Visiting Fincon for the first time is like drink water from a firehose. The sheer amount of information available to digest will satisfy even the most seasoned veteran with information overload. As a Noob, I think I took in about 25% if I am even lucky. My wife also accompanied me to help understand my unusual obsession with my new relationship with the FIRE community. She loved everything about the convention especially the people, but the information was overwhelming. Even so, I am no longer consider crazy in her eyes since there is an entire convention filled with crazies who all happen to be the happiest people we have ever met. And btw I have never met so many affluent millennials in my life!
We arrived on time but were late to the party!
Fincon officially opens their doors at noon with the Check-in. Here the name badges get distributed, and the first sign of buzz starts to get noticed. While waiting in line for my Fincon Pass, I struck up numerous conversations with a wide range of people and interests. But I found out then, I have missed the pre-party! I usually go to going to doctor conventions where the starting point is at the check-in, and there are no pre-parties. Apparently, several sponsors and community meetups occur the day before as well as a live recording of the Media and Money Podcast. Why attend the pre-party? To network of course! Every opportunity to connect with others increases the chances you will make friends and learn first hand from some of the well-connected bloggers and speakers like The Physician Philosopher, The Millionaire Doc and Doc G. Each connection will lead to another connection which will then place you within an inner circle. I can honestly say I learned more from my side conversations than I did from attending lectures here and there. Plus unlike a lecture, the people that you connect with can help you along your journey, and you hopefully can help them.
Always Be Connecting! A-B-C
The first speakers began their talks at 1 pm on Sept. 26th, and like a good student, I arrived promptly 5 min before. There four different talks I could have attended, but I choose the podcast launch lecture. The speakers filled our ears with numerous tidbit of advice and tips for a successful launch. However, the real education took place right outside the door. Every time someone would inadvertently open or close the door leading to the hallway, a loud roar would enter the room overtaking the presentation. Looking back at one point, it appears as though a thousand people stood just outside. Could I be missing something? Although there were plenty of seats left over with no standing room, most of the crowd stayed outside to talk. Once I left the room, I encountered hundreds of people speaking with much excitement and animation in groups of three and four people. Even though the next lecture started in less than 10 mins, many chose not to attend.
Not your parent’s conference:
Most physician medical conferences look similar to Fincon with hundreds of enthusiastic people gathering to discuss a specific area of interest. Unlike medical conferences, I have attended in the past where the requisite wardrobe included a suit or business casual wear, Fincon people wore tee shirts, jeans, and ear to ear smiles. I can’t imagine standing outside of a room during a talk where the attendees choose not to enter. Yet at Fincon with the ability to purchase the Virtual Pass, attending the session may not be entirely necessary especially if you do not love or know the speaker. I personally could not wait to attend lectures by some of my favorite people, but it was also a chance to meet them in person.
As it turns out, I didn’t enjoy my session as much as I had liked and I had a ton of FOMO of all the potential conversations with others in the space. When I later ran into a fellow physician blogger, The Physician Philosopher, he already had lost his voice. This happened to everyone around me, and I needed to make up lost ground.
Keynotes, Rockstars, and Receptions:
I came for inspiration and boy did Fincon deliver. The keynotes speakers with their polished message left us feeling amazing without a drop of ETOH. Leaving the Keynote, the connections continued as hundreds of fully inspired attendees continued to break the ice. I am not sure how many people I met the first night, but it completely overwhelmed me. It reminded me of freshman orientation in college with similar energy and eagerness of all the participants. I am not sure where the time went but next thing I know it is midnight, and it feels like college.
Last black Friday, Fincon successfully convinced me to purchase their one-day sale which included a pro-pass. I didn’t fully understand the implications of this purchase, but I am sure glad I got it. The pro-pass included a different interface than the Fincon18 app everyone else used to communicate with each other. Meeting Mojo powered the interface which allowed advertisers to connect with content creators. The website allocated twelve appointments starting at 8 am to 11:30 am in 15 min intervals. One of the advertisers called it “speed dating” which seemed appropriate given the circumstances. Months before Fincon each person could be easily contacted, the appointment made and confirmed. I connected with many advertisers and received requests from others to meet. Before the meeting, the website provided a smooth way to communicate and save any conversation between the two parties. As each person accepted or declined a meeting, Mojo sent an email verifying an event. As a result, I easily filled up my schedule and learned a much from my potential future relationships.
After my fantastic speed dating session and connecting with 10 potential work relationships, I headed straight to Fincon Central. With over 87 vendors and service professionals plus bonus activities like video booths, live podcasts, meeting zones, and the solution centers, it looked and felt like Disney Finance. There I continued my connections with organizations I could not meet during the pro-pass. After filling my bags with goodies and LOTS of tees, I managed to speak to almost every person there which took nearly the entire time.
