For the last three years, we’ve made an annual pilgrimage to FinCon. As newbies in 2017, we remember coming down the the escalator in Dallas and taking a deep breath as we saw the swarms of people connecting with eachother and brands who’d pulled out all the stops to get their attention. It was our first time seeing people in person that we’d heard on podcasts or only seen on the internet.
It was surreal.
One of our most vivid memories was sitting around a fireplace with dozens of millionaires and aspiring millionaires; all openly exchanging information and details about how they got where they were. It was the first time we’d ever experienced people revealing their net worth in person. It was a game-changer and has shaped our perspective on life and money ever since.
So in 2018, we went back to FinCon in Orlando, FL. We were less geeked-out and more focused on learning, building relationships and hunting for rocket fuel to speed up our entrepreneurial journey to financial independence. Not only did we find it, but we walked away with a trophy for Best New Personal Finance blog at the 2018 Plutus Awards.
This year was totally different.
This year, we arrived in Washington, D.C locked, loaded and ready to soak up all the goodness this conference had to offer. We had meetings booked, invitations to parties and notes from conversations we had in previous years committed to memory. We opted to not bring our son, so we were looking forward to late nights, early mornings, sunglasses and Advil. Our goal was to nurture the business and personal relationships we already had and find a few new ones.
It’s been a few days since we’ve been back and it’s safe to say, we accomplished our mission and then some. We followed up last year’s award by winning Blog of the Year at the 2019 Plutus Awards, Presented by the Capital Group. To say this was a dream come true would be an understatement. Being recognized by so many incredible content creators and industry experts was pure magic and a moment we will never, ever forget.
But we were far from the stars of the evening. Sandy Smith and Jordon Cox were the hosts of the ceremony and did a phenomenal job. Sandy is an OG of this industry and broke her Susan Lucci-like streak of 19 nominations with no trophies by bringing home 3 awards in one night. Plenty of our friends took home trophies as well and we couldn’t help but notice the diversity among them. Between that and the heartfelt tribute to the Plutus Foundation founder, Harlan Landes, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Over the course of four and a half days we learned a ton and shared dozens of wonderful conversations with friends and future friends. Here are a few that stood out above the rest.
As bloggers, we have a long list of metrics we use for our platform to measure success. We regularly review the number of visitors, page views, social media engagement, revenue and more. But you cant measure what matters most on Google Analytics or WordPress. I mean seriously, how do you measure love, impact, inspiration?
While we were in D.C, so many people came up to us and shared they were fans of our work and some even admitted r&R was the reason they came to FinCon. Others struggled to overcome their fear and finally expressed they were nervous to even approach us while others flat out admitted they were stalkers. Look, we capitalized the words REGULAR in our logo for a reason because we are REGULAR people who paid to be there just like ya’ll. With that said, we’ll make a point to pack a travel size mace spray going forward cuz ya’ll are ridiculous.
Sure, we’ve seen quite a bit of success over the past few years but we don’t want that to get in the way of our mission, which is to attract as many people [like us] to this movement as possible. So if you ever see us in the streets, likely wearing a free t-shirt from previous FinCons, please don’t hesitate to come and say hi…slowly with your hands behind your heads.
On a more sentimental note though, every one of these interactions was a sign that what we’re doing is working. We wanted to be a signal to those who didn’t feel seen, a magnet to those who felt turned off and a bridge to those who felt left out. From the looks of things, we’ve also attracted people who have platforms of their own, which means the core message spreads faster and further. To all of you, we say keep it up and hopefully we see you in Long Beach, CA at FinCon 2020.
Hanging with the oldies
For those who have been around for a while, FinCon is pretty much a reunion. Despite seeing many of these people throughout the year, reconnecting in DC still felt like we were all coming back home to visit Big Mama. We got to listen to Ramit Sethi’s keynote address where he hammered home the importance of having a point of view. We also heard from Tanja Hester who masterfully delivered a message on authenticity and what we as content creators owe our audience. Both were nothing short of brilliant.
