Last week I returned home from an exhausting 5 day trip to Dallas Texas for FinCon 2017. This is the 7th year of this conference where financial bloggers/podcasters/video…casters?, media, authors, vendors and speakers all come together for a week of networking, learning, partying, and to exchange ideas. This was my first FinCon and boy was it crazy. One thousand seven hundred attendees (someone told me the first one had 200) from all walks of life in continuous motion, not unlike a giant beehive…but without bees…or a hive.
You get the idea.
The conference is kind of a blur to me. It is a sea of memories and emotions that are all blended together in my mind, with a few moments that stand out to me. I will try and remember some of the more important things and hopefully come to some sort of meaningful conclusion. I mention many of the people I met, but for my sanity (and to keep this post from becoming a novel), I couldn’t mention everyone.
A Rocky Start
Honestly, the first couple of days were pretty rough. You guys know my back pain saga. In spite of my best efforts it colored my experiences and limited what I could accomplish. It’s something I really want to dig into in another post because there are so many good lessons to learn from it, but first things first.
The trip actually started off great, but after the combination of a 3am wake-up, drive to the airport, flight, transport to hotel, check-in, registration, wandering aimlessly for a bit, and trying to find a restaurant that didn’t close early because they ran out of food, by the end of the day I was beat up, both physically and mentally. I pushed myself further than I should have that first day and I paid the price. Lesson learned.
I was determined to make this conference awesome though, so as soon as I got my tip money for housekeeping squared away, I jumped into the festivities. These are in no particular order (mainly because I couldn’t even tell you what order things happened if I tried). Physician on FIRE did a great write up and linked other write-ups so check out his post if you can’t get enough.
I had the pleasure of meeting Carl from 1500days and his wife Mindy. Some of the first words out of Carl’s mouth after hello were how my back was doing. This was genuine concern and it meant a lot to me.
Another moment I remember was when a fellow blogger came up to me and said she needed to talk to me. She read my blog and noticed that each time she saw me that day, I didn’t look so happy, and that, after all, I was The Happy Philosopher! This seems like a silly thing, but it made me smile, and it turned my day around as I was pretty worn out by then. Here was a member of my tribe I had only just met who cared about my well-being.
I shared meals with new friends like Miss Mazuma and Mrs. Adventure rich and the WoWs and Guy on FIRE and Physician on FIRE and his wife, and had some good laughs over hilarious stories, and deep heartfelt discussions about life, money and all the good and terrible things that go along with it. And oddly after sharing a meal or two, I feel like we have all been friends for life, and who knows, maybe now we will be.
I met a cool guy who started reading my blog during the conference (well, at least 1 business card worked) and emailed me a link to an exercise routine for people with back pain. How is that for awesome?
I got to meet in person some of the people who shaped my world view and philosophy around life, money, financial independence and freedom like Todd Tresidder at Financial Mentor, Joshua Sheets at Radical Personal Finance, and David Cain at Raptitude.
I had a chance to meet a bunch of physician bloggers and podcasters doing awesome things like Future Proof MD, Jim Dahle, MD at White Coat Investor, Physician on Fire, Passive Income MD, Cory Fawcett MD, Ryan Gray MD, Wealthy Doc, David Draghinas, MD, and others.
I got to channel my inner fanboy taking to Liz and Tanja who I should probably pay to teach me how to write better. I’m pretty sure I was mostly composed and didn’t do something stupid like ask for an autograph. Maybe I did. I don’t know. Things are a little fuzzy. This picture was on my phone when I got home.
I was at ground zero of some ideas and introductions that should result in completely awesome projects. I’ve found that sometimes the best thing we can do is just to be of service to others, and help put other people together to do great things.
I had a handful of people tell me they were inspired by my blog or on of my podcast interviews, which was both an awesome and humbling experience at the same time.
I became inspired to catch up and/or re-read several (or a hundred) blogs now that I can hear the voice of the person writing in my head, and I know a little bit more about them. Their stories became a little more real. I think a few others will do the same with my blog, and find new and exciting ideas in what I’ve written about previously. I’ve found myself torn between binge reading blogs and sleeping.
I am now the proud owner of Mad Fientist AND ChooseFI tee-shirts (#winning) which by the way, are two of the best financial independence podcasts out there (and I may or may not have been or will be on both of them). I met the awesome Grant Sabatier from Millennial Money who also has a podcast that I have to start listening to (this darn conference 10X’d my to-do list unfortunately).
I went to a costume party.
