Nov 03

The Ultra-Official FinCon 2017 Review


FinCon Dallas Texas

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 saw old friends like JD, Kim, Gwen, Brandon, Joe, Keith, Emma, Andrew and Marla from prior trips to Camp Mustache.


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 had great conversations with Mark,and Mrs. Picky Pincher that recharged me when I was experiencing overload with people and just needed a focused but relaxing conversation.


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.


Our Next Life Blog

Inside joke…


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.


costume party

This is a whole lot of awesome!


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.

business cards

Lifetime supply!


I rather embarrassingly mixed up Miss. Mazuma and Ms. Montana because I misread the name badge.


Me: I love your blog! You are from Montana right?

Miss. Mazuma: No

(Goes back to reading menu)

(Uncomfortable pause)

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.


Moving along.


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 🙂



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  1. Well said. Glad you had so much fun and a pleasure to meet you in person, fellow runner.

    Hugs are definitely under utilized.

    1. Mutual man. Hugs for 2018 for sure.

    • Physician on FIRE on November 3, 2017 at 3:23 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Jeff,

    I thought you held up surprisingly well considering your back issues. I also think you should see a real doctor for that, and no, I’m not volunteering.

    It was great to hang out, and I do hope you will make the trek to Orlando for FinCon18.

    There will be hugs.


    1. If I can make it work I would absolutely love to see you and everyone else again in 2018.

  2. Jeff, I’m so happy that our paths crossed. Your back did make me sad though. I hope that 2018 is a better year for your spine.

    I do hope that our paths cross again sooner than later.

    1. No sadness man, the positives of going to FinCon far outweighed the negatives. I had a great time, and once I figured out I just coundn’t make it much past 10pm I was good, although I’m sort of bummed I missed the party. I’m just really grateful for all your kindness and concern for me and I got to meet Mrs 1500 as well 🙂

    • Dr. Curious on November 3, 2017 at 7:50 pm
    • Reply

    One day, you will get a big hug from a mysterious drifter or Tibetan monk, and then you back will pop back into place. In all seriousness, I do sincerely hope you back feels better sooner than later. We need more happy posts from The Happy Philosopher.

    1. Thank you my friend. I have lots of posts swimming in my head – I just need to figure out how to get them into words, so stay tuned 😉

    • arcyallen on November 4, 2017 at 5:34 am
    • Reply

    Hugs are underrated! And if you’re going to hug, HUG, damnit! No handshaking between “hugging” bodies. I’ve never hugged a person that seemed bothered by it, including ones I’ve never seen actually hug someone else.

    1. Hahaha, like when one person goes for the handshake and the other a hug, then there is that awkward pause where each person second guesses themselves and tries to figure out what to do next!

  3. It was SO wonderful meeting you in person! I hope you’re recovering well; it wasn’t until today that I finally felt sufficiently caught-up on sleep.

    1. The feeling is mutual. I’m so glad I decided to sit at that huge table and rest my brain. It’s a miracle I actually talked to you because I was so burnt at that point. Hopefully again in 2018 🙂

  4. We only got to chat for a short while at the speaker/pro mixer, but it was great to meet you Jeff!

    1. Oh that mixer, so loud and chaotic, haha! The only thing I have a clear memory of was talking to Grant. Were you in that conversation or was that someone else? If you want to, please post a link to your favorite article in my blogroll – gives me a good list of cool blogs to read 🙂

  5. Haha – I think it was more like me squeaking out “No, Chicago.” then immediately going back to scanning the menu for any food worthy of the ridiculous price tag that hotels somehow get away with charging. And, to be fair, it’s easy to mix the Mrs Montana and I up…well, besides the 3 foot height difference. 😉

    It was super to meet you but I’m bummed it wasn’t until the last day! I’m on the fence about FinCon18 as well though I did buy a ticket just in case. If we don’t meet there, I hope to bump into you somewhere on this spinning orb sometime soon. We’ve barely scratched the surface on the topics of ethics and philosophy that I so adore! Take care of that back!!

    1. Haha, you are right of course. In fairness though I had not met Ms. Montana at that point so I had no idea not tall she was.

      I felt like I could have talked to you and so many other people for hours. There was just not time to fit it all in. Rambling about ethics, morality and philosophy are my specialty so we will chat for sure. I may even remember your name 😉

  6. Always good seeing you, buddy. 🙂

    1. Yeah man, give the family a hug for me!

  7. All of our PTs use MDT (McKenzie Method). We have had great results with it for radiculopathy. I hope you heal soon. It was awesome hanging out with you in Dallas.
    Keep up the great writing. I love it!

    1. The McKenzie stuff worked a bit. Better, but not perfect. But 6 months ago I could not even have tolerated the flight, much less be on my feet for 4 days talking to all you awesome people. I’m getting there. Thanks for the support and kind words, they mean a lot to me.

    • Amy Blacklock on November 6, 2017 at 5:20 am
    • Reply

    Pleasure to meet you, Jeff. I do hope your back is feeling better. Hugs, definitely a great pick me up!

    1. Likewise. I request a hug from you for 2018 🙂

  8. I just love enjoying the conference through everyone elses eyes. Great post.

    Hugging is under rated but for non-huggers, very scary. I was one once. A gentlemen at our church was a big hugger and somehow like animals now instinctually who is not an animal person, he made a bee-line for me and gave me a big hug. This went on for many weeks until I was converted. :O)

    I do hope you find relief for your back. It is hard to be happy when you deal with chronic pain. My wife does. You and her are amazing people. :O)

    1. Nice! Increasing the total hug quotient in the universe is always a good thing.

  9. Hey Jeff! It was really great meeting you. Thanks so much for the dinner invite at FinCon; that made my day. And thank you for the gracious mention in this post. I hope your back mends soon. See you next time!…

    1. Thank you my friend. That foundation training is wonderfully brutal, and perhaps it is helping a bit. Hope to see you next year.

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