Today I am speaking with Esther Woo, a Graph Advocate and member of Graph AdvocatesDAO. Esther’s journey serves as another shining example of what’s possibilities in web3. She transitioned from a conventional job to immerse herself in the world of web3, joined The Graph community, and became an Graph Advocate and member of AdvocatesDAO. Along the way, she and her fiancé learned to code and successfully launched an app called CryptoPols.
During our interview, Esther shares insights into her personal background, highlighting her experience as the child of immigrants. We then talk about her how she became interested in web3, ignited by discussions with her fiancé, and how this newfound interest led her to The Graph. Esther provides valuable perspectives on the unique challenges and experiences of entering the role of Advocate and AdvocatesDAO member with a non-technical background. We also explore her remarkable journey of learning to code, culminating in the creation of CryptoPols, a resource that tracks both crypto legislation and the attitudes of members of Congress on crypto – an invaluable asset as we head into a critical election year in the US.
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Esther Woo (00:18):
So being an advocate as well as a DAO member enabled me to contribute to this highly technical and conquest project like The Graph through these community-driven initiatives.
Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Esther Woo, a Graph Advocate and member of Graph AdvocatesDAO. As you’re about to hear, Esther’s journey serves as another shining example of what’s possible in web3. She transitioned from a conventional job to immerse herself in the world of web3, joined The Graph community and became an advocate and member of Graph AdvocatesDAO.
Along the way, she and her fiance learned to code and successfully launched an app called CryptoPols. During our interview, Esther shares insights into her personal background highlighting her experience as a child of immigrants. We then talk about her discovery of web3, ignited by discussions with her fiance and how this newfound interest led her to The Graph.
Esther provides valuable perspectives on the unique challenges and experiences of entering the role of advocate and member of AdvocatesDAO with a non-technical background. We also spend a lot of time talking about and exploring her remarkable journey of learning how to code, culminating in the creation of CryptoPols, a resource that tracks both crypto legislation and the attitudes of members of Congress on crypto, an invaluable asset as we enter a critical election year in the US. As always, we start the discussion talking about Esther’s educational background.
Esther Woo (02:19):
How does somebody end up at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and majors in English? I don’t know anything about this college. I don’t know if it’s a specialty college or if they have a whole bunch of degrees, but what’s the background there?
Esther Woo (02:45):
So I always had a passion for language, so that’s why I knew English was a strong consideration for my major. I also had a fascination with law that I wanted to explore as a possibility. At John Jay, I was able to take courses that would dive through works that covered both law and literature like Shakespeare, Code of Hammurabi, even dissected books of the Bible. I loved learning how to interpret, define and structure literature and did not necessarily have a future career in mind at the time I started college.
Well, Esther, in preparation for this interview, you and I talked about your parents and how they’re both immigrants to the US from Korea. And longtime listeners of the podcast know that a few of my guests have come from immigrant parents. And I’m always very intrigued and interested about the impact that has had on the guest and their story and their journey. So what can you tell us about your parents’ story?
Esther Woo (03:39):
My parents are both from South Korea and they wanted to come to the US to provide a better life for our family. As for most immigrant families, the journey was not easy. They came to the States with little in their pockets and had to work hard to raise and support me and my brother, starting at grocery stores and local shops early on.
Esther Woo (04:02):
My dad had attended a two-year college in Korea and my mom had an education degree from university in Korea. But without being able to communicate in the English language, it was super difficult to get on a career path that provided opportunity for future growth in income. So my parents generally worked 14 to 16 hour shifts and started saving the hard way.
Being the child of immigrants, how did that impact your youth growing up and how you approach things like career and what you were going to do with your life?
Esther Woo (04:40):
So during my teenage years, my parents had saved up enough money to start their own business. My mom especially was a determined entrepreneur. She had owned a couple of grocery stores and a dry cleaning business by then.
Esther Woo (04:55):
It also introduced me into the business world early on as I was assisting in a number of administrative, legal and business correspondences that my parents were engaged in and required support in understanding English language context. That early experience certainly shaped my work ethics and fostered an entrepreneurial mindset.
