As you may know, last week we held the Financial Intimacy Conference in Los Angeles – the second city in our multi-city tour. The conference there followed the same format as in New York. With many of the same speakers, we kicked-off the evening with three TED-like plenary sessions, followed by the Male Perspective panel, followed still by Q/A.

I really enjoy Q/A time because you never know what’s going to be asked. But a curious thing happened during LA’s Q/A and it got me thinking about human connections, human behavior and a human truth:

Yes, you are special. But your problems/issues/concerns/fears/questions, etc. are not as unique as you think they are.

Here’s the question that triggered this moment of illumination: “How much of my money should go toward paying for my boyfriend’s children’s expenses?” This came from a woman in a relationship with a man with two children from his previous marriage. And as she and he move in the direction of marriage, she wanted guidance on how to address this thorny and potentially combustible issue.

Turns out, she wasn’t the only one in the room with the same question! Further still, there was someone else in the room who is dealing with this precise scenario!!  This person was able to describe what she and her husband do to navigate this terrain and she shared how it is a fluid process that changes when necessary. The exchange that ensued was incredible, in part because it was so darn organic.

And it became even more incredible to me the more I reflected on the evening overall and a basic need we each have — we don’t won’t to feel alone.

You’re not alone…really!

Yet despite the desire not to feel alone, we often keep things close to the vest and suffer in silence. Even with close family members and friends, we don’t talk about the experiences that we typically label as “unspeakable” (e.g., molestation) or uncomfortable (e.g., pooping) or that we describe as too personal (e.g., money). Nor do we discuss the questions of doubt and confidence our experiences frequently raise.

Because of LA, I’ve discovered a newfound beauty in Q/A time:

For starters, it tackles the issue of isolation head-on. What we each experience as very personal is actually universal. It just never feels that way, right?

Likewise, Q/A encourages sharing, which opens up the possibility of discovering solutions you may not have considered.  And in the case of a conference, the perspective you most gravitate toward may come from another attendee, not necessarily the “experts.”

Groupthink may not be valuable, but group sharing can be tremendously beneficial!

That is why I’m introducing a free Monthly Q/A Call beginning in April. It’s an experiment and if it gains some traction, we will keep it going. Stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime, If you weren’t self-conscious, what question would you ask right now and share with the world? (You don’t have to confine it just to money related matters.) Write it in the comment section.

You never know your question may help someone else realize that they are not alone!

P.S. The next city on the Financial Intimacy Conference tour is Chicago. Mark your calendars for May 16th!

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