Episode 105

Matthew Liu ·  Bringing NFTs to the Masses with Origin Protocol

“My parents were like, where are you doing with friends? Like, what are you doing? And I was like, what am I doing? But something in me just didn't let me quit”

Matthew is the co-founder of Origin Protocol, a blockchain project founded in 2017. Origin’s mission is to bring NFTs and DeFi to mainstream audiences.


Matthew is a serial entrepreneur and has founded several companies previously. He served as co-founder of PriceSlash (acquired by BillShark) and as co-founder and CEO of Unicycle Labs. Earlier in his career, Matthew was an early employee and one of the earliest Product Managers at YouTube (acquired by Google), leading multiple products on the consumer, partnership, and monetization teams. Later, he was VP of Product at Qwiki (acquired by Yahoo) and VP of Product at Bonobos (acquired by Walmart). He has a MS and BS from Stanford University.


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Podcast Transcript

Matthew Liu

[00:00:00] Maggie Chui: Hi, everyone, welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! Today we have a very special guest with us, his name is Matthew Liu. Matthew is the co-founder of Origin Protocol, a blockchain project founded in 2017. Origin’s mission is to bring NFTs to the mainstream audience. Matthew is a serial entrepreneur and has founded several companies previously.

He served as co-founder of Price Lash, and as co-founder and CEO of Unix Cycle Labs. Earlier in his career, Matthew was an early adopter and one of the earliest product managers at YouTube leading multiple products on the consumer partnership and monetization. Later he was VP of product at quickie and VP of product at Bonobos. He has Ms. MBS from Stanford University, Matthew, welcome to the show. 

[00:00:50] Matthew Liu: Thanks so much for having me. Really happy to be here and excited to chat with you. Yeah. 

[00:00:54] Bryan Pham: And we’re super excited to have you here. Your journey has been pretty crazy, being one of the early employees at YouTube and working in your current company, that’s pretty much pioneering absolutely a new space. And before we get to that story, we want to understand. How did you become the person you are today? Where’d you grow up? What was your childhood like? How did your parents teach you that it’s okay to take risks and become an early adopter on so many different platforms is it’s so game-changing across different industries What was your upbringing like? 

[00:01:22] Matthew Liu: . So it’s funny that you mentioned that because my parents think that I’ve too much of a risk-taker and that I’ve done a lot of big gambles with my career. But the ironic thing is that they’re immigrants, right? So when they were young, they took the risk as well.

So they immigrated to the US for grad school. [They] had no money to their name, whether, living in, Yeah, I would say like pretty poor conditions and just, hustling and scrapping to be able to make it. And so they climb their way up as, starving grad students that then got, their earliest jobs in technology and still like they had to face a lot of hardship. Not as strong in the English language dealing with, new workplace culture. But eventually, they made it right in the sense that they had civil careers and trajectories and both of them had engineering backgrounds and we’re into technology and so at an early age, I think that was an area of interest.

I grew up in New Jersey spent the first 15 years of my life there. Very education-focused, to be honest, when I grew up, I was pretty shy and quite introverted, which is very different than what I am today. There’s just a lot of focus on working hard and also trying to.

Treat people well so I say that, my parents and my grandparents help shape who I was at an early age, later on, I’m new to California. My dad got a job at a startup. So you’ll notice the trend of a bit of a risk-taking there. And I just stayed in the bay area for about two decades. Finish out high school. In the bay area then went to Stanford. After Stanford knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and the best way to pick up those skills was to join a startup. And at the time a lot of my friends were getting into banking, management consulting, and I almost went down that path as well, but something just didn’t feel quite right.

And I knew that I wanted to do something a little bit off the beaten path. Today. Everyone talks about technology and startups, but in 2005 it was, not the cool thing to do necessarily. I saw this company called YouTube. And I was like, this is really interesting. And I think I want to work there.

And so I just knew I needed to network my way in because I had no experience and I wasn’t the background, of someone at a high-technology start-up would look for, but I was able to get an introduction to the CEO. And then I spent weeks just like harassing him to give me an interview, like literally trying to pound down the door calling them got into the first round of interviews.

I thought it was a smart kid, but I had no experience. And then just ignore me, but I just kept annoying them. And suddenly they’re like, okay, he’s passionate about what we’re doing, let’s talk to him again. And I guess Work and persistence kind of pay off because eventually, I was able to convince them to hire me as the big, basically the youngest employee at the time.

And I still had no idea what I was doing. It was really scary, an initial experience like, oh my God, I’m going to get fired in the first two weeks. Because just everything they were talking about, everything they were working on was just like beyond me. But I think those are the best environments when you are not cooked and well-prepared.

You know that’s trial by fire, right? And so you go in very quickly. And thankfully I was able to pick everything up and develop a very strong working relationship with other early YouTubers. Several of which are now working with me at Origin. And from there it was just this organic journey, trying to figure out what’s the next step? What is my path to entrepreneurship? There were a couple of starts and stops. Far from glamorous experience, especially in the early days. So after YouTube, I tried to start a company initially but didn’t quite get off the ground, which co-founders a couple of times then work sports for a couple of other startups learn some new skills, and then really decided to go after it again in 2013.

