Conferences and community: FinCon 2019 and the Everything Conference

It’s really late, and I’m feeling more than a little ragged as I write this.

But I’m also so jazzed and overwhelmed with gratitude.

That’s because I just finished up a two-weekend, two-conference marathon.

Last weekend, I was in Washington, DC for FinCon, a financial media conference I go to every year.

And then I flew back home and participated in the first-ever Everything Conference in Portland.

Two very different events, but they had one aspect in common: An incredible community.

And it’s overwhelming, in the best way.

FinCon 2019

I’ve talked about FinCon numerous times on this site. It’s a place where people in the financial media industry (aka “money nerds”) get together and build connections.

The first year I went I tried to see everything and absorb as much as possible. The second year I went, I started ignoring some of the more noisy aspects (like the obvious self-congratulatory talks) but also didn’t really have a good plan for what I was doing there.

This year, I was determined to market myself and my brand more actively, and also make some business connections.

To this end, I tried to get a speaking talk, but was denied, alas. Instead, I organized a karaoke night, and got it put on the (un)official schedule. I’ll just leave this here:

I talked to dozens of people about my work, looking for ways that we could work together.

Everywhere I looked, I found a community of people all working together and helping each other succeed.

That is not a given. Technically, one could argue that with so many financial coaches, bloggers, podcasters, and other business people in attendance, we could easily have fostered a competitive, semi-hostile environment.

But as PT, the founder of FinCon, said (paraphrasing), “There are 7 billion people on this planet, and all of them will need to interface with money in some way.” Maybe that’s why we are create a spirit of collaboration, because there is so much abundance of need to go around.

Whatever it is, this is the type of community you want to find: people who support you, your dreams, your business, who just want to help.

Everything Conference 2019

I barely had any time to recover before I participated in the first-ever Everything Conference, a gathering for multipotentialites (if the word is unfamiliar, you can just think “generalists” or just people with multiple interests who refuse to only do/be one thing).

This participant-led conference explored themes of both business and personal development, self-actualization and how to do, well, everything.

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I thought FinCon had the market cornered on positive and empowering community, but I was wrong, because the Everything Conference had all that and more.

This was a much smaller event than FinCon (100 attendees versus FinCon’s 2,500), which surely changed the dynamic. But hearing and seeing people show up fully, feeling free to express themselves without shame or regret, in what sometimes felt like a “coming out”, was consistently a powerful and moving experience.

How can I describe the feeling of having people stand up and say how they feel like they’ve found their tribe, for the first time ever in their lives?

I don’t think there was any participant who left that weekend without tearing up at some point.

For my part, I facilitated two events:

  • A talk delicately titled “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance”
  • Helping to lead the whole conference in singing a song at the closing of one of the days. (I won’t say which, but it was very cheesy, and also, not a lot of dry eyes by the end).
Couldn’t resist the opportunity to use an old-school chalkboard.
(Pun not intended, but very pleasing.)

Keep building community

I’ve said it before, but it rings true: it’s all about the people.

Building community is one of the most important tasks you can undertake as an adult. However you go about doing it, whether it’s your local town, a religious institution, a shared interest, a Meetup group, whatever, it is worth the effort.

It’s also fiercely difficult. The trappings of life (work, kids, etc) can torpedo our ability to maintain friendships, much less build any meaningful community.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the struggle.

To all my friends and colleagues, new and old, Brian and Robyn and Heather and Linda and Hadassah and Jacki and all the rest from FinCon, Emilie and Joel and Vanessa and Denise and Stephen and Kate and Amy and Gina and all the rest from ETC, let us all continue to build each other up.

And as for you, maybe one day it might make sense to create an Empathic Finance community here. But for now, let me continue to help build you up.


  1. Gina Lynette

    ETC was pretty amazing. I’m still processing it, so reading your perspective is both helpful and reflective.

    I’m thinking about your charge to build community and how and where I want to apply that… hhhmmm…

    • Mike Pumphrey

      Hi Gina. Building community isn’t easy, especially if you’re outside of where society considers acceptable to have it (school, church, kids, office, etc.) Meetup and shared interests has been one golden ticket for me. Conferences like ETC are another.

      If nothing else, I’m glad you’re here. 🙂

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