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Arry Yu (left) and Lawrence Lerner are part of the founding team of the Cascadia Blockchain Council. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

For her first 18 years, Arry Yu was selectively mute. Due to a childhood trauma, she spoke very little, but watched the people and interactions around her very much. She became a piano virtuoso, playing competitively beginning when she was just 6 or 7 years old. She went on to graduate from Cornell, earning a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies, mathematics and music from the Ivy League school.

Over time, she’s taken these somewhat disparate pieces — a passion for music, skills in math and a keen understanding of how people connect to each other — and woven them into a many faceted career that fits her.

Yu is leading the Washington Technology Industry Association‘s Cascadia Blockchain Council, an organization that is helping educate policy makers and investors interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency. She’s managing director of Yellow Umbrella Ventures, an investor in numerous startups, a mentor for entrepreneurs through Galvanize, and a member of the Korean American Coalition.

She attributes some of her aptitude for blockchain’s brain-teasing concepts to her interest in music and math. “It’s the ability to see patterns and threads. It’s a different kind of thinking or brain,” Yu said, noting that many others whom she’s met in the field have similar backgrounds.

Arry Yu has a passion for blockchain that she connects to her background in music and math. (Arry Yu Photo)

Her love of music also helped shape her ideas about how to build community.

“For me the music was the common universal language, and you could bring people together around that,” Yu said. It bound people young and old, and with different skills and backgrounds. In technology, people get tied up in products and companies and they forget what unites them, she said.

“At the end of the day we’re all human, and the humanity is sort of like the music,” she said. “It’s what brings us all together.”

Yu approached the WTIA and suggested that Seattle needed a collective voice around blockchain in order to capitalize on the engineering talent, entrepreneurial spirit and investors found in the Northwest.

Before helping create the Cascadia Blockchain Council, Yu was co-founder, president and chief operating officer of StormX, a Seattle-based company that allows people to complete small tasks on mobile devices and earn cryptocurrency for doing so. In that role, she led StormX’s initial coin offering (ICO) in 2017. Yu was also co-founder and CEO of GiftStarter, a now defunct startup that facilitated group gift giving online.

Yu and her husband, Dae Yu, recently launched a podcast called Windshield Time. It features guests and covers “life, money and bitcoin for parents and busy professionals who are curious about the world of bitcoin, blockchains and cryptoassets,” she said. The couple are parents to two boys, ages 4 months and 3 1/2 years.

We caught up with Yu for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire. (Editor’s note: WTIA Cascadia Blockchain Council is hosting an upcoming happy hour Sept. 4 from 4-7 p.m. at Optimism Brewing Co., 1158 Broadway, Seattle)

Current location: Seattle

Computer types: Apple

Mobile devices: iPhone XS Plus

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: (For my life today) Slack, Trello, Apple email and calendar, Words with Friends, Meetup and Instagram.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? I’m 100 percent mobile — it’s anywhere where I can sit for even a few minutes to many hours to be productive, think or just be.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life?: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Give your team space to rise up and work with you.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. I use them all as news feeds. I follow handful of people, and mostly news sources that quickly summarize what’s going on in the industries and technologies I keep track of, like blockchain.

Arry Yu (right) and her husband Dae before the birth of their first son in 2016. The Yu’s now have a second son born this year. They’re wearing shirts from their now shuttered startup GiftStarter. (Arry Yu Photo)

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? 5,622

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 8

How do you run meetings? Always start with a mental-level set activity with all meeting participants, like sharing highs and lows for the week.

Everyday work uniform? Whatever fits and is comfortable.

How do you make time for family? Family comes first, especially on weekends and putting our children to bed.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Right now, it is playing Words with Friends, watching the reality show “Bar Rescue,” playing piano or singing, or going for a nature walk.

What are you listening to? “Indestructible” by Robyn, “Roses and Violets” by Alexander Jean, and “This Modern Love” by Bloc Party are among the songs and artists on my Spotify playlist.

Arry Yu, left, and Megan McNally doing a fireside chat for McNally’s FBomb Breakfast Club on the topic of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. (Photo courtesy of Arry Yu)

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? I scan my social media feeds for news and information. I also use my stock app and my cryptocurrency apps to check on the status of the market.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” by Valerie Ann Worwood. (Side story, is as I’ve become more educated about all of the poisons that actually go into food and all the advertised products we use on a daily basis, I’ve turned to making all of the soap for my entire extended family.)

Night owl or early riser? Definitely early. Early to sleep, and early to rise. Additionally, we currently have a baby, so I sleep in 2-to-3 hour chunks.

Where do you get your best ideas? When driving, showering, deviceless and walking, or when I’m about to fall asleep.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? My current hero is James Hu, a local bootstrapped entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Jobscan.

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