Blogging FI Personal Finance

I Hosted an AMA… Here’s What Happened

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Recently, I hosted an AMA on a platform called Blind. For those who are curious about AMAs, I thought I’d share my experience so you can learn:

  • What an AMA is.
  • How I ended up hosting an AMA.
  • What it’s like hosting an AMA.
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly… and more.

I hope you enjoy this peek behind the scenes!

My Blind AMA

The screen capture above is from the intro post for my Blind AMA. It generated a lot of interest, but was also very polarizing. (More about this later.)

You can view the AMA and read the comments without becoming a Blind member. However, if you’d like to leave a comment, you’ll need to register with a company email address.

So, what is an AMA anyway? 

AMA stands for Ask Me Anything. In a typical AMA, someone with an interesting background, career or interest volunteers to be the interviewee for the AMA. AMAs typically last one to three hours but can be shorter or much longer. 

During the AMA, users log on and ask questions while the interviewee answers in real-time. (The interviewee can also choose to continue answering questions even after the ‘live’ AMA ends.)

AMAs have existed in different forms since the 1990s, but never really took off until Reddit created the IAmA subreddit in 2009. Since then, AMAs have become mainstream and appear on other platforms outside of Reddit (such as Blind). 

Here’s an excellent article from The Atlantic for more on the history of AMAs.

What’s Blind?

Blind is an anonymous network, mostly for tech workers in the US. Here’s the official description from Blind:

Blind is an anonymous workplace network where verified professionals connect to discuss what matters most. Professionals anonymously communicate in private company channels and openly with users across industries. Blind is a place where 4 million professionals worldwide share advice, provide honest perspectives, discuss company culture, and discover relevant career information.  

Blind is a platform for change. Our mission towards transparency breaks down professional barriers, empowering informed decisions, and inspiring productive change in the workplace.

How did I end up hosting an AMA?

Recently, another FIRE blogger, Engineer Seeking FIRE, did an AMA on Blind and blogged about it. I thought this was a cool idea. (If you’re in the high-tech space and interested in career advice or how to optimize your path to FIRE, take a look at the AMA post from Engineer Seeking FIRE.)

I reached out to the Blind team to ask if they’d be interested in having me host an AMA on FIRE. After some back and forth, they agreed!

How does it work? 

At 3 pm on the agreed-upon date, I posted my pre-approved AMA intro post. In it, I gave a brief intro to FIRE and listed the topics I was happy to discuss. Users slowly trickled in and posted their questions.

I answered them as quickly as I could (while still trying to be detailed and helpful). Eventually, keeping up with questions in real-time became impossible. It wasn’t easy, but I had to try and ignore the flood of new questions that kept coming in. 

I focused on answering the oldest questions first, working my way up. I didn’t stop until around midnight—even though there was still a huge pile of questions to answer! I returned to it the next day for another seven hours, then for an hour or so the next couple of days.

After about four days, the questions stopped and the AMA was basically over.

Was it stressful? 

To be honest, most of my stress happened in the lead-up to the AMA. I’ve never done anything like this, and I worried I wouldn’t do a good job or that I’d fail the Blind team.

During the AMA, it was more exciting and fun than it was stressful. In fact, I was so busy and engaged that I didn’t feel hungry, and skipped dinner. (Probably a good thing anyway, since there wasn’t time to stop and eat!) 

It also helped that my family was supportive and gave me time to do the AMA, even though it took me away for a total of over 16 hours!

Why even do an AMA?

Someone asked me this on the AMA, and this was my reply: 

Because I LOVE FIRE! I love talking about it and helping others to discover it. The freedom it can give you is so amazing, and I want others to have that freedom.

