FinCon… It’s Really All About the People

FinCon… It’s Really All About the PeopleI’m writing this post on the airplane coming back from Orlando.  I just got finished another great FinCon conference.

Not only that, but I’m writing it while on the plane the old-school way – pen and paper.  Sure, I’ve had to rewrite the whole thing to get it online because I bailed on bringing my laptop to the event.  But I care about you guys so much that it’s worth the effort… you’re welcome.

This is the second year I attended FinCon.  Last year, I wrote a couple of posts recapping the event – My First 24 Hours with the J. Money Mohawk and My 6 Favorite Fincon17 Moments.

This year, I decided I wouldn’t go into FinCon with a specific post idea in mind.  I just wanted to see how things would flow and take it from there.

The days went by though and nothing jumped out in front of me as the right topic to write about.  I was having a blast, but I was starting to wonder if that special idea would ever rise up… and then it hit.

On the last evening of the conference, I finally had a moment of quiet.  I was just sitting and talking with Amy from Life Zemplified (which won a Plutus Award this year) and Women Who Money (cofounded with Vicki and nominated for a Plutus this year).

For the first time in days, I wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere for a short bit… so we talked and reminisced.  I met Amy at last year’s FinCon and felt like I had already known her for years.  We started talking about the tight-knit group of friends that seemed to creep up among us since meeting last year.

And that’s when the epiphany came on what an important post this is.  You see, not only did I meet Amy and feel like we were great friends already, but I felt that way with so many folks out there.

I made so many friends at last year’s event that this was really like a big reunion.  And that’s when I realized…

FinCon is really all about the people.

I’m not even talking about the networking and business relationships (even though those are valuable).  No, I’m talking about real friendships with real people.


The “Other” Guy

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon - The "Other" GuyI’ve gone to a fair number of conferences over the years for work.  These have all revolved around information technology in one facet or another (that is my career after all).

But here’s the thing – they suck.

I love the travel and the time away from work and really, just doing something different.  However, attendees at the events don’t seem to care.  Most folks are there for the same reason I am – their employer is making them go.

I get it – each conference is an opportunity to learn more about the business and bring back some fresh ideas.  In the meantime, you’re able to do some schmoozing and networking along the way.

There’s only one problem – people at these conferences aren’t excited to be there.  Moreover, they’re not ecstatic to talk to people they don’t know either.  It happens, but most of it tends to come across as forced by circumstances and a little fake.

The good news is I’m done with these conferences since I’m leaving at the end of the year.


Then There’s FinCon

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People - Then There's FinConIf you’re not familiar with the FinCon, it’s an event that Philip Taylor (aka PT) launched back in 2011 to help bring like-minded personal finance content creators together.

While there, you have the opportunity to learn more best practices for your business.  You also come back with a lot of fresh ideas that can help you take your business to new levels.

Sounds similar to the other conferences I mentioned, right?

Nevertheless, there’s one small detail that actually makes all the difference in the world – the people.

The people at FinCon are different from those at your normal conferences and events – in a good way.


The FinCon People

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People - The FinCon People
Two legends in the personal finance blogging community – JD Roth and Jim Wang

The folks attending FinCon are excited to be there.  They want to learn, but more importantly, they want to meet other like-minded people.

At this conference, there are a lot fewer people playing on their phones just to dodge eye contact with others.

In fact, it’s exactly the opposite.  Folks are constantly walking up to one another and introducing themselves.  And you know what – the people that are getting the introduction are happy to meet and talk.

This year, FinCon had over 2,000 attendees.  That’s a decent size event.  But it was almost like 2,000 friends getting together for a big vacation.  All these harmonious people excited to be a part of this one event… it’s almost magical.

Yes, there are “celebrities” in the FinCon world, but they’re just people too.  For instance, while at the conference, I talked to Jim Wang from Wallet Hacks and J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly who are both well-known throughout the community.

I had met Jim at last year’s conference and he introduced me to J.D.  I swear – both of these guys are the most down-to-earth people you’d ever meet.  They love what they do and you can tell – they love the folks at this conference.

