Fin. Con. 18

crispydoc Uncategorized 15 Comments

Fin. In Spanish it means the end.

Con. In Spanish it means together.

Many finer writers have gone into comprehensive reviews over the fellow bloggers they met, the internet famous superheroes they ogled and adored, and the lessons learned for their digital businesses. I’m going eschew the comprehensive approach.

Here, then, are a few hyper-specific FinCon moments that captured the experience for me.

* * * * *

After a party full of the big dogs of the FIRE movement, I found myself in a hallway on a couch with a couple of new friends, beer in hand. A gregarious bear of a guy wearing a kimono three sizes too small wandered over and plunked himself down on the sofa.

Sean and I started talking FIRE philosophy: front-load work and exit all at once, or glide path to where you selectively do the work that means the most to you but brings in just enough income to fulfill your needs? Or as Def Leppard posed it: Is it better to burn out than fade away?

Sean called over another blogger, 5 AM Joel, and we proceeded to have the sort of deep dive hour long first conversation that I’d last encountered during freshman year of college. It was a throwback to those times in your youth where every idea you stand for is on the line and open to debate.

It was a beautiful moment, it seldom happens in your 40s, and I’m grateful to Sean and Joel for that hour of connection. While we won’t be joining the same bowling league, I’m comforted to know two other people floating out there in the ether think about this stuff.

It makes the world feel more intimate somehow.

* * * * *

OthalaFehu, a blogger whose eccentric writing style, intricate pagan references and deep trove of useless knowledge have endeared him to me over a couple of years, was planning to attend FinCon as well. We made plans to meet for lunch.

One of the greatest fears you have as a blogger is that the person you meet and like online may turn out to be a complete dud in person; may not like you; may offend you or be offended by you. None of these fears materialized.

We connected on multiple levels: maintaining anonymity as bloggers, fatherhood with similarly aged kids, being husbands, why attorney bloggers lack the collegiality of physician bloggers (hint: trials are adversarial by design).

Our most meaningful time was spent discussing how you fit the baggage of youth into overhead compartments as adults, something I inquired about (and he replied) with great candor.

We wrapped up with an anecdote involving an obscure but winsome David Bowie song. He also showed me his tattoo of a DL-44 Blaster (the weapon used by Han Solo in Star Wars).

Everyone deserves a friend like that.

* * * * *

Physician on Fire is an online friend and role model for many docs in finance. I’m grateful to him for generously inviting me to be one of his helper elves, and I proudly don the required uniform of green overalls and feathered cap to help administer the Physicians on Fire facebook group.

On finally meeting him in person, I can confirm he’s every bit as down to earth and humble as I’d hoped. But the real excitement? That would be finally understanding PoF’s secret weapon: his wife.

To be clear, this is not written from a covet thy neighbor’s wife perspective. It’s more that after a series of chances to chat informally, pick her brain about their upcoming plans to home school in an RV traveling across the US, hear how they first met, be gifted a neon bracelet “just because,” and get a sense of their dynamic as a team, I can completely understand why PoF’s audacious plan to FIRE next year and roam the world with his family is bound to succeed. It takes two to make things go right. He picked the right number two.

* * * * *

It turns out I picked the right twenty-two, which is the rough number of doc bloggers that attended FinCon.

My fellow docs turned out to be the best coed fraternity of misfits I never pledged – a collection of men and women ranging from bright-eyed residency grads to crusty veterans to everything in between. I’d planned a dinner for physician finance bloggers, but a couple of back to back happy hours (a happy day?) offered us all a quieter opportunity to get to know one another casually before the dinner.

The folks I met are pioneering unconventional career paths. We were comforted by the uncanny realization that we had similar aspirations to enjoy meaningful careers without letting medicine constrain us. We center our lives around our values. We are weird in the same way.

* * * * *

Interstitium is an anatomical term applied to the space surrounding cells and tissues, the area just outside of the tissues (where the action is) but connecting it all. In medicine, this space is pretty much ignored. At FinCon, it turns out, the interstitium was a major part of the experience.

I’d leave one talk intending to make it to another lecture, and veering from the plan at the last minute I’d introduce myself to someone new; pick up the previous night’s conversation with a friendly face walking in the opposite direction; or throw an arm around one of the docs in finance who, despite meeting for the first time at FinCon, made the weekend feel like a reunion of old friends.

