Taught from a young age to work hard and think for herself, media pro Natalie Brunell is dedicated to sharing Bitcoin with the world.
Oftentimes, when you hear about the “American dream,” you think of a heart-warming success story. The entrepreneur who made millions. Or the immigrant family that changed the trajectory for their children. And while these inspiring stories do exist, there are many others who came to America hoping for a better life only to be met with countless obstacles that hindered them from achieving their American dreams.
Modern-day monetary policy runs on fluctuating interest rates and inflation. Many people are not aware that the U.S. dollar, which was founded on a gold-reserve system, has not only been off of the gold standard for over 50 years, but is now “backed” by the United States military and petrodollar. The amount of control that the United States government has on those living in poverty is astronomical. Because of these limiting restrictions, among other factors, the American dream has become much harder to achieve.
However, Bitcoin can help change this negative cycle.
Natalie Brunell burst onto the Bitcoin scene in 2021. She was born in Poland and immigrated with her parents to America as a young child. Growing up with a family that was determined to build a new life in America, the value of hard work and a healthy amount of skepticism was ingrained into Brunell for as long as she can remember.
With over ten years of experience in the media sector, she took a risk and started her own Bitcoin podcast. Since then, Coin Stories has been wildly successful and influential in highlighting power players in the Bitcoin space.
Her story is inspiring and welcoming to anyone interested in getting started on their Bitcoin journeys.
How did you first learn about Bitcoin and what specifically drew you to it?
I first learned about Bitcoin in 2016 from a group of friends while working as a local news reporter covering breaking and investigative stories in Sacramento, California. I didn’t understand Bitcoin’s technological innovation or the mission of Bitcoin’s proponents to address systemic issues in our financial system. In fact, I equated it back then to investing in stocks.
Luckily, I bought a little bit and held through my first bear market. I also pitched a story about Bitcoin to my news outlet and ended up reporting on a local Bitcoin ATM. I was fascinated by this emerging technology, but my station was not keen on covering more stories on it, so I let it go as a reporting assignment.
It wasn’t until a few years later when my mentor told me to read The Bitcoin Standard that I began my journey down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. Saifedean Ammous’s book changed my perspective on money and sparked my idea for the Coin Stories podcast, which ultimately changed my career and my life.
What drew me to Bitcoin was the idea of removing the state’s monopoly on money and creating an opportunity for our economy to be rebuilt on a sound monetary unit that is immune to manipulation. I envision a world where money is based on value rather than proximity to politics and power.
What made you leave your traditional media job to pursue Bitcoin?
Ever since I was a young girl, I aspired to become a broadcast journalist. My family immigrated from Poland to Chicago when I was five years old. My family always had the news on at home because the programming helped my parents learn to speak English and kept us informed about current events both overseas and in our new home country. My idol growing up was Barbara Walters.
I always believed in journalists as watchdogs, not government lap dogs. My parents grew up under a communist regime and were always skeptical of both central authority and media propaganda. I’m grateful for that upbringing because it caused me to question everything around me and made me a more determined reporter.
I spent more than ten years working in mainstream news media and became disillusioned by the increasing bias I saw on various networks. I was fortunate to be able to cover in-depth investigative pieces in my last TV correspondent position that were not politicized, but the industry around me was moving in the direction of partisanship, censorship of alternative views and prioritization of access to politicians rather than pursuing and demanding accountability.
When preparation meets opportunity, that’s “luck.” I had the communication skills and media training (preparation) and the market had a growing demand for knowledge (opportunity). Bitcoin offered me an opportunity to leave mainstream media in October 2021 to develop my podcast and promote Bitcoin education. I decided to bet on myself and see if I could build a business doing something I believed would ultimately impact the world more than my news reporting. I have never felt more fulfilled by what I do and I am propelled by a sense of duty to help people understand our financial system and the benefits of Bitcoin, a revolutionary fix for our money.
How do you typically respond to those who are dismissive of Bitcoin, especially those close to you (such as your close friends, etc.)?
I respond with, “I know; I was there once, too.” Being skeptical and critical is a good thing, it means you’re not easily persuaded or sold on the latest fad. It means you think for yourself. That’s already a win. I try to meet the person where they are. One of my mentors, Jeff Booth, has an excellent question to pose to skeptics and newcomers to Bitcoin. That question is: “If technology is supposed to make things cheaper and easier to produce, why is the cost of living around us continually going up?”
It’s a simple but powerful question that drives at the heart of the problem in our monetary system: inflation.
Every year, it gets more and more difficult to afford a home, a college education and retirement. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and we’re all working harder for currencies that are worth less and less. This isn’t a natural phenomenon of our existence. It is the synthetic outcome of the state monopoly on money, and it impacts every aspect of our lives.
When I do engage with friends on the topic of Bitcoin, I encourage them to note the various crises they’re hearing and reading about, or perhaps even experiencing directly. Most people have a sense that things are really challenging at the moment, that we seem to be moving in the wrong direction. Once that groundwork is laid, I can spark their curiosity about why Bitcoin offers such a powerful alternative.
In your opinion, why is it important to close the gender gap in Bitcoin interest and adoption?
I released the first episodes of my podcast at the Bitcoin 2021 conference. I attended the event on a media pass and brought my best friend, Paula, along for company because I didn’t know anyone personally in Bitcoin. My intention was to meet fellow Bitcoiners and try to ask individuals I admired to appear on the show, with no intention of building a career in the space.
I had never attended industry conferences and was taken aback by the size and number of attendees. But it was hard not to notice a massive gender gap in that audience. In fact, nowhere was it more apparent than when you looked at any conference restroom area: there would be a queue of men stretching around a corner on one side, and a vast, empty expanse on the women’s side.
I began to think more deeply about why women were so underrepresented in this industry. As we know, finance, engineering and computer science are all male-dominated fields that organically intersect with Bitcoin, so it makes sense that a male audience would discover this amazing technology before a female audience. Social media also tends to perpetuate a “crypto bro culture” that obscures the global community of Bitcoin pioneers doing brilliant, wholehearted work. Bitcoin is an inherently multifaceted technology that takes time and effort to understand, and even requires some reeducation around money in general. I believe that all newcomers to Bitcoin, and women in particular, including my closest friends, who are already busy industry leaders and smart investors, need trusted and approachable guides to help navigate around these barriers.
I saw this imbalance as an opportunity to grow the space and connect with these newcomers. Ever since that first conference, I have been determined to become a resource for ordinary working people, and especially women, to learn more about Bitcoin and how our global economy works.
Bitcoin is for everyone. Bitcoin is a tool of freedom and prosperity for every gender, age, race, language, cultural background, and political affiliation. Bitcoin levels the playing field and can bring us all together in cooperation. I am passionate about educating other women about Bitcoin because I want them to have a seat at the table of this financial revolution and empower themselves and their families for the long run. We often feel the most comfortable learning from and engaging with people who look and sound like us. If I can serve as a welcoming voice for new women in the Bitcoin space, I see it as an honor. I love being a woman, I love learning from and connecting with other women, and I am so proud to be a woman in Bitcoin. Discovering Bitcoin is incredibly empowering, and we need to continue building a supportive, inquisitive community for that journey.
This is a guest post by Becca Bratcher. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.