Regardless, it just seems that friendships are easy to form and a lot of laughs are shared.  A good example of that is Amanda from Why We Money.

I had just gotten in and registered when I passed Amanda in the hall.  I recognized her and introduced myself and we had lunch together.  Ok, fine, she had lunch and I had a beer – don’t judge me!

We talked as if we’ve been friends for years and for the rest of the trip, she was pretty much stuck with me (unlucky for her!).  Along with the rest of the gang, we had a ton of fun throughout our time there.

The point is that the relationships are real and the people are fantastic.  When you get folks together who share a common, excited interest, bonds are instantly formed that are destined to last.


How I Do a FinCon

A lot of folks attend FinCon with a business agenda in mind.  The goal is to come away with some great business takeaways.  Nothing wrong with that at all.

However, I roll a different way and, after talking with many of my friends there, it seems I’m not the only one.

I do attend the sessions I really want to see, but honestly, that’s not my main objective.  In fact, I believe I only went to four sessions and panels while in Orlando.  They do record them so you can watch them any time after the conference if you get the virtual pass, but I noticed I didn’t get around to utilizing that last year.

Instead, I like to attend the conference to meet and talk to people.  I just want to get to know the folks in the community.  It’s fun to just have actual conversations and learn about them that way.

Please don’t try to sell me on what you do.  I’ll learn from just a regular discussion if there’s a fit or a possible opportunity to work together.

Instead, let’s just have a beer and talk about life.  More comes from that than anything else.

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon
Ok, maybe I did make a couple money rings for my bestie (Steve at Think Save Retire) to try to win him over (using his money, of course)


FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon
Though you quickly learn that making money rings for folks can’t always buy you friends! 😉

I met so many incredible people last year that led to some great things.  I started doing podcast appearances this year beginning with one from Pete from Do You Even Blog.  I also met John from ESI Money who gave me a chance to do guest curation for the Rockstar Finance email and also a couple posts on John’s site.  In addition, I learned a few tactics to help build a little more stickiness with my readers.

These relationships and learning experiences though evolved from sincere conversations.  These opportunities were just through conversations and a lot of laughs with various folks across the event.

I imagine that the fun of growing my blog will continue based on some of the conversations that took place this week as well.

Just for fun, here are a few pics of some of my FinCon friends just spending some quality time together in Orlando…

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon

FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon FinCon… It’s Really All About the People  - How I Do a FinCon

And don’t worry, if I didn’t include you, it doesn’t mean we’re not friends.  I love you death, but I don’t have a ton of pictures and still haven’t gotten the ones I do have together yet.

There’s no right or wrong way to do FinCon, but it’s important to remember that it’s the people that matter.  This is a fantastic event for anyone with a strong mindset in personal finance just looking to be around others with the same interest.

Even though the event originated for content creators, there are plenty of folks attending who don’t run a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel – they just want to hang out with like-minded folks.  Some even get the itch to start doing their own blog or whatever else after attending and feeling the excitement.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to FinCon in 2019 since we’re making our move to Panama right around the time frame of the event next year.  However, I do plan to get back to the event in 2020… I already miss my friends from Orlando!


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

32 thoughts on “FinCon… It’s Really All About the People”

  1. So, it’s official. Steve and you are clearly BFF’s, since you’ve both mutual declared your vows. Man, I’m really crushed. I guess that’s what I get for missing FinCon this year. LOL. Great memories from last year, and I couldn’t agree more that it’s about the People. Great peeps. BTW, what are you doing with 10 woman on a couch (where’s Steve?). 🙂

  2. Great recap of Fincon and I agree with you 100% – it’s about the people. I’ve never been to an industry conference for work but I can see how the feeling would be different, everyone looking at phones avoiding conversations with strangers they don’t want to meet. 🙂 I’ve been to other internet conferences and it’s a little bit of that same feel – people go to sessions, maybe some meetings, but otherwise it’s not a big “party” type atmosphere. It’s amazing what Phil’s been able to maintain (in terms of culture) while the conference grows.