As I said, I’ve had other guests whose parents were immigrants and I’ve picked up on a few things by virtue of those interviews. And one of the things that comes along with this is there’s obviously burdens and different, probably, challenges that most of us would never fully appreciate.
But some of these are things like the immigrant work ethic where you feel like you’ve got to put more time in, more effort in to make the sacrifice that your parents made worth it, and other types of pressures that we probably don’t think about. Do you agree with that? Are those some of the burdens that you feel like you had to accept or endorse, so to speak, in your own career and your life?
Esther Woo (05:54):
Yeah. So my parents, they always wanted to ensure that my brother and I would take advantage of the opportunities provided here in the US and to get on a career path with more promise than what they had experienced themselves. At the same time, there was never an expectation about any one specific path to follow because they also wanted to make sure we would live a happy life.
Esther, before we move on from this story, I want to ask you about the American dream, and I’ve asked this to other guests whose parents were immigrants, and I want to ask it to you. And I think maybe more now than ever, as I look at data related to the challenges of owning a home in America and the things that are happening with the weakening dollar and things like this.
I worry about the American dream, and I worry about it more for even immigrants or the children of immigrants. Do you think your parents experienced the American dream? Do you think it’s still alive for you and future generations?
Esther Woo (06:55):
There were certainly many rough patches, especially having to acclimate to society, the American society. But I think that the biggest achievement of the American dream for my parents was to see their children having received a full education, including college, found a footing in the society and the chance to lead a happy life.
So do you think the American dream is still alive?
Esther Woo (07:20):
I think the American dream is still alive. There are many complexities that we need to overcome and find a better path for everyone to succeed, but I do think that we can get there and I do think that the American dream is still alive.
Well, Esther, I really appreciate you sharing that background and it’s definitely very inspiring. So thank you for that. Returning back to your story then, let’s talk a little bit about what you did after college. So after you got your education at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in English, you moved on and did what?
Esther Woo (07:51):
So before and during college I was working at a New York based restaurant chain in customer service. And then once I graduated college, I was offered a full-time position in an expanded role at HQ. That’s how I got into marketing and catering at a B2B level.
So was that a good learning experience for you?
Esther Woo (08:10):
It was a great learning experience. I joined the organization early on when they only had two locations, and was able to contribute to their growth and expansion, which ended up being 18 restaurant locations within my time working there.
So you moved into headquarters for this company. You’re working with this catering business. And in that role, you oversaw and helped participate in the expansion to 18 restaurants. What was that experience like? What did you learn by virtue of being on that ride?
Esther Woo (08:40):
It was actually a rollercoaster for me because I was fresh out of college. I did not have this experience that I can pull from, so it was like learn-as-you-go experience. I did know the ins and outs of the restaurant business from working at the operational level, however, I did not have this corporate experience before.
Esther Woo (09:01):
So it was an amazing journey. There were so many skills and experienced coworkers who were able to teach me their ways and the little nuances in order to get me up to speed so that I can grow professionally in my career.
Esther, you don’t stay there forever. In fact, you move on. Talk to us about what you did next.
Esther Woo (09:22):
After a total of 14 years in New York in the hospitality business, I then moved to Minnesota and joined Wells Fargo’s bankruptcy department.
Take us through why you would move from doing something that you seem to enjoy, you were experiencing a lot of growth and then moving from the catering business into the banking industry and going to work at Wells Fargo.
Esther Woo (09:43):
I felt like I was ready for some change in my life and I wanted to change and explore different industries leaving the hospitality industry behind. And although it wasn’t necessarily finance that drew me to Wells Fargo, but rather the job position itself, I’ve gained a strong sense of customer focus in my career with emphasis on helping and supporting customers to meet their needs, and I felt like I can transition that also into a new position in a new industry.
Makes sense. So what did you do at Wells Fargo then?
