Why are we talking about finance today? But I think one of the fundamental pieces of living well longer is having the finances to do so as well. And so that's why I'm really excited to dive into a bunch of different areas and about the future of technology and finances, and what's happening in the world as well.
And share this with you, do your audience. So if you, and I'd love to start with. What were some of the profound moments in your childhood career that have really shaped the way you view the.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: First of all, thank you for having me. And I'm excited to talk more about this topic. I grew up in a small town in Ohio and I was really academically inclined, but I was also a very serious competitive swimmer.
So I ended up attending Stanford university in California, and I was really passionate about this intersection of science and business. So I majored in human biology. I spent my summers working as a researcher in a cognitive neuroscience lab. And at that time, I didn't know anything about finance, Silicon valley venture capital, but I just followed my curiosity, which was around how to commercialize some of the insights that were coming out of research labs at Stanford.
And I ended up in a class on technology startups. So that class really was a light bulb moment for me. The professor was a serial entrepreneur named Steve blank, who. Framework, he called customer development. And to me, I was like, we're taking the scientific method and applying it to business. Like I can do, I know how to do this.
Maybe I have business experience it's relevant. And so there was this mindset of developing clear hypotheses about your customers and about the market, and then finding ways to test them incrementally along the way. So that's what I wanted to do after school was take that framework and apply it to early stage startups.
So that mindset, plus the evolutionary biology that I. In the human biology program really kind are the two foundations of what I say. Some of the frameworks are that shaped my perspective on the world. And so the earliest days of my career, the iPhone was brand new. It had just opened up to developers.
So I was really focused on. How mobile technology was changing consumer behavior, how we shop, how we live, how we connect. And so that passion for emerging technology and human behavior is really what drives me as an investor in early stage startups today.
Claudia von Boeselager: What role do you think your competitive swimming has played in where you are also today in shaping your ability to thrive in sort of high stress environments?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah, with competitive swimming, one of the things that's really interesting about the sport is that it's a very clear cut sport. When I was about 11, I went to Stanford swim camp for the first time and I just raised my hand and I asked the coach, what do I have to do if I want to swim at Stanford?
And he said, you to take the hardest classes that your high school offers and get A's in all of them. And you have to have senior national level cuts by the time you're a junior in high school. And I was. Two things. I only have two things I love and I consume at Stanford. I mean, yeah. I was like, also don't get in trouble, but like, yeah, I guess if you do those two things, you can probably get a scholarship to swim at Stanford.
And so I was like, all right, well senior national times are here. Work backwards. What are junior natural times. Okay. What our sectional times. Okay. What our zone times. Okay. What are quad eight times? I'm like, okay, let's get quad eight times and then we'll go from there. So I think that idea of being able to take a long-term vision and work backwards and take a big goal and break it down into small pieces.
That's something that really shaped me. And then, definitely one of them. And then the other is it's really a team sport in psychology, but it's an individual sport and actuality. And so really having to like rely on yourself and trust yourself at the end of the day was another thing that I learned at different points in my swimming career.
I was better at worse out, and I'm still swimming competitively as an adult. I just came a little bit slower, but it's been fun to continue that journey.
Claudia von Boeselager: I think that it's for me also, one thing I interviewed a former Olympic athlete and one of the things she said to me, and as we know, mindset is just so critical.
Right. And she said that no matter what, and no matter if you just missed, the title by a few seconds, you review your. And what you did really well and you ingrained, like that was really good. That was really good. Even if you lost. And I thought like, wow, that was such an aha moment because how many of us in the sort of normal non-athletic worlds are like, oh, I should have done that better.
I should have done that, but I didn't, you're beating yourself up. And so I think that. Sports training that athlete training is such a help for mindset. And then that carries over then into business and day-to-day life as well. So, that's another example of it. I love the way that at a young age, you were already working backwards, like, okay, that's the goal?
How do I break it down? Where did you learn that from? Are your parents very structured in that way?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: No. I was just a very intense kid and my parents were, supportive of all of the, of my mindset, but it definitely was, it came from a deep seated internal motivation, and they always tried to cultivate that.
They tried not to be overly involved in my swimming life at my dad. And I would travel together. I was one of four kids, so he and I would go alone to travel meets. And then, they try not to get. To involved in ever cross that line because they always wanted this to be my thing. , and I think that that, was really against.
Claudia von Boeselager: That's really amazing to have parents that are like that. And also not to try and bring the siblings all with you the whole time. And I changed the date.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: And our family life wasn't built around my swimming career…
Claudia von Boeselager: …which is typically the case. If you have a superstar child, I see this in some other families.
So yeah. Hats off to your parents. They've definitely parenting model quite well. Let's jump into. And, how in your view will emerging tech shape the food system and health and global commerce?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: That's great , I think there are really some existential problems that need to be solved within each of those areas.
