Just over six weeks ago, I attended my very first financial conference. I had heard a lot about this conference, listened to the FinCon podcast, read everyone’s blog about what it was like, and took the plunge – I bought a ticket to FinCon.
After a month and a half of digesting and processing the conference, here are my thoughts and takeaway from FinCon:
[Preparing to Go]
As I was preparing to go, I realized the hosting service I was using was not working out well for me. I changed hosting services about two weeks before flying out and was instantly pleased with the new hosting service I had through SiteGround.
In transferring my blog across hosting services, I realized there were a few underlying glitches that needed to be fixed before I went to FinCon. I worked on them as much as I could and then got help when the problem ended up being buried somewhere in the coding.
However, the day before I flew out to Dallas, Texas for the conference, the mobile navigation menu stopped working for my website. It was frustrating as I imagined the primary device people at the conference would be using would be a mobile device.
No matter what I did, I could not seem to get the mobile navigation to work. I boarded my flight to head to FinCon with a horrible, lingering uneasiness about my website not being in working order. I felt nervous. I was a rookie. I was not fully sure of what I should expect or who I should expect at this conference. I had traveled extensively for my previous job all over the world, put on events, and know how a lot of the behind-the-scenes looks. Yet, here I was, nervous to simply attend.
I had made plans with and met up with another FinCon attendee at the train station, Hélène Massicotte from Free to Pursue. She eased my nervousness as she chatted about her story and we rode the train into the city.
When we arrived, we checked into FinCon registration booths first, then circled back to check into the hotel. As I walked with Hélène, she introduced me to everyone we came across. Her hospitality and welcome into the FinCon group was a gift and wonderful introduction!
With my FinCon packet and my room key, I made my way to my room for the week. And, once inside, I kicked off my shoes, curled up in the chair with all the information and thought to myself, “I’m really here. I’m at FinCon.” I dove into the information and got ready for my very first financial conference.
[What’s Your Why]
I brought little 3×5 notecards with my answers to the common questions as to why you were there. My “why” made a lot more sense in my head than it did when I wrote it down. My answers felt underdeveloped to myself.
While a lot of people at this conference come from a financial background or have been in financial conversations longer than I have, I recognize that I was – I am – the person most of these companies, bloggers and writers were writing and speaking to! My inexperience made me feel a little uncertain. I wanted to change my financial story. And, I wanted to be around those who have successfully changed their financial story.
I wasn’t going to let my uncertainty deter me. I’m an all-or-nothing person and, at that moment, I was already at FinCon. Feeling doubtful over my skill level or being able to present clearly articulated why didn’t really matter any more. I was all in!
[Hitting the DESTROY Button]
I did something you probably should never do when you are at the biggest money and media conference you have ever attended. On Wednesday night, I was trying to fix my broken mobile navigation menu. It didn’t work. I was beyond knowing what to do, so I logged into my cPanel, held my breath and hit the DESTROY button on my blog.
In a moment, everything was wiped out. My few posts, my blog, the glitches — everything! There was nothing left to my blog. It was an empty canvas, a blank slate.
I stayed up until after midnight working on rebuilding the framework. While it seemed like a ridiculous thing to destroy my blog, it was a good move. The strategies I learned at FinCon brought immediate value to my blog that I had been missing before. I built my blog with more intentionality and focused on incorporating the things I learned from the framework.
[The Sticker Game]
I thought I would join the fun and play the sticker game with vendors to be entered to win a FinCon18 pass. I mean, why not?!
It was fun, but hard to keep up. I had intentionally chosen not to do drivebys to get stickers only. I talked with each vendor, asking about their product or service and fell behind in the collection of stickers. It was ok though because the conversations and connections with sponsors and other people far outweighed the cost of the ticket to FinCon18.
I brought my half-completed entry form home as a souviner and happily paid for next year’s conference.
[100 Card Swap]
Before going to FinCon, I wanted to try to swap at least 100 business cards with other bloggers, podcasters, influencers and sponsers. While a business card swap is not always
I didn’t quite make my 100 card goal, but I did walk away connected to a lot more people than I was before attending.
