The Contributor's Trilemma
0x0BB6
June 15th, 2022

- Friend: You and I would probably be best friends if we spent more time together.

- Me: Yeah, that’s true, but we just won’t be spending that much time together

Believe it or not, this was an actual conversation I had way back in the day, and cold as it may seem, I was being truthful. I like to spend much of my time getting to know myself, my capabilities and limitations, I find that it helps me set the right kind of expectations when dealing with the world, and especially other people.

With time, I've realized that I may have been going on auto-pilot for a while on my web3 journey. I had misjudged my limitations, and ended up severely burnt-out. But that's getting ahead of myself, let's start by talking about super contributors.

The Theory of the Super Contributor

Anyone who’s had a conversation with me in recent times has probably heard this one. I’ve been puzzling a lot about the people I call super-contributors. The name has nothing to do with how good a contributor you are, mostly how willing you are to put in the work when needed.

The way I can best explain super-contributors is by saying they're the kind of people who know how to hop into a discord and get a job in five minutes. The kind DAOs dream of having in their community and retaining.

And right there is the reason I came up with this concept. Because super-contributors don't want to be retained. Their best impact can be reached by being the bridges and connective tissue between and among DAOs. They know a person who knows a person. 

They have been around the block, and know the flow of web3, their value can be spread across the space.

Giving Back Twenty

My father is a religious man, when I was growing up, he'd read bible stories to me in lieu of your average Grimm Brothers' fairytale. One of his favorites was the parable of the ten talents:

In it, a wealthy man leaves on a trip, and entrusts his three sons with 10, 5 and 1 talents (gold coins) of his fortune according to their age. When he returns from his travels, each of them presents him with twice of what they were given; except for the younger one, who buried his single talent in the sand in fear of losing it.

My dad would always finish this story by saying “You were given 10 talents, better give back 20”. To say that story shaped me would be an understatement, just the fact that I think about it so often should let you know how aware I am of the privileges I've had in my life, and how committed I am to give it back.

Still, this doesn't mean that I should sacrifice my own freedom and happiness in the process. Somewhere in there is a middle ground between impact, and balance.

I did What any Sane Person Would

My love language lies in acts of service, if I can do something to help or support you, I'll most likely find a way to do it. But what happens when the word gets out? What are you to do when everyday people come with interesting ideas and promising projects, all of them equally as exciting as the last?

This is a harsh decision I've been facing for months now. How can I not spread myself too thin, while still helping as many people and projects as I can?

Maybe these bear times will solve that question for me, but just in case, I did what any web3 thinkboi would do. I built a framework:

Original, I know.
Original, I know.

I based this framework on observing people I admire in this space. How would Jess Sloss or Nicole d'Avis deal with the market right now? What makes Jeff Kauffman a great leader? How can Chase Chapman, Cryptohun3y  and Rafa the Builder gather so much insight, be outstanding contributors, and still pump out content?

All of these variables came down to the three priorities we're all balancing without even realizing. Every one of us is constantly fluctuating between two of these, and this flow helps shape the different stages of our journey as people in this space.

  • Impact is usually where most contributors begin. Doing a good job, fulfilling that seasonal goal. Being a valuable member of the community.
  • Passion tends to come later on. New and exciting ideas pop up in town halls, interesting projects cold-call you on discord, it feels so good to be helping so many people.
  • Finally, PR comes into the mix. How can you scale if you're only an individual? Where do things go when there is no more time to throw around?

Oftentimes, things in this space are more about what people see, than what you actually do. The sooner you realize that, the quicker you can take the next step in your journey within DAOs.

This doesn't mean outstanding contributors don't walk the walk, most top operators and contributors in this space are mind-blowingly talented. But their ability to leverage the message that forms around them sets them apart from just any productive individual.

Re-Focus

So, coming back to my initial question. What should I do at these crossroads in my journey? Well, the answer is to re-focus.

So far, I've typecast myself into the passion and impact corners. I even discussed this with Brandon Nolte on my Bounty Hunter Podcast episode. If I was to be the person you call to put out the fires, it's only reasonable that I'd eventually get burned, isn't it?

That's why I'm leaving on vacation today (currently writing this piece at 5am, when my flight is at 9). I'll try to put some stuff in place and reflect on the crazy year as a DAO contributor I've had, and find which priorities I should keep to heart in continuing my web3 journey. 

Don't worry I'll just be gone for a week. But to some of you, we just won't be spending that much time together. And that's a good thing.

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