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Blockchain CEOs visit ASU Law to discuss emergence in world financial ecosystem

March 21, 2018

A Scottsdale-based blockchain entrepreneur said Wednesday that the emerging currency technology is growing exponentially, but he does not envision it will take over the banking system in the foreseeable future; rather, it will peacefully co-exist alongside it.

“I would not expect that digital currency will become the only payment method out there or that it will take over the banking system,” said Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash, a Scottsdale-based cryptocurrency focused on payments and commerce. “We see us sitting alongside other existing payments. This is about becoming relevant for a portion of those transactions.”

Taylor spoke at a discussion on blockchain and the law moderated by Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law student Jason Wadsworth at the Beus Center for Law and Society on Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus.

The Center for Law, Science and Innovation hosted the event, which featured a panel of blockchain industry leaders, innovators and CEOs. The panel discussion included dialogue on the emergence of blockchain in the world financial ecosystem from banking to developing nations' agriculture; the technology's innovative uses; and the legal challenges they face as more regulation applies to the industry.

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Gary Marchant

“There is so much excitement about blockchain because it is stimulating so many novel applications and innovative business models,” said Gary Marchant, faculty director for the Center for Law, Science and Innovation. “Arizona is fortunate to be home to a number of innovative companies using blockchain in new business models that are having a national and international impact. We are fortunate to have the CEOs of three of those Arizona companies here today to share their vision and business models.”

The discussion was the third of four scheduled events for ASU’s “Blockchain Speaker Series” and drew more than 100 people, mostly attorneys. 

More: Policymakers say Arizona should 'guide the narrative' on blockchain

In addition to Taylor, Wednesday's panel included RealBlock CEO Mike Boyd and Mac McGary, president of Sweetbridge Alliance.  

In 2014, the Internal Revenue Service recognized digital currency — a decentralized, digital ledger system that serves as the foundation upon which bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies operate. It was the same year that Dash was formed. Today Dash is the sixth-biggest cryptocurrency worldwide and has a total market capitalization of $2.5 billion.

Taylor said cryptocurrency is popular because it provides easy and instant transactions, features decentralized governance, solves real world problems, creates fair value exchange and is self-reliant.

“It brings the best practices to bear,” Taylor said.

Boyd said it’s also highly efficient when it comes to smoking out fraud, particularly in the title industry. He said fraud accounts for about $19 billion annually and is the number one issue in the field.

“Blockchain can de-risk and minimize losses for those companies,” Boyd said. “There’s a very big demand for the work we do.”

McGary’s company also started in 2014. He had four people then; today, they boast a roster of 120. He said blockchain works well because current networks are “highly fragmented based on mistrust.”

“Blockchain creates many opportunities for improved efficiencies, reduces risk, offers unlimited supply and advances ideas that weren’t there before,” McGary said.  

The three agreed that although blockchain is making many advances, there are still some stumbling blocks. Some of them include legal challenges, SEC rulings, jurisdiction issues and environmental impacts — blockchain consumes an exorbitant amount of energy. Taylor believes the latter can be addressed over time, with innovation and research.

“There’s room to introduce efficiency, and we absolutely intend to address that when it gets out of hand,” Taylor said.

The Blockchain Speaker Series will conclude on April 18. That session will feature three legal practitioners who represent clients in the blockchain industry discussing how blockchain technology will change the business and practice of law. For more information, click here.

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Championship coach shares hard-won advice on success: Keep moving forward

Championship golf coach on building resilience: Just keep moving forward.
March 21, 2018

ASU golf coach Farr-Kaye describes how she built resilience while overcoming obstacles

Missy Farr-Kaye has overcome tremendous obstacles on her way to becoming a Sun Devil legend, and her key to that is to always move forward.

“I think the worst place to stay is in the past. That’s gone. That’s behind you,” she said.

The coach of the national-championship women’s golf team at Arizona State University shared her strategies for resilience in a talk titled “Glory and Grit” on Wednesday. She spoke to students and peer coaches in the First-Year Success Center, a program that helps freshmen, sophomores and transfer students build skills to flourish at ASU.

Farr-Kaye is in her third season as head coach. She won the national championship three times as part of ASU — as a player in 1990, as an assistant coach in 2009, and as head coach last year.

But her journey was filled with ordeals — a story she shared during her talk, which was part of a First-Year Success Center series on resilience.