And I view my role as an investor, as supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in these areas. And so my role as a early stage VC now is not no longer to solve any of these problems like I did when I was in product leadership roles. But to follow those creative and visionary. Into those spaces and problem areas, and then support them with capital to bring their vision to life.
So I think getting into the food spaces is a, I spent my career three years of my career at daily harvest prior to becoming an investor where we were focused on the food system from both the customer experience perspective, but also from the. Environmental perspective. And so within food, I think we're going to continue to see a lot of plant-based innovation.
In our portfolio at true ventures, we have portfolio companies that are making plant-based growth factors. Cell-based meats. One of our portfolio companies, prime routes is re-imagining the deli counter with a Koji based meat. So I think there's still a lot more room in plant-based innovation.
I'm also seeing a lot in nutrition hacking, so we saw innovation and plant-based proteins over the past decade, but I'm seeing more movement and things like engineered carbs, whether it's a product like. Better bagel that, engineer's a bagel that has the same number of carbs as two slices of banana or a company.
NoMoSU which creates high-end chocolates without sugar, which, the founder as well. So I'm seeing some like nutrition hacking type engineering in spaces beyond protein, which is really interesting one of the things I think is most important though, is figuring out how we grow our food in ways that are more sustainable and better for us better for the planet.
I'm very passionate about regenerative agriculture. I'm looking for business models that work there that really drive the right behaviors and incentives. There's a lot that can be done. The data and the data capabilities we have today to better understand regenerative farming and to farm at scale, in more regenerative ways.
So the intersection of data and things with carbon credits, I think there's going to be something interesting that happens in the next five years. And I think it has to, I think it's a really an existential.
Claudia von Boeselager: exactly
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. And then it helps more broadly. I think we're poised for a new form factor of innovation and wearables.
I think there's been a lot of innovation and, risk-based biofeedback and things like that, or hardware-based biofeedback. We're both wearing different trackers. But I think that we're poised for a new form factor there. What are, what's the next wave going to look like?
Claudia von Boeselager: It could be, what are you, what is.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: So it's not necessarily something I'm seeing yet, but I think the, I'm seeing rumblings of that. We're watching things like continuous blood glucose monitors being adopted in more of the mainstream as a tool for biofeedback rather than a prescription device. And so do we go further along that journey?
Either implantable or, devices that are monitoring our interstitial fluid or our blood in different ways. Are there micro devices that we can use? Are there implantable devices that get traction? I think there's going to be something that changes there, and we're starting to see some of the rumblings of that, but, I think that's really another wave of innovation that will likely come in the coming years.
Claudia von Boeselager: For sure, because I think it's like any new industry that kind of blossoms like a plant or flower. So it'll go, you'll have the extremes and then you'll have a happy medium where people are more comfortable. But I think, the transdermal for sure. there's going to be people implanting.
There are already, and then, what are the consequences to your health? Like the pros and cons, et cetera, and what are the mitigants? And there's going to be a bunch of products from the mitigants then as well. Perfect example is your car tells you like, a thousand miles before there's any issue that there's going to be an issue, like deal with when body we until we're like, oh, I can't even get out of my bed anymore.
Let me go see a doctor. It's it doesn't make any sense. The human body is much more valuable than the car. We don't have the infrastructure. If you go around it too. Pick it up and also the education. And like, how do you make it as simple, as accessible as possible, so economically to reach the masses so that everyone benefits.
So I think it's a really exciting space as well.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. And I think if you look closely at some of the thought leaders in medicine today who, all of them very well, there's more of a transition to the system level thinking rather than symptom treatment thinking. And I'm hoping that the data that we have access to and the ability to model complex systems like the human body will help us move to more of a systems-based approach to the human body and to treating the human body rather than a symptom, Oregon treatment type of approach.
Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. that's the 20th century model, right? The like diagnosis and prescription, that, we see as not working clearly. And so I think there, I see there is this fundamental shift happening and at the moment with price points, some supplements are super expensive okay.
If you do opportunity costs in terms of investing now versus, sick care later, It's obvious, but not for everybody and financially as well. So like how do you make it more accessible? And I think, I'm pro people to say it's about prevention. So the sooner you jump on the bandwagon and I feel like the 20 somethings nowadays are very tuned into this, the ones that I speak to.
Very proactive in it. And you can avoid like Alzheimer's is reversible. Like you don't need to have Alzheimer's cognitive claim. Like a lot of these neurodegenerative diseases, like you, you don't need to suffer them. Type two. Diabetes is one, there's so many things that shouldn't even exist anymore because we have the tools and it's just like, how do you push the adaption of that to a much quicker pace?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Great. And how do you make that feel like something that's empowering to people versus making it feel like you're blaming the victim of these things? So I think that psychological piece is so important that this should be seen, not as blaming someone for the condition that they have, but rather empowering them with things that they can control and they can do, and that they don't have to turn their body over to the medical system in order to get relief from some of these really debilitating.