When the ground stopped shaking, we made our way over to the Expo Hall where we, alongside Erin Lowry [Broke Millenial], Chris Browning [Popcorn Finance] and Bobbi Rebell [Financial Grownup] delivered a smackdown to JD Roth, Paula Pant, Miranda Marquit and Ryan of Military Wallet. This Financial Faceoff was coordinated by Fidelity and was a mashup between Family Feud and financial trivia. Though they had us on our heels throughout the bout, we pulled out a win in the final round.
We’re not even gonna lie ya’ll.
We didn’t go to very many sessions. The reason for this is because we have the Virtual Pass which allows us to watch all of them on video from the comfort of our homes at our own pace. This allows us to spend our time focused on one-on-on interaction with brands, friends and others. It also enables us to pace ourselves since these 18 hour days while boozing it up can do a number on you.
However, Mr. r&R did moderate a panel about how to leverage Financial Independence to build a better life. The purpose of the talk was to emphasize our desire [as leaders in the space] to place less emphasis on the “Retire Early” part of FIRE and more on simply achieving financial independence. We were fortunate to have powerhouse personalities such as Mindy Jensen [Bigger Pockets], Brad Barret [Choose FI], Michael [Uncommon Dream] and Bianca [Miss Mazuma] offer their point of view on the subject and they all did well. The wheels fell of the caboose towards the end though. #insidejoke
Besides the dope moderator, perhaps what was most memorable about the session was that 90% of the room were complete first-timers to FinCon. If nothing else, that’s an indicator of how quickly this message is spreading and how excited people are when they’ve found it.We also learned that personal finance nerds always have a steady supply of beer, snacks and inappropriate sex related jokes on hand at all times. So basically..they're our kinda people. Click To Tweet
We’re not entirely sure how we’ve gone this far without mentioning it, but the host hotel for FinCon 2019 was the Washington Hilton. It’s an iconic hotel, well known for it’s ballroom being the host location for the National Correspondent’s Dinner [#nerdprom] and arguably, the place where Trump decided he would run for office after being clowned by Obama. The property is also the site of Ronald Reagan’s assassination attempt in 1981. None of this helped us sleep better at night but we thought we’d mention it because you know…history and $hit.
Anyway, Mr. r&R also had an opportunity to sit on the stage in that ballroom during a panel discussion after a special viewing of Playing with Fire. Ally Bank hosted this viewing, a cocktail hour prior to and a talk with the cast and crew afterwards. It was fun and Mr. r&R learned what it felt like to hold a microphone and stare into a sea of bright lights and darkness. For the record, he couldn’t see $hit…and those lights are hot AF.
The next chapter
This FinCon, like much of this year has changed us. As we stare down the last four months of 2019 and recall the journey we’ve been on, it brings us back to a one simple word —focus. In general, in life you get what you focus on.
When we were in debt, we focused our money and attention to paying it off and so we did. When we were hell bent on acquiring a rental property and getting raises at work, we focused our energy there and got both. Now, in the latter phase of wealth accumulation and entrepreneurship we are focused on hitting our business goals.
This doesn’t mean we completely ignore things or that we have somehow managed to masterfully suppress our emotional needs from the tasks in front of us. Case in point, while we were in Washington DC we celebrated our fourth year of marriage and Mrs. r&R’s 35th birthday. As rewarding as our FinCon experience was, not being able to pour ourselves into celebrating those moments as a couple or as a family was difficult. Obviously, we knew this would be the case when we booked our tickets last year, but still.
So knowing what we know about the relationship between time and output, we’re going to focus on us a bit more than we have during the earlier parts of 2019. We’re not entirely sure what that means yet but it definitely entails taking fewer, bigger and better actions. We need time to recharge, re-evaluate and prepare ourselves for the next phase of our lives. Honestly, going forward, we may just take the first half of September off since we have so much to celebrate over that period.
Anyway, you’ll be seeing a shift over the coming months but we’re not going anywhere. Rest assured, the best is yet to come.
Mr. and Mrs. r&R