Updated: Feb 8, 2022
This week, the Warrior Word interviewed Rabbi Cohen, aka TheTechRabbi. Get to know him as he shares many fascinating details about himself with us and advice for those interested in the world of finance and technology.
Spencer Lehmann: Where did you grow up?
Rabbi Cohen: Grew up in California, went to public school and public university until grad school. Never left except for a couple of summers in Israel. Lived there until 5 months ago.
Bennett Szafranski: What made you want to start teaching and get you involved in the tech sector and how did you become TheTechRabbi?
RC: I never thought I was going to be an educator, education is my second career, I have been doing this for 13 years. I did not plan on being an educator. In 2009, I just graduated from art school and for years have been working on a design business and just launched a design company. I was a creative director doing design and marketing for a nonprofit in the LA area and saw an opportunity to teach at Fashion institute and Design and Merchandise of LA, not to be confused with FIT which is a way cooler school. I was just teaching design, intro to design, photoshop how to use the software and I fell in love with teaching I got really great feedback people felt like I listen to them, supported them, made them better, and just divine providence of being at the right place at the right time and people were asking me to have a role in the schools that are running technology strategy, really understanding the best way to use technology. And I segwayed full-time, basically shut down the design business and did it on the side and I was basically running tech innovation for schools in LA. The Tech Rabbi came about 8 years ago. I launched that brand just to stand out and use my marketing background to be memorable and for people to see me on socials and have me in mind and that's been an awesome kind of journey and the success in it is about putting out as much good content and ideas as possible and hoping that one person is impacted by it. I think a lot of the time and you see this now more on social media than when I launched the brand. When I launched the brand it was blogging, Twitter a couple things, but the craze around following was not as big, so now it's if you don't go viral in a month and you feel like you failed. Because you see these other people going viral even off of like posting maybe 10 or 20 times but for me it was just about always knowing the cutting edge, always knowing the latest and greatest in tech and how can educators and even professionals because my brand kind of extends beyond education and I work with tech companies different business, I have even been a guest speaker at different business events, I did a keynote for the entire faculty at Pepperdine a couple years ago but it also goes back to when you get something valuable and put all your energy into learning about that to help others everything else falls into place.
BS: How long did it take you to realize that you “made it”?
RC: It is important for people to know you have never made it. For example, Elon Musk is usually the richest man in the world, and he has done the most insane things anyone has done. But he has not gotten to Mars yet, after that you think he’s done? Then it’s Pluto, interstellar. So I think it's important for people to know that you never have made it because when you think that you become complacent and lazy. I think I've done some pretty notable things. I've had major tech companies endorse me, I kenoted an audience of 10,000 people in 2018. But I have not made it.
SL: What do you think making it is for you?
RC: I think making it is the ability to keep building and evolving and when you exhaust the evolution of that stage that you're ready to move to the next stage. I am still trying to build that startup that will change education. That's my Mars right now. I am not there yet but I am getting closer.
SL: What got you involved in finance and NFTs, and what do you look for in NFTs?
RC: This is not financial advice. I have a different financial strategy than most people, I am a holder or hodler. I never did the quick flip of anything, I wanna be able to invest in something that will give me an ROI (return on investment) but not distract me. I guess because I am not so obsessed with finance that it could never be my full time job. I have this weird deficiency that I have to love what I do and if I don’t love it, it does not work. For a lot of people when they want to know about NFTs, they want to buy it at .08 eth. and then sell it for 20 eth. My doodle (NFT) I bought for 2 eth, and people should know this is all on the blockchain, so when you see an instagram influencer that is talking about spending or having this much in NFTs and can not find, it it is a lie, people have to be very cautious. Anyone who is trying to be an influence in the NFT space should only have two wallets. If you have a hardware wallet it is secure no one is stealing from that wallet, so you put all your valuable stuff in there and it can still be publicly seen on the blockchain so you don't have to be anonymous and have a random address. For me I have thetechrabbi.eth and then I have the vault-TheTechRabbi. If someone says they own a certain NFT and says they spent a lot of money on NFTs and you can’t find that track record anywhere that’s confusing. Back to the question, I hold everything for at least a year. You have to be patient; the only time you should sell something is if you are going to buy something better to make more money or you wanna live your best life and cash out and go on a vacation. The saddest thing is when you see people who sold Bored Apes for 2-10 eth. They 10/20x they’re money now the cheapest Bored Ape is like 250k (around 74 eth). You asked me a simple question, but the answer is so insane because everyone has a different way of going about it. Once you know your investment strategy then you know what kind of projects to invest in. I look at (NFT) projects that have a strong community, sometimes I rely on big names on Twitter, Roadmaps. I used to value it very highly but now people are duplicating ones from very successful projects if the creators' identities are known. I just bought four illuminati (NFT project) because I know one of their co-founders. He's a real person who has a startup and has a lot to lose if it was a rugpull. And then hashgacha pratis, divine providence, is Hashem going to let you be part of those people who win. I am never first; I am always early. I asked Hashem for a sign if I should be in this NFT space and I got gifted two free Krazy Koalas for my Hebrew birthday. That is my divine providence moment and after that it was just go all in.