Claudia von Boeselager: Exactly. Yeah. And to proactively look and take steps to avoid it, to do certain tests so that they understand. And I think it's, that's self-education right. And it's exciting. I think coming out of COVID people have become more scientifically and medically aware and have a better understanding and also understanding what implications are.
And, the more people are attuned to their own body. They realize, okay, my, my body's telling me something. Other than me, what can I do to solve it and not just go to traditional methods of, okay, here's a pill and it's not really helping, but what else could I do fundamentally, but underneath that.
Yeah. Amazing. So that's around health. And any other emerging tech around health or, what about global commerce?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Oh, in global commerce, this is something I've spent a lot of my career in Congress, both on the infrastructure for e-commerce side and on various consumer brands, both in the health space and the fashion space.
And, I think what's interesting in global commerce is that the promise of the internet was that you could access any information or any product anywhere in the world. And this led to. Inclusion of new brands and food and fashion, content, wellness, and innovation. And that's been amazing. And as consumers are buying patterns used to be heavily influenced by retailers' decisions about what to carry on their shelves, whether it was the food that we ate or the magazines we consumed, the newspapers we had access to.
But today we can find anything we want to know. The problem though is now there's a huge number of long tail brands competing for our attention and the cost to acquire a customer online for these companies is often unsustainable today. And so this is an area where innovation is just hugely necessary.
And so I love meeting with entrepreneurs who are focused on this problem, because how do you break through the noise and as an emerging brand, that has an amazing product that actually builds interesting market share in a globally competitive. Online directory of every brand in the world.
Claudia von Boeselager: So what would be the keys?
I guess part of it's also like data and really understanding and targeting that customer, or what would you say as some of the
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Data and targeting? And then that has implications for how we think about our privacy as individuals as well, and what information you want to choose to share with brands and not.
I also think there's interesting marketplaces. One that might resonate with your audience is called bubble goods. Basically taking all of these better for you brands and aggregating the long tail of these really innovative brands and putting them all on one platform as an alternative, more indie brand marketplace to choose to purchase from.
And so rather than all of those brands having to go out and acquire customers on their own, they're able to aggregate some demand for those products. And I've been really, I've been watching them for a long time. There's some daily harvest alumni building that company, which has been fun to watch.
Claudia von Boeselager: Really exciting. And I know some of the areas of emerging tech that you're paying most attention to are around blockchain, crypto and web three. And I know when some people hear these words, they eyes glaze over. I don't understand.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: yeah
Claudia von Boeselager: Not for me. Yeah. This is old, very techie and But this is the future.
And so I would love, and I've heard you explain before, so for my audience, can you share exactly, how can people understand, blockchain? What is crypto? What is Webster.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: So just as a preamble, I think the reason why we have to all not shut down when we hear some of these words or think that's not for me, if we're all going to live substantially longer and we're going to work substantially longer, we can't say that our last wave of technology innovation that we're going to pay attention to is whatever was happening in my twenties or thirties.
And then I'll just ride that till I retire at 50 or 60, we can't do that. If we want to be healthy and productive into our hundreds, if we want to continue working into our seventies and eighties, we're going to have to all be comfortable with the idea of learning new paradigms, learning new technology shifts and not saying oh, the internet, that's not for me or, oh, blockchain technology.
That's not for me, cryptocurrency. I'm just going to ride out my existing 401k, my existing financial strategy. I really think we have to all. Open our eyes and pay attention to these major technological shifts that are going to impact our lives. And we'll go through more than one of them.
If our lifespan really does double. So that's the keep an open mind as I go into some of the details, because I do think we all need to take responsibility for making sure that we're evolving with the world. Especially if we're gonna live.
Claudia von Boeselager: So my 83 year old father's on WhatsApp. And so probably can do FaceTime and things like this as well.
So if they can figure it out that those ages as well, then, the younger generations should have no problem understanding. This is just finding it and the way that it's described that people understand, and you're brilliant at this Fiona. So how would you.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: High, break it down is that what's underlying all of these trends.
You could call it crypto blockchain, web3. There's really two major innovations and one is technological and one is more social or organizational. So the first is blockchain technology. The simplest way to describe a blockchain is that it's a database of historical transactions. So what's different about a blockchain versus a traditional database.
Is that it's decentral. And distributed. So decentralized means that no one entity controls the data and distributed, meaning that there's no one place in the world where all the data stores, so the chain can run on a network of computers all over the world. And what that means is that today as we live our lives more and more online, there are corporations that are harvesting the data about our behavior and our preferences.
