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Up Up and Away

I’ve been to many financial services conferences, events, workshops and networking sessions but the decision to go to FinCon last year was purely selfish. I wanted to know more about the event FinCon, the community that support it and what difference they were making.
As one of the “Aussies” who made their way to Dallas for FinCon17, I sat in the plane preparing my list of what I wanted to achieve whilst at the conference; just as I would for an event in Australia. I was feeling confident, as networking goes financial services in Australia knows how to make it happen. What happened next was overwhelming!
The scale of FinCon is such that as you walk into the expo hall with 1700 people with a pure purpose of changing the conversation about money it can stop you in your tracks. BUT everything about this event is about building community and creating conversation. The entire event is supercharged to allow you to meet, discuss and create new ideas and opportunities. There was no status level of those in attendance, everyone was treated and behaved as equals. Loyalty was promoted regardless of whether it was your first year in attendance or your fourth, volunteers from previous years were there at all times to encourage you and talk about their own experience.
The expo hall was an education experience on people and the latest thing. I encountered authors, fintech companies, student loan providers, media companies and every gadget and widget that you could imagine. Those exhibitors I met, engaged by not to telling you what they do but spent time learning about you.
I sat at a roundtable discussion with a group of people who had travelled from various points within the US and were attending for their third year in a row. None of them worked together but had maintained connection beyond the event. Now they were back together sharing what they had succeeded and failed at throughout the year but also what they were taking out from the sessions throughout the day. All took the time to speak with me, listen to my story and share their own as well as connect with me through my online profiles.
This was a self-directed meet up!
No program told them that this roundtable was now meant to happen but what FinCon had provided was the environment to allow community interaction without competition.
My bucket was full! I was sold on the comradery from our American hosts as well as the willingness of the Aussies (a small band of diverse financial services enterprising souls who had taken the leap to go to Dallas) to embrace this culture and community wholeheartedly.
With my expectations met and exceeded at FinCon, a small group of us headed off to Silicon Valley. I had no real expectations just a sense of being open minded to what Silicon Valley could offer me. What I learnt from my experience from Silicon Valley visiting Stanford University, Facebook, Google, Intel and others; is that like FinCon they build community better than I’ve ever seen. The parallel between FinCon and Silicon Valley is that in both place they have refined the ability to establish a community and foster it so that it continually evolves. At FinCon regardless of whether you were a first timer or long term attendee you were part of a unique movement and in Silicon Valley the same applied; you are part of something large but you are part of something unique. They create environments with the pure intention of creating conversation, building bonds that endure time and distance; all designed to stimulate the ideas machine that is built within a trusting community. They converse and create community brilliantly.
What they understood was the value that each person brings to a community and they celebrate that through idealism and the willingness to fail to succeed.
If we are really serious about wanting to stay ahead of the curve it is important to observe what people are doing that are ahead of the curve already. For me it is about conversing with people were willing to share what they know and as a result great ideas were born so now it’s about creating opportunity from them. The Fincon or Silicon Valley experience may not be the one for you BUT be prepared to put yourself in an unfamiliar environment, get uncomfortable and open yourself up. You may just learn what you don’t know instead of hearing what you already know.
Make a list of the must attend events that you traditionally attend, add to that a list of events that you would like to learn more about. Pick at least one event that you’ve never been to before and give it a try!

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