Esther Woo (10:16):
I was actually working in the bankruptcy department. It was a client-facing role dealing with people who had declared bankruptcy and were facing hardships in many ways. I was able to help in guiding them through parts of the bankruptcy process and with any questions along the way.
Esther Woo (10:33):
And you can imagine people going through bankruptcy can be very emotional at times, but there was definitely a sense of fulfillment that came with that role, knowing I was able to be a supportive element for people during that time.
That seems like a taxing role, Esther, helping people through the bankruptcy process, but of course a really important role. I’m curious if that experience changed your perspective or opinion on bankruptcy itself. I think everybody would approach that from a different perspective. I know the way I was raised and the way I thought about it. As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve changed my view a little bit, but I’d love to know about your view and your perspective on it.
Esther Woo (11:15):
It’s not an easy road declaring bankruptcy. And in a lot of cases, it is definitely the ultimate decision, but also you cannot look at it as a fresh start. And from my experience in the bankruptcy department, while there was a lot of this consoling and trying to support folks who were going through this process, and again, it’s a very long, dreary process, but at the end of the day, you do feel the sense of starting anew. And to me, I think that is something to look forward to for those who have actually made this decision.
The GRTiQ Podcast is made possible by a generous grant from The Graph Foundation. The Graph Grants Program provides support for protocol infrastructure, tooling gaps, subgraphs and community building efforts. Learn more at The Graph Foundation. That’s The Graph Foundation.
Hi, this is GRTiQ and thank you for listening. Listeners who enjoy this content can help support the GRTiQ Podcast by leaving a review or a five-star rating whenever they download podcasts by sharing episodes on social media or by simply telling a friend or colleague about something they heard or learned from one of our guests. It’s support from listeners like you who make it possible for us to keep shining a light on the people and stories behind web3 and The Graph.
So Esther, I got to ask then, you’re at Wells Fargo, you’re working with people that are going through financial difficulty. I imagine it spanned a huge spectrum of different types of people from different types of backgrounds. But when you couple that with your own background and some of the struggles of being a child of immigrants and some of the challenges that you overcame and your parents overcame, did that impact the way you think about the economy or the way you think about issues related to financial equality?
Esther Woo (13:29):
So as far as how this experience has impacted my view on the economy, it certainly gave me a closer and a more direct look into how devastating financial hardship can be, especially when it comes to families with children, elderly and minority groups, all of which are generally facing a taller order to get back on their feet.
Esther Woo (13:51):
I also got more insight on the ramifications of financial hardship, how it can negatively impact things like credit scores. That, in turn, puts negative effects on one’s ability to access necessary financial and consumer products. I think that’s why crypto has also impacted me because I think the concept of permissionless accessibility is an element that I initially admired about crypto. And now I can really see the potential that it can provide in helping people all over the world.
And so let’s double click on that. At what point in your career here do you become aware of crypto and become interested in what this thing is?
Esther Woo (14:32):
It’s actually quite funny when I think about it. My fiance, Oliver, had already been immersed in the crypto and web3 space for, I think, a year or so while I was working at Wells Fargo. During that year, he would talk about decentralization this and power of permissionless that. And to be honest, I loved watching him talking so passionately, but I understood little to nothing about anything he was saying.
Esther Woo (15:00):
I would just nod and say, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Then one day something just clicked in me, and I started to be able to finally connect some dots and not just hear the words he was saying. Having been so emotionally tired, also from my day-to-day in the bankruptcy world, learning about crypto and the vision of web3 was a breath of fresh air for me, feeling like I can really be a part of something great that can help and change the world.
Esther, as I think about some of the other guests that have been on the podcast and their first exposure to web3 and crypto, they haven’t been as fortunate as you to have their fiance introduce them and probably mentor them into it. So a lot of people come to it from this perspective of price speculation because they hear about Bitcoin and they decide to see what this thing is all about.
And eventually they learn about Ethereum, and then this aha moment of what this underlying tech can do for the world. But your experience is a little different. What were your first impressions? As you were being shown what crypto and web3 was, were you having aha moments of, “Oh, wow, this is the next internet,” or “This is an emerging technology that I wasn’t quite aware of that I should pay more attention to”? Walk us through some of those first impressions, what you were thinking.