    What??? You won’t be at 19??? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    1. With as much as FinCon continues to grow, I’m curious if there will come a point where PT will need to make some big changes in one way or another to continue to support the event. I’m sure venues are starting to become one of the toughest parts of the planning since it’s probably becoming limited unless he starts to consider convention centers.

      Yeah, no FinCon19 for me – try not to have any fun while you’re there so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Just go to the sessions and then stare at your phones so no one feels like they should talk to each other. 😉

      — Jim

  3. Loved hanging out with you this year Jim! What a blast was held by all. I hope you know that since you won’t be at FinCon19, we’re coming to visit you in Panama.

  4. You are amazing, Jim! I consider myself lucky to get “stuck” with you and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Thank you for making my first FinCon awesome.

    I’m sooooo grateful to you and everyone else for making me feel so welcome. Like you said, many of the people I met and those of you that I spent the most time with, I felt like I had known for years. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. FinCon really is about the people. The friendships developed in such a short time were beyond incredible.

    What I’m bummed about is you not being there next year. But I guess you have your reasons. 😉 Looks like you have a gathering to plan in Panama.

    1. Wow, you just put it in writing that I’m amazing… you can’t take that one back – the Internet is forever!! 😉

      FinCon20 in Panama!!! Hmm, I’m going to have to figure out how we’re going to fit 2,000+ people in our house for this. Oh, well, I have some time to think about it.

      — Jim

  5. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and what you’re describing sounds like a blog meetup – only on a massive scale.
    You feel like you know these people, even though you’ve never met before, because you’ve read each other’s blogs and know bits and pieces of their lives. You’re also each interested in the same things, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading each other’s blogs in the first place.
    It’s a weird and wonderful thing to start talking to people and be able to by-pass the usual “getting to know you” stuff and go straight to the juicy stuff. If blog meetups are great, how much better would DAYS of it be? No wonder you all enjoy Fincon so much. 🙂

    1. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to a blog meetup, but your comparison sounds dead-on – it’s crazy how that same interest makes friendship and bonding so natural. Now we just need to convince you to make the trip in for it at some point! 😉

      — Jim

  6. I was lucky to manage to run after you and Steve just as you were leaving the Saturday party. It was wonderful to meet and say hello. As a first-timer, I had several people like you on my list of ‘heroes” to find, but it is hard to read the badge if I didn’t know the faces. Now I do.

    I took your advice from FinCon17 and didn’t concentrate on the sessions. You are so right. It is the people and connections that are so valuable. The enthusiasm, quick-friendship, the sharing and generosity of people — quite amazing. I don’t recall ever experiencing anything like it, except at Taiko drumming conference 🙂

    1. It was great to meet you too, Susan! I’m glad to hear you had the opportunity to put the focus on the people more than the sessions. Although the sessions can be very good, those forged friendships make for a truly amazing event.

      — Jim

  7. Looks like you had a lot of fun Jim. I’ve never attended one of these things, but if I did I’d probably just be the person hiding and looking at my phone. (Yes, I’m a introvert)

    But it’s cool to see how much fun you folks are having! Enjoy!

  8. Great takeaway, Jim, and it was all captured via pen & on a budget airline.

    It was great to hang out. I am so glad to get to know but bummed it is just before you and your family leave our little town for Panama. #1reasontovisitPanama

  9. Great to see you again man! You’re always a happy, positive part of any chat haha.

    I’m glad to see photos with your face – I wasn’t completely sure that was OK or not, so decided to play it safe. A lot easier for you I bet too!

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re talking to you on the phone at the next FinCon!

    1. It was good to see you as well, Adam! Yeah, I decided that it wasn’t worth it blocking out my face any more since I’m just about done working… we’ll see if that comes back to bite me in the butt for any reason down the line! 😉

      And I’m definitely looking forward to a phone call from you guys next year!!

      — Jim

  10. Jim,
    I’m so honored I made the photo cut!! ☺️ Too bad there were no photos of the lunch! 🤣 It was awesome to meet you in person and I 100% agree that meeting cool people (like you!) made this conference so much more fun and rewarding than any other one I’ve been to.

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