Leah Carr of Coinsquare on why you should be in Crypto and how to welcome the imposter syndrome
Leah Carr is the VP of Licensing at Coinsquare, Canada’s most secure digital asset trading platform for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies. Leah is a highly regarded and respected leader in the Toronto tech community, who has spent years working with and advising tech CEOs of high growth start-ups. She is a passionate volunteer, connector and fitness enthusiast.
WHAT DREW YOU TO COINSQUARE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
If you want to grow your career in tech, it’s about being on the cutting edge of something really big. I was drawn to Coinsquare based on our company’s amazing leadership team and the fact that this industry is going to fundamentally change our global financial system. We are on the path to being one of the first 21stcentury financial institutions. There is nothing more exciting than that.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING ABOUT THE CRYPTOCURRENCY MARKET RIGHT NOW?
There are lots of exciting things going on in our space right now; they fall under three major themes: adoption, increased industry legitimacy and regulation.
On a macro-level, we’ve seen a few countries express interest in creating their own digital currencies, which changes the game when you think about it. From the perspective of our own business, there is growing interest around things like payments APIs that further tells us that there is increasing demand to transact with digital currencies themselves. Most importantly though, Crypto is now in the common speech of everyday. It’s something that is in daily conversation like it has existed for a long period of time; it’s not just a buzz word anymore.
In terms of legitimacy, there have been a number of big people in finance like Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan Chase) who have changed their tune regarding the value that digital currencies bring. The TSX has also recently announced that it will be starting up a digital currency brokerage service as a part of its digital strategy. Big things like that are continuing to bring digital currencies out from the fringes and into the mainstream.
Lastly, regulations are likely coming and no industry can really grow without those kinds of things. We are well positioned for that when they get here and welcome the things that regulation could do for our industry.
ARE THERE ANY GENERAL MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT CRYPTOCURRENCIES THAT YOU’D LIKE TO DISPEL?
Thinking you are just going to get hacked when using digital currency is a big one. People don’t understand the details of the hacks and how they actually happen. What you read about in the news is just half the story. The hacks you see out there are happening through hot wallets and because most exchanges were built only to transact, not to be secure. We built our platform on security, and 95% of our digital assets are in cold storage. This makes getting hacked very difficult. A lot of the smaller hacks also happen because of people not being careful when it comes to their password management practices.
Lastly, people think digital currencies has no value relative to fiat currency. The reality is that digital currency is valuable for many of the same reasons that traditional currency is valuable: supply and demand, and the promise that someone will use it to transact or accept it as a storer of value or tender.
AS A LEADER OF A HIGH GROWTH FINTECH COMPANY, WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSED ON TO ENSURE THAT THE BUSINESS SCALES PROPERLY?
It’s always been about the people. We are very careful about who we hire and invest a lot in those we do. When bringing someone new into the company, their resume is often the last thing we look at. We hire people based on their potential, make them accountable for achieving results and give them the chance to prove that they can do it. Everyone in the company, no matter how senior, has that accountability.
Transparency is also something that we have been very focused on and it’s a big part of our culture. We share a lot of information with our people that other companies in our position might not. We want our people to know what is happening at Coinsquare, even when it comes to things like fundraising, new prospects, deals, etc.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN POTENTIAL NEW HIRES?
For me, being adaptable is key. The jobs here often change and you need to be able to shift around, take on new things and work with not a lot of direction. I paint a very transparent picture of what it is like here and if I see that someone gets increasingly excited the more I try to terrify them, that person is a good fit.
YOU’VE BEEN SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN ABLE TO REINVENT YOURSELF ACROSS A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT ROLES THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, HOW DO YOU DO IT AND BE SUCCESSFUL?
To get the kinds of opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to receive, you need to start with giving back. Volunteering is something that I’ve always devoted a lot of time towards because it helps you do things that you would have never been able to do otherwise. You build a network, develop a reputation and most importantly, serve a cause that is bigger than yourself. I always encourage people to do this in any kind of capacity.
Once you get a new opportunity, don’t think about it too much and focus on the things that you know you are great at. You don’t need to be an expert in everything. I’ve experienced my share of imposter syndrome but that is a part of growing. If you aren’t questioning yourself, it’s impossible to be successful.
WHAT IS THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU WOULD GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS IN THE WORKFORCE TODAY TO GET AHEAD?
I’d say that the money you make before your thirties doesn’t matter as much as the learning opportunities you experience along the way during that time. Most of one’s earning potential comes in your late thirties and early forties and you need to set yourself up so you can make a lot of money then. Young people can get so focused on money, and I think that is the wrong approach.
The second thing I’d say is about networking. Networking is always about what you can do for others. It is never about what you can get from someone else. Always think about how you can connect others and don’t expect anything in return. Your network is the most important thing you can build and develop, especially when you are young.