Esther Woo (16:18):
It’s so true to say that my experience of walking into the world of web3 and starting to learn this new innovative concept is so different from probably many of folks out there who are hearing about crypto and hearing about blockchain. My personal experience, through a personal mentor walking me through, had not much to do with coin prices or anything along those lines, but more about the mission of web3.
Esther Woo (16:51):
So I’m glad that I was able to have that personal mentor to walk me through my first experience in the space. I would hope for anyone who’s listening, if they can find someone who’s already a little bit more knowledgeable in the space to help walk you through to understand the different concepts that are so important to the mission of web3.
Okay, Esther. So at some point, you become so activated on web3 and crypto that you leave Wells Fargo and go full time. Talk to us a little bit about that transition. What was that experience like? Did it feel like you were taking on risk or pursuing this incredible opportunity? Just walk us through what you were thinking.
Esther Woo (17:31):
Yeah. So when you have a personal mentor to guide you through the web3 and crypto space, there is some hand-holding, but there’s also research that you want to do for yourself and understanding the different concepts and trying to find your own passion.
Esther Woo (17:48):
And I felt that after having gone through some months of understanding the basic concepts of blockchain, along with the various terms and necessary starter pack information, I saw this announcement for the Advocates Program launch, and I just knew I had to apply.
Esther Woo (18:06):
But at that time, I had already decided that I wanted to immerse myself into the web3 space full-time. And even though I didn’t have this guaranteed source of income from doing so, I took a huge leap of passion and I resigned from Wells Fargo. And then a couple of weeks later, I ended up applying to the Advocates Program.
I want to double click on one thing you said there, Esther, which is this move into web3. As you’ve already shared, you have a non-technical background. You’ve mostly worked in customer service, customer success type positions, and yet web3 is so technical, or at least it has the perception of being a very technical industry.
So I’m curious about why someone like yourself with no technical background, certainly have the passion and the interest, you’ve got a great mentor, but you don’t necessarily have the technical skill to come in on day one and start building in web3. So help us understand that transition. What were you thinking? What was it about moving into web3 given your background that you thought this is still a place for me?
Esther Woo (19:14):
Yeah, that’s a great question. So at first glance, even for me when I started to learn about crypto and blockchain, I’m like, “How does a non-technical person ever even think about getting involved?” I myself had a hard time, even when I was learning about The Graph. I wanted to engage and try to contribute somehow, but didn’t know which path to take or how to do that.
Esther Woo (19:40):
And what I found, as I was gaining more experience, whether it was with The Graph community or other communities that I also tried to immerse myself in, I realized that community is so important because it’s the people and the interactions you make that help grow the web3 ecosystem. And to that end, I feel we’ve seen more and more DAOs appearing.
Esther Woo (20:07):
And I think when you think about a decentralized organization like DAOs are, you really feel that sense of like-minded folks coming together. And as I saw, for instance, the Advocates Program and other DAOs appearing, I started to realize how important and vital communities are and that interaction, networking, building relationships. So I do feel that communities are the way to help grow the web3 ecosystem.
As you mentioned there, you applied to become a Graph Advocate just weeks after the formal announcement. So I know you eventually became an advocate. You were one of the first generation then. Talk to us about that experience. What was it like joining Graph Advocates in those early days?
Esther Woo (20:55):
Being accepted into the Advocates Program, I would say it’s a moment in my life that I will never forget because it really gave me this feeling like I had arrived in web3. As I became an advocate, I was focused on the community care role and providing guidance in the overall Graph community, which included helping new advocates as they were onboarded to The Graph Advocates Program. And it’s just been a really amazing experience collaborating with so many like-minded people.
I love the story of advocates getting activated not only in web3, but in The Graph by virtue of joining the Advocates Program. And as longtime listeners know, I’ve had a lot of Graph Advocates on the GRTiQ Podcast. I want to ask you about this confirmation that you experienced at that time. So you made this leap from web2 into web3, you have a non-technical background.