My costume sucked, but fortunately there were some good ones to make up for my lameness.
I had not one, but TWO meals with Coach Chad Carson.
I managed to completely fail at networking as I only handed out about 5% of the fancy business cards I was told must be ordered. They should last me at least a decade at this rate.
Me: I love your blog! You are from Montana right?
Miss. Mazuma: No
(Goes back to reading menu)
Me: So how long have you been blogging?
In my defense, the name badges are at chest level, and it is a touch awkward to stare too long…They both started with M and I thought I was good…maybe I need glasses. Anyways I have them (and their blogs) all sorted in my head now.
I could go on and on, but anyone NOT at FinCon has probably stopped reading at this point. But in case anyone is still left I’m going to change gears.
I hugged a lot of people; men, women, older, younger, introverts and extroverts, and it got me thinking (shocking, I know). Why don’t we hug more? I mean hugging someone is such a great feeling but somehow it is a rarity in our society.
We are a strange species. There are all these societal programs that run in the background of an otherwise fine brain and one of those programs says we cannot touch each other except under a very narrowly defined set of rules. Hugs are socially weird in most circumstances, especially with strangers or someone you just met.
If the cashier that scans your groceries does a bang up job getting all the bulk bin codes right and doesn’t charge you $37 for a head of lettuce, you don’t’ open your arms and say “BRING IT IN, THAT WAS AWESOME!!!”
You can get arrested for that where I’m from.*
But apparently if you’ve read someone’s blog once 6 months ago and you recognize their name badge, you can embrace like long lost best friends from middle school. You can even start giggling if you want (For the record I did not giggle, just saw others doing it). And the strange thing is it’s not all that uncomfortable.
I mean there’s always the handshake, and if you want to take it next level a brief touch of the forearm or shoulder with the opposite hand. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s nothing like a good hug.
A hug is a moment of trust and surrender, letting someone that close to you for just a few seconds. It is a signal that we share a bond, that we are the same tribe.
We need touch as humans; we crave it in fact, but think back to your day and how little human physical contact you probably had. Maybe it is because we are so integrated with social media, email, video, audio, whatever… we are go plugged in and yet so disconnected at the same time.
Sometimes we are so removed from our basic human needs; to feel emotion, to listen to one another, and to have actual physical contact. It makes us vulnerable, and maybe that scares us in our day to day lives.
It’s easy to forget about these basic needs. Easy to get lazy. Easy to go through the whole day really without touching anyone or engaging them emotionally. I challenge you to make hugging a habit. Start with your family, or a good friend. If you are feeling the least bit anxious, depressed or sad find a loved one to hug. It is one of those rare things that just makes both people feel better.
A few days after I got back I finally recovered to the point where I could write coherently (at least in my mind). On my way from coffee pot to the computer I noticed my daughter was looking a little lethargic. The combination of too much Halloween candy, too little sleep and a cold had taken its toll. I could have kept walking, but instead I took her in my arms and just hugged her. I could feel both of us relax instantly. After a few moments I was overwhelmed with emotions. I think it was all the hugs over the last week coming out and blending together. As I let the initial wave of joy wash over me, I was then filled with a kind of calm and peace that I haven’t felt for a while. No pain. No worries. Completely present.
All from a single hug.
She left for school soon after and I sat down at my computer. My email and Twitter feed were full of virtual hugs, not the same thing but close enough. I’ve found my tribe. I made new friends that seem like family. I feel energized and excited about the future.
I don’t know if I’m going to FinCon2018. There are a lot of places I want to go, and a lot of people I want to see, and I can’t do it all, but if I do I’ve got a lot of hugs to give out, and a hug can change everything.
*to my knowledge no one was arrested at FinCon.
PS: By the way, I know there are like 10,000 links in the post, but take some time to click on them. I carefully curated some of my favorite articles(and their favorites) from many of the bloggers I linked so treat it like a massive weekend reading (remember those posts I used to do?). These will take you some time to get through so feel free to bookmark this post and come back to it. In fact I encourage it. You will find some real gems through those links so get some coffee, put on some nice music and get lost in them 🙂
PPS: If we chatted at FinCon and I didn’t link you it’s not because I don’t love you, I just ran out of gas with this post. With every revision I would think of more people, but I finally had to hit publish. Please say hi to me in the comments and throw an article out there we can all enjoy! Or you can list your blog and favorite post in my blogroll. What was your favorite FinCon moment?
PPPS: If one of those links up there is yours and I screwed it up, message me and I’ll fix it 🙂