BS: In the past year or so, more teens have gotten involved in the stock market and cryptocurrency. Do you think that is a good thing?
RC: It is actually really exciting. Especially with NFTs. Technically it is illegal for a minor to own stocks or any type of security, so you can have a parent custodial, but those apps like Fidelity and TD Ameritrade suck. Robinhood is awesome but it does not provide custodial accounts. I now see a lot of people who use their parents’ money and are in robinhood managing their own thing. There are two things people should know. Sometimes, the parents do not even realize that maybe their kid will make some money. If you accidentally flip your parents into the next income bracket, they need to pay more taxes. It is a complicated thing. NFT’s are like a commodity like Gold, silver, or even baseball cards. It is cool that young people can be fully in charge of their financial future, but I think your parents should be involved. My father who did well in the stock market has guided me along the way. You really just need a human being that has lived on earth for a long amount of time, so they can kinda show you things like when Apple crashed in the early 2000s, when many people sold millions of dollars worth of stock. If you are doing that now, you are gonna be ready to be incredibly opportunistic in your future. Through college and starting your own business, it can guide your destiny. By having that finance background and understanding of the market, you are just going to be more valuable than a straight A student. You are just ahead of the game. You still need to be cautious. You should use money that you can lose. I would spend money on a nice NFT, but I still would not just go out and buy myself a pair of Off White Nikes. Even though I want them, the Blue MCAs. The only reason would be because I sold my NFT for a crazy price. I am totally for that if you buy silly projects, you should buy silly things. If you buy a silly project and it just skyrockets, I see no reason why you should not use the money you made and buy yourself something in like Bora Bora. If all my NFTs went to zero tomorrow, I would probably shed a tear, but then reposition my stocks, but I will be fine.
SL: Do you think financial education should be its own class in the school curriculum?
RC: 100 percent. There are three things I have that weekly show on Twitter and this week I am interviewing a 12 year old. I found out he has half a million dollars worth of NFTs. I have my own twelve year old and I cannot even imagine how my son could have the capacity that he has. I cannot even filter my own brain to train my son how to even do this. It is totally possible to do this. You do not need school, you have the internet and do your own research and find the trusted professionals and everything that these guys own have to be on the chain. I want to do some stuff here for this semester and the fall. I want to teach finance but not just balancing your checkbook. Why would I waste my time trying to understand taxes when I can just have a professional do it and use that time to understand something that makes money. Obviously understanding how to do write offs for your business is important to understand. How to launch a business, we are launching an entrepreneurship competition. I am going to mentor the teams that submit to go through the entire process of launching a startup. Just going through the process of business research, product validation, learning how to do research for your customers, a pitch deck. I can walk you through that and I have two students that are literally launching a product and I was able to go through that process with them. Even though it is not a class, I will meet at night, in school, whatever it is. I'll build a google classroom to private message me and everything. Getting more students to learn how to launch a startup is a huge plus here versus just a class of just Business 101. That is also important for all jobs to make sure you keep your jobs. I have seen lawyers lose their jobs to AI because they miss huge errors. Everyone is going to need to understand how to use tech regardless of your job.
BS and SL: Thank you so much!!
RC: No problem guys.
By: Bennett Szafranski and Spencer Lehmann (11th grade)