Article first published in Forbes Monaco September 2021 issue.
His network includes Gene Simmons, Evander Holyfield, Wyclef Jean, John Tesh, Akon, Buzz Aldrin and hundreds of others. How Dustin Plantholt has become the most sought after crypto connector to the rich & famous. A globetrotting advisor and educator on the greatest opportunity at wealth creation of his generation.
Call it a droll quirk of fate. When American entrepreneur Dustin Plantholt was fourteen years old, he mowed lawns, raked leaves and shoveled snow to save up enough money for his budding passion-ancient Greek and Roman coins. As the collection grew, it dawned on him that this could become a lucrative business opportunity. He began running ads in the local Pennysaver and started buying and trading coins. Today 38-year-old Plantholt, CEO and founder of Life’s Tough Media, Crypterns.com and host of Tough Media, Crypterns.com and host of the Bitcoin.com podcast, is still crazy about currencies but they are weightless, intangible,and evolving with dizzying speed.
Plantholt, who is based in Baltimore just outside Washington D.C., has become something of a cryptomaniac, an ardently engaged globetrotting advisor and educator, hosting podcast shows with a grab bag of renowned clients and guests that include musician Gene Simmons, sports icon Evander Holyfield, venture capitalist Tim Draper and astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Come the first half of November, he will emcee the 1st Annual Forbes Monaco crypto and NFT gala, a world first, at the Monaco Yacht Club. The invitation-only black-tie event will provide local investors access to crypto billionaires and pundits to better understand the crypto and NFT environment and opportunities over a glass of champagne. At the same time, there will be a live NFT auction featuring the first ten covers of Forbes Monaco which have been digitalized, along with other one-of-a-kind pieces from several renowned artists.
" What I like to do is make it easy for audiences to understand, because I truly believe that cryptocurrency-not just Ethereum or Bitcoin but cryptocurrencyitself-represents the greatest opportunity at wealth creation that my generation and other generations will ever have", says Plantholt." Think of it this way: the New York Stock exchange is over 130 years old. Bitcoin was released in January 2009. We are so early as far as predicting what this is goingto bring, so when people get frustated about price I say: " zoom out". I also advise investors who might no want to invest in the actual tokens or coins, but in the blockchain-enabled companies who are building on the technology itself".
How early in the game did Plantholt become drawn to the innovative virtues of cryptospace? " I remember the day a friend of mine told me, 'Hey, I bought this thing called Bitcoin and I've done realy well,'"Plantholt chuckles. " That was about seven years ago, when people were talking about things like Beanie Babies. Of course, at the time I still tought, Bitcoin was going to be a bubble that would eventually pop".
But to his surprise, Bitcoin did not go away and the ecosystem started to expand. When cryptocurrency trailblazer, Roger Ver, founder of Bitcoin.com ( know as " Bitcoin Jesus"), was invited guest of " Life Tough" podcast, something clicked in Plantholt’s mind. He immediately threw himself into exploring the space Ver was describing, wanting to know every infinitesimal detail. “Roger talked about this thing called peer-to-peer electronic cash—how it improved the way people could send money and lower the cost for individuals from all walks of life as well as major corporations.”
It was not long before Plantholt—a self-avowed "gym rat" who easy enthusiastic manner, rich voice and engaging smile has made him a natural in the media world—became an expert and eventually took over Ver’s Bitcoin.com podcast in May 2020. On all of his shows, where he features a range of global crypto innovators from Stellar founder Jed McCaleb to Tron found Justin Sun,the goal is twofold: it’s a platform where people share their stories and Plantholt demystifies the ins and outs of digital investments.
Unsurprisingly, Plantholt's admiration for pioneering minds dates back to the early days in his career.When he invited adventurer Richard Wiese, President of The Explorer's Club on a " Life's Tough"podcastin June 2019, it led to an invitation to Portugal and Plantholt's first foray as a writer of documentary films. “In The League of Explordinaires, directed by Nuno Sa pesoa, we spoke to some of the greatest explorers in the world- Fabien Cousteau, Cheetah Conservationist George Kourounis, and NASA Chief Scientist James Garvin—and they all had something in common,” reveals Plantholt. “They used their fear, stress and anxieties as fuel to push them forward.”
A way of looking at the world, he adds, that resonates with Plantholt’s personal emotionally-fraught journey—a father “who made some bad decisions” and was sent to prison for 16 years, a mother who abandoned the family and a childhood spent in foster homes. “Then my sister died of a drug overdose,” he says, “and it gave me a kind of mission to find purpose in life. I stopped feeling sorry for myself.
“When I was a teenager, I remember walking into a store and buying a copy of Forbes listing the most successful people in the world,” he recalls with a grin. “For me, success is not just about money. It can also be: ‘what do people say about you when your back is turned?’ or ‘what kind of relationships do you have?’”
After one year at a theological university, Plantholt transferred into business studies, and his entrepreneurship hasn’t stopped since.
With a new documentary called Cryptonaires and a soon-to-be-launched educational space, crypterns.com (“a university field where you can learn about this space in a judgement- free zone”), Plantholt admits that he finds his 80-hours-a-week schedule exhilarating, yet manages to save time for his wife and two young children.
Advising clients on digital assets is always speculative, but Plantholt is happy to share his views on the innovation, tracking and transparency possibilities of blockchain and why certain payment systems around the world are threatened by it. And then, there are the NFTs—Non Fundable Tokens. “If major brands don’t start to get in, they’re going to miss out on the marketing opportunity this space will bring.”
But will cryptocurrency ever replace cash? “It is already overtaking the metals market,” Plantholt shrugs. “When you look at Millennials, who are going to have the greatest transfer of wealth in history, they’re not interested in gold nuggets or silver. They want to be unbanked, which is the utility that a digital asset space provides. You don’t need an intermediary anymore and you’re able to move money in less than 15 minutes—or even seconds with an XRP, a token used on the Ripple network, just like a text message or email.”
Another counter argument, Plantholt points out, is that even cash currencies can undergo a sudden plunge and cites the recent free-falling devaluation in Venezuela as an example. “That said,” he concludes, “I think the real issue of cryptocurrency transaction is regulating privacy.”
Above all, Plantholt tells his audience to do their own research and explore the latest projects and tokens, like Atari, who, in his opinion, has built “the newest system on blockchain technology.”
Plantholt pauses a moment and leans back in his chair. “People say, ‘Oh, I know all about the stock market,’ but this is not the stock market,” he muses. “When Bitcoin starts to run, there will be no looking back. And it’s a matter of time before the biggest banks will allow you to park crypto alongside your savings and credit account. When you come down to it, crypto space is about utility, problem-solving and leaving the world a better place than when you found it.”