Learning and Relearning: Reflecting on the DAO Toolkit Series


by Samantha Marin

When I recorded the DAO toolkit series this summer, it was a unique time for me. I’d just started this newsletter, had transitioned out of BanklessDAO and into Aragon full-time, and was living nomadically for a bit. I was also about at the one-year mark of working in DAOs. I had a lot to reflect on, and this series helped me do so.

Published during the fall, these episodes were my first real foray into sharing ideas in audio rather than just written form.

That’s why this episode series was so fun for me. I got to think deeply about what I learned at Bankless and what I was starting to encounter at Aragon. Reflecting on my journey has helped me in tons of ways, and I hope some of you find these episodes helpful, too!

The power of focus: become an expert in one thing rather than dabbling in many

This topic is unique to DAOs because it’s not common to be hired to do one job. There’s no staying in your lane because there’s no lane to begin with (there’s not even a road, actually—good luck!). So you have to self-regulate to focus and become an expert in your craft, rather than dabbling in everything and getting lost in the DAO.

I’ve definitely had focus issues in the early days of my DAO journey, and I’m still grappling with them in many ways. The desire to get into more roles and tasks is high, especially in a bull market when it seems that there’s endless opportunity everywhere you turn. But when those opportunities stack up so tall they’re about to topple over, then you know you need to shed some.

I’ve heard this called “shiny object syndrome,” which I believe is an apt description of how it feels. It’s like there are a hundred shiny objects around you and every time you reach for one, there’s another one winking at you and daring you to grab it.

It’s not a good feeling to go back on your responsibilities and let people down. So this episode was made to help people get ahead of it and trim down those responsibilities before they stack up. And, it was made to remind myself of that very same thing!

Listen here: Episode on Spotify

Making connections: meeting people and finding your place

One of the surest ways to grow in this industry is to make connections. This episode focuses on making connections within your DAO, because that is vital for new internal opportunities. But the other reason it focuses on making connections within your DAO is because that’s what Brandon and I were most experienced with. We’d both learned what it was like to come into a DAO knowing no one, and having to find our way through the organization by meeting people who could open doors for us and show us around.

We talked about how joining a DAO is like being a freshman in college. You have a whole campus of people you could be friends with, but you need to go find them. On top of that, you have a huge variety of possibilities for classes and majors and clubs. You have to take the initiative to try new classes, explore possibilities for majors, and meet new people. Whereas working a traditional job is more like going to a small high school: you know everyone in your class and you have a set schedule of classes you take together. Things are more controlled, but it’s also easier to know where you fit in.

Just like in that first year of college, it’s all about striking a balance. If you spent all your time taking a ton of classes and not meeting people, you’d miss out. And if you spent all the time partying and not taking classes, you’d also miss out! The balance is hard to find, but at the end of the day, make sure you’ve sprinkled in some connection-making into your DAO life.

Listen here: Episode on Spotify

Getting feedback: the quickest way to improve your skills

This is one of the trickier topics in DAOs because of the organization structure. They’re flat, circular, or generally non-traditional looking organizations where there’s no direct manager who is supposed to oversee you. Sometimes there’s an indirect manager (coordinator, steward, etc.) but there’s not always someone who is directly tasked with giving you feedback.

DAOs also give you the opportunity to try a new skill and pick up work that might not be something you’re used to doing. Since DAOs are so fluid, it’s a lot easier to get paid to do something new. And if you’re doing something new, it’s even more important to get feedback!

In this episode we talk about some ways to seek out feedback:

  • Ask people to give you feedback and share the format you like it in (private DM, google doc comment).
  • Kindly start giving others feedback privately, and see if they reciprocate. Lead with “Would you be okay with some feedback on this?” because sometimes people aren’t ready to receive it that day.
  • Ask people to give you feedback on one specific thing, so they feel comfortable sharing constructive/critical feedback. For example: Rather than, “Is the ice cream I made good?” say, “Does the ice cream I made have too much sugar, or just enough?”

Listen here: Episode on Spotify

Being proactive and problem solving: how to create opportunities for yourself

In this episode I talk about how my first DAO role was born out of a pain point I myself had experienced first hand: onboarding. I went through the standard whirlwind, short onboarding process at BanklessDAO that was common of DAOs in the bull market. Tons of people wanted to join, so all the DAO really asked of you was to verify that you weren’t a bot and agree to some Discord community standards. So, my first role was the talent scout for the Writers Guild, which then led to more roles.

In this episode we talk about how you can use pain points you experience in the DAO to create a role for yourself, pitch projects, and come up with new directions for the DAO to take. If it’s a pain point you’ve personally experienced, then you might know more about how to solve it and will know what to avoid while solving it. You’ll also have more emotional investment in the topic because you’ve experienced it yourself.

Identifying pain points and solving them can also help your reputation in the DAO. This can lead to roles further down the line or more connections made. But, there’s a flip side of solving the problem: investing too much time in it. Scope creep can get real, and is something that I’m still learning!

Listen here: Episode on Spotify

Cultivating web3 knowledge: becoming your own curator

In this episode we talked about being your own curator. Google search isn’t a reputable resource for many aspects of web3. I’m sure you’ve googled something about web3 and found a traditional media organization trying to harvest web3 keywords that didn’t know what they were talking about.

We talk about how hard it can be to find good information about DAOs and web3. A lot of times you find the best information on a random Notion page you stumble on that you’re not even sure you should have access to. Or it’s a backlink of a backlink of a backlink out of a Mirror article you read. Or it’s one nugget buried deep in a two-hour podcast. Finding information is hard, so we shared some tips we use to become our own curators:

Listen here: Episode on Spotify

Sometimes learning is actually relearning

I admit that many of these topics aren’t necessarily specific to DAOs. Often, we’re repackaging pre-web3 knowledge and advice and sharing it in a DAO context. **But that means we get to take what worked and leave behind what didn’t. There’s tons of beauty in this: we get to pick the best from web2 and apply it to web3. (**Of course, that’s if we listen to the best of web2 like we say we’re going to.)

In this way, the DAO learnings that Brandon and I shared in these episodes are often just relearning ways of working that have been out there in the world for years. We’re just finding new ways to apply these learnings and make them DAO-specific. I don’t know about you, but I’m always down for some relearning!

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