Spotlight On: Bitcoin Educator And Investigative Journalist Natalie Brunell

Natalie Brunell, the journalist turned Bitcoin educator, overcame adversity to empower others. In an exclusive interview with Evie Magazine, Natalie shares what inspires her, dishes on Gen Z's dissatisfaction with the workplace, and provides helpful tips on getting into Bitcoin.

By Nicole Dominique7 min read
Courtesy of Natalie Brunell
Courtesy of Natalie Brunell

Born under communism in Poland, Natalie Brunell and her family immigrated to America when she was only 5 years old. Her parents experienced the hardships of their home country, which instilled a deep yearning for freedom and opportunity within them. Her mom would recall the stories when Natalie was just a little girl and how they would wait in long lines for basic necessities like food. But once they'd reached the front of the line, there would be nothing left for them to eat. Her family dreamed of raising their children in a better place.

Their journey to America finally became a reality when her dad was 41. Witnessing her mom and dad’s determination and hard work left a mark on Natalie, motivating her to excel in her studies and make a difference that would honor her and her parent's sacrifices. Her family settled outside Chicago, where the news, television, and movies enveloped Natalie. Her parents had used the media to learn English, and it was that exposure that ignited her passion for journalism. “I thought it was such a noble profession to be able to learn about different backgrounds and walks of life and be on the front lines of history,” she tells me. 

However, their American dream later turned into a nightmare once Natalie entered college. The housing bubble burst, leading to the great financial crisis, which led to a devastating blow to her family. They lost everything. Like many struggling citizens in 2008, they had no choice but to file for bankruptcy and start over – but the disaster only pushed Natalie further toward a career in journalism. “How could two people who worked so hard, played by all the rules, and just wanted a good life for their family and their children get rug pulled like that?” she thought. Natalie couldn't comprehend how two loving people who worked tirelessly could be left with nothing, all while big banks received government bailouts. The injustice fueled her.

Over the next decade, Natalie traveled the country, reporting on the issues affecting everyday people in the U.S. She observed the rising cost of living, increasing public corruption, higher crime rates, and the growing division. Economic opportunity and security seemed to slip further away for many Americans as the cost of living soared. She had asked herself, "Why is this happening in a nation that is supposed to be a beacon of hope?"

Courtesy of Natalie Brunell
Courtesy of Natalie Brunell

Then, in 2017, Natalie discovered Bitcoin – and the opportunity couldn't have come at a better time. After years of reporting, she finally found hope for the future. She realized that the root of everyone's problems wasn't just politics. Millions had a similar mind frame, believing it was left versus right. Yet, Natalie realized the deeper issue lies in the broken monetary system. She learned that emerging technology aimed to separate money from power. All beauty and brains, the tenacious reporter spent years studying Bitcoin and its potential to address the economic issues she'd encountered. She met many Bitcoin enthusiasts along the way who shared the same interests and desired to improve people's lives.

“Bitcoin is kind of an awakening that makes you realize that if we work together, we can fix the problems that are plaguing society. It won't be an easy fix. It won't be overnight," Natalie explains. "It's not like a magic pill but coming together over time. We are planting the seed for the tree whose shade we might not be able to enjoy ourselves, but future generations will, and it will be really meaningful and powerful.”

Having been part of an Emmy-winning team at one of her news markets – particularly in breaking news – Natalie's commitment to sharing the truth was undeniable.

Natalie Brunell's Emmy trophy. Courtesy of Natalie Brunell
Natalie Brunell's Emmy trophy. Courtesy of Natalie Brunell

As I interviewed Natalie, I saw her passion for educating people about Bitcoin. Thanks to her reporting and journalism skills, she can simplify the most complex topics to make it easier for everyone to understand. She’s been to numerous Bitcoin events and proudly hosts her podcast, Coin Stories. Natalie is an optimistic and dedicated educator, sharing her knowledge with those finding ways to improve their lives. 

Nicole Dominique: When did you start Coin Stories?

