“I almost cried when I saw how people get excited over spreadsheets here! It’s like I found my people!” said my new friend and fellow Miami native Ani Mercedes.
“Yeah, we get that reaction a lot,” I replied.
FinCon is the one event I look forward to most each year. It is probably the only financial conference where people bust out their phones to start a Periscope broadcast as they throw back a few (okay, way more than a few) adult beverages and talk about stock market swings, early retirement and Google Analytics.
As someone recently described it on LinkedIn, FinCon is like crack for creative people in finance.
Better yet, when I told a waitress I was in Charlotte for The Financial Blogger Conference she looked at me and said, “Bullshit! You’re way too cool to work in finance!”
Well, as the awesome tote bag I got at the Fidelity Women’s event said “Frugal Is The New Cool.”
But seriously, this conference is not just full of cool people, but the coolest people in finance. From people who retired at 30 thanks to investments to people who’ve converted a school bus into a mobile financial education classroom.
Like the waitress, you would think people in finance are a drag, but this event has brought together hundreds of people who are changing the game for good. Here are just a few of the reasons I think FinCon has some of the coolest people in finance.
We understand that money is just a means to an end.
While at the pre-party someone mentioned to my friend Michelle Jackson and I that they couldn’t find any investment bloggers. Michelle and I looked at eachother quizically since we happen to know there are a ton of bloggers who talk about investing.
“Did you try looking for financial independence or early retirement?” Michelle asked. “Those guys are all over investments.”
This is an example of how the FinCon community understands money a little differently than how most people would. Rather than seeing money as the end goal, the FinCon community understands that money just allows them to do stuff they want in life. They are conscious of their goals and make financial decisions accordingly.
We’re willing to have tough conversations.
One thing I appreciate about FinCon is the willingness to discuss difficult conversations such as women, minorities and education. Most people wouldn’t touch these topics with a 10 foot pole (Hell, I’m a woman and a minority in this country and this stuff even makes me uncomfortable!), but in the FinCon community we’ve got people asking “Okay, how can we properly address these important issues?”
Granted, these are difficult and complex issues with multiple layers and a lot of emotion, but the fact that the FinCon community is even willing to go there says a lot about the caliber of people who attend this event.
For example, Fidelity had an event for women in finance. We had women from all walks of life and they did an amazing job at creating an intimate atmostphere where the women could open up and share their thoughts. From talking about our upbringings to how financials affect divorce, the entire event was a beautiful moment where we could just be there for each other.
Another example is when I found my apparent sister from another mister Zina Kumok. We connected on the basis that we both come from immigrant families who fled communism. Other than different countries and different religions, we practically had the exact same upbringing because our families experienced the same kind of oppression. J.D. Roth (of Get Rich Slowly fame) heard us talking about this and said, “Holy crap I need to get the two of you on a podcast!”
Our version of hard work is probably different than yours.
Everyone who attends this conference is a hustler. I did six media interviews, had seven meetings and attended eight events while I was at this conference. The way I see it I need to make a return on my investment (and I always do).
However, while I was working hard I was also having an absolute blast. I got to hang out with some of closest online friends like Carrie Smith and Shannyn Allan, make new friends like Debt Free Guys, explore a new city, dance my ass off and have several laughs.
(Debt Free Guys, if you guys are reading this I was totally serious when I asked you to be my gay best friends ;))
I think work-life balance is a load of horse shit, so I try to focus on a work-life blend instead. As such, FinCon is like a work-cation. I was hustling my ass off, but I was also having a really good time.
Paula Pant of Afford Anything once wrote a blog post about how she was working at a cafe in Paris and an American tourist practically pitied her for working on vacation. What the American tourist didn’t understand is Paula’s work is so flexible she can pack up her stuff and go to another country the next day if she wanted to. The American tourist had to work enough to accumulate the required vacation hours and then get their time off approved only to go back to work in two weeks. In other words, they totally missed the point.
Another killer example of this is Tiffany Aliche of The Budgetnista. Her hustle is serious and I have immense respect for it, but because she is on a mission to educate people about finance she doesn’t necessarily see it as the “hard work” we’re accustomed to hearing about. It’s clearly a vocation, not a struggle.
Through our version of hard work, the FinCon community reaches over 1 billion readers. Yes, that’s 1 billion with a b. We wouldn’t be able to do this if we didn’t make sure to have fun along the way.
This is the part where I have to end the blog because I’m pretty sure I’m experiencing symptoms of separation anxiety. To my fellow FinCon friends reading this, I cannot wait to see you in San Diego next year! I already bought my ticket and reserved my hotel room for 2016.
For those of you who have thought about going, as Nike says JUST DO IT!