Interview With Helen Disney Founder Of Unblocked Events
We had the pleasure of interviewing Helen Disney. Helen Disney is a serial entrepreneur in the blockchain sectors. Helen is the Founder & CEO of Unblocked Events, which is a hub for Blockchain events, education, and information making blockchain technology accessible for a non-technical business audience.
Can you tell us what inspired you to pursue this career path? What do you want others to take from your story?
In 2014, I was moving on from my first business and looking for new opportunities. I had the chance to be involved in a large conference in Amsterdam spreading the word about bitcoin, which was still not at all well-known in Europe at the time. I went from being a heavy skeptic of cryptocurrency to become absolutely fascinated with the potential of bitcoin and other applications of blockchain to change the way we solve social and economic problems. I completely changed my career at the age of 41 and went into 2 worlds I knew very little about – technology and finance. It was scary and intimidating for a long time but I have never regretted it.
Could you tell us about any of the interesting projects that you are working on currently?
My core project – via my company, Unblocked– is to help speed up and deepen education about blockchain among senior business people and those in public life. Currently, we focus on building vertical events and communities of interest in areas such as healthcare, energy, creative industries, and the public sector. We are currently building a new event on supply chain applications of blockchain, working towards the 3rdyear of our annual event Healthcare Unblocked and about to launch a new research paper mapping public sector implementation of blockchain around the world.
Is there a particular person who you would like to credit with helping you get to where you are? Can you share an anecdote about that?
I’d like to thank Jon Matonis and Patrick Murckfor bringing me on board to work at the Bitcoin Foundation back when I really knew almost nothing about bitcoin. Without that exposure and learning from the technical experts I met in those early days, I would never have has the courage or knowledge to develop Unblocked.
What are the Four things that you think are most fascinating about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Potential for social reform and change
- Putting decision making and control back in the hands of individuals
- Ability to directly incentiviseaction and drive towards common goals on a global scale
- Possibilities when new technologies come together to enhance one another
Put together these factors mean we have a chance to make a huge revolutionary impact on society and make major changes to healthcare and welfare systems, our impact on the environment, the way we fund charitable goals, and how we use the internet and trade more broadly.
What are the 5 things that concern you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Misunderstandings and poor information
- Opportunities for bad actors to exploit or defraud the uninitiated
- Regulators’ struggling to keep up with the pace of change
- Lack of good user interfaces
Paceof technical scaling
All of these factors are holding us back from being able to harness the positive potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain for the people who need it the most, especially those in developing countries.
How have you used your success to bring positive change to the world? Can you share a story?
As much as I can, I try to use my network and experience to help others boost their confidence and thrive, especially younger women building their careers in male-dominated fields. I do this via mentoring with the Global Thinkers Forum, public speaking, making useful introductions and sharing advice more informally.
What are the 3 things that you would advise someone who aspires to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
It’s pretty hard to emulate someone else’s career especially when many of the things that they have done have happened more by accident than by design! I would say that the key lessons I can draw from my own experience are fairly simple but fundamental – work hard, build meaningful networks around things you really care about and always deliver on what you promise. Specific to tech and blockchain, I’d say – don’t be put off and it’s never too late to learn new things and make your mark, even when you think your experience is not relevant, it might well be you don’t realize that you have valuable skills that others lack. In my case that was the ability to ‘translate’ and communicate highly technical topics to a non-technical audience in ways that make sense to them.
What is the one “Life Lesson Quote” that you stand by? Can you tell us how that had relevance to your own life?
Gretchen Rubin, the happiness guru, uses the phrase: “The days are long but the years are short”, which I think about a lot. She specifically uses it in relation to having children but I think you can also apply it to running a business. Every day can seem so full, tiring and busy when you’re a working mother running a company that it’s hard to see that you’re making progress but when you look back at your kids – or indeed at your start-up business – you are often astounded at how much change and growth has happened in a short period of time.
Who would be one person in the world that you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I’d love to have a meal with Sheryl Sandberg. I think she’s a fascinating woman who has overcome huge barriers on both on a professional and personal level and would love to hear her insights on what it’s like being a senior woman in Silicon Valley.
Where can our readers find you on social media?
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/Hdisney
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/helen-disney-unblocked/