This is an opinion piece by Justin Raglandco-organizer of Rocket City Bitcoin.
It all started with the bitcoin crash of 2017. My first thought was, “What the hell did I get myself into?”
All the money I invested in bitcoin in the previous year fell 80%. I slowly watched my exit strategy and my newfound wealth dwindle before my eyes. What I thought was one of the most important investments I’ve ever made turned into one of my worst nightmares in the blink of an eye. After days of disbelief, I began a journey to figure out what this bitcoin business was all about and how I could make the most of what the crash had left me.
I’m from Rocket City (aka Huntsville, Alabama) – where the main risks are whether or not you’re an Alabama or Auburn fan and who to disclose this information to – but here I am. was faced with the toughest question that all new Bitcoiners face: Am I selling now? I know people reading this are probably screaming, “Hell no!” but in 2017, it felt like a no-brainer. That’s part of why I’m passionate about teaching Bitcoin beginners because I’ve been there before. Being a newbie myself, I researched and bought almost everything with bitcoin just so I could learn.
I’ve read “The Internet Of Money” by Andreas M. Antonopoulos, watched tons of YouTube videos, and listened to the “Tales From The Crypt” podcast, among other things my wife still hasn’t forgiven me for. However, reading “The Bitcoin Standard” by Saifedean Ammous happened when I was totally orange drunk. My fascination and discovery turned into full Bitcoin evangelism to family, friends, strangers at the grocery store, and anyone who wanted to listen. Amazingly, almost everyone I spoke to listened and they still thank me for introducing them to the hardest money ever.
I was nicknamed the “bitcoin guy” in my family and circle of influence. Fast forward to the 2020 bull run. I was bombarded with phone calls, texts, and DMs from those who weren’t listening to my rostrum messages. Over time, I started thinking about the best way to bring all these people together so that I didn’t have to have the same conversation multiple times. I took to Twitter to see what some of my favorite podcasters and authors were discussing and found #BitcoinTwitter. It was like the movie “Ready Player One” – full of quirkiness, individuality, jokes, shitposting and trolling. I found myself scrolling for hours, unable to retweet or reply as this was my first foray into the Twitterverse.
I found out about a bitcoin meetup in Nashville, but waited a few months to attend because I wasn’t sure what to expect. There I was, the “bitcoin guy”, but no one else knew about it outside of my circle. I had to change that, but I didn’t know where to start.
When I finally decided to attend the meetup, I just wanted to see what it would be like to teach others about Bitcoin and potentially connect with other Bitcoiners. I had no idea that this encounter would catapult my journey and give me the new nickname of “The Connector” by my friend who runs the Asheville encounter.
Coming out of faith and trusting God led me to this encounter. God and my new Bitcoin family have been extremely good to me. I cultivated relationships with other meetup organizers and shared my ideas and vision with them and was invited to a two-day conference in Austin, TX hosted at Pleb Lab. My time there was an eye opener and their attention to detail floored me. They have a formula that works and I was honored to learn from them. From walking the streets of Austin to walking into the biggest conference I’ve ever attended, which seemed like luck to me at the time, but I believe it was bigger than that, it was truly God’s favor.
Bitcoin Conference 2022 was beyond anything I could imagine. Attending it reinforced my interest and goal of working in the Bitcoin space. It exposed me to some of the brightest people around the world who share the same thirst for creating careers, pushing the orange, and changing the lives of ordinary people. When I was not at the conference, I spent my time in an Airbnb that hosted me with other Bitcoiners. We could have easily had a reality series with all the personalities, conversations, brainstorming and food choices. My relationships with each of these people have evolved and I am eternally grateful for this time and bonding experience.
It came full circle when I had the chance to volunteer at the meet and greet booth during the conference. In 2014, it was a “Bitcoin Magazine” sitting on a stand at a local brewery that stuck with me. I had no idea what it was, so I picked it up and started reading it. During this journey, it is crucial to remember the faith and the reason why you started on the Bitcoin path. For some it’s for earnings or a hedge against inflation, for others it’s having “F you money”. For me, it’s those things and a chance for everyone to have freedom and sovereignty that wouldn’t be achieved in today’s world without bitcoin. I finally met another local Bitcoiner and we agreed that we should start our own meeting in Rocket City.
The Rocket City Bitcoin Meetup was the first step, but I had to join the Twittersphere. I didn’t know how to be interesting, so I decided to get into it. Interested in what others were doing, saying, selling or starting. I noticed people; if a person needed the thing someone else was offering, I connected them. Involving others and living this journey together is something that is close to my heart and that fascinates me.
I urge all members of the plebs to give orange pills to their families, friends and social circles. Start the conversation with them in a way they can understand and don’t give up. They want to know why you are passionate about bitcoin. Go further in your commitment and organize a meeting or attend one in your neighboring cities. Your community support will go a long way. For those who are interested in bitcoin but don’t know where to start, I suggest reading the previously mentioned books and attending a local bitcoin meetup. Ask questions, understand and build community. Beginners miss opportunities because it seems hard to follow, but if you ask questions and seek understanding, you’ll come away stronger instead of discouraged.
I started this journey by being interested in others. I’ve made some fantastic friendships and met some amazing mentors along the way. Thanks to their advice, I developed my meeting and my local network. And I’m just getting started.
I would like to personally thank God, Rocket City Bitcoin Meetup members and my co-organizer, my closest friends and mentors, my Austin Bitcoin family – especially Pleb Lab – Nashville Meetup organizers and members, and my Ohio Bitcoin family . Special thanks to Car Gonzales for pushing me out of my comfort zone and inspiring me to write this article and Texas Slim for telling me, “I don’t have to ask permission.
This is a guest post by Justin Ragland. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.