Author, Blogger at Moneytripping.com
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Moneytripping is an attempt at combining my two passions, travel and economics. Nearly five months ago, I embarked on a 48-state drive in an effort to talk to U.S. citizens around the country about money and the financial system and the economy post-recession. The experiences I find myself in and the conversations I have with turn into localized write-ups that cover economics and politics with a root in how people think about value systems.
I learned so much about financial services, payments and technology while I was at PaymentSource and American Banker, but I wanted to expand into commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of the United States. I wanted to delve deeper into what these systems actually are and how much the average person knows about these systems, not to mention get into some philosophical territory. I’m really interested in the idea of post-capitalsim, which was coined (I think) by Paul Mason, but explores how the world is changing in a way that makes capitalism less appealing and what these changes usher in, in terms of an economic structure.
Has the focus of the overall Moneytripping project evolved since you’ve begun the project? Why?
I’ve always been interested in alternatives to the status quo, for whatever reason, whether it be intentional communities that raise their own chickens or punk rockers that cover themselves with piercings. The project is still building; and I’m just letting it take me where it does, which is why there’s so much diversity. But there definitely seems to be a motif in the underdog.
It has evolved, though. I started the project thinking I would really be focused on the history of money and how people think of money. Plus I thought I’d be writing features that fit more into a style like PaymentsSource.
But that changed pretty quickly. Turns out, when you ask people about money, they talk politics. The blog has gotten far more political, but this makes sense as we come up on the election. I’ve written about Donald J. Trump several times—I mean he just says such outrageous things and still has a strong following—and Bernie Sanders, but mostly it’s about political ideas, not the candidates themselves. I would really love if either of them retweeted me, though. 😉
How do you define the ‘Political Economy’?
Political Economy, pulled right from Wikipedia, is the study of “production and trade, and their relation with law, custom and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth.”
So the way I see it, I’m covering how views on economics changes depending on the cultures of the states I’m in and the demographics I’m talking with. I take a loose definition of production and trade. To me it can mean physical goods or an abstract idea.
I also feel like some of my stuff crosses the line (that’s an under-statement) into socioeconomics and behavioral economics.
What has been your favorite blog post to-date? Why?
Wow, that’s tough. I got really giddy when writing Massachusetts, for example, because I realized I could link back to several other state write-ups. That means—well I hope—that Moneytripping is coming together to form a coherent rant/book.
My editor says it’s easier to ask me what states I don’t like. And he’s right.
This project is quite “Millennial” in its approach. What type of feedback have your received?
It’s millennial, but I have inspiration in past itinerants, such as the beatniks of the 50s and 60s or those that went gonzo like Hunter S. Thompson.
A lot of people say millennials are the lost generation, because we were the first generation to lack a real monoculture. We appropriate things at an alarming rate because of our constant access to information via the internet. It isn’t necessarily good or bad, but it can be done with grace or it can be done in an unsympathetic way.
Anyway, people say we’re lost, but really it’s just that I won’t call your spade, mine. Younger generations are stamping out traditional definitions and crafting their own, whether it be with life, career, and sex.
What comes next after this project?
Write the book. I will never forgive myself if I don’t write a book about my trip, bringing in some of the material that didn’t find it’s way into the blog. So whether I get a publisher or self-publish, I’m recluse-ing after this to write.
Other than that, I’m fine not knowing. There are so many things I want to do in my life, like work on s ski mountain, teach English in southeast Asia or jump on a boat to rescue refugees. I’m adaptable because I’m interested in learning.
But I’ve got a safety net in my parents and friends, which allows me to be carefree in this respect. Never under-estimate the power of a safety net.
Who(m) do you believe has had the most influence with respect to your own career?
You can sorta look back, or I hope many people can, and envision those that have most changed you.
I think there’s a narrative that you should be yourself, no matter what, and not let others change you. But that’s crap. You should be affected by the people around you, you should allow yourself to change and adapt as you acquire new information.
So to the question, there’s an activist and writer in London that I adore, Brett Scott. He’s far Left Wing and hyper-critical of power structures. I’ve always been picky about word choice, but he told me once that he goes through articles and picks at every last word, every “the” and “from,” asking himself whether it is actually the correct word for the sentiment. I think that’s insane and amazing. He was definitely the inspiration for this.
And then there’s my current adviser, Pete Rizzo, who has been the most helpful, accidental addition to my life and this project. Many of my posts would be awful messes if he wasn’t around to find the motifs my spastic neural network misses.
Dave Birch with Consult Hyperion has also been a huge help in terms of my career. He is so well-connected and knows all these interesting people both inside the financial industry and on the outside. I look up to him a great deal, not only because of his expertise in finance but also the playful spirit that has me sitting at a poker table with him until 2 am in Old Vegas.
Who do you consider to be strong women leaders in the FinTech space?
There are really too many to list here, with the likes of Juliette Kennel at SWIFT, Ghela Boskovich at Zafin, Fereshteh Forough at Code to Inspire, Paige Peterson at Maidsafe and cutting-edge researchers like Lana Swartz.
I think the industry sometimes misses the women that are working (maybe in the back office) instead of tweeting and schmoozing to call attention to themselves. You don’t have to be a CEO or even C-level, nor do you need your picture on a high profile publication’s listicle to be influential.
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