Just as I was hovering over the “Publish” button for my recap of the Financial Blogger Conference, I saw a tweet from the Associated Press reporting that Steve Jobs has passed away. I’ll admit it – I cried. Not just a few years; I sobbed like I lost my closest friend. And I’m still wiping my face as I type.
As my mind travels between the points I wanted to share from FINCON11 and my reaction to Steve Jobs’ death, I realize that both events are already affecting my life profoundly. Not the events themselves, but their relationship to some of the struggles I’ve been dealing with. And that connection is what I’d rather share with you right now than anything else.
The Distant Past
It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy. (Steve Jobs, 1982)
23 years ago, when I was five years old, I proudly announced my intention to become a writer someday. That same year, bouncing back after his resignation from Apple, Steve Jobs introduced the first NeXT computer. I had no idea who Steve Jobs was at that age; I just knew I liked playing Lemonade Stand on my grandfather’s Macintosh Plus.
As I grew older, my passion for writing fizzled as I settled into a social group, procrastinated on homework, and started using my blazing 2400 baud modem to communicate with other people. My enjoyment of writing didn’t go away; I just busied myself with other things. I wanted to have FUN, and as I approached adulthood, I defined that as spending lots of money on things I didn’t need.
By 1997, Steve Jobs had returned to Apple as interim CEO. The company was floundering; jokes about the uselessness of “Macintrash” or “Crapintosh” were popular. While Jobs worked to revive the company, I met the guy who would become my ex-husband. I wasn’t worried about writing – I was far too busy.
While Apple thrived under Steve Jobs’ leadership, bringing us the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, I was giving birth, getting married, going to college, and starting my career. Oh, and spending money. Lots and lots of money that I didn’t have.
The Recent Past
A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. (Steve Jobs, 1998)
Eight short months ago, I started this blog as a way to hold myself accountable during my ascent out of debt hell. I never expected people to read it. I never thought I would enjoy writing so much. I never expected any of this.
When FINCON11 was announced, no one had a clue who I was. Yet I felt strangely compelled to buy a ticket (even though that $89 could have gone toward debt). I figured maybe I would sell it later if I decided not to go. I had no idea how entrenched I would become in the PF blogging community and how much I stood to gain from the support of my fellow bloggers.
Apple has been a big part of the growth of my blog. Early on, I wrote about how badly I wanted an iPad. When I bought one at a discount, I blogged about it even though I was scared of how people would react. Lately, as I’ve earned some income from freelance writing, I upgraded to the iPhone 4 and purchased an iMac to use for writing. Everything I do related to this site, from writing posts to responding to comments to sending emails, happens on an Apple device.
The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. (Steve Jobs, 2004)
FINCON11 was a life-changing event for me. I won’t focus on the excitement of meeting other bloggers, because I’ve tweeted that to death. I won’t talk about the sessions because you can read about them elsewhere.
What I can share with you are the themes I saw repeated over and over throughout my stay in Schaumburg.
The personal finance blogging community is stronger since FINCON11. You’ll notice us talking more on Twitter, commenting more on blogs we may not have visited before, and planning collaborations to build on the information we shared.
Many of the speakers talked about the smaller communities on each PF blog – our readers. JD Roth asked the question, “Why do we write?” We write because we want to share something with others. Because we want to believe that our knowledge and experience can help someone. Because we want YOU to gain value from the time you take to read our posts.
All bloggers start with a blank post field and a blinking cursor. Where they go from there is up to them.
Many of us have families, full-time jobs, and hobbies (other than blogging). There are times when blogging leaks into other areas of our lives, and times when our lives leak into our websites. Still, there’s always more we could do. There are unlimited possibilities for building our blogs into something more, something that continues to bring us enjoyment and pride.
Challenging the status quo.
There are tons of PF blogs you could be reading right now. Why did you choose this one? Why do you visit any of the websites you visit? Because there’s something there that benefits you.
When I started blogging, I felt like every financial topic had been covered a million times. Not to mention all the bloggers with degrees in accounting, economics, and finance. How could I say anything that hadn’t been said before? By saying it in MY voice. Someone looking for an expert would probably run screaming from here, but if you want examples of what not to do, you’re in the right place.
Each of us brings something different. That’s what makes our community great and allows our blogs to grow.
You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog shit for frosting. (Steve Jobs, 2000)
Since I returned from FINCON11, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what I’m going to DO. I have all kinds of ideas for posts, site designs, and projects. I feel like I need to take action. Then I get busy with life and my real job and I don’t have time to do anything.
This morning, I realized how much I didn’t want to go to work. I wanted to stay home and write posts, or chat with my friends on Twitter, or respond to emails. And in my head I’m going, That’s crazy! You can’t make a living writing a blog! Other people can, sure, but you’re not one of them! All day, though, I struggled with the feeling that I am spending far too much time doing what I’m supposed to do instead of what I want to do.
And then Steve Jobs died.
All the themes explored at the conference were concepts Steve Jobs knew well. If a more innovative, intelligent human being exists, I don’t know who it would be. Steve Jobs understood the need for community, growth, and challenging the status quo. Without those ingredients, Apple wouldn’t be one of the most powerful companies in the world. And the loss of their former CEO wouldn’t be important enough to make a random girl in Kentucky break down and cry.
I’m TIRED of living a life that doesn’t make me happy. When I die, I want people to admire me for giving back and doing something well, not for following the rules and never getting anywhere. If I could, I would quit my job today and never go back. Obviously that’s not an option, but life is too short to talk myself out of things.
I love writing. I love this blog. I love my readers.
It may take 10 years and 5000 posts, but I am over my career and I am going to find a way to do what more of what I love. I may not have believed it in the beginning, but writing about my finances is where I belong. THAT is what FINCON11 and Steve Jobs have taught me.
I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next. (Steve Jobs, 2006)