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In our very last episode (!!!) of Making It Work, one woman shares her experience working for a crypto company, and what she learned from the toxic work environment.

Through bi-weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how real people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for you, full stop.

Video by Grace Lee

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I landed working at Crypto because I was unhappy in my current position and started seeking a new role more in line with my education. I'd been curious about crypto on a personal level, despite several warnings, but was willing to take on the high risk.

I was, and still am, passionate about financial independence, so when I saw a position at a Crypto company, I excitedly applied for it. I saw many red flags before I took it, but every flag got an excuse from my friends and family.

"Oh, 3(?) is so important. Crypto is safe, Crypto is trendy!"

"You find a problem with every job."

I listened to the excuses, and that is how I accidentally joined the Cult of Crypto.

It started when I was researching the company on Glassdoor. There was a banner on top of the page in red that said, "This employer is in the process of suing a poster for their review", or something like that. Their reviews were incredible though, so I looked past it and took the interview anyway.

This is when things already started to go wrong. When I asked what the pay was for the position, I was told they, "don't disclose that for security", but then demanded I tell them my range.

After my second interview, they sent me a nearly 2-hour video podcast of the CEO discussing crypto that I would discuss at my next interview. This podcast was mostly just the CEO bragging about himself, and how so many people worked overtime because they just loved crypto so much. Later, when I was offered the position, it was under the range that I'd listed, despite them telling me that my range was accurate. 

I'm embarrassed to admit that I took the job anyway. I knew immediately that I had made the wrong choice. At this company, you cannot critique anything without them throwing your NDA at you. If you oppose the views of the CEO, who is never mentioned by name, only by his personalized emoji on Slack, he would decide you "didn't fit the culture". 

An article was released about the CEO by a whistleblower, and based on my own experience of the company, I do believe their claims. The day the article came out, the CEO posted on Slack and acted like a petulant toddler. He slammed the whistleblower, and hours later, sent us a list of commandments with specific PR instructions for answers to questions people may ask us. How I feel about crypto, how much I liked our CEO, and how we discuss guns at work were at the top of the list.

A few days later, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the male-dominated company got on Slack and proceeded to say women who had abortions were evil. The conversation was not stopped.

I was not allowed to tell anyone where I worked, or post it on LinkedIn. They tried to write this off by saying it was for security, but every year we had to attend a webinar that reminded us of this. The part I remember most vividly is not talking about my job or company at a loud crowded bar because a "hacker could overhear everything and I would be an instant target."

Other ways we upheld great security: we had four different email addresses, I was not allowed to use Google, they had multiple company addresses, anything I did had to be encrypted, and only Slack could be on my phone.

This is probably a great practice in theory, but the only thing it did was isolate employees. If you wanted to do anything outside of work, you had to get permission from the company, which I get if you want another job, but people took the ask so seriously we had people asking if they could do the simplest things. Like asking if they could do things outside of work that weren't banking, crypto, or even work-related. Things as simple as joining a recreational activity. 

Now for the crypto obsession. When I started, I set up a meeting with the benefits team because I had questions. At the end of the meeting, the benefits member laughed and asked "may I ask a personal question". I love benefits and money talk, so I said yes. He asked me why I was pulling out money for retirement. So I gave him a breakdown.

Apparently, I was part of less than 10% of the company that was actually utilizing the retirement benefit. They didn't match anything, it was just a standard personal account. Everyone else got their retirement sent to their crypto account. Not only that, a large majority of employees got 100% of their pay in crypto. 

If you were one of the employees who got Fiat, people would talk down to you, and get honestly frustrated when you refused to get full crypto. I was working on a project where I had to double-check that employee bank information matched what two different systems showed. One man responded sincerely "I do not receive slave money". This still keeps me up at night.

I will admit and say that I had less than 1% of each paycheck go into crypto, and in order for that to happen, I had to route my pay into the company's account so that it could then go into my personal account. Nothing nefarious ever happened, but my account was with another crypto platform, so why couldn't my crypto have just gone directly into that account?

I was laid off in the company in 2022. I wasn't even told in person. I received an email and my computer was turned off immediately. This layoff was ironic to me because they a) swore up and down that they would not be doing layoffs and b) crypto was a response to the 2008 recession as a way to make recession-proof money. As we are potentially heading to a recession, shouldn't crypto have been booming?

I feel like I was targeted in some ways. I was always questioning the way we did things, and I had no problem speaking up if I saw disrespect or something morally questionable.

I definitely learned a lot through this experience. First, listen to your gut and believe in yourself, even if others don't agree, especially if it's a trend. Second, ask questions in job interviews. I asked questions, but I learned they weren't the right ones later. Asking questions in your interview is your time to advocate for yourself, and I would have made a different decision if I had asked different questions and trusted my gut.

In the future, I will advocate for myself earlier.