Sometimes an excellent message is lost because of the messenger.
Perhaps the messenger lacks knowledge. Maybe the communication skills are missing. Possibly, the messenger lacks vision or a channel to deliver the message. Or maybe the message can be so darn complicated that it is difficult to distill down to concepts that are easy for normal, non-technical folks to understand.
Many in the digital asset space have said Bitcoin suffers from these difficulties. And some are also now saying that one of their own has grown into the ideal messenger to bring the message to the masses.
“You’ve been absolutely killing it, you’ve been relentless, you don’t let up with the hosts,” said Peter McCormack, the trailblazing host of the “What Bitcoin Did” podcast. “You don’t let them interrupt you. You just came on; I’ve seen two specifically, you’ve come on like a f–king steam train, and some of the best clips I’ve seen of people talking about Bitcoin.”
McCormack was referring to Natalie Brunell, the buoyant host of the Coin Stories podcast, who he welcomed onto his highly-respected program recently.
“I finally feel like I’m kind of in my zone and feel like I am, sort of, I found my calling,” Brunell responded humbly. “I’m really passionate about Bitcoin, and I want to spread the message and use my skills that I acquired over the last ten years to do that.”
Brunell acquired those skills through her early career in journalism, and it was only recently that she made the move full-time into Bitcoin education and programming. Just last week, she helped anchor Bitcoin Magazine’s live coverage of the Bitcoin 2022 Conference from Miami.
“We think you are the best we’ve got to be out there in the mainstream talking about Bitcoin. We think you are the best,” McCormack said.
Going unsaid is one of the most obvious attributes she brings, that of being an eloquent woman in a space dominated by males. Most digital asset hosts openly admit that their audiences skew heavily male, an obstacle they feel the industry will need to surmount to reach the heights many of these insiders foresee.
Regardless of gender, breaking into the mainstream is a challenge for anyone.
“I want to get on more shows. It’s funny; people ask me why haven’t you been on CNBC yet? Why not CNN? You know, it’s hard because, for some reason, Fox Business and some of the other outlets have been more prone to want to discuss Bitcoin, as opposed to some of the other outlets,” Brunell replied. “I’m not a big CEO that purchased Bitcoin on my balance sheet, so I would love to get out there more if I can, and hopefully that’ll happen.”
“But you’re an insider in that world,” the intrepid McCormack responded, alluding to Brunell’s stellar career in media and journalism. “You know how it works.”
“Yeah, a little bit. A little bit,” Brunell acquiesced. “But I still think that Bitcoin, there’s still so much that people just don’t understand, which has been an advantage to me, right? Because if mainstream media got it, I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing right now and making a career of it. So I feel like I’m kind of running full speed because I got a head start sort of understanding and learning all this myself. But once mainstream media pours in, I don’t know what will happen. They won’t really need me anymore.”
One of the traits that makes Brunell such a well-qualified Bitcoin educator is her deep appreciation for personal freedom. She was born in Poland and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of five, as her parents yearned for the opportunities America offers citizens, regardless of their place of birth.
“My parents have all these stories of what it was like when it was Communist. They really always dreamt of coming to the United States. My mom just had this vision of the American Dream and coming to the U.S.,” Brunell said. “She watched a lot of American films, which I think is why I was naturally predisposed to loving film and T.V. and just media in general. She always had things on, and she loved the old classic Hollywood movies and how they depicted American life.”
With her mother as the driving force, it took 20 years before her family was able to make the move to America and the suburbs of Chicago. When Natalie arrived in an American elementary school, she didn’t know a single person or speak the English language.
“It’s like this feeling when you know you’re different. Everyone kind of thinks you’re weird and doesn’t understand the food you’re bringing to lunch, thinks your language and accent is weird,” she recalled, remembering her early school years as a recently-immigrated student.
She eventually changed her name officially from Natalia to Natalie in an effort to fit in. Financially, there were many challenges in her early days in Chicago. In their first apartment, she and her brother each had their room, while her parents slept on a pullout sofa in the living room. Her family of four shared a single bathroom.
Brunell is bright, engaging, and clearly a “people person,” which helped her assimilate quickly by talking and interacting constantly with friends. Even at her young age, she had the natural talent and desire to communicate and express herself, a skill set that today helps her make the sometimes-complicated topic of Bitcoin seem simple and understandable to the viewers. And not only understandable, but fun and exciting as well!
“I believe that the American Dream shouldn’t be so hard to achieve. I feel like the country was founded on such amazing principles of self-determination and freedom, and we’ve lost that along the way. I’ve always been a believer that if you’re a good person and you work hard, you should be able to achieve the things that you want,” she told McCormack. “And it’s not going to be all equal. We’re not all equal, and we don’t all have the same motivations and desires, but I think you should have a shot, you know.”
“I think certain types of journalists are predisposed to understanding or getting Bitcoin straightaway,” McCormack complimented Brunell. “I think there’s two types of journalists – they get it, or they want to fight it. There’s no middle ground, and the ones that want to fight it are usually shitty journalists who don’t do the proper research. The ones who get it, they suddenly just want to work on it.”
Brunell noted that, even in her younger years, she felt a strong pull toward media and journalism.
“I always wanted to work in T.V. or film, and I grew up sort of having a ton of media on at home because it helped augment my parents’ English skills,” she said. “Whether it was T.V. shows that were more on the scripted, fictional side or just news. We were a family that watched a ton of news, like Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters interviews, Oprah, all of it was on all the time.” And as she matured, she felt even more compelled to the idealistic nature of true journalism.
“I remember being young and just thinking what an incredible job. What a noble profession; you get to interview leaders and big celebrities. I’m this little girl in the suburbs of Chicago who came from a foreign country. It just seemed like this amazing job,” Brunell said.
Brunell eventually majored in journalism at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. She then earned her Masters in Journalism at Northwestern. It was a continual rise of the ladder of success for the woman who once felt she would consider herself financially successful if she simply had a house with a garage. In fact, her family’s financial struggle started after immigrating to America and worsened with the great financial crisis of 2008. During that time, the family lost everything, including their home, to bankruptcy.
And that led Brunell to Bitcoin.
“It took this ten year career being in news and exposing myself to some of the biggest crises facing this society – interviewing people on a day-to-day basis facing poverty, homelessness, civil unrest, public corruption – for me to finally start to connect the dots. Because when I discovered Bitcoin and finally went down the rabbit hole, I was like, oh, this is the problem. Oh, this is the problem that’s also impacted my hard-working, amazing, good family. And now I will do anything possible to help everyone I can, first understand the problem, and know that Bitcoin is the solution.”
Today, Brunell delights viewers and listeners through her YouTube and audio podcast, discussing Bitcoin topics with the industry’s leading voices. The best and brightest in the space appear with Brunell and watch with satisfaction as she so concisely and compellingly spreads the word on national media.
For McCormack and the other Bitcoin influencers, developers, and O.G’s, Natalie Brunell is officially one of them. And she is now also one of the most influential.