And they monetize it. And in a world that's powered by decentralized protocols. We can design systems where we're more in control of both our digital lives and our financial lives. So some examples, a lot of us are familiar with digital currencies. And so what does that mean? It's what that means is.
There is a borderless like the digital currency doesn't belong to any one country. It's peer to peer. There's no institutions sitting in between you and me transacting and it's native to the internet. It's digitally native, unlike our current currencies. And so you can say oh, blockchain, that's a bubble.
It's sorry, Bitcoin, it's a bubble. It's a volatile asset. But if we talk about, do you think a borderless peer to peer. And digitally native currency makes sense. A lot of people would be like, yeah, that kind of does make sense. Doesn't it? There's a lot of problems. There's some great things about currencies being stabilized by
governments, but there's also some downsides to all currency being routed through financial institutions or being owned by a government or backed by a government.
So the. Those are some reasons why, despite all the hype around cryptocurrencies, I think, the fundamentals are really strong there and the belief in it, I believe it makes a lot of sense. So that's one. Another is just decentralized finance. So protocols built on top of those, cryptocurrencies that provide services you'd normally get from a centralized bank, like protocols that are designed to help you borrow or lend money or invest money to earn interest.
That's another example. And then, NFTs is another, we've probably all heard of NFTs and we tend to think about it as. Collectibles or art or pictures online, but it really would NMT symbolizes the first model for digital ownership, digital scarcity and digital provenance. That's not managed by an institution, but rather a distributed ledger, a blockchain.
So that's, what's really interesting about like blockchain.
Claudia von Boeselager: Can you explain that for people who might not be familiar with NFTs? Cause I think obviously in your world you hear a lot about it and it's been talked about for awhile, but I know in a lot of other worlds, people are like, I saw it in the paper, but I had no clue what it was like.
Can you explain what executives in NFT and what's the use case.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. So Ft is essentially, so the key word here is fungibility. So when a cryptocurrency one Bitcoin is the exact same as any other Bitcoin, and it doesn't matter what the idea of that Bitcoin is , you can, you and I can exchange a Bitcoin one Bitcoin for another, and it doesn't matter which one we pick with NFTs it's different.
So the fungibility non fungible token, this is. Basically a digital representation of something that cannot necessarily be, is not one-to-one with anything else, the way that a Bitcoin might be. So what that means is that it's a way of. Representing digital ownership. So the first like application that people probably become familiar with is owning a digital collectible, like a crypto punk or a board Abe or an NBA top shots.
And so what that, this is a digital record. Stored on the blockchain and validated on the blockchain of who owns that image. So you can think about all of the other things that you can do with this, like certifying authenticity, representing, intellectual property ownership rights. There's just a lot of other things that we haven't fully tapped into yet that this technology can pass.
Claudia von Boeselager: Because we see obviously a lot around art and things like that as well, but what is the expansion from there of NFTs? And maybe we can touch us on what web three is versus what was web one web two of three. So maybe you can just walk through that journey.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy:Yeah, , what two web three, web one was really mostly about having a directory online, right?
Information is being shared online. You can access it from anywhere in the world. Web two was much more about connection and the social connection between people online. So social media really was driving a lot of the innovation in web two and web three takes that combination of information, accessibility, social connections.
But also introduces the concept of ownership and decentralization into the web. And so for the first time in our lives, we don't necessarily have to rely on the centralized organizations that powered web too. But we can think about what things might, we want to be decentralized, what things might want might necessitate being owned by the community or owned by the collective rather than owned by an organization.
Claudia von Boeselager: And I think just to expand a little bit on that as well, because I get asked this as well. So I think for web two, if you imagine then, everyone has say Facebook or Instagram. So especially if that's your business, you're producing a lot of content. You're spending a lot of time and energy, but you don't own it.
It's like you're renting real estate that, a blink of an eye. The, you either the, your followers are being shown your content or they decide to close down your account because of. Whatever the case may be, and then it's gone. So all your hard work, which might have been built up over years is just wiped out automatically.
And so web three takes, gives the power back to you because you have that ownership and then also in a decentralized way as well. What excites you most about web for you?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: So I think, one of the things that's been really interesting is that second wave of innovation around how people collaborate in decentralized ways.
That's been really exciting to be right now. So you may have heard people may have heard about DAOs or decentralized autonomous organizations that are enabled by blockchain technologies. This is, these are organizations that rather than having a typical executive type function with top-down decision-making they're community led organizations where decision-making is defined in code known as smart contracts and decisions about resource allocation and things like that are determined by community voting.
