had the most impact on your life?
Chidubem Okeke (51:08):
One book, the Richest Man in Babylon.
Is there a movie or a TV show that you think everybody should watch?
Chidubem Okeke (51:15):
Oh, the Big Bang Theory. Very hilarious.
How about this one, if you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
Chidubem Okeke (51:25):
I would say this is a very difficult one for me because I love music, but I would go to Grass to Grace by 2Face Idibia.
What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?
Chidubem Okeke (51:40):
The cream always rises to the top.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think most other people have learned or know quite yet?
Chidubem Okeke (51:48):
I would say learning to live in the presence and making the most of opportunities in front of you consistently. These things compound over time. Being intentional about living in the present.
What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?
Chidubem Okeke (52:07):
Asking questions. Don’t try to fake smartness. Like if you don’t know the answer to a question ask. There’s this proverb in my native language, Igbo. This proverb, it translates to, “The person who asks questions, never loses their way.”
Based on your own life experience and observations, what’s the one habit or care characteristic that you think best explains how people find success in life?
Chidubem Okeke (52:37):
I would say discipline. Discipline is crucial.
Then the final three questions are complete the sentence type questions. The first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is?
Chidubem Okeke (52:48):
How about this one? If you’re on Twitter, then you should be following?
Chidubem Okeke (52:53):
Thank you very much for that. I appreciate that. I’ll return the favor and say, and Graph Central. Then this final question, I’m happiest when?
Chidubem Okeke (53:05):
Spending time with family and friends.
Speaker 13 (53:09):
Chidubem, thank you so much for joining me for this podcast. You mentioned a couple of times during the podcast that this is a resource that you depend upon, but I got to say, it’s been my pleasure to have you on the podcast to shine a light on your story. You’re a remarkable person making a ton of incredible contributions. I have to say I’m a fan of Chidubem, really grateful for your time. If listeners want to stay in touch with you, follow the work that you’re doing, what’s the best way to stay in touch?
Chidubem Okeke (53:44):
If you want to stay in touch with me, you follow me on Twitter, I’m usually active on Twitter @chidubem_w3. If you want to follow the work that I’m doing, you should definitely be following Graph Central. The handle is @GraphCentral on Twitter.
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DISCLOSURE: GRTIQ is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any other way connected with The Graph, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. This material has been prepared for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal, financial, or investment advice. The content for this material is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The Graph token holders should do their own research regarding individual Indexers and the risks, including objectives, charges, and expenses, associated with the purchase of GRT or the delegation of GRT.