In this first post from one of our Ambassadors, @ShawnzoGonzo tells us his experiences of the first four weeks of joining a DAO, from his first tentative steps, to writing this article and volunteering to lead a team.
With the DAO space being so new, many people are curious and, if you are like me, want to jump in as soon as possible to get our feet wet. In this article, I'm going to share some of my own experiences, questions, and frustrations so you know what to expect in the first few weeks of joining a DAO.
Questions Before Joining a DAO
Your experience in a DAO is going to be determined by a few things. First, the type of DAO you join will greatly impact your experience. If you join a DAO such as Uniswap - a developer-centric DAO - that will be very different to a DAO such as Friends With Benefits, a more social-centric DAO.
Secondly, what are your skills? What you can contribute will determine not only what kind of DAO you join but how you interact with that DAO.
Lastly, what do you want to get out of joining a DAO? Do you want to be a major part of the community to help it grow and evolve over time? Or would you like to be more on the sidelines and learn from others' experiences and comments?
My Personal Experience of a DAO
If I had to describe my personal experience of joining the Aragon DAO as an Ambassador in one sentence I would say it's like your first week of school: you show up ready to learn and contribute only to find out that there is much more to learn before you can even begin. There are Twitter pages, Discord channels, blog posts, and all types of other information to sift through so you can get up to speed before actually contributing. In my particular case, I didn't even have a Twitter account before starting on this journey. I had been involved with crypto for a while but only from the sidelines, so once I jumped in I realized very quickly how deep the waters are.
On my first day after joining Aragon's Discord, I was left with so many questions. I knew what Aragon was due to my research but I had no clue how I would participate in the community. "So what do I do?" "Where do I start?" I jumped straight in, introduced myself, and started getting involved in any conversations that were taking place. This eventually led me to being invited into the Ambassadors program, which then led me to be writing this article.
With me having very little experience of the different outlets in which I could participate, this is where it got a bit frustrating and overwhelming. In order to contribute, I learned everything from Twitter, Github, Notion, and Discord. Luckily with the help of some friends, Google, and some of the mods in the Discord channel, I got everything settled and now have all the tools I need to be a part of the community. The best advice I can give is don't be afraid to ask questions; everyone was a beginner at one point in time and there will always be people willing to teach those who are willing to learn.
"Don't wait for being completely ready for the plans and ideas you may have in mind. Take action now and you will learn and become ready."
- Farshad Asl, The "No Excuses" Mindset: A Life of Purpose, Passion, and Clarity
Now that I've gotten acclimated to the DAO, what our goals are, and the tools that are available to me, it has become very clear how I can contribute and help bring this DAO to the next level. However, it has taken a lot of patience, determination, humbleness, and a willingness to put myself in uncomfortable positions in order to learn the things I need.
I am the type of person who will go above and beyond for a cause that I believe in. So if this is something that you resonate with, you should go and find a DAO and see how you can be a part of the community. If you are wondering where to start you can check out DAOlist for a list of DAOs with their Twitter, websites, and even how many members they have. It's an amazing time of growth for this space and an even better time to get involved to help these amazing organizations grow and spread the word about the future of crypto, business and the social economy.
Week 2: More Learning, More Involvement
One of the best parts of joining a DAO is that with the constant advancements in the field, there is always something new to learn. However, one of the hardest things for me so far has been learning to pace myself. With there being so much information it is easy to get lost for hours and eventually you can burn out. However, the Aragon DAO has a great community and tons of resources available so there's no need to rush. I have been taking advantage of these resources and using them as a starting point to learn and hopefully teach others as well.
When I first joined Aragon I had a very traditional business model in mind as far as on-boarding, training, and finding a place in the DAO were concerned. I've run businesses and been through this process many times. However, I’ve found in this new model that you find your place in the organization according to how involved you want to be. Rather than someone offering to train you, you train yourself using the resources available. The knowledge you acquire will shine through the more you progress. My personal long term goals for this is to eventually be a team lead for community engagement, which is why I’m focused more on learning the ins and outs of the organization and the wider crypto field. This way I can communicate effectively with the community and bridge the technical gap that exists between the average user and the development team. To help me build this knowledge I've started watching videos on the governance models that dictate how these DAOs are run. If this is something you are interested in learning I would recommend the following talk from Dr. Cathy Barrera. I found it on a resource page that was made available by Aragon and it is a great introduction to the subject of governance and how it is used to help organizations become decentralized. She talks about how voting systems are used to help distribute power among the users of the platform and how to prevent that same system from concentrating power instead of distributing it:
Another great video I’ve watched that goes into even greater depth is this one by Vitalik Buterin. If you’d like to expand your knowledge on the subject, I highly suggest using these as your starting point:
Another way I’ve gotten more involved is offering to test new products and give feedback on them to help the developers make them useful and easy to use. Not only is this helping me learn more about Aragon, but who doesn’t like being on the forefront of new technology?!
I also volunteered recently to run through the process of creating a DAO using Aragon. I was able to go through the entire process, which I hadn’t done before, and give feedback every step of the way. Being a part of the development process is something new to me and I think it will be critical in bridging the technological gap that I mentioned earlier. In doing these types of things not only am I expanding my knowledge, but I am getting closer to my long term goal of being a community leader for Aragon.