Natalie Brunell: It was started in 2021, and I really wanted to hear about the backgrounds of the people that I was learning from in Bitcoin. I saw that people came from really diverse backgrounds and careers, and I've always been someone who is fascinated by biographies and origin stories. I just wanted to hear how they found themselves in Bitcoin and the conviction that they had. So, I started simply DMing people. I was following all of them because I learned from many of their books, podcasts, shows, and interviews. I wanted to hear more about their lives and why they believe that Bitcoin fixes some of our biggest problems. I was super grateful when they started to talk to me, and it was built organically from a passion project. It was a total side hobby passion project that eventually turned into my full-time job.

ND: Do you have a favorite interview?

NB: I would say that one of my favorite interviews is with Michael Saylor because he's so thoughtful. I liked how he explained the philosophy of Bitcoin, the positive mission behind it, and how it can make the world a better place. I admire how much work he's putting in to help educate everyone. He really put his money where his mouth is as far as putting Bitcoin on the balance sheet, being the first CEO of a publicly traded company to do that. So, I always love interviewing him. I also love Lyn Alden; she's just such a brilliant investment strategist and analyst.

Natalie with Michael Saylor. Courtesy of Natalie Brunell
Natalie with Michael Saylor. Courtesy of Natalie Brunell

And Jeff Booth is probably one of my favorite authors in the space. He's also so thoughtful in explaining inflation and deflation. Preston Pysh, as well. And Saifedean Ammous I have to give a huge shout-out to, because his book was the catalyst for me to learn about Bitcoin. Saifedean wrote the Bitcoin Standard, and it was that book that really helped me go down the rabbit hole and realize that I have to pay attention to Bitcoin. So the fact that I've gotten to interview all of them, I'm just grateful.

ND: What exactly inspired you to jump into Bitcoin? 

NB: I definitely had this seed planted while I was a reporter that something was wrong in the system. The system felt rigged, but I didn't know exactly how or why. I just saw the growing wealth concentration and division among people. And then, I learned about Bitcoin for the first time in 2016 or early 2017. I was skeptical. I dismissed it. I bought a little bit, thinking it was kind of like gambling online. I equated it more to stocks, but I essentially thought that I would lose all my money potentially, so I didn't want to put a lot in. I told a mentor of mine that I bought Bitcoin, that people were talking about Bitcoin. And I bought some, and he went off and ordered the Bitcoin Standard and came back to me and said, "You have no idea what you just bought. This is a really big deal; this might change the lives of your generation, so read this book."

Courtesy of Natalie Brunell
Courtesy of Natalie Brunell

I put it off. I kept thinking it was a computer science book. I thought it was very techy and about computer programming. I am so grateful that one day, I sat down and decided to read it because that book set me on the journey of really studying Bitcoin. It was that book that lifted the veil from my eyes and made me realize that this is transformative. This is a moment in time that could serve as a very disruptive technology, but something that could set us back on the right path so that we come together again and fix some of the problems that are so pervasive in society.

ND: Could you add some of your thoughts to the growing sentiment of Gen Z no longer wanting to buy into the rat race?

NB: Yeah, so it's interesting. I just came back from a conference, and I actually showed some of those videos of Gen Z and millennials [talking about working] as well, which is my generation, venting their frustrations on these videos on TikTok and social media. I think they're really powerful because you can feel the emotion, and you can see the real consequences of what our monetary system has done, especially to young people. It has stolen from their futures, and I do see Bitcoin as the only piece of hope that could serve as a tool to get us out of this lack of economic hope and dignity.

Courtesy of Natalie Brunell
Courtesy of Natalie Brunell

The younger generations lost a sense of economic dignity because no matter how hard you work, you can't even keep up. You can't make ends meet. You're just treading water, and the pressure continuously pushes down on you. Why would you have the motivation to continue working? If you don't feel valued, if the work that you're doing is not properly valued so that you can have a life and you can afford a roof over your head, then what is the incentive to do that work? And I think that this is breaking a sense of hope and motivation for young people, and something needs to change it. We can't rely on this system that consistently goes further and further into debt. We need a system that is based on something of value, something scarce, something secure that we can trust, and Bitcoin is that solution.