And you had this observation that, “Well, web3 needs community and they need people like me,” despite the fact that in that period in your life, you didn’t have necessarily the technical skills that you have now. My question is was it confirmation of that assumption? Joining Graph Advocates, getting involved in The Graph community, was that a confirmation that, “Yeah, it’s true, web3 is about community and there is a place for people here”?
Esther Woo (22:18):
So being an advocate as well as a DAO member enabled me to contribute to this highly technical and complex project like The Graph through these community-driven initiatives. So having come from a non-technical background, I felt like that was really cool.
As you mentioned there, Esther, not only did you become an advocate, you became a member of AdvocatesDAO. And again, I’ve had a lot of members of AdvocatesDAO on the podcast before. What’s your advice to any listeners that are hearing your story, who may have had that initial barrier of, “I’m not technical. How do I make this move? How do I contribute?” Anybody like that who’s listening and wants to become either a member of The Graph community or join the Advocates Program.
Esther Woo (23:01):
Yeah. I would say just go for it. What have you got to lose? Immerse yourself into the community on Discord, on Telegram. Apply to become a Graph Advocate. It gives you an opportunity to engage in various ways, meet new people all over the world that are aligned in the vision and mission of web3.
So Esther, after getting activated in web3, finding The Graph and joining Graph Advocates and AdvocatesDAO, and I know I’ve overemphasized this, but for listeners, this will now make sense. You had a non-technical background at that time, but then you decide to learn how to code. And this is where your story really becomes incredible to me. Why did you decide, at this point, that you needed to learn how to code?
Esther Woo (23:45):
So I was definitely completely non-technical. And being in web3 and certainly at The Graph, means you’re constantly surrounded by technical discussions and advancements. So I think the goal was here to learn some of the basics in coding and enhance my understanding of certain technical frameworks in general.
I love it. That’s so amazing to me. So how did you get started?
Esther Woo (24:12):
So I took this journey with my fiance. We looked for different resources where we could find maybe some courses where we could learn basics of coding. So we went with freeCodeCamp. We completed our certifications after about three months, and it was pretty much seven days a week over about 500 hours.
Given the context of your story and your background then, I got to ask about that experience of learning how to code. As you said there, sounds like you put a ton of time into this, but what was that experience like of going from non-coding background to learning how to code? How did you do it? What was that like?
Esther Woo (25:19):
In the beginning, I want to say that you’re ecstatic when you successfully solve specific coding exercises. But sometimes that’s also paired with a ton of experiences where you get it wrong. And sometimes it’s only due to a missing semicolon, and you have no clue that this minor miss makes the entire line of code fail.
Esther Woo (25:41):
I want to say that I had to be persistent. So persistence is key. I faced a lot of going back to the drawing board situations and had to review past learnings multiple times because I forget about tiny details. It’s so easy to get frustrated at times, and I’ve learned patience is another good companion to have in that journey.
Esther, there’s a lot of non-technical people that enjoy this podcast and like to get their news about The Graph from it. So some of them are contemplating, I’m sure, learning how to code and taking the same journey you just described. What’s your advice to them?
Esther Woo (26:18):
I think my advice would be, first of all, going back to persistence and patience. But if you’re ready to get started and jump in and you feel motivated, there are a ton of free resources out there. And that’s where I looked into. So there’s freeCodeCamp, there’s YouTube videos of Patrick Collins.
Esther Woo (26:36):
He was a huge help during my learning experience. There’s also Alchemy University where you can jump into, and they have courses that take you step by step in learning different programming languages. So again, there are a ton of free resources out there, so go check them out.
Well, that’s great advice, Esther. We’ll put some links in the show notes for any listeners that want to take action, learn how to code. And you’re a great example of what’s possible. I’m just smiling thinking about somebody that’s working in Wells Fargo gets introduced to crypto and web3 and then in just a few years later, has learned how to code and is a contributing member of a really important protocol like The Graph.