I genuinely enjoy conversing with those who might be interested in FIRE, are curious and open to learning. I hoped to have some meaningful discussions through my AMA, and I did. 🙂

Of course, a likely side benefit was that some of those users might visit my blog and/or share it with others. However (despite what some angry commenters believed) that was truly just a side benefit and not my driving motivation for the AMA.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Now that the AMA is done and the questions have stopped coming in, I’ve had time to reflect on the crazy, whirlwind experience that it was. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from my AMA:

The good

There was a lot of good that came from my AMA, including some interesting things I realized:

Blind users are financially and FIRE savvy

Before my AMA, I assumed that tech workers would be similar to the general population—fairly average in financial knowledge with some knowledge about FIRE, but little or no interest in pursuing it. Happily, I was proven wrong.

I found most commenters to be very savvy and already on a strong financial path. Many have been working towards FIRE for years and had lots of helpful information (and corrections) to share.

As a personal finance blogger, it thrills me that so many young, successful people are managing their money well and have solid plans for their future.

There’s a lot of potential in tech

My AMA gave me a peek into the salaries and benefits that tech workers receive. I was stunned by the TC (total compensation) numbers being discussed—even for young workers just starting out.

It also sounds like there are many opportunities to move up and around. Additionally, each move is an opportunity to negotiate for more compensation. While tech jobs can be stressful and aren’t a great fit for everyone, the high pay can lead to a fast track to FIRE.

I deepened my knowledge

I’ve been fully immersed in the US FIRE scene since 2014, so am very familiar with US retirement accounts and tax strategies. However, I still took some time to refresh my knowledge by reading up on the basics and more advanced strategies. 

This helped deepen my understanding of US taxation and accounts, which also helped me to better-understand Canadian taxation and accounts.

I also learned from commenters through their stories, questions, suggestions and corrections. Thank you to all who took the time to converse with me on my AMA.

I ventured out of my comfort zone

To be honest, it was scary doing the AMA. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone when volunteering to do the AMA, then again when answering complex questions during the AMA.

It wasn’t easy, but in uncomfortable moments like these, I try to remember this quote from Ray Kroc: “Are you green and growing or ripe and rotting?” I prefer to grow—and frequently getting out of my comfort zone is one of the best ways to do that.

Meaningful discussions

I truly enjoyed the conversations with those who were interested, curious, and wanting to learn (and teach). That’s what I was hoping for from the AMA, and I got it in spades. 

It was incredibly heartwarming and inspiring to hear of the hard work and progress so many of the commenters were making. Discussions like these are what keep me interested and engaged in the FIRE community.

The Blind team

I was so impressed with the team I worked with at Blind. They’re fiercely protective of their users and platform and were very careful when vetting me. They’re also uber-organized, and have the AMA process down to a science!

They were so supportive and provided me with an abundance of feedback and encouragement throughout the AMA process. Thank you, Blind team—you know who you are!

The bad

Thankfully, there was very little that was bad (and it’s all quite minor):

The lead-up was stressful

As I’ve already mentioned, the days leading up the AMA were very stressful. I was not only worried about the AMA itself, but I also worked furiously to finish my Ultimate Guide to ESPPs and RSUs

(Many tech workers receive ESPPs and RSUs as part of their compensation, so I wanted to publish the guide in time for the Blind AMA… and I just made it!)

The Blind interface slowed me down

This is my only complaint about Blind—the UX (user experience) could use some improvement. The biggest issue was every time I posted a reply, the page would refresh and jump down to the bottom of the page. 

I’d then have to scroll back up, re-expand the collapsed comment trees, scroll back to where I was, then reply to the next comment. Having to do this hundreds of times really slowed me down!

The interface is otherwise very clean and easy to use, so I can’t really fault Blind for this. The UX was probably designed for a normal user and not an AMA host who’s answering hundreds of questions over many hours!

It took over my life for two days

This wasn’t bad in the sense that I was happy to spend my time this way. (I enjoyed it very much!) But with a husband, two kids and a dog, it’s not easy to come by this kind of time!

Fortunately, as mentioned, my husband M was very supportive and helped to clear the schedule and take care of everything while I was occupied.

The ugly

Fortunately, there was only one ugly thing… and that was the negative comments (of which I received plenty.) They were unexpected and such a departure from what I’m used to in the personal finance community. 