ND: What do you think is one of the most important things for young people and other newcomers to understand about getting into Bitcoin?

NB: It's definitely education first. I think it's really important to learn about what the problem is, why the system is broken, and how Bitcoin fixes it. And I want Gen Z and young people all over the world to believe and know that they can build the future. They want to see it. They don't have to just give up and give in; they actually can build and design what they want to see, and the first step is understanding what the problem is. The second step is understanding what the potential solutions are, like Bitcoin. The next step is making it happen by building businesses and taking risks.

Bitcoin is a movement of saving for your future, holding on to the value of the money that you work hard for.

Bitcoin is a movement of saving for your future, holding on to the value of the money that you work hard for. I'm so passionate about that because we all need to be able to return to long-term thinking. We have a world driven by short-term thinking, and we see it online. We don't have the ability to think about the future because all of us are about survival, the next election, or the next video that's going to consume our time online. We really need to stop and pause and think about the future again. And how are we going to do that? We need to be able to invest in our future. We need the money that will buy us the time that we will have for the future. So addressing the money, I think, should be everyone's number one priority.

ND: What's it like being in such a male-dominated space as a woman? How has the experience been for you?

NB: I haven't experienced setbacks. I've noticed the disparity, and I want to encourage more women. So if I could serve as a voice, and if that makes them feel more welcome and they can learn from someone or relate to me, then I feel like I've done my job. I just want to see more representation when I go to the events and conferences. I don't see as many women, and that might be great when it's time to go to the ladies' bathroom, and there's no line compared to the guys all standing in a queue for the men's bathroom, but it's just a sign that there needs to be some change in the industry because women are more and more becoming the breadwinners. They are financial decision-makers for their families. They need to be informed about this because it is such a powerful savings technology, and I want to empower and encourage women to get involved, to learn, to feel like this is not intimidating. I want them to be a part of this community. I think that the women I know in my life are so passionate about connecting and community, and they need to be a part of the Bitcoin network.

Natalie hosts "Women of Bitcoin" networking events annually. Courtesy of Natalie Brunell
Natalie hosts "Women of Bitcoin" networking events annually. Courtesy of Natalie Brunell

ND: Is now a good time to invest? 

NB: Yes, in fact, right now, when the price is much lower than it was at the all-time high, people are a little bit more jittery, but this is the time when they could get in, and their cost basis is lower. So, I know that I will see a lot of people start to get curious again about Bitcoin. But it's really important to take the time to learn because bear markets are opportunities. Bear markets are for building, not just for companies, but also for your individual investment portfolio. It's the time when you can get a better deal on investments like Bitcoin. Right now is an absolutely great time to get started and get in. I really want to encourage people to take that first step to study Bitcoin, why it's so special and different, and how it should be evaluated differently from everything else so that they can make the decision for themselves.

ND: What are some of your hobbies outside the podcast and whenever you're not traveling?

NB: I love to cook. I was born in Poland, and I also lived in college for almost two years in Italy. So, I primarily cook Polish or Italian cuisine, and I love trying new recipes. I'm always looking at recipes online, and I just really enjoy taking some time away, playing some good music, and spending time in the kitchen experimenting with recipes. I also love being outside. I think it's important to get sunshine; so many of us are stuck inside and sitting on devices. It's important to step away a little bit and enjoy the real world. I try to get outside as much as I can, and I hope to get a dog soon because I really would love to have a dog. So that's on my list, and I read a lot. I try to read, if you can believe it, one book every week.

ND: Do you have any parting words or advice you want to give to our readers?

NB: I was there. I had lost hope, and then I realized that what was broken and stealing my hope was our monetary system and how it is designed to offer an advantage to the people at the top at the expense of everyone else. And there's a solution, and it's based on technology. It's neutral, it's global, it's permissionless, and it's accessible to everyone. And it's Bitcoin, and it can solve a lot of these problems and move us toward a better future, one where we all have hope.

Want to learn more? Visit Natalie's website here and follow her on Instagram!

Evie deserves to be heard. Support our cause and help women reclaim their femininity by subscribing today.