But it doesn’t really stop there because part of the reason I want to speak to you today is you and your fiance launched CryptoPols. So you not only learned how to code, but you’ve actually created a really cool app that’s picking up a lot of momentum and attention on Twitter. What can you tell us about the origins of CryptoPols and of course what it is in case listeners don’t know?
Esther Woo (27:41):
I want to take us to before CryptoPols. Right before it, there was TWAP. TWAP was the very first attempt to develop a real application. It was an AI-powered tweet generator, and we were able to successfully deploy it as a Chrome extension. We actually got a dozen installs and continuous usage from some folks, which is cool to see that you’ve developed something of use for others.
Esther Woo (28:06):
Esther Woo (28:26):
So then comes CryptoPols. It stands for crypto politics. And to be honest, politics was actually never my thing. I definitely did not have much prior experience or desire to dive into the deeper discussions and nuances found in most political topics.
Esther Woo (28:43):
But when you see some of the discussions around crypto regulations, including ideas [inaudible 00:28:49] that’s shutting down the entire industry, then all of a sudden, you realize the threat is to your own professional experience. And that real impact has created a motivation for me to engage on the topic.
So not dissimilar from other startup stories, you had an initial project that you probably cut your teeth on, it didn’t go exactly as planned, but you eventually pivoted and now you’re working on CryptoPols. Talk to us about why then you started CryptoPols.
You mentioned it a little bit there, but just double clicking on that. Why is CryptoPols something that’s important? And as you said, you don’t really have a ton of interest in politics, why would you develop an app on this subject?
Esther Woo (29:30):
So we’ve witnessed how political debates in Washington around crypto regulations have really heated up over the last year, especially after the FDX fallout. At the same time, we’ve also seen a number of crypto influencers declaring the topic of crypto as a main voting issue.
Esther Woo (29:49):
You’ll see folks like Brian Armstrong, Ryan Selkis. There’s Nic Carter, David Hoffman and John Deaton. Not to mention we’ve also seen Brandon and Yaniv from The Graph community actively sending that message on social media.
Esther Woo (30:04):
And now that we’re seeing this crypto-focused electorate emerging for the 2024 elections, the question we had was: how do those voters find out about the crypto stance of their representatives in the House and Senate? And how do you know who to vote for if crypto is the driving voting issue?
Okay, I got it. So CryptoPols was created to help inform people in the United States that are worried about the future of regulation. And of course, as you said, there’s a lot of people within the web3 space, a lot of thought leaders who are constantly talking about this.
We have an election year coming up, so it is certainly top of mind. Describe then how CryptoPols works for people who, again, are listening, they haven’t seen it, they haven’t engaged with it. What does it do? What kind of data are you collecting and displaying there?
Esther Woo (30:56):
What you’ll find on CryptoPols is you get actual crypto sentiment information about US Congress members of one’s own state and district, and you have access to this aggregated information regarding all crypto-related legislation. And it’s tough to find one platform that reveals all of that information as well as providing relevant crypto sentiment for that information. So that’s why I feel like CryptoPols is a unique place.
What’s your vision for CryptoPols when it’s not an election year? Obviously, things are ramping up. A lot of heated topics and debates are happening because of where we fall in the election cycle. But in non-election cycles, what’s the role you envision CryptoPols playing?
Esther Woo (31:43):
Naturally, we’ve been focused on content that is most relevant for next year’s election for obvious reasons. But we already have expanded CryptoPols with relevant politics data that is generally useful at all times. So for instance, we have developed a legislation section that shows all crypto-related bills and resolutions that were introduced in Congress.
Esther Woo (32:05):
And so far, that’s been 35 or so this year. Interesting fact though, there are a ton of bills that are being introduced in Congress over a two-year span, some 10,000 or so on average. If you want to find all proposed bills on any specific topic, it’s very difficult to extract this comprehensive list on your own. So CryptoPols does the work for you, essentially. And you can simply check in on a regular basis to see the progress individual bills have gone through.