So that was yeah, it was almost like nine years. So very early 2013 decided to make the jump and just start grinding it out. And the first three and a half years didn’t take a paycheck. It was hustling, trying to build products and find customers, trying to find, scalable business models.

And they’re just like failure. My parents were like, what are you doing? My friends, what are you doing? And I was like, what am I doing? But something in me just didn’t let me quit. And so I just kept going and going and then everything magically changed in 2016?

I think a couple of things happened throughout the, three and a half years of not paying myself. I was forced to acquire new skills. Like previously I was just, more of a manager type, but throughout that process, I learned how to code, I learned how to design, and learned how to sell. I learned how to do growth tax and marketing. And I actually, I think became much more well-rounded as. And the second thing that happened was I started working with my now co-founder at Origin, Josh and he and I had just had a very complementary relationship. Just like we’re able to work together extremely effectively more effectively than my previous co-founders and other businesses.

And I was literally like this close from hanging off the gloves and saying, Hey, I’m not going to make it as an entrepreneur started preparing my resume and looking at companies I was going to apply to when we started working together and I was like, all right, I’ll give it like a month or a quarter or something.

And that was like, 1% battery life in terms of energy. But That was enough to get the recharge. So within that quarter, we are able to spin up our first business and really quickly it started generating seven figures of revenue. And I was like, okay, there’s something here. There’s enough reason to persist and go and we’re onto something. And a few months later we had another crazy idea. We were like, oh, let’s try starting that business as well. And we very quickly spun that up and realized we didn’t want to run that business, but that.

The, we had built something valuable pretty quickly. So we ended up selling tech assets to competitors. So like very quickly we had built two businesses that had no, some measure of success in rather quickly. And so then we’re like, okay, we know we can work together. Now let’s go after something bigger.

And I was very fortunate to have invested a little bit of money into cryptocurrency early on same with Josh. And in 2016 it was. Starting to pick up. It wasn’t really obvious that this was going to be a huge trend yet. But because we had invested some money and, 2012, 2014 now it was like, okay, we’re onto something or there’s something here, right? Like why are investments now worth substantially and what money and why is there so much more developer activity and community around blockchain cryptocurrency? And so we started to dive in and at first, it was just like, Hey, like everyone’s speculating.

Let’s speculate too. So let’s trade all these cryptocurrencies and built our own. Your private trading platform, so to speak, right? So we had some bots that would do algorithm trading. We built our portfolio management software. We did a lot of stuff just to figure out how to generate cash flow from crypto.

But the interesting thing about it is like many times. No speculation. Gets people to think deeper, right? When you have skin in the game and you start investing and learning. And so then we started to try to understand decentralized technologies and what they could do. And that was when we decided the technology would be so disruptive that it would change many different industries and it would be almost like a huge mistake on our part, if we didn’t really grasp it by the horns, this is a once in a Jewish opportunity. We needed to go all in. And so we made the decision that we wanted to build a blockchain startup figured out how to divest your other businesses that were still running. But was like, Hey, we gotta get into this.

And so we picked the biggest, hairiest most audacious idea that we could come up with in blockchain. And that was the beginning of Origin. We had this crazy vision. We didn’t necessarily know this is like a microcosm of the larger journey, which is you have to continue to grind, right?

You have to try new ideas. You have to pivot. It’s not easy. Some of our initial fell flat on their faces. Then cryptocurrency markets, like they went to the bear market and people were, very bearish on technology and the community, but we had the person through that. And it wasn’t until 2020.

Last year, that activity started picking back up again. So we had to weather that storm but since then we’ve built two I would say flagship products that are both doing well. One of them is squarely in the NFT space. Non-fungible tokens and the other one is in the device space, decentralized finance.

But yeah, we’re just continuing to grind and I think it’s going to be, another decade at least of just working. Really hard all the time, but trying to choose something really ambitious

[00:09:22] Bryan Pham: That is one heck of a story, and there’s so much to break down and digest from there. Shout out to being that hustler as a kid, then you get the opportunity at YouTube. I think that speaks volumes to our younger listeners that, Hey, she wants me to go for it and go for really. But when you have the opportunity has to be able to seize it, it really will improve yourself because this can be games, you can be life-changing.

And I see Steve talk about you on your website about how great you are. And you’re not, he’s not the only person that’s said that. My network has also told me that you’re someone that can do very accomplished things in life. So shout out to you And then regarding the NFT space, it’s relatively new and I liked your big audacious goal, like decentralizing the marketplace. And for a lot of people, this sounds like a foreign word. What does that even mean? But I think that the way the world is trending, it’s going to be de-centralized when in our lifetime.

And it will be like everything else in life. People do not like change and it takes a while for us to adopt this mindset. There are two parts I wanted to adjust for our listeners when they hear NFT it’s such a hot word nowadays, but what does that even mean? And decentralized? What does that even mean?

