In our third episode, we are honored to have one of our closest friends, Michael Creadon. Creadon was the former CEO of Traditum Group for over twenty years. His specialties lie more than in one area. Creadon is also an experienced journalist and has published articles on Bloomberg and Time Magazine. Currently, Michael is working as Head of Institutional Sales at DrawBridge Lending, specializing in initiating loans on a blockchain, and protects borrowers using advanced risk management strategies. Not only does he share his passion and his journey towards cryptocurrency on our podcast, he also revealed some of his tough decisions when he ran a business. Why would one of Michael’s former employees thank him for firing them after two years? What struggles does Michael see on lending among small business owners? Check out our third episode to unveil the truth.
Angela: Today, on episode 3, I would like to welcome Michael Creadon into our podcast. How are you, Michael ?
Michael: Good, thank you so much for having me, Angela.
Angela: Michael is a CEO of Traditum for 20 years in Chicago, not only that, but he has worked as a journalist at Bloomberg, Time magazine, and Voice of America radio as well as serving in the United States Peace Corp. Today, Michael works at a cryptocurrency lending platform called DrawBridge lending. Can you talk about your role?
Michael: Absolutely! Thanks for having me! So DrawBridge lending, what we do is we lend fiat currencies or dollars, against Bitcoin. So Bitcoin is the collateral that the client’s post and they can do one or two things with our firm, they can borrow for cheap against the Bitcoin, or they can join one of our funds or manage accounts, and to get a yield on their investments. So that’s what we do and just briefly (introduce) them, all of the team I’m with. We all came from the Chicago trading market, so I have a trading background, and everyone I’m working with has a trading background. Our CEO works for Goldman Sachs, our chairman has been in the business for 40 years, in ABN AMRO. So we’re applying a lot of the traditional strategies and approaches that we learned in other markets into the cryptocurrency.
Angela: Yeah, so what made you go into the cryptocurrency.
Michael: Well it’s just kind of like by accident. 2017 was an interesting year for me, I decided to leave my company after you know almost 15 or 20 years. Had a health issue, but much recovered from that. Yes, I’m doing better so with the combination of those two things, I was like, I want to try something different and totally by coincidence, I went on a dinner in November of 2017, with some early adopters of Bitcoin. (“2017, was a good year for Bitcoin” by Angela). I said to myself that “I am gonna buy Bitcoin and research it.”, and I watched it go from 2000, 3000, to 20,000 in five weeks. I was like I gotta do something in this space and (ever since that dinner)I literally have been involved in digital assets and cryptocurrency
Angela: Can you tell us more about Traditum, and you said you were there for twenty years? I would like to know about that.
Michael: You know it’s funny when I was growing up, I thought the last place in the world I ever wanted to work was at an exchange. You know, those screaming and yelling on the floor- it just wasn’t for me. Then one of my buddies started his career, described as a nice career going for himself. And he invited me to come join him, and I thought I should try this. So that was like 1997 or 1998. So we worked then I started my own trading account, and eventually I started a firm and it grew pretty substantially. We were very very active in the U.S. fixed income and interest rates, and we treated a lot of commodities as well, but I never really felt as comfortable in other commodities, like I did with US Treasuries in the bond market basically.
Angela: And have you ever had to fire an employee there?
Michael: Unfortunately, yes. ( “Did you have to do it personally?” -Angela) I am such a chicken, I used to have my other team members do it, such as CFO, for a couple of reasons. But you know, the one thing I would say that you realize. I will tell you another story, we let this young guy go and he was brilliant. He was a Valedictorian, an All-State athlete, and went to the University of Chicago, a straight-A student. But he just wasn’t working out in the role that we had him in. So we sat him down and said this is just not the right place for you. Fast forward, a year or two years later, he emailed us, not only once, but twice, and said “I want to thank you, both of you, for letting me go. I was going down the wrong career path. Now I’m out in San Francisco, I’ve got a new job. I’m engaged and I’m so happy”. You have to realize as an employer when sometimes people are in positions that are simply not working out. I kind of owe it to them to say “hey, look at this. This is not for you yeah it’s never easy it’s not something I ever enjoy doing.
Angela: What it’s one of the best advice you’ve ever received? It could be personal, it could be business advice.
Michael: You know, I remember what I started in the trading business. The guy, my buddy, Patrick Walsh, and he said to me that on my first day. He said check your ego at the door and I love it, that chokes me up. It’s just you know there’s no need to be arrogant, cocky. It doesn’t matter if you’re the intern or the CEO. You should treat everybody inside your organization and outside the organization the same. Treating people with respect and you should have patience with people. Sometimes you forget that and lose sight of it. But good leaders are people that don’t use their authority, as a tool for social management, you know that’s not leadership. Leadership is being there for you, for your co-workers and employees when they have a difficult time understanding. Even people have problems at home or our sicknesses or whatever, they need to take additional time off and be sympathetic. Because when we do that, other people on the team see that, (will think) “Hey, this is somebody I work with, work for.”
there’s a fact you know that kindness goes a long way, especially in business
Angela: Yeah and that’s the philosophy that Justin has as well. That’s why we love working for him. He’s a great boss.
