What a conference! I now “get” why our American blogger friends rave so much about FINCON. CPFC12, held in Toronto Ontario, was a smashing success thanks to Preet Banerjee and Krystal Yee who organized this awesome conference. The facilities, speakers, panels and events were all fantastic. I have a number of observations I want to share with SPF readers. This was a conference first and foremost about Finance. Sure, blogging was a topic as well but it was not the sole focus. People in Canada have a true need to understand more about their personal finances and it was great to see some of the best minds on the topic (Canadian) come together in one spot.
I need to put a shout out to my pal Saving Mentor who ultimately convinced me that I needed to attend to talk up some ideas with some folks. Thanks SM.
So what did I observe? What did I learn? I’ll break it down in 3 sections: Finance, Blogging, Personal
Hotels in Toronto are bloody expensive. As I was on the fence about attending until about two weeks ago I hadn’t booked a room. Priceline and other similar sites weren’t helping. It isn’t cheap to attend a conference in a major centre but after attending I truly believe that every penny spent was worth it. Here is expense breakdown:
- Accommodations (Delta Chelsea 2 nights): $467.67
- Travel to/from Toronto (Greyhound bus): $34.64 (yes I used mass transit instead of driving solo)
- Travel in Toronto (taxi): $37.00 (suffering from a lower body injury – walking was out)
- Beverages (2 pints): $20 (really GTA? $9/pint?)
- Food: $29 (a lot comped by the conference)
Insurance isn’t as complicated as you might think. At least it isn’t if a guy like Glenn Cooke is explaining it to you. Armed with many, many years of experience Glenn walked the attendees through different options available to folks in Ontario and Canada. I didn’t get a chance to meet Glenn – meant to today but something came up and I had to miss the morning sessions.
Learned some scary statistics ….
48% of Canadians don’t save money. This has to change or this country will be in a world of hurt.
54% of Canadians don’t budget regularly and 24% don’t budget at all.
To wrap up, I discussed 2 business ideas with a number of folks and the feedback was extremely positive. Watch for some SPF announcements in the coming weeks.
Next I will share some blogging observations. But where to start, where to start.
Preet Banerjee is a super star. I’ve been interacting with Preet for the past few years when we learned we had a common friend (Ian H.). How did they meet? When Preet was doing an undergrad in neuroscience. NEUROSCIENCE. Oh, and he races cars. And has an endless well of personal finance / investing knowledge and experience. And he’s a well known figure in the Canadian media.
Oh ya, he also delivers a KILLER presentation less than 24 hours old about dealing with media and delivers it flawlessly. Did folks watching the #CPFC12 hashtag on Twitter go uber quiet around 4pm on Saturday? Blame Preet. The room was mesmerized. Glad to finally meet him and consider him a friend now – as I told him weeks back: any friend of Ian H. has to be kick-ass and Preet did not fail my expectations.
BIG TIME, SUCCESSFUL bloggers like Kerry @ Squawkfox, Canadian Capitalist and FrugalTrader @ Million Dollar Journey are super nice, totally approachable people. Any blogger might feel intimidated approaching these industry giants but they have absolutely NO REASON to! Always open to sharing and discussing ideas these are some of the most down to earth folks I have met in a long time. I was especially keen to meet Frugal Trader as he has been a mentor of sorts to me as I have blogged. My favourite moment of the conference was when the mob around FT was down to 1 other blogger and I got the nerve to go say hi to him.
SPF (extends hand to shake): Hi, you are Frugal Trader, right?
FT: Yes and you …
SPF: I am Simon
<FT then glances as my conference badge which has our site URL on it>
FT: SIMON!! I didn’t know you were here! Hi! <stands and shakes my hand>
This sums up how these big time bloggers make you feel. One of my most favourite bloggers made me feel like a total rock super star myself.
So Nelson Smith, that guy who used to write for our site, is pretty much the same guy in person as he is on his site. Refreshing he isn’t fake or some Internet tough guy. Funny for sure. And he likes baseball. I do too. Brad Lincoln is so getting dropped after 8 ER in “relief” this week. And I had to include him in this CJ, just cuz.
I had the pleasure of talking to a few people a number of times, which was great. New blogger Avrex Money was cool to talk to and Cents of a Country Girl was happy to hear me ramble about this, that and blogging. Steve Z is a super nice guy.
I didn’t think it possible, but My Own Advisor is even nicer in person than online. I can most definitely envision working with him down the line and I am very happy to have made his acquaintance. Having supper with MOA, Frugal Trader and Kanwal was pretty awesome. Jim Yih is as happy in person as shown in the picture of him on his site – we had a very nice conversation Friday night. Finally met Marissa who I know i’ll be pals with for a good long time … birds of a feather.
One of the reasons I went to CPFC12 was to vet a few blogging business ideas by some folks. I was a bit worried about the response I would get but man, was I off base. Folks seem to love both ideas! On one idea Marissa and Mark both endorsed the idea wholly with “You should do that, now”. On the other idea FrugalTrader, pretty much everyone I spoke to, agreed that the business idea was strong. Time to put my thinking cap on!
So blogging observations continued!
It was very apparent that bloggers don’t agree on everything – especially site monetization. I understand all of the points of view that were discussed. Ultimately each site must do what they feel OK with.
The spirit of blogging giving selflessly is still out there. Inspired by the awesome presentations by Kerry and Preet I offered up as much advice as I could to folks who wanted to learn more about the technical and business side of blogging. So many folks have helped me over the past couple years it really does feel good to pass on knowledge.
Last week I was able to write a few articles and it felt great. I have come out of CPFC12 with renewed enthusiasm to make sure our voice is loud and clear here @ SPF, to connect more with fellow bloggers and to engage readers at every opportunity. Couple this with some promising business ideas – the $600 or so I paid to attend CPFC12 was well worth it.
A lot of this will be about myself. So what did I learn?
- I am really not a fan of being away from Mrs. & Lil’ SPF
- I really want to do all I can to make my families life better even if it means spending a few nights apart
- I am glad I was able to attend the social events solo and not freak out. I am naturally quite introverted so it was a challenge to not hole up in my hotel room.
- I need to act in order to create opportunity
- Mrs. SPF is so key to keeping my life organized. On her watch I don’t sleep in, stay awake until 2am, that I eat properly and regularly, avoid arriving late or have that 4th pint. Next year I hope she and Lil’ SPF can join me at CPFC13!