So can you explain to your listeners, what does it, what does decentralization means to you and what are you trying to, how are we decentralizing? That’s the very thing. What’s that? 

[00:10:37] Matthew Liu: Let’s talk about what a decentralized internet would look like in comparison to today’s internet. And by the way, I’m not one of these crazy philosophical idealists. That’s oh I hate Google or I hate Facebook because they’re these giant centralized authorities. I think they have many flaws, right? Data issues, there are privacy issues, there’s monopolistic behavior, right?

And so I think there are huge amounts of improvements in the new internet that we can build versus allowing these companies to accrue all the value. But I do want to give a nod to, Yeah, Facebook and YouTube and Twitter, and, Airbnb like these web 2.0 companies that have completely, disrupted the world right.

In their own. Allowing people to connect with each other allowing people to book a car, right with the tap of a button, right? Every person has an iPhone and Android phone, pretty much it’s become so important in our social fabric, as well as, global and local economies.

Great accomplishments in the past with the centralized internet. So why can a decentralized internet be more advantageous and better? So there’s a couple, key. Points here, but essentially these centralized internet gives power back from the people. The idea is that rather than just having a few, these are very powerful, like almost like corporation states, right? It’s the alignment of all different types of ecosystem participants that build this new internet together. And the alignment. Of interest is largely through crypto-economic incentives, right?

When you have incentives built into these protocols from the very beginning then it’s very easy to rally people and have them collaborate and work. And so one example of this is a theory them and having, the decentralized world computer is what they called it in the early days.

I’m not exactly sure what they call it now, but the idea is you have all these different Ethereum nodes running. They’re all able to. Agree on what data is being processed, which transactions are being sent, what logic is being run by different applications that are living on-chain. And so it’s able to basically create a new operating system for the internet.

But it’s. Infinitely more resilient, right? Because all the nodes are running across the world and they’re being run by different people. Which means it’s censorship resistance. It means that it’s not going to go down. It’s going to be way, way harder for someone to try to hack it through him.

Then even for some of the try to hack, let’s say like Twitter, which has been hacked many times. The other thing that’s really interesting. This decentralized internet is that in many respects, it’s permissionless, right? People can participate without having to give up a bunch of their data.

At least not the same scent of data that they had to previously. And because of the smart contracts that are running programs on the blockchain, people can interact with a lot of these programs again, without the permission of gatekeepers and centralized authorities. For example, decentralized finance is super, super interesting.

People can make loans. People can borrow again without needing to go through a bank. And so when you have this like decentralized internet and there’s like a lot loaded up in there, it creates just a brand new paradigm and to build technology off of and I think it’s going to be especially empowering for an emerging market.

So third-world countries can leapfrog existing systems. It’s going to be very beneficial because of the crypto crypto-economic incentives and the cryptocurrency payments for countries that currently have hyperinflation, that has corrupt governments that have.

Infrastructure problems, right? And so as this whole decentralized internet evolves, I think there’s just going to be so much benefit across so many verticals and geographies and use cases. Anyways, that’s a very long-winded version of saying that there’s a lot of value that can come through, through having this decentralized internet.

But it is still early days. We still have to figure out what product’s going to work. We still have to learn from the internet of the past. I don’t think we can throw everything out. But when we have to learn how to bridge the gap between today’s, very mainstream user experiences and web too, and figuring out how to.

Smoothing the user experiences as people go into web three. We’re still in the early days believe it or not. I think everyone that is even remotely interested in this concept should read about it. Should, play with these centralized applications, should buy some cryptocurrencies, get some skin in the game that just forces you to learn more.

And I think this is still so early that there’s just so much opportunity. Especially for young people that want to do something off the beaten path that don’t want to work in a normal corporation, or that wants to make it for themselves. This is your opportunity, right? This is a once in a generation opportunity.

There’s the first wave of the internet created companies like Amazon, right? Now Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are always lying to be the wealthiest person in the world. This next week, Just underway. And, I think the number of, very wealthy and successful, but also impactful people in this industry is going to even outnumber the one in the previous internet.

Anyway, sorry. That was very long-winded. I’ll keep it shorter for NFTs. NFTs are non-fungible tokens. Thinking of NFT is like a way of ensuring and proving digital ownership as well as scarcity, as well as Providence, which is like, who has owned this NFT over what period of time. But essentially like it’s really interesting technology.

A lot of people see NFTs as just digital art right now. It’s something on blockchain and, it has value because it’s scarce. So I think that’s one part of it. But to me, NFTs are a more fundamental technology. It’s almost like it’s HTML in the early days of the internet.

People thought of HTML as like, oh cool. It’s like some random standard that allows people to put up a static webpage. That’s cool. Who really cares?  Who’s gonna use the internet? Because it’s, it came first and the rest of the internet blossomed out of that. Then you had more beautiful web pages with CSS, right?