So we can, there's a lot of innovation in how Dows are tackling health, wellness, and science. And the first kind of applications of Dows were looking at investing and collecting as a community.
But we're going to see this technology and these types of organizations tackle more and more vertical.
Claudia von Boeselager: Can you give a use case example?
Because I think for some people they might not have heard of a Dao and then just voting and smart contracts. So I really want to empower the audience to really get their head around this. So can you maybe give one concrete example in like, how does it actually work and how many people are involved and how are decisions made.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. So one of the doubts that I'm really involved with is called unicorn Dow. And it's a group that focuses on collecting NFTs by female and non-binary artists. And so right now, less than 5% of the, value in NFTs is going to female artists. And so they're working on. Collecting the best of that art promoting it and increasing the representation of female artists and the NFT space.
And so we come together and we have accumulated a treasury of money. And so everyone paid money into the treasury of unicorn DAO. And now as a group, we talk about what investments we might want to make what NFTs do we want to collect? What projects do we want to support? And the goal is to increase the value of that treasury for all.
But it's also the mission to support and FTE artists that are coming from underrepresented groups. And so that's one really good example of a collector DAO or an investment DAO. and you'll see that applied. There's another one called the Lao that invests in defy projects. And so that the members of the Lao come together, they have a treasury of assets and they can decide.
We want to invest in these protocols that are reshaping our financial lives.
Claudia von Boeselager: And how does the exit work from there? So you say, , the, where you're growing the treasury, how does that become for people wondering, how does that what's the exit then?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. So there's, I think this is all really early and still being defined.
One of the ways, one of the things that we see is that the value of having a seat in that Dao, over time. And so there are certain Dows were now buying into the Dow costs over a million dollars. And so for the people they might've paid, I don't know, $2,000 to join the Dow. And then a couple of years later, their seat is worth five or $6 million in the downer.
That's one of the, that's the high end of the sit down market. So you could think about it. Selling your seat to someone else. That's the most logical thing that has been happening. There's also this concept called rage quitting, where basically you can rage quit the DAO, and then just your portion of the treasury gets liquidated and given to you.
So it depends on how the underlying, again, this goes back to the smart contracts concept where these types of rules. Find in code. And so it's not like the organization is just making these decisions on a whim at the outset, the organization is defining, the rules of engagement and how voting works and how joining and leaving works.
Those underlying smart contracts are transparent. And you can, if you can actually digest them, and this is something that I think will change over time, they'll become more human readable, but those smart contracts are transparent to everyone. And so these organizations theoretically, are very transparent to their users, because their decision-making processes are outlined in code versus outlined in a policy that could change.
Claudia von Boeselager: That could change as well, but then essentially the members that are setting up the initial doubt need to make very smart decisions because then it's set in stone, right?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yes. It could. You could vote to change the smart contract logic at some point as an organization, but yeah, you're right. It does. It does get set up.
The precedent gets set very early on.
Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. So you want people who know what they're doing and, yeah, not too optimistic, we don't need to worry about that. And then there's yeah. The things, because I think it is growing so exponentially at the moment that, I'm sure there's a few trip-ups and things like that as well, but yeah.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. And in the sciences, it's really interesting to look at how this can be used as a model of decentralizing scientific innovation. So the things that are being tried right now in that area are related to how do we crowdfund research? How do we get research that this community would like to see prioritize?
How do we fund it and make it happen and fund those scientists? And so you could think about it as there are some mechanics around how research gets funded through these types of decentralized organizations. And I think we'll see more and more innovation in that area as well.
Claudia von Boeselager: I it's phenomenal. And friend, Arietta talk about it as well.
She's in the via Dow and it's just three steps in order to get yes or no and investment approval, which is unheard of normally. , so great, exciting as well. And why would you say, is it so important that when. Engage in web3.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. So I think this is an opportunity because our lives are being re-imagined.
Our digital lives are being re-imagined. Our financial future is being defined and this novel organizational structure is being tested. And I think our culture and our world will be impacted by all of these changes. I want to see more women around the table, participating in the creation of those few, that future, and in setting the norms of that future.
And I think our voices are not loud enough yet. We didn't necessarily get to shape the traditional banking system. We didn't get to participate in the writing of the US constitution. But, what we know from the 2008 financial crisis is that the women, female hedge fund managers, outperformed men and that timeframe. And so thinking about that definition of the new financial future and the organization of the future, how do we make sure that it's as representative as possible? And I think one of the things that we need to do for people who are already in this space is lower the perceived barrier to getting involved in this world.
So web3 doesn't just need engineers, but it needs designers, community managers, writers strategy. Economists now scientists even, so crypto in web3, it's not just about finance. It's not just about investing, but it's decentralized organizations are tackling everything from art collecting to game development, to pharmaceutical research.
