FinCon 2019: An Experiment on How to Overcome Introversion and Shyness

FinCon Introvert
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What’s the best way to know if you’re an introvert? Attend a conference where you absolutely don’t know anyone. If you find yourself wishing you’ve gone fishing instead as soon as you hop out of your hotel room, you are one!

Fortunately, I know myself enough to overcome that feeling. I stepped out of my comfort zone by signing up as a volunteer. I’m the Asian guy who greets the arriving attendees, handing them the free give-aways that Wednesday afternoon.

What is FinCon?

In simplest terms, FinCon is a conference about Personal Finance. The vast majority of attendees are independent bloggers, freelance writers, coaches, podcasters, and YouTubers, eager to learn and connect with fellow creatives.

The rest are representatives of companies trying to woo these attendees to become an affiliate and hopefully promote their products. At least that’s my observation.

FinCon 2019: Where money & media meet

This year was held at the Washington Hilton Hotel in D.C.— the hotel where the late President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. and survived.

For one week, it’s the venue where creatives supposed to shoot each other with a camera and throw each other the microphone. It’s supposed to be an event where introverts and shy people are killed— only the extroverts survive.

Podcast Booth
The College Investor, Mr. Robert Farrington being interviewed (or was he the interviewer??)

Violence set aside, the best thing about the venue is that it’s only two and a half hours away from where I live. I don’t even have to buy plane tickets to attend the event!

It was the perfect event for a cheap frugal guy like me. Except that Washington D.C. is among the most expensive cities in the country. The bright side is that knowing how much money it will cost you help you overcome shyness— you can’t expect the trip to pay off staying on the sidelines.

FinCon 2019: Mascots
I knew Abraham Lincoln was tall, but I didn’t know he was 10 feet tall.

Why networking is important

Regardless of what you do, networking is an essential part of advancing your career. In a time when you can quickly google any information (or misinformation) with your fingertips, it’s who you know not what you know that’s important.

I often advise my friends who have trouble getting a job to find an insider that will get their foot in the door. That way, their resume is not buried in a pile of thousand others. You are more likely to get a job through who you know rather than through your education or work experience.

Nowadays, it’s not enough to put your head down and produce A-plus work. You need to leave your comfort zone and connect with others. Being vocal about your interests and career goals are essential for building relationships with like-minded people.

BudgetsAreSexy and PhysicianOnFire

No, I wasn’t particularly looking for a job. But I thought it’s going to be interesting to meet fellow creatives whose work I’ve been following online.

One such fellow is J. Money of BudgetsAreSexy.com. The tall dude with a cool mohawk has recently achieved millionaire status after blogging and publishing his net worth, starting from like 50K, for more than 11 years!

His blog was so successful, Motley Fool purchased it for substantial, albeit undisclosed, amount of money. I joked that he’s now relegated himself as an employee of Motley Fool. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

J Money and Dr. Leif
Dr. Leif (superimposed), J. Money, and I

Dr. Leif of PhysicianOnFire.com is another popular blogger who I ambushed while I’m making my rounds at the conference hallways. He may be putting a lot of people asleep with his day job, but certainly not with his writing.

I told him that I came from a family of anesthesiologist— two aunts, an uncle, a cousin, and a sister were all practicing anesthesiologists like him.

The dude used to own an Apple IIc as I did in the ’80s. Except that he owned a compatible version, I had the original! Networking tip: People remember you if you tell them something you have in common.

Ramit Sethi and Tanja Hester

Two people that I should have shaken hands with considering that I’m literally within a few feet away from before they delivered their keynote speeches are Ramit of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com and Tanja of OurNextLife.com.

Tanja spoke about the importance of being authentic and authoritative with your readers and that the two can’t exist separately.

Keynote: Ramit Sehi

Ramit delivered an equally powerful speech about how to stand out— creatives should write or talk more about spending on what you love than say, a boring topic like 4% withdrawal rates or compound interest.

Jean Chatzy Q&A on “Expanding Your Financial Brand”

Another mainstream personality/celebrity is Jean Chatzy, a popular NBC Today’s Show personal finance expert. She’s also the founder and CEO of the multimedia company HerMoney.

I somehow ended up in a roomful of women (I wonder why) who are all interested in scaling, hiring, and expanding their financial brand. It’s a Q&A session, so Jean provided her usual insightful and very informative answers.

I shook her hands and had a brief chat at the end of the show. I told her she should expand her brand in the Philippines (4th largest English speaking nation) where Suze Orman is eating her lunch. Not my exact words, but close enough.

With Jean Chatzky
Jean Chatzky, NBC Today’s Show personal finance expert

Other highlights of my trip to D.C.

  • I attended the Robinhood-sponsored after-party at the National Museum of the American Indian. But instead of apples, people were targetting the donuts.
  • I went to the 10th Annual Plutus Awards. Congratulations to the winners! I thought the hosts were hilarious.
  • I got interrogated questioned by two religious people (judging from their attire). It’s an awkward encounter as one of them looked very skeptical. Not sure why. But no, we’re not worshipping money. It’s just a tool we all wanted to learn how to use like any other.
  • I fed a homeless person, who was being shooed away by the owner of a nearby grocery store, with my organic banana. I felt we should be doing this more often at a much bigger scale in the future.
  • Almost called 911 when a young lady passed out in one of the bars outside the hotel. It turns out she wasn’t a FinConer, so I left her for dead… Just kidding!
  • Stole a burrito from the FinCon staff room when no one was watching. I was so hungry after handing out the gift bags from 1 to 4 pm.
I also had delicious extra-spicy Thai dinner with fellow FinConers

Blog Roll (to be updated)

Here’s a growing list of attendees that I’ve met at the conference (in no particular order). I left some business cards in my office— I’m going to update this soon.

Since this post is about networking, I might as well list some blogs that I follow, FinCon attendees or not.

Plus a few Filipino Personal Finance blogs that I’ve been visiting.

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