Michael: I felt the same. I mean I’ve had worked with Justin, and I knew him for a couple of years. And he’s a quiet, very effective leader, and he just cares doesn’t seem like someone who micromanages. I know he gives people the authority to make decisions and let them run with it. And you know and part of that, and you know I dealt with traders certainly. You have to know that there’s going to be mistakes made, there’s gonna be and we have very long all the time. And you have to know and put people out. There in any business and gives them the authority to make decisions sometimes. They’ll make the wrong decisions and that’s okay. You know there’s an expression, you’ll break things you know and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I do a lot of writing. I’ve sort of told myself this writing stuff and if there are no people will like it, and that’s okay. I mean you can fix it, you can change it, but you can’t be paralyzed by the fear of making a
Angela: Speaking of writing, you’re actively on LinkedIn.
Michael: That’s right when I get into cryptocurrency space, the first thing I noticed is that there’s no real fundamental researcher’s information I thought was really reputable. Banks did not want to touch it, Bloomberg wasn’t really allowed. (“There are a lot of negative media surrounding that “ – Angela) And also there is pay for plays, and a pump and dump so there are many schemes. So I started a website, but I quickly realized as it’s hard! I don’t know how to get people to go onto my website, however, I had a tremendous audience in a certain network you’re following, on LinkedIn. So I just told myself you know, “I’m just gonna keep writing about LinkedIn and it’s in the network is pretty substantial. I mean, I write every single day and it’s been two years I wrote every single day. I’ve been thinking about it.
Angela: Have you considered writing a book then?
Michael: Maybe, I definitely think it’s something I could do but I’ve also given some thought to maybe doing some other work. I would love writing for Bloomberg again or something like that. I think that I shouldn’t be writing more and I hope to be doing that you know, perhaps with Celeri Network its own capacity of contributing to some of their social media if I can. You know as it gets together because I just enjoy writing.
Angela: Let’s go back to your businesses! Have any of your businesses been funded? Have you ever taken a loan?
Michael: That’s a really very good question and you know my main experiences with Traditum. You know we had a partner that originally put up all the capital but as our business grew. This was amazing we had, I can’t remember the number, significant to us and their balance sheet might have been eight million dollars or something. We couldn’t get a loan anywhere. Nobody would give us a loan and the traditional banks would say, no way you’re too risky you could be gone one day here the next day. We didn’t necessarily need to borrow cash, but it would have been nice to have that flexibility from time to time. And I think what’s changed in the last 10 or 15 years, clearly, the banks are being disrupted. Banks are just too behind the times. They are old-fashioned and they’re too constricted, and you see opportunities and businesses like Celeri Network, and in many regards. However, they’re all disrupting the banks and the concepts of money are changing, and that’s good for the consumer if there are a lot more options for businesses. We talked about that before the show, which is like the world changes, with Lehman Brothers is one of those significant events of all of our lifetimes and you know that makes sort of a loss of trust and a lot of respect, but more importantly, the central banks have come in and just decided we’re going to flood the markets with liquidity and low rates forever. What the central bankers would want is for people to take a risk and so they wanted to put the money in the stock market. You’ve noticed stocks are at all-time high they want to buy real estate. Go buy a home or go start a small business, and then you can know because
rates are cheap, you can go get a loan.
Angela: You know that many big companies take out loans all the time. Google does it, Apple does it.
Michael: We had a chat about that as well. I mean last time I checked it, I think it’s still the same as Facebook, Microsoft, (or) Google. They borrowed and their borrowing is at a very cheap rate. And the simple question becomes if you’re borrowing for 4% or whatever the numbers, do you think you can generate rates of return higher than that 4%? Obviously, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook think they can generate rates return far superior to three or four percent so that’s perhaps for the reasons they’re borrowing cash. But if you’re out there you’re a farmer or you want a restaurant or even a hair salon or whatever it is, and you’re saying“hey, I have some assets and I have a balance sheet. I’d like to get an interest loan.” There are options out, and Celery Network is one of them.
Angela: Now we’d like to know about you! So we want to know one interesting fact about you? Or many!
Michael: I’m proud, I guess maybe I’m too proud. But you know I looked back at my life, I lived in Africa for two years and I was in a really remote area. I was being sent there to teach and I’ve taught basically high school students. What was interesting is that I was like 21 22 at the time, my students were in high school but their ages were probably 17,18,19 as
well. That’s because they were out of school because of the war and also they started kindergarten later because it’s rural Africa. So I really kind of felt like teaching college but there’s a great experience you know. I didn’t know how it was like being there, but I think I learned that I have the ability to stick through things when they’re difficult. You know and it was pretty reclusive life stuff at least in the beginning and then as I had more time. I got to know people and you know by the second year, it’s all like hey this is really comfortable for me you know. I remember I was at my grandfather’s funeral in like 1989 and he was a very successful surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon. They were talking about his eulogy and they said he only served in World War II and not overseas but he served as a doctor here in the reserves and stuff I thought is “Would it kill me to do something for my country for two years of my life?” I mean I just thought why not do something to serve the country. I didn’t want to serve in the military and that was in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and it was a very peaceful time at least. I was like I’m gonna join the Peace Corps and it was just cool. I really like it.
Angela: Thank you so much, Michael.
Michael: Thank you so much, it was a blast!