Lina Seiche talks to Blockleaders about being a digital nomad, following your gut, and why she hopes people will soon stop talking about blockchain.
Growing up in a small town in Western Germany, Lina and her brother would rush home after school to watch anime cartoons. For a while there was a TV channel dedicated to all things Japanese and Lina soaked it up like a sponge. “I wanted to be in Japan and, unlike other teenage desires, this one never left me.”
The title of this article, and the eponymous name of the famous one-hit wonder song of the UK band the Vapors band, supremely captures Lina’s awakening. The song is one of the more misinterpreted songs of all time with people often saying that ‘Turning Japanese’ refers to the Asian-like facial features people get at the moment of climax during masturbation. In fact, the truth of the song, as explained by lead singer Dave Denton, was about youth and angst. He said: “Turning Japanese is all the clichés about angst and youth and turning into something you didn’t expect to.”
Well, Lina Seiche was certainly not expected to turn into a nomadic blockchain wanderer across Asia. In fact, such was the provincialism of her home time that, when she said she was first moving to Asia in general and Malaysia in particular, she could just as easily be asked if Malaysia was the capital of Singapore. “It was more than a geographic difference, it was a cultural one,” she explains.
For the past three years, Lina has lived out of a suitcase. “I am used to it. I fill the suitcase with my clothes, computer and camera.” I ask if she carries pictures also to make each hotel room or apartment feel more homely but she says no, she has her pictures on her phone. I guess I am showing my age and she is a true digital native.
Initially, when Lina travelled to Japan, it was to become a singer. Her love of all things Japanese extended beyond merely watching anime. As a teenager she set up her own YouTube channel and filmed herself singing Japanese covers. She even made it onto a Japanese TV channel. When I ask if I can view any of her songs, she says no. She took them down when Bitcoin and blockchain came into her life.
However,there is a snippet of her singing on her Instagram channel where her profile reads: I like blockchain, coffee, horror movies, Lord of the Rings, and music. Anyway I like this song #春よ来い #歌ってみた #coversongs#dowhatmakesyouhappy #japanesesongs
Her first view of Bitcoin was a conference in Amsterdam in 2017. She was intrigued, especially when she discovered the ticket cost was €400. “I reckoned if it cost that much, then it had to be good.”
She discovered that, while she shook a lot of hands, received a lot of business cards and heard a lot of speakers it was confusing, chaotic and ultimately speculative.
“I wanted to learn and I wanted to share my learning – I did not want to be ripped off in the process.”
The idea of community is very important to Lina and she now works tirelessly as a communicator in the industry.
“But I want to make my job redundant. In a couple of years I want everyone to feel the same way about blockchain as they do about the internet – no one talks about the internet we just use it. Same as blockchain.”
Back to arriving in Japan to be a singer. Lina met a blockchain startup and they asked her to be the English-speaking face of the company. She was still training to be a ‘rock star’ but even her coach said it was a tough sector and she should have a second job to fall back on.
“I had self-taught myself Japanese so we were able to communicate and then I was also to speak in English. I actually had no clue what I was doing at first but I wanted to learn and so I gave it a go.”
Lina took to blockchain like a duck to water. She found she could speak – perhaps the singing had given her confidence to stand up in front of people. She was part of the road show across Asia. She had found her role to be an evangelist.
“Often we travelled so much that I would wake up and not know what city I was in. The roadshow was not just in Asia but also covered Europe. It was exciting but also very tiring.”
Community is very important to Lina, as is education. As she travelled she saw the need for unbiased, informed education – at little or no cost – and so she set up BlockChats with two Italian friends. Now there are a BlockChats happening in Milan, London, Paris, Kaula Lumpa, Manila and Japan. The theme is reflected in the name – it’s a meetup where people come to chat.
Lina is almost ethereal yet very powerful; an intriguing combination. I ask if her parents were worried when she decided to trek over to Asia and how she funded it.
“I was self-funded. From the age of 12 I saved my pocket money and when I was legally old enough to work I got jobs – waitressing and stocking shelves – so I could save up. My parents already knew I was going to be a little unconventional and certainly that I was not going to stay in Germany, but they supported me.”
Now Lina tries to travel to Germany to see her family every six months or so. Sometimes she gets worried that if she goes home she may not return but actually it is the opposite and she can’t wait to return to Asia.
She doesn’t have a home so to speak and I asked if she missed that permanence. “Maybe one day I will have that. Right now I am a bit of a loner so I don’t miss it. However, when I was home last I spotted this monster teddy bear. He won’t fit into my suitcase but when I find a home I’m going back for him.”
I am curious why she moves so much. “I follow opportunities,” she replies and when I ask her how she knows if something is an opportunity, she says “It’s a gut feeling mostly.”
On travelling alone as a woman I ask in conclusion if this is difficult. “Not really,” she says. “I am cautious as any single person would be but I have never, fortunately, experienced too much hassle.”
And where to next? “Canada for a Blockchain Conference.”
Happy travelling, Lina.
For more information please visit her LinkedIn profile.