2022 has been crypto's year of the meltdown of centralized financial entities, with Exhibit A — this month's multi-billion dollar collapse of FTX — on full display.

Indeed, the disaster of digital asset exchange FTX — combined with the fall of other centralized entities, Celsius and Terra, earlier this year — has served as a masterclass on how not to build and operate crypto solutions. The industry must learn how to put this annus horribilis behind it and discover the real benefits of decentralized finance (DeFi).

Real Value Has Nothing to Do With Money

The real value the blockchain industry is building should not be — and perhaps cannot be — measured in something as volatile as crypto money. Instead, the value lies in the positive contribution to the world, prioritizing the right values. What is being built and how can it help people?

In keeping with the decentralized ethos of DeFi, it is key to build with the community.

When working as an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared to deal with the unexpected.

I've learned that the best way to be prepared for the ups and downs of your entrepreneurial journey is to have all of your bases covered, and the best way to do that is to choose partners who have a diverse set of strengths. No one can do everything alone. Especially when you're building something big, you need people whom you can trust to see where you may have blind spots.

Therefore, when you're choosing who to work with, find people who have diverse skill sets that complement your own. With the right teammates, you'll never be unprepared. That way, when you're building something important, people are going to notice. If your vision is inspiring enough, you may eventually have the opportunity to sell what you're building.

Often, this is a choice between money and creative control. If money is your only end goal, go ahead and take the offer. But if you care more about experience, innovation and knowledge, it's important to think twice before giving up creative control over what you've built.

Bulls, Bears and True Believers

Any entrepreneurial journey has its harrowing moments, especially in DeFi. Even if things suddenly start to look dire, they can turn positive just as quickly. This is why time is such an important measure of value. The same asset can have very different prices at different moments; it can be overvalued in a bull market and undervalued in a bear market. Indeed, three months can be the difference between failure and becoming a blue chip token.

Moments of catastrophe are the moments when you really know what your opportunities are. When bear markets strike, there is nothing to distract you from determining the real value of what you're building. So, when you're creating or investing in something that you believe provides real value to the world, try not to be influenced by market performance. Instead, trust your own judgments on what is and isn't valuable.

Passion, Curiosity and Responsibility

At the beginning of my career, I was very concerned about making "safe" choices — I only placed bets when I knew I would win. As a result, I did not take action on my boldest ideas. But today, as an established entrepreneur, I've learned to make decisions based on whether something is interesting enough for me to really give my all to it.

Therefore, I've learned that being an innovator is not just about what you create — it's also about what you learn in the process. The more passionate you are about something, the more likely it is that you'll gain valuable knowledge and experience while working on it; and therefore, the more likely it is that you'll work harder. If you've chosen something you're truly passionate about, you'll want to dedicate yourself to it. This creates a "virtuous circle" of dedicated work and better results.

When you're at the beginning of a career or entrepreneurial journey, you will likely find that your passion for and curiosity about what you're creating are your strongest sources of inspiration. As your creations start to flourish, however, your sense of responsibility will play a larger role in what you're doing. Once you start to understand how your actions and creations impact people's lives, the work that you are doing will take on a whole new meaning.

While this sense of responsibility can seem overwhelming from the outside, I have found that it is the natural evolution of the initial passion required to make your dreams a reality. As long as it's there, you'll have the inspiration to move forward. That's how crypto will make 2023 the year of recovery.

(Diane Dai is the co-founder of DODO, a decentralized digital asset exchange.)

Top 3 DeFi
Although the full impact of DeFi projects is yet to be seen, the initial trickle has started. Unsplash