Esther Woo (32:36):
We also evaluate each bill in detail and provide users with a rating of whether the bill is pro or anti-crypto, and how big of an impact that proposed bill would have on the crypto industry overall. Users can quickly see summaries without having to go through the entire language of the bill. And we’ve tried to focus on presenting the data back to users in this easy-to-understand format.
Esther Woo (33:05):
But besides legislation, we also want to help crypto-focused voters to engage in the political process, be it in an election year or not. So we’re currently building a Contact your Representative feature. So we’ve seen something like that with the Stand with Crypto initiative where you can enter your address in a form, and you’re given a pre-populated letter of sorts.
Esther Woo (33:30):
There are a lot of different ways you can approach such a feature, and we’re currently evaluating the design that we like best for that. We want to come up with something that’s very streamlined and configurable for different scenarios in ways we haven’t seen it elsewhere. More to come on that in the coming weeks, but that’s our focus on the development side of the project right now.
That’s a great overview. And I’ve clicked around CryptoPols myself and of course follow it on Twitter. It’s nice. You can click on a specific state, see the representatives of that state. You also get updates of important legislation and bills that are being passed. So what’s the hope here? What’s the intention? It can’t just be to provide easy access to crypto legislation and local representatives, right?
Esther Woo (34:16):
Yeah. The mission of CryptoPols is to display all that data in one place so that folks in the US can review that to make better informed voting decisions that are aligned with one’s own crypto views.
So Esther, clearly CryptoPols is very US-centric. A lot of the regulation and the information there is directly tied to things happening in the US. What is that relationship then between the US and the broader regulatory worldwide environment?
Esther Woo (34:49):
So we have and continue to be focused on the US for a couple of reasons. First, when it comes to crypto regulations, the US is way behind other countries that have already implemented different legislation around crypto. That means that the position and sentiment towards crypto is not even fully established for many members in Congress. You’ll see many politicians still don’t know much about crypto at all.
Esther Woo (35:16):
And that’s why CryptoPols can be very helpful when we capture that data on politicians as soon as they signal it either through a public statement or a legislative action such as a vote they cast on a crypto bill. Second, it’s also based on capacity. Covering the US is in itself a noticeable effort. It requires a lot of attention to detail in order to provide this streamlined presentation of the data and to ensure that the data is actually accurate and complete.
Esther Woo (35:47):
For example, you want to avoid generating a wrong crypto sentiment rating for a politician that doesn’t truly reflect his or her stance on the matter. So it’s a lot of work, and we are also continuing to develop new features that will help users and voters in the US, and those will be released in the coming months.
Well, I love the story and I love the fact that, as I’ve said, you went from non-technical to technical. Now, you’ve created CryptoPols, and encourage listeners to go check this out, especially given where we are in the regulatory climate in the US and the implications, as you said there, that the US has on a worldwide level.
Given all the research you’ve done, all the data you’re pulling in building this app, I do want to ask you about what you’ve learned or your observations about the upcoming election cycle. We’ve got a lot of important decisions to make. And for people that are deeply concerned or worried about the future of crypto, they’ll need to vote in a way that supports that.
So as you look ahead, and I know you don’t have a crystal ball, but what do you foresee or anticipate in the upcoming election cycle here in the US on this topic?
Esther Woo (36:58):
I think the upcoming election cycle will be the most captivating one we’ll have ever seen, which is driven by the candidates running for the presidential office given their background and stories. I think that overall, crypto won’t get quite as much coverage as we might hope for because the focus and the debates on the national level will likely be elsewhere.
Esther Woo (37:20):
But I don’t think that matters too much because crypto can be a much more relevant topic down ballot, especially for the House of Representatives, but also the Senate where there are some interesting seats coming up for election among the total of 33. I feel confident that a meaningful number of seats in the House can be flipped to pro-crypto candidates.