Truth be told, the negativity was a little overwhelming and some of it really stung.

I’m always open to being told I’m wrong and having a polite discussion about it. (That’s how we all learn.) But I couldn’t understand the rudeness, insults and condescending attacks. There are better, more constructive ways to disagree with others. 

It doesn’t have to be so hurtful and negative! 😢

My final takeaways

Despite the negativity, the AMA was wonderful—in large part because it was such an amazing learning experience. To wrap up this post, here are some of the interesting things I took away from the experience:

About FIRE

  • FIRE was nothing new to most of the commenters. (This is great news—it means the FIRE is indeed spreading!)
  • Unfortunately, FIRE myths persist amongst the doubters: it’s a scam; it’s for people who don’t want to spend money; no one who FIREs actually retires; FIRE bloggers only reach FIRE because of the income from their blogs.

About AMAs

  • AMAs are a fun, unique way to connect.
  • You’ll be asked questions that’ll make you think.
  • You’ll learn new things.
  • You’ll see the best and worst of people.

About Blind

  • Blind is designed so that users are completely safe to be honest and open.
  • This makes it an amazing resource if you’re in the tech industry (particularly in the US).
  • It’s a treasure trove of insider information.
  • If I worked in the US tech industry, I would be on Blind all the time—it’s that useful.

About negative comments

  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Ignoring doesn’t always work, but it often does. (I should’ve done more of this. The naysayers don’t want to listen anyway and can’t be convinced.)
  • Learn from them—sometimes there’s a grain of truth buried in the negativity.
  • Focus on the positive comments and those that come to your defence.

Closing thoughts

So, would I do it again? Yes, definitely. The AMA was a fun, new challenge for me. Even though the negativity was hard to deal with, it became an important learning experience. If you ever have an opportunity to do an AMA, I say go for it! (But go in with a thick skin.)

Let’s continue the AMA here in the comments—go ahead and AMA about my AMA experience (or my thoughts on FIRE). I’d be happy to answer your questions!

My interview with Blind

After my AMA, Blind reached out to ask if was interested in doing an interview with them about my AMA, FIRE, and blogging. I was thrilled to be asked and eagerly agreed. You can find my interview on the Blind Blog. Thanks again for everything, Blind!

Support this blog

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!) 

You can also support this blog by visiting my recommendations page and purchasing through the links. Note that not every link is an affiliate link—some are just favourite products and services that I want to share. 🙂

As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Gean @ F.I.R.E. We Go!
    August 18, 2020 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sorry about the negative comments – and I learned that we will never satisfy 100% of the audience. You’ve exposed yourself and I am sure learned a lot – kudos to you.

    I did not read your AMA yet, however, I am sure you did an amazing job – thank you 😉

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 18, 2020 at 11:09 pm

      Hi Gean—your lovely comment obliterates all the bad ones! Thank you for the support and the kind words. 🙂

  • Reply
    Dev2FI
    August 18, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Great write up, Chrissy. I dig this format! Your Blind AMA post looks well thought out. It’s clear you put a lot of effort into the things you do. 😊🥰

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 18, 2020 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Dev2FI—thank you for the support and kind words. It means a lot!

  • Reply
    LiveHardxLoveHard
    August 18, 2020 at 10:49 am

    You are brave Chrissy! Love that you went for it with this one, and what a cool and interesting way to connect with the community. So happy that FIRE is spreading! 😀

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 18, 2020 at 11:15 pm

      Hi Elise (and Adam)—you’re so sweet. It was a very cool experience and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to take it on. Yeah—pretty awesome to know that the FIRE’s spreading in at least one segment of the population! Thanks for the support. 🙂

  • Reply
    Torrie @ To Love and To Learn
    August 18, 2020 at 11:21 am

    It’s hard to put yourself out there online when you know that nowadays, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be naysayers and people who are just downright rude. For a long time, I let the fear of that stop me from trying to promote my own blog and online work, but I’m trying hard every year to just push past that fear and tell myself that my self-worth doesn’t depend on what random strangers on the Internet think of me. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it!

