Last week I went to the FinCon conference in Washington D.C. If you have never heard about FinCon, this is a conference focused on the intersection of finance and media. At this conference you will find bloggers, podcasters, book authors, financial coaches, and really anyone creating some type of media (primarily digital media) related to finance. This was my first time attending the conference and I thought I would share a few thoughts about the conference from my perspective.
First, I have to say that this conference was different than any type of conference I have ever attended, and mostly in a good way. I have been to well over 100 conferences in my life, mostly academic in nature, and never have I been so engaged with other attendees. It is rare to be somewhere where you can talk about finances, and life so openly with people who for the most part I had never met before. In fact it was a refreshing change to have conversations that allowed me to be more open than I currently can be on my blog with all aspects of my life, at least for now.
We all experience events like conferences in different ways, so I am just going to focus on the impact the conference had on me and what I got personally got out of the conference. I really can sum up my experience by saying that the most positive outcome was the conversations and connections I made during my time in D.C. Generally everyone I met, regardless of their focus in financial media (full-time, part-time, or not at all) were pretty awesome people. Since my sample size of interactions was quite large, I have to believe that it was fairly representative of most people who attended. The conversations were engaging, but more importantly, regardless of a person’s positioning in financial media it seemed like most had a goal to truly help others. Yes, there were those present who are making a nice career out of their pursuits, but even then you could see the desire from most to help others. This is a huge difference from the rest of the finance world and the broader media world in general! I was specifically captivated by those helping underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized populations.
When I was planning for this conference I had marked 63 different sessions or events that I planned to attend or participate in. By the end of the conference I would say that maybe I went to 10 things (and that included the opening and closing parties and meetups). Many of the conversations were so rich and engaging that they lasted for hours. I started to have a default position of only planning to go to a session if I was not in a conversation, which was rare, since I can just watch the sessions later online. For those that know me in real life this is quite a departure from my normal routine. I am usually quite reserved and don’t typically seek out a lot of social engagement and interaction. It is not that I don’t talk or interact with others a lot, afterall I have been teaching, lecturing, performing, and presenting for almost two decades, it is just that I typically have an introverted personality especially in unfamiliar situations.
Even though I went to only a few sessions, I walked away with so many ideas and actionable items that I discovered the real heart of this conference is the attendees and their willingness to be so open and helpful. The exchange of experiences and information had value far beyond the costs of attending the conference. One of my biggest highlights was seeing the turnout for the LGBTQI+ meetup. I expected to walk into that room and see maybe four other people, so imagine my surprise when the room was packed! It warms my heart to know that almost everyone in that room is working hard to address financial (and other) issues that impact our community in very unique ways. Even more so was that almost everyone made a commitment to work together to do more after leaving the conference!
On that note, I think I will wrap up my impressions of FinCon by reiterating that the people are what made this conference memorable, productive, and generally awesome. What a great community and a great event to inspire me to do more, not only here on my website, but in my life as well. I am reenergized about why we are sharing our story online, and I am looking forward to attending again in 2020!