A Typical Day for a Binance CEO
A few people have asked me what a “typical” day is like for the Binance CEO. The problem is, I never have a “typical” day, I only have atypical days; every day is different.
I typically wake up checking my phone and see messages from my team. This is where the typical part ends.
(This article was written over multiple days. So, when “today or yesterday” is used, it refers to the time when that sentence was written.)
Today, there seem to be complaints about some “manipulation” in the community vote for listing. Ironically, the accused is accusing the accuser of cheating too. A few users who have strict views on fairness are agitated. There is a post on Reddit (wrongly) saying Binance pocketed $2.2M in voting fees (the real number is $9k). It’s a bit of a mess, but not super end-of-the-world critical. The team is more than capable of sorting this out. I don’t need to get too involved.
Also being brought to my attention is some other exchange no one has heard of, one that is suddenly ranked No. 1 on Coinmarketcap, with 17x our trading volume. Again, a number of fairness centric supporters of Binance are agitated, lashing out at CMC. Again, not the end of the world. My team said they notified CMC, and I know that’s probably good enough. Things will work themselves out, to the extent possible.
After a couple of messages, I have reached my 15 minute limit on Twitter for the morning, so I move on to other things. There is a PR announcement being coordinated. There is a tech demo of a new project, very exciting and high priority. I want to go over everyone’s OKRs for the next quarter. There is a systems meeting for the charity platform. The latest version of the EOS node stopped syncing and is pausing user deposits. Binance Labs has a list of deals they want my opinion on. I haven’t read any of the white papers yet. There are a couple of hundred filtered emails waiting in my inbox and a gazillion of notifications from various chatting apps. A typical, exciting day awaits...
A Conference Day
A couple of days ago, I was in Korea, attending a conference. On this day, I have a keynote session, a panel, and 6 media interviews. I just go where my assistant tells me to go. Outside of those arrangements, I try to spend as much time as I can in the public areas, interacting with people. I don’t like to stay in VIP rooms or other “exclusive” areas. I like to mingle with the “commoners”, as I view myself as one.
In public areas, I do get swamped by a few curious people, who seem to like to examine what a Binance CEO is made of. A few people try to get my buy-in on projects, but pitching projects doesn’t work in this environment. It’s mostly a chance to exchange business cards and sometimes grab a selfie. I am still amazed at the number of people who want a selfie with a boring guy like me.
I do have a few private meetings, each lasting 5-10 minutes. I like meetings with crypto OGs best. They are always straight to the point. They say “I need ...”, I say “yes/no/maybe/I don’t know”, and we are done.
After a full day of talking, a few youngsters ask me to join them at a local bar. I say sure. Immediately after, I start to get messages from others saying they are joining too as if I made the statement on a public blockchain. By the time I get there, the bar has turned back into the conference again, just with more expensive drinks. More selfies. I politely tell them it’s probably not a good idea to tweet photos of Binance CEO at a bar. It may result in a few “conFUseD” stories. And to their credit, I have not seen any of the bar selfies on the internet. In a “trust-not-need” industry, crypto people usually exhibit a high level of trust!
Meeting President Days
These are the rare occasions I get into an uncomfortable suit, and at times more comfortably, shorts. I get picked up from the airport or hotel by the President’s protocol. In certain countries, the roads are blocked and/or there are police cars leading the way. Talk about privilege. There are usually a few pre-meetings, and then I do my job as the crypto sales guy. The common goal is to get a verbal deal sealed right there and then. My sales job is easy nowadays. Most presidents I meet with are eager to support and develop the crypto economy, the only discussion is “how”.
No, I didn’t write any code for Binance, at least, nothing in production. During our peak backlog on customer service days, I tried to write a bot for our customer support desk. I spent a couple of days and got PyBrain sort of working with a simple neural network. Those who were serviced by our agent named Bob had a brief interaction with my bot. But the results were not good enough, and Bob was shelved.
Binance has a strong tech team. They consult me on bigger decisions that have business impact. During upgrades or emergencies, I act as a communicator/coordinator. But mostly, they just get on with it on their own. They are awesome!
Time is the most limited (and expensive) resource. I haven’t found a way to expand or scale it, I can only slice it.
On any given day, I probably interact with somewhere between 50-500 people. As the situation dictates, I like short, concise, direct-to-the-point discussions. For example, I like: “I am ___. I need ___. The benefit is ___.” Hopefully, in less than 100 words (fits on one cell phone screen). I know a concise 100-words is much harder to write than a rambling of random text. The latter is far more expensive for me to read/understand, which significantly reduces my likelihood of reading it.