Esther Woo (37:43):
And if only 20-some seats can be flipped, then that could already turn the Congress pro-crypto overall, given how thin party majorities have been in the recent past. And given the attention that some big influencers in the crypto space are putting on Washington and the upcoming elections, I feel actually pretty good about the prospect of a more crypto-friendly Congress after the next election.
Esther Woo (38:09):
And I do hope that CryptoPols can contribute to that as it was designed with that intent to help crypto-focused voters make those voting decisions aligned with their crypto views.
For listeners who want to learn more about CryptoPols and see how it works, what’s the best place or best way to get started?
Esther Woo (38:29):
So you can go to cryptopols.com. That’s pols with one L, so crypto P-O-L-S dot com. You can find out who your representatives are and what they think about crypto. And if there’s no information yet on your representative, then check back weekly.
Esther Woo (38:45):
We are constantly adding new data, so it’s just going to be a matter of time until we get to everyone. And there’s also a contact page on the website where you can reach out to us with any feedback or questions.
So Esther, I only have one final question for you before I ask you the GRTiQ 10. And this question’s about your journey and about what you’ve done in your life, professionally. You transitioned from a degree in English with a little bit of interest in criminal justice to working in the restaurant industry.
Then you moved into the financial industry, and now here you are in web3 and you’ve learned how to code and launch CryptoPols. So my question is about your drive and your approach to trying new things. What is behind all of this? What drives you?
Esther Woo (39:35):
So throughout my career there have been huge transitions, lots of changes. I met so many different folks, especially in web3. And I think for me, it’s always been about curiosity and this eagerness to continuously learn more and more.
Esther Woo (39:53):
And for my drive for wanting to gain this deeper understanding on things. For instance, for web3, learning how to code gave me a better understanding of technical frameworks, and that came through being involved in web3. And I hope that as I continue, I’ll find more and more things that I get curious with and start to engage more in.
Well, Esther, I’m so grateful that you came on the GRTiQ Podcast and shared your story. And now I’m going to ask you the GRTiQ 10. This is a standard segment of the podcast every week where I ask a guest 10 questions in hopes of not only helping listeners learn something new, try something different, or achieve more in their own life, but just shine a different light on the guests, get to know them a little bit more personally. So Esther, are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?
Esther Woo (40:40):
What book or article has had the most impact on your life?
Esther Woo (40:56):
I would say Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
Is there a movie or a TV show that you would recommend everyone should watch?
Esther Woo (41:03):
12 Monkeys, the TV series. It’s the best time travel series.
And how about this, if you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
Esther Woo (41:12):
I love Disney, so Frozen.
What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?
Esther Woo (41:18):
What defines you most in life is not the situations you run into, but how you react to them.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think other people have learned or know quite yet?
Esther Woo (41:29):
Failure isn’t an endpoint. It’s merely feedback.
What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?
Esther Woo (41:36):
Drink water, a lot of it.
Based on your own life experiences and observations, what’s the one habit or characteristic that you think best explains how or why people find success in life?
Esther Woo (41:49):
I would say being proactive.
And the final three questions, Esther, are complete-the-sentence type questions. So the first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is…
Esther Woo (41:59):
The ability to directly collaborate with people all over the world.
And how about this? If you’re on X, formerly Twitter, you should be following…
Esther Woo (42:08):
Definitely Chase Chapman.
And the last question is this: I’m happiest when…
Esther Woo (42:14):
My fiance cooks for me.
Esther, thank you so much for joining the podcast and sharing your story, talking about your work in Graph Advocates, AdvocatesDAO, and the journey you took from web2 into web3, learning how to code and launching CryptoPols.
And as I said, I’ll leave the links in the show notes for any listeners that want to learn more and check out all the great work. If listeners want to learn more about you and follow you, stay up to date on the things you’re working on, what’s the best way to stay in touch?
Esther Woo (42:48):
You can follow and connect with me on Twitter or now called X. And you can also learn more about me on my personal website on estiez.xyz. That’s E-S-T-I-E-Z dot X-Y-Z, where I also have a contact feature through which you can reach out directly.
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