OG1: OG2 found out that FinCon19 was going to be within driving distance and took the liberty of signing us up. During one of our walks at work he let me know and I pretty much left it at that…it was almost a full year away and my planning horizon for activities is rarely more than a few weeks out.
The week finally came and went, and now I sit here trying to wrap my head around why I not only felt it was worth attending, but feel that there is something about THIS group of people that I badly want more exposure to. To be sure, there is plenty of the finance stuff to be found and it really is the pivot point that brings everyone to FinCon. Go for the finance stuff, but be prepared for the people.
I left FinCon with a real sense that the average attendee is not your ordinary person, part of a world of sheep grazing their way through life. It seems that behind the finance, there is a life motivator driving many of them where they realize that LIFE is greater than what is marketed to us. That the escape from the machine comes from focused attention to what you value versus the ‘dream’ message we all seem to be presented with. FIRE walkers value life and want to be able to live it to its fullest, however they individually define that.
My ‘Why Attend?’ answer finally became clear as I stood in my home workshop reflecting and it has a lot to do with my daily walks. You see, I really enjoy a nice walk and I have been blessed to have walking companions that have shared innumerable conversations that really have molded my life. This has been me for almost thirty years.
When I walk, I want to talk about life. I want to explore concepts, reflect on issues, get input on decisions. I want to learn about the lives of my companions and generally learn about life through the eyes and experiences of others.
At FinCon I found Pauline of Reach Financial Independence blog. I felt a bit guilty to steal as much time as I did listening to her but I found her perspective and approach to life to be profound. I could have listened for hours. She was the first of many contacts that I imagine would make for an amazing walking partner. My first reads of her blog confirmed that she has a lot to say, that I feel will be of value to me and I’m excited to digest what is there. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to share a walk with Pauline in Guatemala. Her space there seems a perfect setting for that level of reflection and a nice walk.
Two fast friends came at an early breakout session, that frankly was disappointing. I lost my father last year and now I’m taking care of my elder mother. One of my side hustles is to help families manage and sell collectibles when a loved one passes. I attended the session ‘Demystifying Wills and Estate Planning’ in the hopes of getting a better handle on things. Here I had my first encounter with Dragons On Fire. We started conversing about how the information presented was not terribly useful and a stream of conversations followed the next several days as we met and hung out together. I imagine this walk would be down a city sidewalk, primarily in a market area and hopefully near some good food where we could pause to eat and chat and then continue the walk.
Then there was Kim of The Frugal Engineers where both OG2 and I found many common bonds and great conversations. OG2 introduced us, I don’t recall if he had been on Twitter with her before FinCon. Bear in mind that I was the electronically-silent partner in this venture prior to FinCon and only downloaded Twitter and Instagram this week to ‘tune in’ and join in on conversations. I get the feeling that we will have a lot of walking conversations with The Frugal Engineers. Some are being planned as I type!
OG2 dropped a grenade into the room when he had me find Otterwize at the bar…and it was spectacular! I still don’t know what to say other than that E and J…damn we need to talk more! For the record, E is the grenade. Lord only knows where THIS walk is going, but I know it will be fun and interesting. Can’t wait!
A particularly meaningful conversation was with Sandy of ‘Yes, I am Cheap’. Attendees know she was a star of the show with her great emcee performance for the Plutus Awards. But beyond that is her work to bring the concept of Financial Independence to others through her blog. I am humbled and thankful that she would spend a ½ hour speaking with me, a complete stranger, while some 40+ others waited for her attention. (Sorry folks…but it really was great conversation). She also helped an old guy with his non-existent selfie skills!! My first appreciation for her and her work was at the Plutus Awards and I wanted her to know that some random stranger was simply happy for her and vicariously enjoying her moment. Hopefully that was communicated, this is one ‘walk’ that I am simply grateful for the opportunity to have been there.
A special mention has to go out to Stephanie of Sophia Financial, a listener that allowed me the opportunity to reflect on life, dealing with my father’s passing and other stories that kept her late into the evening…In my defense, she insisted on listening versus telling. On our next ‘walk’, she’s doing the talking!
I could continue quite a bit beyond this, but some moments deserve their own space and will follow on from here. As it regards toFinCon…go for the finance, but be prepared for the people. Propping up all the motivation to do better with their money is the realization that life has value and we get just one shot at doing this. It is nearly universally found among attendees that money is not the goal but a vehicle by which we can truly live the life that has meaning and value to us as we see it. What I found at FinCon was a group of people that I would genuinely love to have along for my daily walks.