And then we're also seeing just the reimagination of how we interact with each other online and how we own artwork product online. And I think having women around the table contributing their perspective. So that is just absolutely critical.
Claudia von Boeselager: That's such a nice empowerment there. So for all the female listening, these, pay attention, what would be a good place to start Fiona, if someone's saying, okay, I want to understand this more.
Where, what are some good resources?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. So I think paying attention to the news about the price of Bitcoin is not super helpful. I don't think that's where anyone should start. I think the number one place to start and where I point everyone. To read the Bitcoin white paper. If you Google Bitcoin white paper, read the original Bitcoin white paper.
And tell me if you think it's a bad idea. Read it, digest it. It's three pages. Tell me that you think this is a bad idea after reading that? I think most people who read that it's not super technical, it's pretty approachable and it talks about. This peer-to-peer decentralized currency.
And so I think that's really the first place to start. And that's where a light bulb aha. Moment can happen. The other resource, and again, recommending people go straight to the source here, like the Ethereum website that explains the theory. So you can think of Bitcoin as much more, just about a digital currency.
Ethereum does have with which ether, which is a currency of sorts, but it's really much more of a developer platform for developing in this ecosystem. And so those are the two things that I'd familiarize myself with. And then what I did when I got started, as I just said what's a small enough amount of money that would, it would make me pay attention, but it wouldn't change my life if it all went away.
And I just started. Every week, setting up an automated buy of Bitcoin and if theories, every week, and it was a small enough amount of money where it didn't matter if it went to zero or it didn't matter if there was a lot of volatility, but enough to make me pay it to. Enough to make me listen a little bit more to the space.
And it's really easy to get set up there. And that's probably the three things I would do, the Bitcoin white paper, the theory and website, and then, setting up what I did as I set up a Coinbase account. And I just started dollar cost averaging into, each of the two major cryptocurrency.
Claudia von Boeselager: And then you really see where the fluctuation is coming in as well.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: And I don't, I think about it as a 10 year bet.So right now there's a little bit of a crypto downturn. Everything's topsy-turvy in the economic world right now. There's a lot of uncertainty and uncertainty leads to fear and as financial volatility.
I I think about this as a ten-year bet. And so do I believe that there's a role for digital assets to play in our lives over the next 10 years? The answer is yes. I absolutely believe that. And I don't know what that means. I don't know if it means it overtakes the U S dollar or it's just another way of transacting.
I'm not sure, but I know that. Technology is going to be core to our lives over the next decade. And I'm willing to, I'm willing to make that longer term bet.
Claudia von Boeselager: I think it's so exciting as well, especially where you see where what's happening with inflation. And I if anyone who has been in a global corporation, if you need to send money to Thailand and then you hear it's just, it takes forever money could get blocked somewhere.
It's really problematic in the traditional financial system, but if you send it in Bitcoin, it's instantaneous. Okay. That's a good process on the blockchain, but within a few hours, it's there and the cost is marginal as well. So as you were saying as well, do you understand, if you understand the use case, it just, it to bring your head around that?
As well, it's just so phenomenal what the potential is. And I was having a conversation with, people who are more savvy at this than I am, but. Even discussing what's the point in having peripheral currencies anymore? when you can just go to that, like the cost of running your own Venezuelan peso or whatever the case may be versus, you might have some of the core global currencies and then the rest is digital currencies as well.
So I think it's definitely something people need to be paying attention to. It's highly volatile and there are a lot of, long tail ones that you need to be more careful though. But I really like your model of just taking, maybe that number is $5 for you or maybe it's, a hundred dollars a week or a month or whatever the case may be, but just forcing yourself to pay attention to what's happening and getting exposure to the sector as well.
So that's, that's a really great tip. And also with this SatoshiNakamoto white paper and checking out the theme of sight. So thank you for sharing that. More in general speaking more generally for women taking control of their finances, and also around investing. Cause this is your space as well.
Why do you think you would discuss about having more women at the table, but why is it so substantial and where can women start with finances in general? So obviously we've talked quite technical around blockchain and web weaponry, but if we take a step back and look at finances in general, what would you recommend.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: I think, I, my biggest, gosh, this it's such an important question. And I think women taking control of their financial futures is just absolutely critical. And so one of the ways that I think about it is how do you take your. Salary and convert it into something So one of the, quotes that I love is just that wealth is what you don't see. Wealth is what you don't see.
It's from, that is from the book, that is from a,,
Claudia von Boeselager: it's an article, the medium, I think isn't
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: no, there's a book that I just finished recently that I, , it's called, let me tell you.
Claudia von Boeselager: Less ego, more wealth saving money in the gap between ego and your income in boats.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: It's from a book called the psychology of money.
Let me just open-minded but stuff from the psychology of money.
