What I learned at Fincon 2022

It's Sunday morning as I write this, and my weeklong adventure at Fincon 2022 in Orlando has come to an end. I'm exhausted.

As has become customary, I didn't actually attend any workshops or keynotes or breakout sessions here at Fincon. Instead, I spent the entire week connecting with friends:

  • I enjoyed chatting with Rob Berger about how he's managed to grow his excellent YouTube channel from 0 to 63,000 subscribers in two years. He now makes more than he used to earn with his blog (and he made plenty with his blog). He does this by putting his audience first and only promoting a handful of products that he actually uses and endorses. Love it.
  • Rocky Lalvani from Richer Soul told me about Marisa Peer and the biggest disease affecting humanity. As a guy who has struggled plenty with his mental health, I like Peer's message: “I am enough.” (This is now the lockscreen on my phone!)
  • Donna Freedman told me all about her frugal adventures in Anchorage, Alaska. Donna is just as funny and resourceful in person as she is in her GRS articles (and those at her own site). I have high hopes that she and I can reach some sort of arrangement to feature her writing here regularly again — but we forgot to discuss this because we were talking about gardening and education and moose.
  • I talked with Carl Jensen about podcasting, friends, and home remodeling. He suggested something crazy but cool: What if he and Pete (a.k.a. Mr. Money Mustache) were to fly out to Oregon for a week to help me remodel my bathroom? I like this idea. Carl says he's serious about it, so it's just a matter of getting MMM on board. I suspect I can lure him to Oregon with promises of bikes and beer.
  • Yesterday, I had a delightful conversation with Tanja Hester. I've never told her this, but I always feel like she's a female J.D. (or that I'm a male Tanja). Some examples: she's nerdy af, plagued by ADHD, and loves great writing. And we're both competitive pedants (as that sentence illustrates). Tanja and I are both notebook nerds. She showed me hers. I showed her mine. For years, I've been using the Hobonichi Techo planner (because I love the A6 size), but Tanja convinced me to test out the Jibun Techo from Kokuyo next year. Next time, I want us to compare notes on our computer-based writing workflows.

Because I didn't attend any sessions at Fincon, I didn't actually learn much about business. That said, I did learn lots from the conversations I had with friends. For you folks out there who like to read, let me give you a tip that I found eye-opening.

Readwise is an app that collates all your highlights from across various platforms. Readwise can import your Kindle highlights, for instance, or your highlights from Feedly or Pocket. (I use both Feedly and Pocket to curate material for Get Rich Slowly and Apex Money.) You can even scan highlights from physical books into Readwise.Then, you can browse all of your highlights. Plus, the app emails you every morning with five random highlights from your collection.

For me, this is an amazing tool. It's like a missing link to my workflow, and I've enjoyed using it for the past six days.

What makes it especially powerful for me is its integration with Instapaper. Instapaper is a “read later” service, sort of like your browser's built-in Reading List feature. You're reading something at The New York Times (or Get Rich Slowly) but decide you don't have time to finish now, so you save it to Instapaper. Instapaper applies pleasant uniform formatting to all articles and can be viewed on all of your devices. (I like to read Instapaper on my tablet.)

Here's the thing: Readwise can grab Instapaper highlights too! This is huge for me. I probably do two hours of web reading per day. I probably highlight about two passages per article. I love that Readwise can grab those highlights and store them, then send me a daily “tickle” email to remind me of my favorite passages. Such a great tool.

Update: I just learned that Readwise can add highlights from “supplemental books”. This is so much more powerful than it sounds. The app allows you to search for any popular book and import popular highlights from other users. Take Atomic Habits, for instance. I still haven't read this book, so I have no highlights. But I told Readwise to add it as a “supplemental book”, and now I have James Clear quotes in my pool of inspiration.

During my talk with Rob Berger, he pointed out that Readwise can export quotes to an app called Notion, which allows users to play with them in different ways. (I can't remember exactly why this seemed so cool at the time, but I remember thinking it was, so I'm adding this paragraph to remind myself in the future haha.)