Then you had interactive web pages with JavaScript and through all that you had industries like e-commerce be created, you had. The industry is like social networking get created. You had things like blogging and the marketization of content and expression.

And then all spurred out of that. So to me is just like a new fundamental technology that allows people to create. Again, provably scarce prove ownership, prove provenance of certain digital assets, but the idea of space is so much broader than just what we’re seeing today.

And I think NFTs are gonna do. A whole slew of industries. Whether it’s disrupting something like a stock X, that deals with limited-edition goods or potentially a patron on where people are trying to engage as super fans or, ticketing for sports and events and things like that.

Like NFTs have a place in potentially disrupting all these different verticals. 

[00:17:10] Bryan Pham: That is amazing. And as you’re talking about entities and de-centralization, I got myself fired up, cause I do agree. That’s the kind of vision I see for decentralization too. So for our listeners, for me to get introduced to Matt is through our friend, William, not so interested in de-centralization that he has a, Hey, I’m working with Matt at Origin.

I’m like, oh wait, I had to meet Matt at Origin because this is so cool that you’re working on this stuff. And everything you do, it’s like very relatable to how I view the world is going to be. And you’re right. We’re very early. We’re not even at the crack of light, heavy of mainstream adoption into entities yet because a lot of people still don’t understand.

What it is and how to work. And I really appreciate that you’re able to share your story, but I want to take a bigger step back to your first answer. When you’re you were saying how, as you’re building your company, you’re learning a lot about creating new skills and almost you many times.

I think that’s so relatable to a lot of. But unfortunately for a lot of us, we sorta just quit. We just stopped because it was like, this is way too much. And the crazy thing about entrepreneurship is that no matter your highs and your lows are going to take every single experience and apply it to your next venture. So always think of it that way. You may not be earning now, but you will eventually earn if you continue to learn. 

[00:18:37] Matthew Liu: Yeah. Absolutely. And I almost see it as A lot of people when they start their careers, they anticipate almost like air growth. And that’s what Sidey has largely conditioned us for at least for many other industries, right?

Like corporate America or, finance and, at some point. More exponential as you get more senior, in terms of financial rewards or the people you impact or the number of people working underneath you or whatever it might be. For entrepreneurship, it’s not like that, right?

It could be like zigzag down and go up. It’s like all over the place. And oftentimes you’d have to really grind it out. There are always stories of like overnight successes and these like fabled entrepreneurs, but a lot of times when you look at their background, They had huge failures for several years.

Like I think, people said this about Ben Silverman at Pinterest, right? Oh, Pinterest blew up. But, you spent a couple of years working on products that didn’t work. Not everyone can be a more executive bird or Bill Gates and just get lucky on the first shot as a college dropout.

More often than not it’s Hey, there are a lot of like dark times before. Success. Like my co-founder Josh, he had three venture-backed companies before we started working together. And some success, he had one small success, but, two companies that completely failed, and he’s been an entrepreneur for over a decade.

Before we started working on Origin and that started actually taking off. And I think the moral of the story is sometimes you just gotta keep grinding. You gotta keep working. You gotta understand that. Success can just be right around the corner. And if you give up right there, like that is just like the worst thing to do, it’s like I’m struggling through a marathon and you’re hurting and like maybe you’re injured. But you’re a mile 25 and you don’t realize that you just got like a little bit more than a mile before you get to the finish line. And I say that a little bit fishy sleep, because once you get to the finish line, you realize like you have to run another marathon, but at least like you’ve gotten some milestone where okay, there’s like some success and you can recharge and energize.

And success begets success, growth begets growth. And as you’re grinding it out sometimes it gets really. But just make it’s the next milestone. And make it to the next like a goalpost. And something will be there waiting for you. There’ll be maybe around the funding or there’s oh, Hey.

New people on the team are really fired up that can make my job easier or there’s, I just landed a crazy partnership or close the customer. And that energizes you and keeps you going. So I think it’s really important to just okay, how do I get to the next milestone?

How do I improve every single day? How do I move forward? Don’t always just think about it. The end goal because then it can be super, super intimidating. Yes, you should have that in your mind. Hey, I want to build this and it might take me five years to 10 years, but don’t only obsess about that.

Also, think like today, what can I do better? What can I learn? How can I be a better salesperson? Or how do I hire better? Or maybe I don’t know how to code yet, but guess what, it’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Some people learn and I’ve heard that excuse so many times, oh, I would start a company, but I can’t do Y skill or, Z skill I’m like, okay, maybe you should go learn it.

[00:21:37] Maggie Chui: I just want to say, first of all, thank you for explaining comprehensively what NFTs and decentralize means, because honestly,  personally, I’m still learning about what all of this means. And I think there’s just so much complexity that goes into it too.

And it’s just really refreshing to hear you explain to our audience what exactly it means. And I definitely agree with you. This is my first time doing entrepreneurship Full-time working on AHN, both Bryan and I  are learning as well. There have been very dark times, just like grinding it out and knowing that you don’t have a security blanket to fall onto and not paying ourselves.