Claudia von Boeselager: your professional book reader, you have notes from the otherwise.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: I can't remember them. As you can tell from this conversation.
Yeah. Okay. Sorry about that. I, ,I just like totally lost my train of thought. Sorry, you might've left field the questions. Yeah, no worries. No worries. Yeah. So do you want to ask the question again and then find the way it was? It's just,
Claudia von Boeselager: I will. It was a bit long-winded. So let me see if I can ask me more precise, cause I'm not pregnant.
Fiona taking a step back, cause we've obviously gotten quite technical around web three and blockchain and investing in crypto and things like that as well, but just more in general, about women taking control of their finances and investing for the longterm. What are some things that you can record?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. , I think the most important foundation is that, it's like steps to financial freedom and independence. So I think step one for anyone is that before you start investing a ton before you pay, start paying attention to those, making sure that you have that. Two to three to four or five months buffer.
That is financial freedom. If you can have three to six months of your living expenses available to add any time, like that's. That's really step one. So it reducing debt and making sure that you have three to six months of living expenses available to you and I, that was one of my early priorities for my financial future is making sure that.
With step one. And then beyond that, I'll think about how to invest, how to create compounding into how to create, , take advantage of compounding growth over time. So I think step one is that buffer that financial security blanket that you really are disciplined about maintaining because that's financial freedom to be able to walk away from a job.
If you need to walk away from a relationship, if you need to, to that, those are critical. And I think beyond that, Thinking about how do you put yourself in a position to be able to take advantage of compounding growth over time? And so compounding interest is such a powerful idea and thinking about how do you put money, take money aside and set it aside for many years.
I'm someone who most of my financial risk has been in the equity of the companies that I'm working for. So when it comes to my long-term investments, like my 401k or my IRA, those are really conservative. I'm not going out trying to pick stocks. I'm an early stage investor, professionally and I still don't pick stocks in the public market.
I still am buying the S and P 500, the NASDAQ, like that's my financial strategy because. Even some of the best hedge fund managers in the world, don't beat the market like the market over time. I'm I I'm willing to bet on the US over the next 30 years, am I willing to invest that on the top 500companies in the US over the next 30 years?
Yeah, I am. And and then I'm also willing to bet on cryptocurrencies over the next 30 years. And so I think that risk diversification is really important, but, and I also. I often tell people that unless you're doing it out of personal passion, personal insight or fun, I am not a big advocate for picking individual stocks in the stock market.
I really believe that the, the power comes from the compounding growth of a large sector, like technology and. At or the top 500 companies in the US I think that's much more, reliable over the long-term. And so it must, you're a professional investor. Avoid thinking about should I buy and sell apple stock this year?
That's not really core to what I recommend to.
Claudia von Boeselager: For sure. Yeah. And you talked about diversified risk. And so you said basically you buy the index and then crypto that's your, is that your spectrum?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah. And the index and crypto, and then, but the most significant investments I've ever made are the investments of my time.
And so you think about the I've worked for six different venture backed startups. , and so I really trading my time for equity in those companies. And , That is the most significant investment I've ever made because your time is the most valuable resource. And so I would think about, your time as one component of your financial investments,
Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah, it's such wise words as well.
Not everyone I think will have the opportunity to have equity in the company that they're working for. And we, so that's a much more sort of Silicon valley based in general, but not exclusively. And so I think for everyone and also for women, as well as like, how do you then have those investments so that you have that compounding interest in, let your money work for you over time as well.
And. Yeah, thank you so much fitness. So I'm going to jump into some rapid fire questions with you before we finish up. I appreciate we're running out of time. But what's let me start with this one. So in the last five years,what new belief behavior or habit has most improved your life?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: So this one is, this one's interesting.
The, , Two things that happened in my life that I had a lot of fear around. So I lost my mom at age 31. And I also, I got pregnant and I'm having a baby next month. And so I had a lot of fear around the loss of my parents. And I had a lot of fear around like fertility in general and what those two experiences helped me realize is that those events came to pass in the way that they were supposed to whether or not I built up all this fear and planning and mental preparation around them, one worked out one did not, and it's really caused me to take an inventory of the fears I have in my life and the anxieties I have in my life and asking are these serving me?
And how might I be able to let go of them and actually just enjoy. More. And I think going through those two experiences really helped, helped me have a wake up call around.
Claudia von Boeselager: Thank you for sharing that. And I'm so sorry about your mother, and obviously I know you're pregnant. Congratulations.
What are some of the tools and strategies you use to deal with those? This fear? I really like the model, the hypothesis. And then what did you do to overcome that?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Yeah, I think, step one was just actually letting myself feel emotions around those things. I think I had, very much the mindset of positive psychology.
