Enrolled agents, CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals frequently are required to attend continuing education programs to keep their license. The same people show up year after year. Camaraderie grows as the group becomes closer. Familiarity breeds relationships. Our personal experiences and focus in our practice gives each member of our group unique skills. When certain situations arise we know where to turn.
I have belonged to several of these groups over my career. I am an enrolled agent (a licensed tax professional) and attended classes from even before I was licensed. This large group is familiar to me. I have worked with many tax professionals outside my firm in special situations. As odd as it sounds, I have represented a few accounting and law firms before the IRS. My comfort with litigation makes me someone professionals engage when things go really wrong.
For a while I belonged to a securities group. I had a short fetish with selling investments until I was disgusted by the dirty game played on clients by the industry. Along with a securities license I got a life insurance license which I still have, but never use. One day I will let it lapse.
Each group has its own members. The groups are fairly consistent; the same people show up year after year with a few newbies and a few who retire or die. The educational classes are fun and an opportunity to catch up with old acquaintances and share ideas.
Groups gather for all sorts of reasons. Anytime a group of people share a common interest, a program is developed. It makes sense. If you enjoy something you naturally want to gather with people who share your mores.
Personal Finance Groupies
Personal finance seminars and retreats seem to grow daily. In the past I read the blogs, but avoided the gatherings. I know who I am and feel comfortable in my skin. Frugality, saving, investing, and financial independence are normal to me and I feel no desire to travel to meet these people. (I have enough venues to attend.) That all changed a few years ago.
Once I broke the ice it turned into a storm. The good news is I only attended limited venues. But that is all changing. In the past I could attend programs for my business locally or only a short distance away. World Domination Summit, FinCon, and all similar smaller gatherings are not driving distance. You don’t have to read this blog long to learn of my disdain for travel. Prying my ass from my 10 acre farm is a major undertaking. If you give me a choice between a bullet in the head and traveling I pause for a moment. I’m seriously considering the options.
The people at personal finance (PF) gatherings are like the gravity from a Black Hole. Once you cross the event horizon there is no going back. Like the local tax seminars, the same people make the rounds of all the PF gatherings. There is some cross-over from groups with similar interests, such as travel hacking, but the crowd is 80% regulars.
And these people are so darn friendly. You get a group of accountants together and if you are not one of us you get that corner of the eye look. We’ll accept you once we vet you. And you start at the bottom until you earn your stripes. Not so with the PF groupies. All you have to do is show up and it is like, “Fuck, yeah!” You are instantly part of the herd.
If you have never attended one of these events, you need to. The sex is non-stop!
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Had ya for a minute, didn’t I? Of course I am messing with you. This isn’t like a rock concert. Half the people at these events have their own blog and the other half would like to find the time to write their own. Blogging has turned into big business, hence all the gatherings around the world. Now, there could be sex orgies I wasn’t invited to. I’ll give an update if I discover anything.
It was only a strange set of coincidences that drew me into the cult. I wanted to build a business relationship with a blogger and I was willing to travel this one time to “get it done”. I was not on the itinerary, but I changed that. I have something to say, damn it, and I’m going to talk . . . in front of people.
The original goal was to storm the Camp, do a smash and grab, and make like the wind. Except for that gravity thing. Damn Black Holes! I was sucked in so damn fast it was over before I knew it. I waited a whole year and returned to the same Camp. Now I am actually speaking for real at Camp Mustache SE this January. People actually requested to hear me talk? Sick bastards. I can live with that.
What I noticed as I built this blog is the same people are involved. I am terrible at social media. I try, I really do, but I stumble and fall a lot. In business today, especially with a blog, you must have a social media presence. Since most people love this stuff it is easy to find people willing to help me. The web designer of this site set up all the automatic postings; Karen, my office manager, helps manage Facebook and other social media sites. I try to check Facebook daily because people sometimes ask questions. I don’t interact much. That is slowly improving.
Facebook seems to be the go-to place for social media. The account sat there forever with no friends; it was only a landing page to access business accounts. In the past I had several people start and manage Facebook pages in my name to build business. Most started fast and fizzled. Those sites crashed and burned. My rule was: make me look cool so people will want to do business with me. I don’t think I was always made to look cool.
Once I attended Camp Mustache II people discovered I had an account in hiding. Suddenly I had friends! <a tear comes to my eye> People started contacting me and I had to call in Karen because I could not figure it out. Somebody left a message and I can’t find the damn thing. (I like social media like I like traveling. Bullet in the head or check Facebook. Hmmm. Let me think about that for a bit. I’m still thinking! Don’t rush me.)
I am not an idiot. (You, in the back row. Shut up!) I fully understand social media is an awesome tool to grow a blog. (Well, so is traveling to all those &^%$ PF seminars.) As my love list, ah, friend list grew, I noticed something. They are all friends with each other! This groups sticks together better than peanut butter to the roof of my mouth. And they are nonjudgmental. New groupies have questions and it turns into an instant intervention. (If this gal wants to get her finances in order she came to the right place.)
I gave Karen walking orders. Since this group is so cohesive, I asked her to start building my Facebook friend list. Years ago I grew my Twitter account with a program that automated the process. With Facebook I think you need a live person as the people on my list are more selective with FB; there needs to be a real connection. It seems the more people added to the list the more integrated the friend list became. Unofficially I have become one of the herd.
The New Accountant
As the list grew and I watched what was happening, I discovered this group of people really attend a lot of programs. And I mean a lot! As much as I hate traveling, I will make it a point to attend more venues. I can learn a lot and make new friends in the real world. Many of these people I admire from afar. Since life is a learning experience I am drawn toward the center of gravity of this particular Black Hole.
The question arises: Why do people attend so many of these things? I think our group exists because intelligent people need to go somewhere to deprogram from mass media. Hearing the message “Wealth is good” and “It’s okay to spend less” are powerful and liberating messages. People are sick of debt and working a full-time job buying crap they don’t want or need.
That is what drew me to the blogs. I am sick of the garbage most people watch or listen to. It is impossible to get away. If you start a media detox your friends and acquaintances have not so mass media still affects your life. Hearing a pure, clean, uplifting message is refreshing.
There is no doubt I will attend more of these events. I see many people I admire greatly making the rounds and it would be awesome to spend more time with them. The new accountant will travel more to see people he cares about. Finally, after all these years, the Wealthy Accountant is joining the global village.
And good thing too. The sex is awesome! Especially if Mrs. Account comes along. She is my favorite groupie.