OG2: Whew… FinCon19 was intense. OG1 and I went into it with zero plan, other than to make sure we had a good time. Why? Because we had no idea what to really expect and other than we had some words in the ether-sphere, on a blog that didn’t have a well defined direction. I signed us up nearly a year ago simply because it was 90 minutes away and many of those online raved about prior FinCons. I did read a few blogs that offered up suggestions for first timers. The most useful tip from Financial Pilgrimage, for anonymous bloggers to print their logo and put it on their badge. This paid dividends big time. It also provided the most hilarity. I’ve been the one running our Twitter feed, while OG1 hadn’t even downloaded the app. Right off the bat Dragons on Fire recognized the logo on OG1’s badge and their were like ‘hey we know you’. The look on OG1’s face, as he mentally was stepping back, must have been priceless, as he had no clue why anyone would know him. This become a running joke as it happened another dozen or so times over the 4 days we were there.
First up was Nick True’s First Timers session to kick things off and he listed out some important items:
- Have a plan – whoops, totally failed that one
- Take a nap, you’ll get tired – Yep, nailed that one
- Have a notebook or some way to remember ideas, people etc. – By the way, Nick does this in the bathroom.
- _____ There were more, but I also failed #3 above. It really is necessary because now I look back wishing I could remember everyone I met in order to connect post FinCon.
Here are my takeaways:
People, People, People
One thing I did intend to do was put faces with blogs of folks I had interacted with online. Time to exercise that ‘IRL’ thing. Without a doubt this is THE best part of FinCon19. There are an overwhelming number of interesting, funny, intelligent, diverse and engaging people in attendance. OG1 listed several people that stood out above. I’ll quickly list a few more (recall above, I failed Nick’s suggestion #3, so I’m going to leave out a bunch of folks unintentionally): J Money, Dollar Revolution, A Purple Life, ChooseFI, Stop Ironing Shirts, Countdown to FI, Life Zemplified, Jarrad Brown, Ramit Sethi, M1 Finance. Again, apologies if my faulty memory didn’t capture everyone. If I left you off, ping us and I’ll update the post!!! Seriously!
Then there’s Otterwize. A few months ago, he tweeted something, about what i have no idea. But his lead-in line was ‘Because millennials are the serial killers of all good things..’. That line still makes me laugh. I even tried to convince him to get t-shirts with that phrase on the back. Hell, I was tempted to do it myself. I knew at that point I had to meet this guy. I don’t even know where to begin with this pair. On the surface, they share little in common. 20+ years in age difference and completely different lifestyles. Almost everything he says, embarrasses her. Yet it works… brilliantly. He is irreverent at all times and that works for me. Within 30 minutes of meeting, we were furiously generating a new business plan, only to see it fade to dust when we realized the Twitter handle ‘Toilet Tweets’ was already taken. Oh well, back to the drawing board. I’m not kidding, after 90 minutes with them, we had to remove ourselves due to continually laughing so hard I thought my abs were going to explode. Fortunately, we ran into each other again late Friday night and didn’t throw in the towel until 3:30am. [Side bar – As OG1 and I recounted the evening a few days later, I said ‘Well, at least I was honest at 2am about being done for the night.’, to which he replied, ‘Yeah, but it was 3:30am when you said that’]
There were 3 session that I attended which I thought were solid and warrant calling them out:
Podcasting 101: How to Launch a Successful Podcast (Dave Jackson)
How to Build a $1 Million Blog (Rob Berger)
How Two Average Guys Built Multiple Blogs to Millions of Pageviews (and Dollars) Jim Harmer and Ricky Kesler.
I will say that I’m looking forward to utilizing the Virtual Pass in order to watch those I mentioned again and those I couldn’t attend. You should not hesitate paying for this!
The FinCon19 Lean
Laying no fault on the organizers, but it felt like there was no place to have a conversation at a normal volume. Whether is was music or just everyone yelling to be heard, it was tough. I jokingly copyrighted the term ‘The FinCon Lean (in)’. Because if you were more than a foot away from someone who was talking, you weren’t going to hear them. And logically, that also meant if you were the one speaking, you practically had to yell. A Purple Life pointed this out in her recap. I would hope that this becomes a consideration going forward.
It was a fantastic week. Given that I had no idea what to expect, I was simply blown away. Bravo to all those that made it happen and attended.