Thinking for yourself is easier said than done. Society is filled with so much noise and so many social pressures that we often succumb to social influence.

Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut and intuition.

In this interview, Connor shares his story on taking big bets and learning about the future, all while being a student. It’s super interesting!

Hey Connor! Thanks for taking the time to share on Student Hustle.

Introduce yourself! Tell us about where you go to school, where you have worked, and what you are up to nowadays.

I’m Connor Lin, a rising sophomore at Columbia. I was on the founding team of Riley (YC W17). Before that, I co-founded an app called Flutter, did marketing at Noodle Education, and did marketing consulting for various companies. These days, my focus has been on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I’ve started to get into investing in protocol tokens quite a bit but looking toward the future, I’m more interested in trying to find/create one of the “killer applications” that can bring blockchain mainstream.

What are you studying in school? Have any classes been helpful in the real world? If not, where did you learn what has been most helpful at work?

Certain classes really refine your writing and communicating skills which I’ve found to be extremely helpful.

I’m not exactly sure yet. I’m thinking about doing Philosophy. Certain classes, although not directly applicable to things I’m working on, really refine your writing and communicating skills which I’ve found to be extremely helpful. In terms of learning in general, the internet and books have been my best friend. The beautiful thing about books is that whenever I pick up a book, I have the specific intent of getting something actionable from it and becoming a better person once I’m done.

You moved to New York City while in high school. What was that like? What did you learn?

Yea, I moved there when I was 17. I immediately fell in love with NYC. In the beginning, I felt a bit young because I was mainly hanging out with kids who were rising seniors in college working in the city but it definitely made me mature. The main thing I learned was that there are so many things in the world that I don’t know. That was a really important realization.    

How do you think about taking risks in your career, do you have a framework that you use?  

“Memori mento”: Remember you will die

For me personally, one phrase that I say to myself basically every day is “memori mento”: remember you will die, in Latin. It’s a bit gloom but with this idea, it’s like one day you die and none of this really matters so I don’t want to regret not taking any risk because life is short. Another one I really like is the idea that the universe is a simulation. Generally, more interesting things result from more risk so you mind as well try to entertain the simulators.

Tell us a bit about what you are doing with crypto! What are you most excited about nowadays?

At the moment, I spend a lot of my time on research for personal investments because I’m pretty optimistic there is going to be a handful of big winners in the space. Other than that, I started an ICO research newsletter and am in talks to join some blockchain-related companies and a crypto hedge fund.

For someone with no background in blockchain / crypto – where do you recommend they start? Where are the biggest opportunities to get involved?

Just start reading. Whitepapers are great. Reddit is great. Bitcointalk is great. It’s just a lot of reading.

https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/

https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/White-Paper

https://www.reddit.com/r/icocrypto/

How do you think this space is going to change in the next year? 5 years? 10? Is now the time to get started?

I think that right now, we’re seeing lots of protocol tokens being built and infrastructure being laid out for “internet 3.0”. I don’t think that the technology is ready for any really huge consumer applications just yet, which is what I’m interested in. It will take some time for the ecosystem to really mature and when it does, entrepreneurs will come and build all sorts of cool things.

Do you have any mentors? Who and where did you find them?

Daniel Ahmadizadeh, the CEO of Riley and John Katzman, the CEO of Noodle have both taught me so many things. And there have been so many other people who took the time to help me that I can’t list all of them. I generally find mentors through the work I’m doing, personal connections, or sometimes even cold emails.

Where can people find you and what opportunities are you looking for? (Twitter, linkedin, personal site, medium, etc).

Twitter: twitter.com/c0nn0rlin

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/connorlin

Want to read more articles like this?

Subscribe for weekly tips and advice from our awesome community!