    I love your blog and am always eager to read your new posts. Keep up the great work—you’re doing wonderful things!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 18, 2020 at 11:36 pm

      Hi Torrie—you’ve been online for a very long time, so I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of disparaging comments. It is such an unfortunate part of life on the internet.

      Your advice is wonderful. I’ll remind myself of what you’ve written anytime that fear returns. ♥

      Thank you for your lovely comment and kind words. Comments like yours are what keep me going!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    August 18, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    Wow 16 hours of answering questions – good for you Chrissy, that’s impressive. Sounds like you found the right platform for your AMA and although there was some negativity overall it was a positive experience. I’m sure the participants learned something and hopefully, some of them become readers of your blog (or listeners of the podcast).

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 18, 2020 at 11:39 pm

      Hi Maria—that was a marathon of typing, let me tell you! My wrists and back were so sore after the first night, ha ha. I hope the participants learned a little bit about FIRE and how to do the math for themselves. I feel good knowing that so many of them are already on the right path, and now are armed with some resources to keep going and improving their money skills.

  • Reply
    Ellie
    August 18, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    You are.. awesome. Except for the internet trolls -who are just wasting their own time- it sounds like the AMA was of extreme value.

    I’ve only recently started consuming Canadian FI information and I am so glad that you are spending energy helping people like me! Your blog has great readability (speaking as someone who spends 80% of my day conversing in a language that’s not English), flow, and contains high-value information. So, thanks for doing all that you do 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 18, 2020 at 11:58 pm

      Hi Ellie—this is SUCH a nice comment. Thank you. 🙏

      To be honest, for a few days after the AMA, I questioned all the things about my blog that you just complimented me on. After all that negativity, I had a few moments where I wondered if I should just quit.

      Thankfully, I caught up on my sleep and came to my senses, ha ha. As some of the trolls made abundantly clear, there are plenty of bloggers who are smarter and more analytical than me. But that’s okay. We can each do what we’re best at and what we enjoy the most. I love helping others, so I just have to keep doing that and not let the trolls get the better of me.

      I appreciate your support so much!

  • Reply
    AnotherLoonie
    August 18, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Although I didn’t participate, I really enjoyed reading your AMA after the fact. It’s interesting to see everything that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to hosting an AMA. Cool stuff :)!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 19, 2020 at 12:04 am

      Hi AnotherLoonie—thanks so much for checking out the AMA! It was looong! I never knew how AMAs worked, so it was a very cool learning experience for me. 🙂

  • Reply
    Joe
    August 19, 2020 at 7:44 am

    Nice job! That’s a lot of time. Can you share more of the uglys? It seems like you gloss over that part. Is there a link I can take a look at?

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 19, 2020 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Joe—you’re right, I did gloss over it. I just didn’t want to dwell on it because they were so nasty. Here are a couple, just so you know what I mean:

      “Let me summarize for those who don’t want to scroll through all the generic bullshit: be rich, don’t be poor. If that didn’t convince you, let me add this: being rich is good, being poor is bad. I don’t see what’s the take away from this AMA. It’s not like you found out how to make money out of thin air. What would you tell to someone who’s flipping burgers ? Go get a better paying job ? Geez, thanks, Captain Obvious !”

      “IMHO: poster is a typical FIRE blogger who is just recycling the shallowest FIRE advice without showing any analytical contribution to the subject. You guys should stop reading this thread right now and simply go read the series by an author who actually can do math and who pulled the trigger: https://earlyretirementnow.com/safe-withdrawal-rate-series/

      Here’s the link to the thread, if you’re curious to read more.

  • Reply
    Tawcan
    August 19, 2020 at 8:29 am

    Interesting stuff and sounded like it took quite a bit of time. Would you do another one especially when your name and pic are out on the internet.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 19, 2020 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Bob—I would do another one, but maybe not until I’ve grown a slightly thicker skin, ha ha.