“My journey has not been simple or easy or uncomplicated,” she said. “Success is not a straight line. I am the epitome of the squiggly line.”

Farr-Kaye grew up 15 minutes away from the ASU campus, enthralled with her sister, Heather, who was two-and-a-half years older.

“She blazed the trail for me, and I was happy with that,” she said.

They both started playing golf as girls, then went to Xavier College Prep in Phoenix and then to ASU. Heather Farr went on to success on the LPGA tour.

During her senior year, Farr-Kaye was playing in Asia when she learned that her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Life was truly never the same again,” she said. “No surprise, my golf was not great.”

Still, in the spring of 1990, Farr-Kaye’s senior year, the team won its first national championship. She graduated and turned pro.

After recovering, Heather Farr then learned her cancer had spread, and she died in 1993 at age 28.

Missy Farr-Kaye, the Sun Devil women's golf head coach, poses for a picture with Jazmin Eguino after giving a motivational talk called "Glory and Grit" at a workshop for ASU's First-Year Success Center. Eguino is a junior majoring in business communication and is a peer coach in the First-Year Success Center. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“I had to figure out how to move on with my life,” Farr-Kaye said. “This was not how it was supposed to go. We were supposed to be a sister duo on the LPGA.”

She found solace on the golf course, and she married and had two sons. And five years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I looked back to Heather and how she handled it with grace and dignity and passion and fierceness at how she would fight it,” she said. “I had a few days of my pity party, and then I said I would move forward.”

Farr-Kaye had surgery but didn’t have to have chemotherapy. She recovered and then got what she described as the chance of a lifetime — the offer to be an assistant coach of the Sun Devils’ women’s golf team.

“I thought I would be able to have an impact on these young women and continue the history and tradition,” she said. “As much as I felt I was meant to be a mom, I was also meant to be a coach.”

She had another son, and then in 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer again.

“I have three kids to manage, and I was going through a divorce at the time. I’m upset and I’m angry. I lost all my hair,” she said.

“How would Heather walk me through this? We just keep going.”

And that season, while she struggled with chemotherapy and radiation, the team won the national championship again.

“My hair was very short and I was a little bit tired, but it was a wonderful experience,” said Farr-Kaye, who worked straight through the season.

A few years later, recovered again and at peace with her job as an assistant coach, the job of head coach opened, and she knew she had to pursue it. She was named to the position in 2015.

“I learned every day. I sought out all of my mentors for sage advice. I read books on leadership. I followed people who inspired me on Twitter,” she said.

“I decided to believe in myself even when I didn’t necessarily believe. I made plenty of mistakes, but I learned from those mistakes and I moved on.”

And two years later, in May 2017, she was again holding the national championship trophy.

“I would not be the person I am today and the mother I am today and the coach I am today without each and every failure, hardship, up and down and even cancer,” she said.

“Life is not always fair. I tell that to my girls all the time. But how you pick yourself up again is what’s important — not the things that happen to you.”

Among the advice that Farr-Kaye shared on resilience and how she coaches her players:

• When she became an assistant coach, she realized it was what she was meant to do. “If you have that ‘aha moment,’ keep going. That’s when you’ll realize how much of an impact you’ll have.”

• Ask for help. “You can’t do it alone, and you can’t do it without support,” she said. She relied on help from the team’s mental coach during her chemotherapy. “It’s a wonderful thing to talk to somebody and work through what you’re going through.”

• Focus on what you did right. “Here’s what I say to players after we play, and this is difficult: They’re not allowed to talk about what they did wrong. They could spend 30 minutes talking about what they did wrong. The first thing I ask them is, ‘What did you do well today?’ And next is, ‘What can you do better tomorrow?’ ”

• Be careful in goal setting. “If you set a big goal, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes you need to break it down one day at a time, especially if you’re struggling.”

• Control what you can control. “We have no control — I preach that to my team,” she said. “So what are things we can control? They have a new one — no complaining. And our energy at practice today was so positive.”

After the talk, Farr-Kaye attended the Founders' Day Award Dinner, held by the ASU Alumni Association, where she was presented with the Alumni Achievement Award.

Top photo: Missy Farr-Kaye, the head coach of the Sun Devil women's golf team and the Pac-12 coach of the year, gave a motivational speech titled "Glory and Grit" to students and peer coaches in the First-Year Success Center on Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now