And so on that topic, you went from being a product manager to a leader, and I’m sure you picked up on a lot of great skills working at YouTube, but how did you go about that transition becoming a leader from a product manager. 

[00:22:25] Bryan Pham: How were you able to give up control and delegate it out? Because your team is really big, right now it’s like things are the hardest part for most product managers, right? Because you’re always the everyone’s ass get it done and get it done. This is the vision, but now you’re CEO, you can’t manage everything. Can’t be everywhere. How do you mentally give up control and become the leader that you are.

[00:22:44] Matthew Liu: Yeah. That’s a great question. First off, it’s not easy to become a leader overnight. Like just like we were just saying about learning new skills and failing and by-product, it’s like the same thing, with leadership. You’re gonna make a lot of mistakes with hiring, with managing, with firing.

You’re gonna make a lot of mistakes, right? No one, sorry. It’s hard to be like, okay. Let me learn the CEO or founder job. If you’ve done it a couple of times, then, it’s a little bit easier to say, okay, I’ve been here. I might not deal with it. But really like when you’re a founder of a company every like couple of weeks, there’s going to be some sort of like random new thing where I haven’t dealt with this before.

What do I do? And you can either freakout or you can wing it, but do it to the best of your ability. So I don’t think that ever changes. I don’t think it changes. If you’re, the CEO of Coinbase Bryan Armstrong, he’s recently facing regulatory scrutiny from the sec.

Just seemed to come out of nowhere. I’m sure it’s the first time he’s had to deal with that. Bryan Chesky at Airbnb had to deal with a lot of crazy stuff. Like even when everybody was like, unicorn oh crap people are having horrible experiences or there are crimes and Airbnbs, or someone died in an Airbnb, like what do you do?

There’s always going to be first like new experiences that are just. Almost catastrophic to think about but then you just have to get through them. You just have to deal with it. So more specifically in terms of like, how do you become a better leader? How do you manage and delegate?

I think the key to letting go, I think, is like hiring people that you trust, that can do the job better than you. And then when you trust them, it’s easier to let go. If you hire players, that are not as good as you. And you’re constantly micromanaging them or telling them what to do.

That’s when it’s going to be really hard to lead because you’re just spending all your time, like correcting people’s mistakes, not letting them feel empowered, not letting their ideas shine through. So I think the best part of managing starts at hiring. If you can hire people that are really good at what they do where you can trust them for some aspect of the business and you can get out of their way and let them make critical decisions.

They’re gonna have. The ability to focus on specific problems more than you are as a founder, where you have to have a strategic focus and you have to understand all the different parts of the business, whether it’s finance or accounting or technology or design or marketing PR. Hire the best people that you can, keep that bar. I know it’s cliche, but it’s so important. I feel so blessed to have the team that we have because they build me out of so many things right. Where I’m on. Sure. What to do, but like sometimes Hey, like what do you think we should do? And if you trusted them off, then you can actually listen to them.

And they’re not always going to be right either. But it’s good to have people that can push you and can also voice strong opinions, ultimately, the buck stops with you. And you’ll have to make, a lot of the most important decisions, but that inputs like super, super valuable.

And I think in. Entrepreneurship and just like America in general, like we glorify the founders or like the president or, the global leaders, but what we don’t realize, all these things are team sports. Barack Obama or Joe Biden, right? Like they have teams around them.

Trump had teams around him. We’ll not get into that. The same thing with Steve Jobs, he was seen as this amazing icon and he is right. But, he had a huge supporting cast that helped shape his ideas and products. I think, as founders, as people starting businesses, It’s really important to realize that yeah, you might get the most attention.

You might be invited to do the podcast and you have ultimate responsibility, but you should not look at it as an individual sport where you are. The leader and people are working underneath you or for you to achieve your vision. That is like the wrong way to leap. Instead, you should think of it as Hey, what is our collective position?

How do I find people that will share the vision or refine the vision? How do I find people that will make this a better company and a better business because they’re having intelligence or they work extremely hard or they have contrarian opinions or they’re good at getting, people to align themselves or they’re good at whatever superpower selling, marketing, et cetera?

And how do we make it a collective vision and a collective company where people feel empowered, where they feel like they’re part of a family where they have a real relationship. They can really grow and we can build something amazing together. And so I think having that mindset at least to me is very important.

Like the people that work with us at Origin, I considered them partners in the business, owners in the business. And not just employees. That’s not the right way to think about it in my mind. Now, of course, there are going to be different roles.

There’s going to be like, different seniority. There’s going to be different compensation. But I’m thinking of it as, a team sport as opposed to an individual sport, I think is hugely by.

[00:27:24] Bryan Pham: That is an amazing answer. And I could tell by the way that you’re giving your answers, that you are someone that has definitely been through everything.

[00:27:30] Matthew Liu: Not everything, but a lot, been through a lot, 

[00:27:33] Bryan Pham: The answer comes through a great experience and we can see that and we can feel that with her answers. And we have a lot of people on the phone. We’re going to be like over like a hundred episodes on our podcast rate. So we can definitely feel that. Regarding your heroes, I love it. There is a struggle. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Great grind. Push it out, hustle it out.