Other interesting bits I'm taking home with me:

  • Audm is an app for listening to long-form journalism. It's basically like Audible, but instead of listening to books, you listen to magazine articles and newspaper storis. Tanja loves it.
  • After my newsletter debacle on Saturday (I sent out six broken links!), Jim Wang suggested I use mail tester before publishing the GRS Insider each Friday. Probably smart.
  • As I continue working on the Get Rich Slowly “de-design”, I'm thinking about how to create a community forum. I don't want to force people to Facebook. Rob Berger is considering Circle for his community. John from ESI Money uses Discourse for his members.
  • I spent some time talking with John and David (the debt-free guys) about Ash Beckham and her concept of “calling in” instead of “calling out”. Beckham has a book they recommend entitled Step Up.
  • Larry thinks I should watch Saving Capitalism from Its Defenders on YouTube. It looks like Ayn Rand propaganda, which always makes me roll my eyes, but for Larry I'll watch it. (When I was young, I loved Ayn Rand. As an adult, her philosophy seems…like a fairy tale?)

Now I begin my day-long journey home to Corvallis. I used to hate long travel days like this, but I've learned a secret. I treat them as work days. In fact, travel days have become my best work days. I put on my headphones, crank up the Taylor Swift, put my head down, and write. It's awesome.

Coming soon: stories about my new Mazda Miata, an update to my progress through Designing Your Life, and some thoughts on the difference between problems and dilemmas. Take care!

p.s. Thanks to all of those who have emailed reader stories and/or questions. I appreciate it. I'll probably be replying to many of you today during my flight home.

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There are 7 comments to "What I learned at Fincon 2022".

  1. Elizabeth says 12 September 2022 at 11:49

    I can’t wait to hear about the Miata! I saved up $$ from my first job out of college and wanted to get a different car because my Corolla looked dated (no real legitimate reason to sell it — just wanted a different car than what I had inherited). I walked into Carmax, test drove a Miata, and at 24yo said I’d take it. The guy said “well let’s go inside and see if you qualify.” I said “can’t I just pay with a check?” It was awesome.

    Drove that 5 year old car for 10 years until it no longer fit me (physically), but loved spending my twenties in it.

    I was reading your blog back then about starting Roth IRAs and spending purposefully — I can’t imagine you didn’t influence my decision a little too. 🙂

    PS — opened and had my Roth IRA maxed out every year too bc of your blog.

  2. Jennifer says 14 September 2022 at 08:01

    If you get Carl & Pete out here to work on your bathroom remodel, can you get them to swing through the southern part of the state to help us install a whole house fan? Kidding. Sort of.

  3. Donna Freedman says 14 September 2022 at 12:43

    It was great to catch up and I, too, hope we can find a way for me to get back to my roots here at GRS.

    Head is still spinning from FinCon, but I’m in Phoenix visiting my daughter* and trying to get my head back in the game. Conferences remind me just how much of a bubble I live in, and how stimulating it is to talk with other money nerds.

    *Shameless plug: She blogs about money and disability at IPickUpPennies.net.

  4. Larry Ludwig says 16 September 2022 at 07:55

    Ayn Rand propaganda eh? 🙂

  5. Taren Coleman says 16 September 2022 at 14:25

    Ditto! It has taken me a few days to recover from FinCon 22. The networking and spontaneous connections were delightful.

    Love your blog J.D.

  6. Rachel Jimenez says 23 September 2022 at 11:54

    Fincon was amazing this year. It was so great to meet you in person as well. I like Readwise, but I also enjoy reviewing my Kindle highlights at https://read.amazon.com/notebook, mostly because it’s free 🙂

  7. Lazy Man and Money says 30 September 2022 at 15:13

    I tried that Mail Tester link and it goes to a weird log-in form. It seems like either mailtester.com or mail-tester.com are what you meant, but they both look like useful tools.

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