Finding my Tribe
One of the last things I’ve learned this week is a bit more personal. As I learn more about DAOs I naturally want to talk about these things with the people around me. Where I live this technology isn’t well known, which presents some great opportunities, but at the same time some challenges. The opportunities I think are obvious: I can spread the word about DAOs and crypto and help the movement move forward. However, that is also where the challenge lies: it is difficult to talk to people who aren’t interested in this subject. I’ve tried talking to family members about it and they are interested in what I’m doing so they try and listen but, with no knowledge about blockchain or DAOs, I start going a bit above their heads quite quickly. To solve this knowledge gap, I usually direct them to some of Whiteboard Cryptos videos on YouTube. They’re usually short, concise, and use great analogies to help get the point across. I find this video on how blockchains work is a nice intro to the subject for people who want to learn:
The further I get into the rabbit hole that is cryptocurrency, DAOs, and blockchains the less I can talk to other people about these subjects. This is where the community aspect of DAOs really shines. I've found even with only a little knowledge on the subject, once you get into the forums and start talking to other members and following the links that others post you realize you’re not the only one who has something to learn. You grow alongside the other members of the DAO and this creates a bond between all of you. To me this is one of the best parts so far. To find others that are interested in the same things as you and being able to talk about it and contribute to another person's journey along the way is an amazing thing that we should all try and do. With that being said I’ll end this weeks recap with one of my favorite quotes:
“Every man is a student, and every man is a teacher.” - Plato
Week 3: Diving Deeper
Joining a DAO has proven to be quite the humbling experience: I find myself listening more than speaking and hungry for more information every day. It seems to be an iterative process in which every bit of information I learn takes me deeper into the subject and uncovers more subjects that I didn’t know existed. This past week I’ve dived into the world of governance processes, learning everything from origins to different types of voting systems and how they can be used in DAOs to decentralize decision-making. The good thing about platforms such as YouTube is that once you begin watching videos on a certain topics it begins suggesting even more of the same.
In addition to that, Aragon announced elections for some of the Aragon Network DAO sub-DAOs. These include an Executive Committee that will be responsible for facilitating community conversations for planning and key initiatives; a Compliance Committee that will be responsible for leading conversations around risk, sustainability, and ethics and ensuring proposals meet the standards set aside by the Aragon Network Charter; and a Tech Committee which will be responsible for overseeing the development of Aragon’s network code. This is a wonderful example of the DAO ideology at work: to put such vital roles as these out to the community to apply for and vote on is amazing to be a part of and shows how much Aragon trust their community. Over time, this will reveal how effective this way of doing things can be and will also help empower the people who are involved in the growth of the DAO.
Apart from that, I have also sat in on multiple calls and lectures within the Aragon community ranging from a lesson on Vocdoni - a governance tool used within the Aragon ecosystem for voting - and a lecture from mathematician Pietro Speroni di Fenizio on governance and different types of voting, which was extremely informative.
Week 4: More Opportunities to be Involved
By now I think you’ve realized that being in a DAO is a learning experience. With the space being so new there is a plethora of information that needs to be learned to stay up-to-date and even more being created every day on emerging practices and software. Week 4 has been more of an opportunistic week in that certain roles are beginning to surface that I would either like to be a part of to learn more, or think that I would be a great fit for. This may be something you run into depending on where your DAO is in its development, however your life is made up of opportunities, even the ones you miss, so always be ready for such opportunities to arise. Even if you don’t think you’re a perfect fit, don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer help: it will show that you’re willing to learn and help establish your presence in the community.
The first opportunity I threw my name in the ring for was the Compliance Committee, which I mentioned in the previous week. I have run multiple businesses and this seemed like something I could do. It was going for a vote by the community so I typed up my proposal and waited. I was the first one to submit so I had high hopes, but after a few days other - much more qualified - people applied. As discouraging as this was for me, I would rather they do it than myself. Still, as I said before, if you see an opportunity, don’t be afraid to try. By seeing what the more qualified people have under their belts I know where I stand and what is expected in these roles. Being humble throughout this experience is key in progressing while continuing to maintain one's passion.
The second opportunity I noticed while going through the Discord. Someone had applied for the Ambassador Program and was asking how long before they would hear back about it. One of the core team replied and said that there were about 250 applications and it was taking longer than expected top get through them. This is where I saw my opportunity: in my experience running businesses I’ve done well over 1000 interviews. I commented on the thread and offered to help, which may happen with the next cohort. This is a prime example of filling a space as you see if to help the community thrive. Even though I might not have as much experience in programming or some of the more professional parts of the DAO, I still have a set of skills that can help things run smoothly. Don’t be afraid to speak up and pitch in wherever you can!
The third opportunity I found while going through our Ambassador Notion is a chance to represent Aragon on Quora. This is something I am very excited about and am looking forward to. For those of you who don’t know, Quora is a social question / answer website where you can ask any question and have it answered by someone. For me to take this role would not only help me learn more about Aragon, but it would help me be a bigger part of the community. I will be able to have an impact inside our community by asking questions and relaying concerns from Quora, as well as outside by being a source of information for people who aren’t familiar with Aragon.
If you would like to contribute or find out more about Aragon's Ambassador program, visit aragon.org/ambassadors, or reach out to one of the team on Discord.