I was recently asked to fly to San Francisco, and speak at a Financial Literacy seminar in collaboration with an all-in-one software that helps with debt settlement, lets you create budgets and track your monthly spending, while motivating you to pay down debt.
This was the first speaking gig I’ve ever done and even though I was really nervous (and feel like I royally messed up the presentation) I’m still proud of myself for doing it.
Working with them showed me just what an amazing company they are, and I know they will be doing great things. Mostly to help people change their lives and their finances with the help of the software.
Here’s some financial lessons and things I learned about myself from my first speaking gig and trip to the Bay Area.
Lessons learned from speaking
I’m not a speaker, I’m a writer
Standing in front of 2 people or 2,000 takes a lot of courage and is very scary, especially if you’re used to being behind a computer, typing on a keyboard. I admire other people (like my dad) who do it for a living, day in and day out. But it’s not for me.
It was a great experience and I’m very thankful I said “Yes” to this opportunity, because I might not have known how much I truly enjoy blogging. Speaking to a room full of people can have a good impact on a smaller audience, but the internet has made it easier to reach and help a much larger audience.
Educating people about finances brings hope
After the presentation was done, Kevin (the co-founder) held a Q&A session. I was impressed with how many questions we got and the interest people showed in improving their financial situation.
It was very encouraging to myself personally, and it gave me hope that people out there really do want to be educated about money.
Lessons learned from my trip
Saving money is not worth losing your sanity
When I first arrived in San Francisco I stayed in Berkeley so I could be near the financial seminar. I looked online and found a hotel at a decent price that was within walking distance of the seminar. At least I thought it was within walking distance.
Apparently it was within a short bus ride/driving distance because it took about 40 minutes to walk there. And after traveling for 12 hours, endlessly walking through the sketchiest neighborhood, losing electricity in the middle of the night and terrible customer service, I nearly had a mental breakdown.
Using public transportation saves loads of time and money
The only time I ever use public transit is when I go out of town, because Texas is so spread out, we don’t have a lot of transportation options — plus it would take you 5 hours to get to one place.
I was hesitant at first to use the BART system in San Francisco and I almost rented a car. The main reason I didn’t was because renting a car would cost $350 for the 4 days I was there, and taking the subway was only $8 or $10 a day.
I’m SO glad I decided to take the bus and subway because (as you can see) I saved a ton of money and best of all I saved loads of time. Driving around in a busy city like that would have stressed me to the limit and taken hours of commuting. I definitely recommend taking public transit if you visit SF.
I love to travel, but I hate traveling
Discovering new cities and going on new adventures is thrilling and something I truly enjoy. But waking up at 3 am, driving to the airport for 2 hours (gotta love Dallas traffic) and eating airport food, not so much. I enjoy being at the destination, but I don’t always enjoy getting there.
I’m the clumsiest person on the planet
After I finally got to the hotel, showered and changed into my business clothes for the seminar, I started walking to location where I planned to meet Kevin. It wasn’t two seconds later that I twisted my ankle on god knows what and sliced my foot open. Blood was gushing out of the bottom of my foot onto my sandals.
When I met up with Kevin we had to find a local Walgreens to buy bandaids and neosporin to clean and bandage my foot. What an awesome first impression… And for the rest of the walking intensive trip, I had to hobble along with my hurt foot.
I’m very out of shape
Everyone in San Fran walks, everywhere, all the time (which was just my luck since I cut my foot on a rock). After one day of walking around I noticed how out of shape I really am and since I have short legs, I was always falling behind everyone and needing to catch up.
Towards the end of the trip I sounded like a little kid: “My feet hurt” “Can we sit down?” “I’m tired”. So I made a promise to myself and I’ve been walking every night since I got home, to build up my stamina and start working out again.
I have absolutely no sense of direction
I’m not exaggerating when I say I have no sense of direction whatsoever. When I was 19 my best friend and I were traveling to my family’s campgrounds in Arkansas (which was only a 3-hour drive away) but we ended up in Broken Bow, Oklahoma and spent over 7 hours driving.
Being in San Fran was no different, except I was getting lost on foot instead of in a car. Thank goodness I didn’t rent a car or I’d still be stuck on the Bay Bridge somewhere. I swear I walked twice as much as I needed to because I kept having to turn around.
Pedestrians own the streets and sidewalks
In Texas if you walk across the street during a red light, you’d get mowed over — probably by a huge truck. But in San Francisco cars will stop and wait for you to cross the street, no matter what color the light is.
Cyclists also own the streets and I saw quite a few of them bolt through the intersection, crossing several lanes of traffic, never noticing if the lights were red or green. If people tried to do that here, they would probably get killed.
All the coolest startups are located in the Bay Area
I only had a couple weeks to get all the details for the trip booked, so I missed some opportunities to network with other amazing startups in the area. Besides meeting this company and ReadyForZero, I found out Credit Karma and 2 Minute Finance are in the Bay Area as well.
I’ve connected with all these awesome companies over the past few months and they are definitely some of the coolest startups I’ve encountered.
Next time I visit SF, I’ll have to meet up with them again. And this time I’ll be in shape and bring my walking shoes!