Here is my list of who I swapped cards with:
- Scott Alan Turner from ScottAlanTurner.com
- Elizabeth Stapleton from Less Debt, More Wine
- Chris Browning from Popcorn Finance
- Colin Ashby from Rebel with a Plan
- Hélène Massicottenet from Free to Pursue
- Allea Grummert from Ask Allea
- Spencer Meyers from Credible
- Kelley Olinger from Reconcile Your Wallet
- Don Kirkpatrick from NerdWallet
- Suf Alkhaldi from Future & Science Hacks
- Kristin Zumwalt from Stockpile
- Assaf Katzir from CreditPilgram
- Tyler Mastermind from Haven Life
- Mario Fischel from Bulls & Bears Financial Literacy
- Patrick Time from Frugal Safari
- Abby Chao from Collegebacker
- Ruben Izmailyan from Budgit
- Nick True from Mapped Out Money
- M.R. from Financial Imagineer
- Drew Jamison from AWeber
- Heather Heuman from Sweet Team Social Marketing
- Michael Robinson from UnCommon Dream
- Budget Girl
- James Bell from Decluttr
- Chris Krimitsos from Podfest Expo
- Angie Likens from Proclaim Truth
- Josh Elledge from upendPR
- MacKenzie Bennett from blubrry
- Stephen Root from Xero
- Natalie Tunnard from Unison
- Andrew Robinson from Swagbucks
- Matt Myers from Haven Life
- Paul and Sherene Vasey from Cash Crunch Games
- Joanne Seymour Kuster from The Money Godmother
- Rahul Raj from Greenlight
- Stephen Harrell fron Bankrate
- Katherine Pomerantz from Bookkeeping Artist
- Elizabeth Peterson from LearnSaveGrow
- James Loh from Penny Wise Dollar Wiser
- Mrs. Adventure Rich from Adventure Rich
- Neal Frankle from CreditPilgrim
- Emerson Smith from Pushnami
- Kine Corder from Presidential Lifestyle
- Greg Gates Jr from CashChatSnap
- Karina Catlett from CJ Affiliates
- Carolyn Wegemann from Vanguard
- Amanda Jardine from Stash Invest
- Michael Smith from AWeber
- Moran Treiser from Lemonade
- Jonathan Ankney from Small Business CFO
- Lee Huffman from Bald Thoughts
- Tim Flores from The Credit People
- Yansong Wang from Cashback Monitor
- Jonathan Allen from Wizefi
- Caroline Farhat from Bankrate
- Chris Costello from Blooom
- Rodney Ferguson from Christian Care Ministry (Medi-share)
- Debra Schroeder from Traveling Well For Less
- Mike Morisseau from Artistry Studios
- Emilie Cleaver from Wise Mind Money
- Tim Bourquin from After Offers
- Matt Burton from musicMagpie / Decluttr
- Heather Tullos from MediaVine
- Adrienne Fuller from Finder
[People, Personal Finance and Pie]
On the FinCon app, I posted a question about when do you take a passion and turn it into profit. I speculated on whether monetizing a passion would detract from the enjoyment of it or if the passion was directing oneself into where they find the most joy and should build one’s business around what they enjoy the most.
Others speculated with me and we discussed the different angles.
I had posted a picture of one of my pies that I had styled and quickly became known as the pie lady. Perhaps the most amusing, memorable and best moment was after I had come downstairs after participating in Growella’s webcast filming for boxed lunches in the expo hall. I approached a full table of people to find out to inquire about where we pick up the lunches. The man I had asked about the lunches looked at my name tag, jumped up and said, “You’re the pie lady!” He introduced himself and his business partner, and mentioned how much they both enjoyed my pie pictures. It made me smile. A few other times people identified me as the “pie lady” at the conference.
I love creating with food and capturing it. It’s a funny take away from a financial conference, but somehow I want to find a way to bring food and finance to the same table.
[Takeaways & Action Points]
After three days of financial conversations, here are my takeaways from FinCon:
- Build on Consistency. I had heard so many people reference the importance of consistency over the last couple years. I had tried to be consistent, but things always fell through. I realized I was trying to do too many things at once with publishing posts, figuring out coding, e-mail lists, etc. In doing a little of everything I lost my ability to do anything. I’ve tapered back to a place where I can write posts consistently and gave myself realistic expectations about what I can accomplish with my other work duties and responsibilities. I know I can consistency post once a week. That has become an absolute, non-negotiable expectation for myself each week. If I can do extras, that’s ok. But, I am not allowing myself to do extra at the expense of not meeting the standard I have put in place.
- The Power of Belief. In my conversations with others in workshops, the expo hall or casually over lunch, I was so encouraged by how people believed in each other. No one said the idea of blogging full-time, living financial free and breaking the status quo wouldn’t work. Neither did they say it was too risky. Instead, the conversations were filled with “How can I help you get there?” or “What can I do for you?” It didn’t matter if you were talking to a financial savvy person or a someone who was learning as they went. The people who came to FinCon came with the belief that the impossible is possible, and they extended the belief of the impossible to others.
- Measure Your Growth. Deacon Hayes, from Well Kept Wallet, had a workshop that was so fascinating and intriguing to me because the main concept he shared seemed almost too obvious: Focus on what works and stop doing what does not work. That’s it! He shared how he was able to grow his blog and website exponentially through this basic yet effective practice. I often tell people that they will never get where they’re going until they know were they are at. In budgeting, the first step is to know your numbers. If you do not know how much you bring in, how much you put out and the debt you have, you will never be able to build toward financial freedom. The same concept applies for building a business. If you are not aware of what is working and what isn’t working, you will continually do the same thing and get the same outcome. By measuring your growth, you can see what is working and what is not.
With only nine and a half months until the next FinCon, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. Yet, I am excited to lean in with new resources, skills, connections and motivation to build my blog and business with excellence and creativity.
“Progress is the ultimate motivation.” – Peter Voogd