On this episode of Making Ways, product leader, entrepreneur, founder, and military veteran John Yi shares the story of his unlikely path to working in tech, starting his own companies, joining Facebook in its early days, and the lessons he’s learned about leadership along the way. John also discusses his time in the military and how he came to open Code and Canvas—a workspace for both artists and technologists—and gives his best shot at explaining bitcoin and his exciting work today at Coinbase. Tune in for a great conversation and insights from one of my mentors John Yi.
“I’ve always had in my back pocket this idea that no matter what I’m doing, at worst I am learning things that I can write about. So I almost have this excuse that no matter how good or bad the job is or how tough the day is, there’s some fodder for future writing that I can draw from.”– John Yi
John Yi is a serial entrepreneur and tech veteran currently leading growth initiatives at Coinbase. In addition to investing in and advising startups, he’s long been involved with social ventures such as the One Acre Fund, which supports small-scale farmers in Africa, and Code and Canvas, an inclusive workspace for artists and technologists in San Francisco. Previously, John worked at Facebook and Pinterest and served for several years in US Army special operations. John studied international relations and mechanical engineering at West Point. A father to three, husband to one, and an expert in zero, John tries to spend a reasonable amount of time running around in the woods. When all the planets (and Pluto) align, he plans to write novels.
John Yi is a tech entrepreneur, a military veteran, a friend and mentor, so I had to have him on Making Ways to share some of his keen insights with the masses. John was instrumental to my realization that going independent and starting my own marketing business after I left Google (and prior career jobs at Simon & Schuster, Sony Music, and Nickelodeon) was indeed the right path for me. John brings a calm wisdom and quiet curiosity to each of our conversations, but it wasn’t until our interview that I understood that so much of that wisdom comes from experience. Not only did John spend seven years in the startup grind as a cofounder; he was also early to join Facebook and Pinterest and now works as a product and growth leader in the emerging cryptocurrency space at bitcoin leader Coinbase. And none of this even touches on John’s time in the elite US Army Special Operations Ranger unit, his training at West Point, or Code and Canvas, the workspace he and a few other tech mainstays opened to build bridges between the tech and artist communities in San Francisco.