5 Themes of #FinCon17: Humility, Presence, Heart, Potential, and Collaboration

I flew into Dallas excited for another year of FinCon. Navigating to the DART train for a ride to downtown, I found myself befuddled by the mass transit options. I knew the Orange Line would take me downtown, but I only saw yellow-colored trains.

Then Andy Hill, a FinCon first-timer, showed up. Together we found our train and figured it out. Better yet, we had the next hour on the train to swap stories. Boom! A FinCon moment, and I wasn’t even at the show yet: great conversation, a new FinCon friend, and a hearty dose of inspiration from this Detroit family man who paid down all of this credit card and personal debt, is almost done paying off his mortgage, and is now emerging as a great new voice in the FinCon community.

I’m now back on the plane returning to Seattle. I’m buzzing from four great days in Dallas.

As I sift through the stack of business cards and pages of notes, five themes jump out that I’ll take with me from FinCon17.

Humility. Joe Saul-Sehy was the MC for the all hands events at FinCon this year. He brought the same magic to FinCon that he shares with his listeners each week: humility. Joe is the first guy to make fun of himself. He’ll deprecate himself to make his guests look awesome and to make his listeners feel good.

Joe led a Q&A session this year with the keynote speakers, and this was the best part of the keynotes. Just as he does on his own podcast, Joe doesn’t rely on a script. Instead, he intently listens to his guests. Really listens. Then he asks great questions while moving his ego out of the way. It’s never about him, it’s always about you.

Presence. PT Taylor is the founder and ringleader of FinCon. He and his crew spend all year tirelessly preparing for this incredible, fast-growing event. Given that, it’s stunning to watching PT at the show. There are hundreds of balls in the air at a conference with so many people and events.

PT has ultimate responsibility for FinCon, and it would be easy to understand why he might be in a frenzy. But there isn’t a spec of frenzy inside PT. He’s the picture of calm. He trusts his team so that he can be completely present in the moment. No phone in his hand. No wavering eye. If you’re talking to PT, for that moment in time, you’re the only thing that matters to him.

What would happen if everyone was so present in their daily lives as PT is on the busiest day of his year?

Heart. FinCon is certainly about improving our financial futures, but the best of FinCon is not about making a quick buck. Two kingpins of FinCon have made decisions in the last year that included a lot of heart. J$ of Budgets Are Sexy turned down a 7-figure offer for his awesome blog after much soul-searching.

It’s not that he’s immune to making money (he makes plenty from his website). His heart wasn’t in selling. He loves his work and the impact he has on people. His heart said: don’t sell!

J.D. Roth sold his own Get Rich Slowly site years ago, and he just bought it back. This isn’t purely a financial decision. I think a part of J.D.’s heart never left that site, and now it’s his again. So many influencers at FinCon are guided by their hearts and the cause of helping others.

Potential. The FinCon halls were buzzing with potential. It’s not just about the seasoned experts. Younger, fast-growing bloggers like Desirae Odjick and podcasters like Andy Hill are wiggling with energy and opportunity. New smart voices in finance are bringing their passion to personal finance.

There’s nothing stale about this industry. These fresh voices are crushing it with their energy, their ideas, and their optimism. They’re also finding creative and different ways to reach people who need financial help and hope. At FinCon there is as much or more to learn from the newcomers as there is to learn from the veterans.

Collaboration. First-time attendees are all blown away by something special that happens at FinCon: a room full of 1,700 influencers and not a whiff of competitive tension in the air. The collaborative spirit is astounding. Everyone is helping each other, sharing tips, giving encouraging words.

Perhaps if FinCon is really successful we’ll gather for the 2037 conference and find that our work is done. Just like polio was eradicated and a vaccine is no longer needed, we’ll find that the world is financially fit and nobody needs money advice. Even if that happens, I still believe the collaborative spirit of FinCon will reign, and everyone at the show will be falling over backwards to help each other find their new niche.

Goodbye FinCon17!

Thanks everyone for a fantastic show. We can’t wait to collaborate with many of you in the year ahead. We’re also fired up at Tiller to put our learnings and insights to work as we plan out an incredible  2018 roadmap for the service. And we’re looking forward to seeing everyone in Orlando for FinCon18!

In the meantime, if you were at the show, I’d love to know your top take-away from FinCon17. Email me at peterp@tillerhq.com.

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