Let’s talk about the fun things, I think that I’ve been following you on Instagram for a while now. And I’m like, man, these are the best hotels as houses. And a lot of people don’t see behind the scenes and your story too, about your struggle that you almost put so many times, and knowing that you have powerful people on your board like Paris Hilton is one example.

We all know success is never, guaranteed is always, constantly rented. Being that light. What is that being where you are now and looking back and reflecting and building on top of that and not letting that get to you. Keeping that grind and keeping the hustle. What is it like? 

[00:28:29] Matthew Liu: First off, I’ll say like this, right? You see the light at the end of the tunnel and you get there, and then you realize the tunnel, it keeps going. But hopefully with each again, success of milestone things get a little bit easier.

Your ability to move through the tunnel becomes a little bit faster. Maybe there’s more. Light in between. But I don’t think it really ends until you stop running the business. And that’s not something that I’ve experienced yet. And hopefully, I won’t experience it for a very long time.

So the first caveat is again, go after those goalposts, but, you’re more likely than not still going to be going after like this huge vision and it doesn’t end. And so I still work extremely hard now. Yes. There are certain like public perceptions of oh yes, there are certain people that I know now because we’re doing NFTs and we’re working in the creator economy, which means we’re working with influencers and celebrities and brands. And a lot of people that have like audiences and have social sway or just a lot of social class.

So it is fun working with these people. It’s cool meeting EDM DJs I’ve listened to and then realizing that Hey they want to have a conversation with me. Or understanding more of what it’s like for a brand or an athlete to think about, how to manage their business.

’cause again, like a similar story, you look at these people and you’re like, oh, like they’re famous. And I want their life. You don’t really know that they’re working their asses off, they’re hustling to they’ve had to go through their hero’s journey and, a lot of them went through a lot of failures.

I was talking to cashmere who’s the DJ. And he was like, sleeping on his friend’s couch right before he made it. A lot of professional athletes. Didn’t have anything before they made it. So I think people only see again that overnight success or what’s happened at the end, but it’s very important to remind that these people are also grinding and they’re still grinding today to stay at the top.

You have to work really hard. The work really doesn’t stop again until you retire. And even then, these people are so motivated that they’ll do something else. So I think it’s been really fun interacting with some of these individuals. A lot of them are way smarter. A lot more business savvy than you would think that they are based on their external personas. But again, I think that’s the beauty of it, the people that make it in this world are a combination of talented, lucky, but also almost always hardworking. At least the people that make it for themselves. And so that is something that is just going to the common thread as I’ve been interacting with these, people that previously were. In my social circles and it’s inspiring, right? It makes me realize that this is just like the blueprint. And so I should continue to work hard. I shouldn’t be complacent. You should never really think it’s done right. Otherwise. You’re gonna, you’re gonna fall off whatever it is that you’re spending.

But there are some cool perks, right? It’s been cool going to certain events learning to scratch the surface of what it’s like for someone to be an entertainment or sports or music. And yeah, it’s cool to have these connections. I look forward to working with more creators in the future understanding of the world on an even deeper level. It is fun, no denying that.

[00:31:25] Bryan Pham: I love that. I’m always looking at your story and your team’s stories. I’m like, man, this looks so cool. And I know there’s a ton of hard work that goes behind that and everyone has their own journey. And I do appreciate that. After knowing more of your backstory 

[00:31:38] Matthew Liu: I’ll tell you this, it’s no fun. Posting like an Instagram story at 2:00 AM of your monitor or while you’re working. We stopped at, makes it to Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. It’s usually like a little bit more fun. Of course.

[00:31:51] Bryan Pham: Maybe you suppose some hardworking stuff we need to know the real picture. I have to ask this question for real, cause I know earlier, as you mentioned when you were saying when you were growing up or quiet, you’re a little bit shy and now look at you. You’re networking with celebrities. You have a lot of powerful people surrounding you. In your daily life, have you ever faced imposter syndrome at one point where you just looked yourself in the mirror and be like, wow, like what is going on? This is not how I used to be. How did I become this person over time? 

[00:32:18] Matthew Liu: Oh yeah. It’s not, have you ever it’s like how often do you face it? It’s still something that I struggle with and I think a lot of people struggle with because. I could talk about this for days.

So number one whenever people see like startups, or they see Instagrams of, celebrities like Paris Hilton or whatever, right? That’s a fairly like curated public perception. The good points because if you’re a CEO you’re selling while your company.

It is meaningful, you’re trying to sell your products. You’re trying to sell to prospective employees. And if you’re an influencer, like you’re also pitching a certain lifestyle or expertise or some unique interests cause he’s about your life to your audience.

That’s only part of the picture, right? Again, people struggle right. Inside companies. There’s a lot of dysfunction, right? Even the companies that you think are like, absolutely amazing. Like when I was working at YouTube and Google is absolutely crushing it and, stock prices flying, but I could see internal politics.

