August 23, 2019
Unless you’ve been hibernating this winter, you would’ve known about the Playing with FIRE documentary coming out, and the recent Sydney Premiere.
As I was invited to be part of the Q&A session on stage after the show, this was kind of a big deal for me! And as a super-introvert with a fear of public speaking, you might remember I was pretty much shitting myself at the thought of having to speak in front of 250-300 people!
So how did it go? In short, very well! Here’s the rundown of the event, and my trip overall, with some nice pictures to bring it all together 🙂
Left Perth Wednesday morning, after getting up absurdly early for a supposedly retired person! No pictures taken here as I was too anxious to even think of it (too late to back out now?)
Landed in Sydney after lunch, just a few hours before the event. I’ve never been to Sydney Airport before, but for some reason I expected it to be insanely busy. So I was pleasantly surprised when it was spacious and quiet with a relaxed vibe…
Anyway, I strolled outside and caught an Uber to my apartment for the night. I chose to stay in Randwick as it’s only a short walk to UNSW where the event was taking place. Cosy and clean – more than enough for me, and I even got a sneak peek at the new light rail being tested!
After grabbing some Subway from around the corner and relaxing for a bit (still mildly panicking), it was time to get ready. So I had a shower, took a deep breath, then headed off to meet the crew! At the pub of course…
And on the way there, I stopped to look out towards the city, over the Royal Randwick Racecourse.
The Uni grounds are enormous so I had a little trouble finding it, but then I spotted the crew heading inside.
Among them – Pat the Shuffler, Belinda (Miss Balance), Serina (Joyful Frugalista), and Kurt from Pearler (who organised the whole thing!). And Travis Shakespeare (the film’s director), who flew in from the US, joining us soon after.
We each had a drink or two and instantly found common-ground. Like we share the same philosophy of life and were old friends catching up.
It was great chatting and hanging out with this group of like-minded and optimistic people. But soon enough, it was showtime! So we continued swapping stories as we wandered towards the Law Threatre.
Let’s just say, Kurt (the organiser) was well prepared! There was an overstocked makeshift bar with a very busy attendant! Everything was setup, the crowd slowly moved in, and folks mingled as we had another drink before the movie began (are you sensing a theme? lol).
My nerves were settling – not sure if it was the alcohol or the positive vibes… likely a bit of both!
Now, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The Financial Independence Retire Early Movement is not exactly an easy topic to cover. There are a lot of moving parts, various motivations, and many questions to be answered. But I really enjoyed it. I think Travis and the team have done a great job.
The movie was definitely entertaining. It was fascinating to see (the couple) Scott and Taylor’s journey, as they realigned their spending with their true values. And the emotional aspect was captured really well. Obviously, changing your habits and lifestyle is quite simple in theory, yet not as easy in practice.
As with any major life adjustments, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. And changing your relationship with money is a big task. You’re essentially questioning the values you’ve held and decisions you’ve made up until this point. That’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight! It’s a steady ongoing shift that occurs over time.
The couple seeks out the advice of the best among the FIRE community in the US, to learn as much as they can and put the lessons into practice. There are plenty of ups and downs along the way. But Scott and Taylor end up with a very respectable savings rate and looking at freedom in only around a decade.
Overall, a good watch! Then came the Q&A session.
Now I had nowhere to hide. It was time. I convinced Pat to grab one last drink with me for courage (so I wasn’t the only one with a drink on stage!) and we got settled in our chairs. This was roughly our view, but imagine those seats filled with more than 250 people looking at you! (Gulp!)
Still quietly freaking out a little at this point. And then… Kurt got us started! The Q&A was scheduled to go for around 30 minutes. But it ended up going for 2 hours!
The crowd was fantastically engaged and asked tons of great questions. And you’re in luck, because the whole thing was recorded!
Check it out below – I’m sure you guys are gonna love it! Also, individual topics have now been split into separate mini-clips which you can find on this page! (sorry about the first 10 seconds of background noise)
This was one of the biggest screenings globally so far and Travis seemed genuinely pleased with the turnout and amazed by the level of enquiries he’s had from Australia. That shows you the growing and passionate FIRE movement we have here!
On a personal note, I’m proud of stepping outside my comfort zone and forcing myself to do something that was incredibly scary for me personally.
But I realised something unfortunate. The perfect answer to questions comes to you the next day when you’ve had time to think about it. But when you’re on the spot, with a couple hundred folks looking at you, it’s not so easy to come up with the goods!
Together as a panel I think we did a pretty good job, and provided plenty of food for thought. Here’s a photo of the team (sadly Serina is missing – she had already left).
Left to right: Kurt (Pearler), Travis (PWF Director), Miss Balance, Myself, Pat the Shuffler.
Thanks to everyone for their support. For everyone who came on the night. To Travis and the team for making the film. And to Kurt for organising the event.
Thanks to Miss Balance for her behind the scenes encouragement. And to Serina for spreading the word through her Money magazine article, and being a great panel member – volunteering to go first while most of us were still trying to find an answer. And to Pat for saving me when I went blank and forgot the term ‘positive skew’! (if you’re curious, I wrote about positive skew in this post)
It was so great to meet everyone – I really enjoyed it! And turns out that spare underwear wasn’t needed in the end 😉
Still on a high from the event, the next morning I sat down with Kurt for some caffeine at a nearby cafe. Side note: the cafe culture is so pronounced in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, even on weekdays, I wonder if anyone has time for work!
We had a great discussion about the event and all things FI, including the mindset and attitudes behind people’s desire for Financial Independence. In fact, he surveyed the crowd before the event, which showed an overwhelming majority stating ‘freedom’ as their main reason for pursuing FI.
Then, I had to go check-out of my apartment and head to the airport soon after. Bye-bye Sydney. I’ll be back someday!
By the way, Kurt (and Pearler) are working on a stockbroking platform aimed at making investing as easy as possible for the FIRE community.
Costs will be similar to Selfwealth and there’ll be a built-in FI calculator and even an option for automatic direct debit investing in ETFs and LICs (that could be a game changer in my view). Pearler is expecting to take its first customers later this year. I’ll keep you guys posted.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that you get lots of value from the Q&A session. If nothing else, I’m sure sharing my internal terror about speaking and being in front of a big crowd has amused you!
Personally it was great to meet folks in person that I’ve known online for quite some time. And to do something scary that I can be proud of.
It’s important to remember that facing a fear we have rarely turns into the worst nightmare we envision! Instead, it leaves us with a sense of accomplishment and a realisation that we are capable of more than we think.
I understand the movie is going to be publicly released in the near future on content platforms such as iTunes and Vimeo. That makes it easily accessible for so many people, which is fantastic. I’m sure it’ll be popular!
Finally, it’s great to see the FIRE spreading, as we bring an increasing number of people along for the ride, in the quest for financial freedom and a more grounded, sustainable and happier way of life.
Now over to you – what’s the main reason behind your desire for Financial Independence? Please share with me below in the comments…