  • Reply
    Christopher Bossano
    August 20, 2020 at 1:25 am

    I must say, as a beginner, it is very valuable that you spend so much time helping those who may be interested in FIRE. You have a great blog. Thanks for your work!

  • Reply
    Financial Freedom Countdown
    August 20, 2020 at 2:18 am

    I know Reddit dies an AMA but never knew Blind does that too. What was the benefit as a blogger in doing the AMA? Did it increase traffic or signups?

    PS I’m in tech and most folks in Silicon Valley who use it are nice. Sorry about the rude comments:(

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 21, 2020 at 8:51 pm

      Hi Financial Freedom Countdown—thanks for the comment!

      For me, the benefit of the AMA was mostly in the opportunity to push myself to try something different. I also like talking to ‘regular’ people who are interested in FIRE, but who aren’t bloggers. This helps me to understand the struggles and questions others have, which could lead to new article ideas for the future! Of course, there was also the potential to gain more readers—and I think I have gained a few, which is just a bonus.

      Your PS was nice to read—thank you. Based on my AMA, you’re right that most folks on Blind are very nice. Many of them came to my defense multiple times, and with very well-worded arguments. I keep focusing on those kind-hearted commenters. That helps to mostly negate the negativity from the much smaller number of trolls. 🙂

  • Reply
    Emily
    August 22, 2020 at 2:13 am

    I read you are a stay at home mom. How does one FIRE from that?

    Please correct me if I had read that wrong.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Emily—you didn’t read that wrong! I am indeed a stay-at-home mom. We’re able to FIRE due to our focus on optimizing our saving and spending. In this previous post, I share some of the ways we’ve done this.

      Also, it’s surprisingly not as expensive as it might seem to have one parent at home. In this guest post for Tawcan.com, I did the math to show how a stay-at-home parent can actually save a lot of money in many areas. Yes, you’ll still overall see a loss in income, but the cost savings of a stay-at-home parent can offset the lost income by quite a bit.

  • Reply
    Feisty Fire
    September 3, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    Hello Chrissy- I remember attending your AMA. Apologies on behalf of the commentators. I think the blind app team should have done a better job telling you about the typical blind user. Most of the audience on blind are high compensation earners at a young age and well read on lot of topics especially FIRE. They are more interested in hearing about FAT FIRE >10M. This early success makes them condescending, overconfident, snarky, pompous amongst other things. Blinders are more about giving advice than seeking advice and you got caught with the wrong audience. The only time this audience is exceptionally kind is when someone has lot their job, is depressed or broken and then they go at great lengths to help the individual. Hope this explains the Sentiment behind those snarky commentators.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 3, 2020 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Feisty FIRE—thanks for taking the time to leave this comment. It helps to explain so much.

      Blinders are clearly a highly educated, successful group. It wasn’t fun facing their negativity, but knowing that these young professionals are aware of and actively pursuing FIRE actually makes me really happy.

      I hope that, once they each their Fat FIRE goals, that they’ll find ways to use their smarts and success to help others.

      It’s nice to hear that they can be caring and helpful when one of their own is down and out. That’s quite touching, really!

      I very much appreciate your insight. These were all things I wasn’t aware of, so I’m grateful that you shared!

  • Reply
    Emma
    September 22, 2020 at 8:10 am

    These young professionals also earned their own income. No amount of organizing household finances helps if you were unable to generate it in the first place.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 24, 2020 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Emma—you’re absolutely right. There’s only so much that can be done with a low income.

  • Reply
    Teresa - MIL
    September 23, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Sorry I have been so busy that it has taken me forever to get to emails but I feel I need to comment once again. I am in awe of you always learning and imparting the knowledge to so many and not just your family who really appreciate your vast knowledge. I have known you for over 20 years and know you are so thorough that your research and knowledge is always accurate. I am proud of you for being brave enough to put yourself out there despite the rude and ignorant people who lack communication skills when they disagree with what you are saying. You just keep doing such great work!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      September 24, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      Hi Mom—as always, your love and support means so much. I appreciate the kind words (you give me way too much credit)! Thanks for helping to keep me going.

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