I could see that there were certain dysfunctions or certain products or oh my God, There was this like a huge bug that create all these problems, but people don’t see that stuff. And so every day, I think, like you think a little bit about wow, how blessed you are, that things are going well.

But also oh my God, there’s all these things that I need to stitch up because. There are risks to the company, or, personnel issues. There’s always something wrong when they’re starting a business and running a business. And so there’s always a gap between that public perception of how you’re doing and how you figure you’re doing internal.

So that’s number one, number two, I think like more personally. Like the entrepreneurial journey, as well as life in general, it means that people change. They evolve, they grow hopefully they grow to become better people than when they started I grew up super shy. I was bullied. Didn’t really know how to talk to people was just like buried in my books. And at some point it was actually a very conscious effort, I was like, okay, how do I actually learn to communicate better with people? As weird as that sounds. And so it’s okay, I wanted to learn how to do public speaking. I wanted to learn how to. Understand body language and perceive how people are feeling so that I could actually have more empathy towards them and be able to be able to build rapport faster.

And these are things that I actually bought books on and studied, right? Like I bought a book written by some FBI negotiator on body language, I took public speaking classes and I took a psychology class and talk to people that were good at relating to other people. And try to understand how do you be like a better manager, how you become a better leader? Like, how do you become even just a better son or like a family member or whatever. These are all things that you can work on.

And so I made a conscious part of. To see how I could improve. And there’s still a lot of room for growth, right? Like I don’t have perfect relationships by any means. There are times when I lose my temper or I get frustrated with people and I regret it afterward.

There are times when I’ve made bad leadership decisions. There are times when I think I’m making. Progress in building rapport, but I’m completely wrong based on cultural cues and things like that, especially with dealing with people internationally. And so it’s a growth process, but Do I think that like I’m an imposter? Not really, but do I feel like there are times where I’m uncomfortable or I’m like, not sure how to deal with situations or people give me more credit than I’m due. Absolutely. Like every day. And I think it’s good and bad. It’s good in the sense that it helps keep you a bit humble.

It helps you look at your areas of weakness and make sure that you don’t get too arrogant and you’re constantly trying to improve. So I think that’s good. It can be bad and sometimes it hurts your self-confidence right. And so you want to be able to balance that and not be obsessed about it too much.

A lot of decisions, a lot of things in entrepreneurship, you don’t know until you do it. And like I said, sometimes you just have to take your best guess and you have to wing it and you have to wing it with confidence and just go after it. And you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, but it’s better to make fast mistakes. And then come out of them as opposed to being afraid to. 

[00:36:26] Maggie Chui: I love that you took the initiative to actually teach yourself how to, have better emotional intelligence and to learn body language and to do public speaking because honestly, a big part of becoming a really good leader is human connection. You’re talking to so many people on a daily basis and you have to connect with people who are interested in your business or interested in your product. And Human connection is like the biggest thing. And I love that you just went for it, said to yourself, you know why I have to learn these few things?

Cause there are so many people who, I would say like book smart, but they don’t have that, emotional intelligence. That’s a big part that’s missing. So yeah, I just thought that was super inspirational. 

[00:37:06] Bryan Pham: I thought that was inspirational to you and it’s relatable. In college, I don’t know if I should say this in the podcast, but I’m usually labeled as someone very socially awkward. And it’s the same thing it’s breaking out on your show. Right? Being able to talk to people, connect because as Maggie said before, a big part of entrepreneurship. Ironically is having strong EQ, right?

Emotional intelligence. I would almost say that’s more important than IQ in business to be able to connect, understand and sell your product. And you got a long way. I, if you honestly told me that you have trouble connecting with people and speaking and sharing your thoughts, I’ll be like, man, you’re full of shit, but you’re so good at explaining things really well.

And connecting with people regularly. And I’m really happy that we had you on the podcast finally, and being able to share your story, and educating our community a lot more about the blockchain community, because a lot of misinformation right now, and there’s a lot of just, early adopter mindset.

That’s not quite there yet.  I guess the final question I want to ask you in this podcast is I know that you always had an early adopter mindset, right? What kind of advice do you have for all of us to have the adventurous side and have that early adopter mindset and try on new things and keeping an open mind?

Because let’s be honest, man. with the Asian community, it’s so hard for us to be open-minded. We’re so set at our ways. Just talking to our parents is one example of that, right? You’re like dad, just different way of doing he’s no, I’ve been doing this for 30 years. What kind of advice do you have for the Asian community and not just the Asian community, but for all of us to have that early adopter mindset to try new things. 

[00:38:41] Matthew Liu: Yeah. So I think there are a couple of parts to it. One thing is just to learn to say yes more often, right? There’s always a reason to say no. It’s way easier to say, okay. Like the picture’s not perfect, something about a place. So I’m going to say no to this opportunity, right? Whether it’s like investing a little bit of money in a seed startup or should I, network with this person or don’t want to learn about this new area, but it seems immature oh, it’s never going to work.