Fincon exceeds all expectation in this category. The meetups were a way to connect you to a particular topic and have an in-depth conversation and in some cases find a collaborator. The topics included Monetization, Facebook Ads, Web design and others. What an opportunity to learn from people in the front lines innovating and helping each other. Every time I discussed one of the topics about I received a similar answer, “I knew nothing about “the topic” and bootstrapped my way to understanding, but I learned from someone else.” Everything profession in the past required some version of apprenticeship. Fincon brings the master artisans to the apprentices to give them an opportunity to learn. I am happy to say I have found many masters to teach me.
Night at the Improv
How many comedians have had their big break by attending an open mic at the local comedy club? How many past Fincon attendees have made their big break by performing at Fincon Ignite? The answer to both questions is A Ton. Phillip Taylor has handpicked many of the talents in his organization today directly from the Ignite stage including Joe Saul-Sehy and Nick True. Now both have had their careers catapulted into rockstar status. Imagine taking the stage with over a thousand Fincon attendees in attendance. You get 5 mins to make a compelling presentation that could change your life. This year was no exception, and the presenters were nothing short of amazing and hilarious. The post-party presented by Mediavine demonstrated this perfectly as crowds surrounded the popular presenters for the rest of the evening.
Each day differs in format from all the others. This day included mingling at Fincon Central or attending one of several amazing talks or panel discussion. Early in the morning, I headed to one of the highlights of my trip. I attended the Four Flavors of Fire panel with several of my favorite bloggers: Carl Jensen, Jillian Johnsrud, Mr. Money Mustache and Physician on Fire. Amazingly the panel moderator, the founder of get rich slowly, was none other than JD Roth! Here our panelists were peppered with questions from JD and the audience with hilarious responses. My favorite came from Mr. M.M. when asked what to do if and when the stock market crashes. His response, “nothing.” Drop the Mic!
Networking, bonuses, and Roundtables:
The remainder of the day revolved around various product experts pitching to the audience “bonus” ideas and products to help us improve our businesses. The roundtables were group based discussions lead my thought leaders who prepared talking points for people who need help in a particular area. Unlike the lecture format, the roundtable leads to more intimate discussions that helped answer more specific answers. My only gripe during Fincon was navigating Day 3. Each Bonus or Roundtable did not have a title, and the official Fincon Connection handout did not help much either. The app did provide detailed information but for some reason, my android app didn’t always work, and the description would often disappear. A better strategy in the future would be to choose which bonus or roundtable to attend based upon the product or a well-known authority attending the event.
As an outsider visiting Fincon for the first time, I enjoyed the award ceremony since it introduced me to new blogs, podcasts and people who have been identified as excellent from the insiders. Also, I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite bloggers and podcasters get recognition for all their hard work, especially my mentor, Millennial Boss for her excellent blog and Podcast, Fire Drill, who was nominated for no less than three awards! Congratulations to all the Finalists and Winners of the Awards. Like every good award show the post-party also delivered.
Having been at a party all night, Fincon made appropriate accommodations to start the day later on the final day. Since Fincon Central closed, the day consisted of a stream of lectures throughout the day. Ironically all the talks I wanted to attend were also at the same time so I am, so glad I purchase the pro-pass which includes the virtual pass so I can watch all the lectures later!
By far the best and I mean very best feature of Fincon is the mentoring experience at #FinCon18! Surprisingly very few people knew about this program or participated. It comes with every Fincon pass including the basic pass. The only way to signup comes in the form of an email which forwards you to a questionnaire. You give three choices for the type of mentor you would like, and two weeks before Fincon you are connected with a well-established influencer. Luckily they assigned me to J., The Millennial Boss and co-host of the Fire Drill podcast. We arranged to meet via email in advance and spent an hour and a half talking over lunch. J. preached tough love and gave it to me straight, no soft landing here. Most of all, my mentor encouraged me to take charge and affirmed I was headed in the right direction. What a fantastic lunch with a super intelligent and driven teacher! This one meeting made the ticket to Orlando priceless. Thanks AGAIN, J!
Final Keynote and Party
The closing keynote did not disappoint with hundreds of people coming to listen to Chris Hogan, Emma Johnson and of course the Cult leader himself, Mr. Money Moustache. Like Fincon which has grown considerably over the past 10 years, the FIRE movement has drawn the attention of the mainstream media. M.M. warns us that although their take on our strange money-saving behavior and emphasis on the sovereignty of our time maybe funny at times. We need to ensure the message we as a community of bloggers, podcasters and video casters that the correct word gets out to the entire world. This message also takes on more meaning and solves problems beyond an individual’s early retirement; it also makes for a sustainability solution for a throwaway society.
- Go to Fincon to network, remember A-B-C.
- Get to Fincon a day early.
- Buy the Pro-pass if you want to make money.
- Attend workshops if you’re going to meet the speaker otherwise see 1
- Sign up for a Mentor.
- Visit all 48 booths at Fincon central, Swag Central.
- Look at the attendance sheet to match your favorite peeps.
- Drink Plenty of water and bring throat losengers.
- Work hard and play hard.
- If you get lost, overwhelmed or confused go back to 1.