I think the majority of the interactions I do can be automated, ie, can be handled by a bot.
Request: “I want to list a coin”. Response “complete the Binance Listing Application Form”.
Request: “Looking for investment”. Response “contact email@example.com”.
Request: “Want to buy 1,000 BTC”. Response “contact firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Request: “Want to invite you to our event”. Response “contact email@example.com”.
Request: “Media interview request”. Response “contact firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Request: “Intro meetings”. Response “I don’t do intro meetings, please have a specific agenda”.
Request: “Fancy partnership”. Response “Please use: I am… I need… The benefit is …, in less than 100 words”.
Sadly, Google smart answers and a few other bots I tried don’t work too well. If anyone can offer a good bot solution that works with multiple apps, I am all ears. I am also open to funding development of a smart, polite bot.
For now, as you can imagine, my response is usually short. Some people are not used to it;
Some even get offended. They live at different speeds. Not much I can do about that.
There is a worse category. People who say “hi” then nothing, or variations of “can I ask you a question?” then wait for an interactive chat, which does not come. I apologize to all the people I may have offended. I don’t chit chat.
Luckily, my team has got this down to an art. They always communicate with me in a very precise manner. We also spend quite a bit of time joking around, which is time well spent. Humor has its healing powers.
I like to interact with our community, but it can turn into a big time sink if I am not careful. There are tradeoffs. So, I try to limit my time on social to 15-30 minutes a day. So, you may see me blast off a few tweets, then disappear.
When it comes to chatting apps, I have used them all, and nothing is perfect. I have moved through WeChat (limitation of 500 per group, and no encryption); Slack (too many scam bots); Telegram (a bit clunky when adding contacts or creating groups, and lack of jump to latest unread message feature like Wechat has). I still use Telegram, but not too actively; I manage my own Twitter (lots of annoying scam bots). And trying Instagram (still not used to the lack of a repost feature). LinkedIn, the UX is too slow, it takes a screen refresh (a few seconds) to load the next message, so I have my assistant manage Linkedin messages for me. I don’t use Facebook much. I don’t have time to approve all the friends' requests. I also have multiple accounts on multiple phones with Whatsapp, Signal, Snapchat, and email, etc. Most of the time, they just all buzz with lots of notification badges, which I am used to ignoring most of the time.
There is one group of people I interact with and rely on heavily: the Binance Angels. They are volunteers who share our mission. They are power users of our platform. Binance Angels are very knowledgeable and can provide immediate, deep, feedback.
I have fewer interactions with our novice users. I try to make up for it at conferences. This is another reason I like to talk to “commoners” instead of VIPs.
Travel, Books and Fun
The first 6 months of Binance, I never left the office. The next 6 months, I never was in one, and pretty much lived out of a single carry-on suitcase. Talk about a typical day.
Travel affords me time to listen to books. Thanks to audiobooks, on a 13-hour flight, I can go through 2 to 3 books. I listen at 2x speed. I still haven’t got used to higher speeds.
I jog every other day or so, usually for 5k. On other days, I do a bit of body weight exercise, push up, crunches, etc, usually following an app. Both don’t require any equipment and take about 30 minutes. I used to have a lot more hobbies in sports, but they all take too much time.
I watched 2 movies in the past year, both on an airplane. I watched Darkest Hour on my way to London, seeing Churchill debating in House of Commons on screen, then I proceeded to a dinner in the Westminster hosted by Lord Redesdale. He gave a private tour of the House of Lords and House of Commons. It was a cool experience, and the 1000-year-old building is truly magnificent.
The other movie I watched was Black Panther. A popular Chinese article pegged a few Chinese crypto guys to Marvel characters, and I was pegged to Black Panther. They kept asking me about it and I had no idea what they were talking about, so I watched the movie when it was available on an airplane. Good movie. I am honored.
I still hang out socially with a small group of my old pals. We have been hanging out for years, roughly once a month or so. The only difference now is they usually fly to meet me wherever I am. They are all very successful in their fields. All of them bought into the Binance ICO, as support for me. None of them had the faintest idea of what an ICO was at the time (not the recommended way of investing in an ICO). Luckily, none of them sold any BNB so far. So, they almost never let me pick up the bill now.
Contrary to popular belief, I do spend quite a bit of time alone. I had dinner by myself yesterday (Saturday) and spent most of the day today alone, in my room. Having some alone time gives me space to think, and write rambling long articles.
In summary, just a regular guy doing what needs to get done. That’s all.