And so 99% of the people are conditions would be like, okay For this reason and that reason, and you talk yourself out of everything, right? That’s how you, by the way, you talked yourself out of making probably the best investments. That’s how you talk yourself out of starting a business.

That’s potentially how you talk yourself out of, committing to a life partner that could change your world. That’s probably how you talk yourself out of traveling all over the world more remote or dangerous or whatever areas. And so I think a lot of times you have to teach yourself to say, yes, I remember that when you’re saying yes, it’s not necessarily a huge commitment, right?

It’s not like you’re signing your life away. You can say, yes, I’m goona experiment and get some data to see if that yes, it was a good decision or a bad decision. But by saying, yes, you actually made a decision to try something new, to learn something new. And hopefully, it gives you more data. And I’ve said yes, many times to certain areas of like new hobbies or trying new things. And then I quickly learned that, maybe it’s not for me. But at least I have a little bit more primary input as opposed to just okay, The reason that I say to not do this. And also I don’t know if this is true for everyone else, but for me just a story around like investing.

Some of my most successful investments have been my smallest checks because I was like, I don’t think this is going to work. I don’t want to say yes, but this guy’s a friend, so I’ll a small check. And it’s wow, that turned into something big. Or I don’t believe in this tech, but okay, my friend’s doing it. Like I was just fortunate enough to get pulled into a couple of these deals and I’m like, they turned into huge outcomes. And so that made me realize that either one I’m not like very good at making investments. At least like looking forward to that, I should probably say yes, some more opportunities.

It’s oftentimes opportunities that are a bit scary that aren’t fully figured out that have the most opportunity because not everyone’s going towards that. And yes, like a lot of, investments, right? Whether that’s investing like Instagram now, or investments of your time.

Trying to learn new skills or talking to people that maybe you originally didn’t think were worth your time or, learning something that seems a little bit off the beaten path. A lot of those will be filled. But the ones that turn out to be successes can be outside successes.

It’s like when you said yes. When you were super shy and didn’t want to like, approach that executive at that networking event. And you’re like, okay, let me just do it, and you had a great conversation. Even though, he, or she was way more senior and you just felt uncomfortable and that leads your internship.

It’s when I was like, I’m going to try, even though I’m not qualified for this job at YouTube. Maybe it’s you’re. You have a huge crush on somebody, and you’re afraid and that’s not going to work then it’s me here are all the reasons how I’m going to be embarrassed, rejected, okay, let me just try it.

Maybe you do get rejected. Maybe you get embarrassed, but maybe you end up, finding your future life partner because you got over your anxiety. And I think in general, it’s better to just try a lot of things and go forward and be an early adopter and it’s not just technology, just go for it. What’s the worst thing that can happen. Like your ego is a little hurt. You might’ve learned something God forbid, right? Yeah, maybe a little bit embarrassed because your friends are like, oh, like that business failed or like you didn’t get the job or who cares. Five years or 10 years from now, because you’ve been, conditioning yourself to take these chances when you’re doing really well, you’ll be like, wow, like that person is like, an entrepreneur or a go getter or they take the initiative. There were so many people that downplayed my efforts previously. Cause oh why is he wasting his time? His business isn’t going well. Like my parents were worried about me. My friends were worried about me and now they’re like, okay we’re glad that, our son or a friend or whatever took these risks. And I think what I’m trying to say again in a very long way is if you take these small chances, the downside is probably way less than you think it is.

And then compounded over time. A lot of these small risk-taking events many of again, which you will fail at will result in outside successes because a few of the times you said, yes we’re going to are going to be pivotal and impactful in your life, but you would have never gotten there if throughout your entire life you were saying no.

[00:43:21] Bryan Pham: That is really powerful. And again, I really liked these long answers because they’re so detailed, and it’s very relatable to you cause it just takes you on a trance in some ways as you’re listening. Oh yeah. That’s relatable to my own life. And, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. How can our listeners find out more about you and reach out to you?

[00:43:41] Matthew Liu: Yeah. I love hearing from people, especially people that have aspirations to do something impactful with their life, whether, socially or professionally or anything. Interesting. And I have to be very consistent with what I just said about saying, yeah, so people that want to reach out to me, don’t be intimidated.

If I don’t respond right away, reach out again. Like that. That’s how the world works. And that’s how things spin around. But. For most social handles Matthew Liu. So that’s what I am on. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. A couple of other platforms like WeChat and Telegram it’s Matthew C Liu

And you can also shoot me an email at Matt@originprotocol. Don’t forget to checkout Origin Protocols.com as well.

[00:44:27] Bryan Pham: Matthew, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I appreciate everything that you shared, all your insights, and this is a great show. I appreciate that.

[00:44:36] Maggie Chui: It was also learning about your story and thank you so much for being on the podcast.

[00:44:41] Matthew Liu: Of course, my pleasure. I really enjoyed the conversation and hope that the AHN Community enjoyed the conversation. Thank you.