Hello friends! I'm back in the crushing reality known as the real world. Everything seems to be just a bit dull in comparison to the amazeballs experience known as FinCon 2016. Having been to the Chautauqua last year and Camp Mustache earlier this year, I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. It was way better than I could've ever imagined.
I learned so much the past five days. I did attend a few sessions whilst at the conference and some of them were incredibly useful. I'm looking at you, Google Analytics session. Turns out, I've been using it all wrong so I am looking forward to being able to better understand the nitty gritty details of traffic analysis better. Sounds boring, but it's not. I promise.
The most important take away from the conference wasn't about the blog. It was learning about myself.
Apparently, I'm more on the extroverted side of the scale. Those of you who met me for the first time this week just snorted. It's a slight understatement. I've always been pretty outgoing but at events like these I tend to go all out.
For me, it's easy to go to these things and be social. We're all at these events for one reason: to meet new people. I already knew some people at FinCon, so 99.9% of my social anxiety was removed. Walking into the opening night mixer was a bit daunting at first, but then I spotted Paula and I knew I wasn't alone. If I wanted to go up and meet someone, I did. I got nothing but positive reactions and hugs, which in turn filled up my confidence buckets for the next greeting.
I collected quite the following of less extroverted people. I fulfilled the role of “Introducer”. I'd go off and meet someone new, and then they would follow me and I'd introduce them so they could meet whoever I was talking to. I was very happy to help out. I love making friends and facilitating the process for others!
Mrs. ONL, Taylor, and Julie were some of the people that made FinCon extra great for me. I loved, loved, loved getting to meet these wonderful ladies and forming real life friendships with them. We already “knew” each other from the internet and effortlessly carried that over into the real world. I mean, they're so cool!! How can you not like them in person?
Mrs. ONL, it turns out, is a totally laid back, chill lady. We first found each other at the opening night mixer when she found me and thrust her nametag out at me as a way of saying hi. We had a fantastic time sitting through sessions and entertaining each other. If you ever get the chance to meet her in real life, DO IT. You won't regret anything. Except maybe the fact your face and abs hurt from laughing so much. I'll be very excited for her big reveal and retirement next year. You should read her recap of FinCon 2016. She says some embarrassingly nice things about me 🙂
One last photo before we part ways on the airport shuttle. Miss you already! pic.twitter.com/ViihURb4RM
— Gwen (@FieryMillennial) September 25, 2016
Taylor from Freedom From Money and I met when she picked me up at the airport and we went to the zoo. I picked the right person to go with because she has a season pass and regurgitated the guidebook for me on our sprint through the zoo. I said I wasn't going to be impressed by some of the animals because my hometown zoo has them, but then I found myself squealing over the baby giraffe and leopard anyways. They were SO CUTE. Totally worth the walking. If you go to San Diego, go to the zoo. If you can, go with Taylor because she knows all the best exhibits.
As a relatively new blogger attending her first event, she had yet to meet anyone from the FI community. I enjoyed the chance to introduce her around to those I knew! She is a rockstar and is only 23 years old! I have no doubt by starting so early she will be set for life at whatever she chooses to do.
— Freedom From Money (@taymilam) September 23, 2016
Julie from Millennial Boss and I kind of cheated. We had a Skype chat months ago so we already had met. Technically. She was the brainchild behind the party houseboat in the marina. I am SO GLAD we got the extra time together that came from things like running into each other in our sweet pajamas and watching the sunrise together. Ok fine, she's the one with the sweet pajamas. Next year for FinCon, I'm going to get a set like hers and we will rock them together. We have a ton in common (being a woman in tech gives you a lot to communally gripe about lol) and I'm looking forward to the day we're both retired and can hang out for longer than 72 hours.
— Julie (@MillennialBoss) September 22, 2016
I also took the time to hang out with those I had already met. It was a careful balancing act for me of deepening the relationships I'd already formed and meeting as many new people as I possibly could. One of my fondest memories was the night most of my favorite people gathered around the fire and hung out for hours. Inside jokes were created, serious advice was given and many stories were swapped.
— Ms. Our Next Life (@our_nextlife) September 24, 2016
If it wasn't already obvious, these relationships are some of the most important in my life. One of the pieces of advice given at the conference was “Surround yourself with people you want to emulate.” I want to be like them. The cool thing is though, they've already accepted me and told me quite clearly I was already one of them. As a former chronic outsider growing up, I couldn't be any happier.
My network of people will pay off in spades. What I see as a cough drop is a lifesaver to others (and no, not referring to the candy although if someone wants to create Lifesaver cough drops I'd be game to try them). I've already got offers to visit everyone and collaborate with them on projects. Guest posting, podcasting, you name it- I networked it this weekend.
One of those networking efforts was going to lunch with Kathleen and Joe from the Stacking Benjamins podcast. It was a last minute “Hey we want to have lunch with new people so come join us in the Gaslamp District!”. I had only the vaguest idea of who they were but I'm not going to turn down companionship over food. We had the best time! All of us were making each other laugh and telling the funniest stories. It's been a long time since I've laughed so hard I've cried, but there were definitely tears streaming down my face and into my cashew chicken stir fry. I'm looking forward to talking to them again for sure!
This post is getting a bit lengthy, so I'm just going to briefly mention some of the other people I had the pleasure of meeting this week. Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you're going to be in the Midwest or if you want to collaborate on something! If I forgot you, I am super sorry and meant nothing by it. My brain, simply put, is fried.
Ok, here we go. GenYFinanceGuy, Ty from Get Rich Quickish, Claudia from Two Cup House, Pia from Mama Hustle, Joe from Retire By Forty, Sam from Financial Samurai, Nick from Side Hustle Nation, Tonya from Beach Budget, the Roamer at Traveling Wallet, the Even Stevens, Amanda Abella at Make Money Your Honey, the Mad Fientist and his lovely wife, Jeremy from GoCurryCracker, Mr. 1500, Mindy from Bigger Pockets, Lindsay from Notorious D.E.B.T, Thomas Frank from College Info Geek and his kickass girlfriend Anna, Brad from Richmond Savers, J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy, Emma Lincoln, Noah and Becky from Money Metagame, Retire Before Dad, Chad from Coach Carson, Jason from Phroogal, Liz from Frugalwoods, Melanie from Dear Debt, and last but certainly not least, JD Roth from MoneyBoss.
If words aren't enough, enjoy some of my favorite photos from the trip!