And so after my mom died, I was like, there were so many good things that came from this and blah, blah, blah. And what I learned from that experience is actually just sitting back from time to time and saying that was actually really unfair. And I'm saying. And that's okay. And it let me experience it and release that from my body release that experience from my body.
And so I think a lot of us who are very passionate about positive psychology and wellness, I worry sometimes that maybe we're not letting ourselves feel things that are negative. And so I was definitely in that case. So it took me a couple months to go from being like, yes, my mom died, , but we're fine, but my family still close, but we had these great years together and instead just be like, oh yeah, actually I can accept that.
That was just very sad and very unfair. Let myself feel that. And then it moved through me in a way.
Claudia von Boeselager: I think that's such an important thing. I'd love to just highlight as well. My mother, so Irish, eternal optimist, tomorrow's a new day. It'll be fine. There's no problems. It's all okay. That, my father born in sort of 1938 Germany, where there was nothing.
So like any problem is like, this is not really a problem. And so we'd never talked about emotions at home as well. And I think that's where a lot of illness and disease comes from. If you just suppress everything and it's just sitting with it and it's okay. Being okay to cry, and. Either here, like the parents, which had don't cry.
And I used to say that to my kids until I realized that's completely wrong. And now I say it's okay to cry. Let it all out. I'm like, how much better do you feel after having a good cry? Like we actually think about it. , and just making that okay. As well. So I think thank you for sharing that.
And being okay to be sad and just, addressing that emotion, and letting it process then as well to be free of it also. So that's. Fiona, what book have you most? gifted?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: And so what's interesting is that when I, when you asked this question at first, I was thinking about the book that had the biggest impact on my life is actually very different than the book that I gift most frequently.
The book that I gift most frequently is called the paragraph by J baker. And it's about this man in England who had. Assessed with these Peregrine Falcons that are flying around and just follows them around. And what I loved about the book is that it shows how really like focusing can help you see and appreciate the beauty in small things.
And so it's a short book it's really beautifully written, but it shows how everyone can develop their own unique perspective on the world, through the things that they choose to focus on. And. That's case it was this bird that he followed around the coast of England for many years. And it's just, I love that idea of what you focus on and what you choose to see in the world and how it shapes your worldview and your personality.
And it's just, yeah, it's a beautifully written.
Claudia von Boeselager: That's such a beautiful book. And I think that it's so true as well. And I think that's why they say where focus goes, energy flows, right? So the more you focus on one thing, or for example, I think such a great example is you want to buy a new dog and it's a certain type of dog.
And all of a sudden you're seeing this dog everywhere and actually you're training your brain to look for that dog. So you actually, the dog's probably was there the whole time, but you never saw it. And it's just, the more you focus on the positive or the good things or the things you want to focus on out of.
Because we have choice, we have agency, the more that will develop as well. So I'm very empowering if you're in a, what excites you most about the future of health, wellbeing and longevity over the coming years and beyond?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: I think the high level goal, which is really how do we have more productive, enjoyable years to spend doing the things we love with the people we love.
And what I'm most excited about is working with the vision. Entrepreneurs who are, have a unique perspective on how to bring that future to fruition. And I'm supporting them with capital and with advice and support to bring their vision to life. And so I hope that we're all living healthy, enjoyable, productive years, , many longer years, many more years than we are today on that.
Claudia von Boeselager: So we'll be out partying when we're a hundreds of funerals. Are you, ,
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: my goal is to swim in a us masters swimming championships at age a hundred. That's my biggest goal in life is that
Claudia von Boeselager: I'll be there.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: We'll have a tennis match after that,
Claudia von Boeselager: then we'll play something. Yeah. Where can people follow what you're up to on social media or websites and what would you like to share with people? And we can link this in the show notes.
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: So my handle on most things is F O D M C. So my initials, Fiona O'Donnell McCarthy.
So FOD MC on Twitter, I'm also probably best on LinkedIn. Just, feel free to connect with me and mentioned that you caught this podcast and I'd love to connect with like-minded people in this.
Claudia von Boeselager: Excellent. Do you have any final ask recommendation or parting thoughts for my audience? If you wanna?
Fiona O’Donnell McCarthy: Ooh, I would just, I would say that one of the biggest psychological shifts that you can make is just really feeling autonomy over your health and feeling responsibility for your own health.
And so understanding what's happening in your body, not turning your body over to the. System, but really, feeling a sense of agency. That's probably my parting words of wisdom that most likely everyone of your audience already feels and knows, but I think that's what if I could get that message out to the world, that would be the message I'd want to share.
Claudia von Boeselager: Wonderful. Thank you so much for your input. This has been so insightful and so fun. Thank you so much for coming on today. Thanks for having me, Claudia.