We had the good fortune of connecting with Diania Merriam and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diania, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started an events-based business called The EconoMe Conference, which is the first large-scale event rooted in the FIRE movement (financial independence, retire early). The discovery of the FIRE movement completely changed my life: I got out of $30k of debt in 11 months, started saving/investing 60% of my income, and am on track to be financially independent by the time I’m 40 years old. EconoMe originated from me asking myself the question, “What would I do with my time if I no longer needed to work for money?”. I decided I wanted to create a party about money! I’m a huge fan of in person events, and often times when I attend an inspirational event, I leave feeling like my life is so full of possibility. I thought it would be so much fun to create something that would allow other people to feel that way about their money.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The EconoMe Conference is not a stuffy financial workshop, we strive to be as entertaining as we are informative. We also help to connect you to other people who are interested in discussing the taboo topic of money. I think what sets us apart is that we recognize the power of community and physically being together. There are a ton of resources online that can help you learn what you need to know about personal finance. And there are also a ton of online communities where you can digitally connect with others. But I’ve seen in my own life that nothing can replace the magic that happens when you meet in person. This is why it’s more fun to watch a movie with a big crowd vs. watching it alone at home. The energy in the room can make it a totally different experience. And that’s what we’re striving for at EconoMe… its a VIBE… down to every detail: the music, the lighting, the space, the activities, and the endless opportunities to connect with others.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I moved to Cincinnati from NYC and most people thought I was nuts! But Cincinnati has everything you’d want out of a big city with none of the downsides. And it’s one of the lowest cost of living cities in the US so it’s the perfect place to pursue financial independence. Some of my favorite places include walking down by the riverfront in Smale park, doing a self-directed mural tour of downtown, and getting some ice cream at Grater’s. We’re also well known for craft beer and Cincy is the home of more than 50 local breweries! I love to do long distance hiking and some of my favorite spots include Mt Airy Forest and East Fork Lake.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shout-out to all the speakers who joined me for the first EconoMe Conference in 2020. It was pretty unreasonable for me to take on such a large project with such little experience. While I had pretty good project management skills and attention to detail, I’ve never produced an event at this scale. Also, most people who produce events like this start with a following. They build up an audience with a blog, they write a book, they start a podcast, and then they encourage their followers to gather together at an event. I had none of these things, but I had a vision and a lot of hustle. I cold called on 150 people to get my 9 speakers for the first event. Most people weren’t interested in working with me because I didn’t have enough of a track record and they weren’t sure I’d be able to pull it off. This is totally understandable! But the speakers I did get showed me an incredible amount of support, and I’m just so grateful that they believed me when I told them about my unreasonable dream!
Matt Shiffler photography