No one better exemplified the beauty of the interstitium than the Waffles on Wednesday, a husband and wife team from LA. They were welcoming of newcomers, comfortable in their skin, and quick to take folks under their broad and protective wings.

They were quick with an introduction to whoever happened to be in their orbit, which centered around a large inflatable flamingo in the hallway which was conveniently located next to a never-empty cooler of beer.

They, more than anyone I met, embodied the spirit of FinCon, which is as much about soaking up the unexpected pleasures of the in-between moments as about making it to the scheduled events.

* * * * *

Fin. The End.

Con. Together.

The pursuit of FI need not be lonely. Your tribe of kooks is out there. Savor the pauses.

Comments 15

  1. Interstitium literally “in between place”. The interstitium is now considered an organ system. I use it as a measure of health. If the interstitium is full (edema) I consider it a sign of inflammation and loss of cellular integrity.

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  2. Awesome insight on fincon CD. I heard that your organization of Phys Con subset of fincon was a huge hit.

    I hope you are going to the next one because I would love to meet up with you and join this band of misfits which I should have done this year.

    I’m so looking forward to going to my first one and I hope everyone in my circle of blog friends that I missed this year can make it

  3. Nice thoughts on FinCon. And nice observations on the Spanish meaning of the words.

    There are so many insightful people at FinCon that I wish I had the time to spend a good hour with many of them.

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  4. Wow, I am so honored to be mentioned in your post and in such an incredible way and surrounded by so many other amazing people. You definitely made my FinCon experience even more special this year and I really enjoyed all of our chats. I’m so glad that we finally got to meet IRL and hopefully next time we won’t need to fly across the country to make it happen.

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      Of the 50 amazing conversations I had over a few days, they all seemed to follow a template. As soon as people found out I was from LA, everyone asked: “Do you know the Wows? They’re terrific.”

      I think it’s a testament to you and Mr. Wow that in being authentic you really draw people in and make them feel comfortable. That’s a huge gift. That for using your powers for good, not evil.

      Look forward to a local reunion sometime soon.

      Fondly,

      CD

  5. I’m so glad to be in the frat. Even if it is a “fraternity of misfits!” My wife is very glad too. That way I have friends to talk to about finances, investing, blogging, and technology. Otherwise I would talk to her about it and that works better than melatonin on her.
    I hope you never get Crispy again. Let FI prevent others from going there too.

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      The frat is lucky to have you! In fact, I think we’ll name drop you as part of our future recruitment strategy. Now if only I could master that secret handshake…

      “Crispy,” once accurate, has become a misnomer as my work-life balance has tilted definitively in favor of life. Then again, “Surprisingly Well-Adjusted Doc” lacks flair.

      Grateful for the sentiment,

      CD

      1. All you doc bloggers with your fancy superhero names. 😉 Mine lacks flair but I’m comfortable in the skin, so I’ll wear it.

        It was truly awesome meeting you and I had a blast discussing DNA and sharing veggies. Hope to be seeing you year after next when you make THAT Fin Con.

  6. Great post, CD! It perfectly captures the FinCon experience. It was great to meet you and all the other physicians. Everyone has such unique insights and life stories.

    One fun aspect of FinCon for us (besides really comfortable free Tshirts) was how the topics of money and life optimization were freely chatted about amongst new friends. It was really refreshing and inspiring.

    Cheers!

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      Thanks for the kind words, Easy Ophtho.

      It would have made carry on packing infinitely more compact if I’d packed less and dressed in swag t-shirts for most of the time I was there. It’s also awkward how you can meet someone and reveal sensitive financial information within minutes where you could not have the same conversation with relatives you’ve known your entire life.

  7. I enjoyed meeting you as well. Everytime you meet an exceptional human being who is into the same things as you are it helps corroborate that you are making the right life choices, see you next year!

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      Here’s to holding knots on the same kindergarten guide rope as we traverse our respective unconventional paths.

      For what it’s worth, after speaking to you and Kevin (Financial Panther), there was an extremely cool collection of FI blogging attorneys at FinCon. The docs got nothing on you guys.

  8. Enjoyed meeting you and visiting with you at FinCon! I’m looking forward to seeing you again next year and chilling with our misfit physician group in DC. Mrs. Nomad will be joining me next year.

    I second your praise of the WoW couple. I was fortunate enough to cruise to Cuba with them and they helped make FinCon a great experience for me.

    Hasta luego, compadre.

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