CES 2020: Videos ONLY!!!

Oh wow, what a journey the 2nd week of January. CES 2020 started and ended with a bang. A conference that lasts 4 straight days, takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, and brings in more than 170K participants, from 160+ countries, displaying 4,400+ exhibits/booths.

This is the 4th time I have attended in a row and it never gets old. Here are 5 of the top themes I saw across the board:

1. Robotic dogs/machines/toys to help in whatever aspect a human needs or wants

2. Autonomous driving, including a hover aircraft that looked sort of like a helicopter

3. Sensors for health & sports

4. Smart appliances to make your home that much cooler

5. Connectivity between everything we touch (computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, lights, cameras, stoves, refrigerators, and so much more)

Please enjoy the videos below!

CES 2020: Pictures ONLY!!!

Oh wow, what a journey the 2nd week of January. CES 2020 started and ended with a bang. A conference that lasts 4 straight days, takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, and brings in more than 170K participants, from 160+ countries, displaying 4,400+ exhibits/booths.

This is the 4th time I have attended in a row and it never gets old. Here are 5 of the top themes I saw across the board:

1. Robotic dogs/machines/toys to help in whatever aspect a human needs or wants

2. Autonomous driving, including a hover aircraft that looked sort of like a helicopter

3. Sensors for health & sports

4. Smart appliances to make your home that much cooler

5. Connectivity between everything we touch (computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, lights, cameras, stoves, refrigerators, and so much more)

Please enjoy the pictures below!

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F.I.R.E – Finances

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Boy did I ever think that I would be financially independent.

For those of you who do not know what FIRE stands for, it is Financially Independent, Retire Early. Notice the comma there. The first part leads to the second part. I used to be constrained by loans on loans on loans. Now, I have almost accomplished all of my financial goals. One last one to achieve: home ownership.

When thinking about where I have come, it amazes me. I started with roughly 75K of debt University of Utah debt and have brought that down to 0. I had a 13K car that I paid off in less than 6 years. I had family loans that I paid off immediately (well, within a few weeks). Now, the only tie downs are my annual renter insurance, bi-annual car insurance, and monthly lease payments for rent. If you don’t call that financially independent, then I don’t know what you would.

The reason I have put off home buying is because of my current situation. I live across the street from work, so the commute is heavenly. I am currently obtaining my CPA, so all my attention and time is on grasping that title. Lastly, the market is at a max, so I want it to die down before I make the big call. The last point I just mentioned is the most important for me. I want to buy something when it is down, so that I can have appreciation in value…similar concept to the stock market. Buy low, sell high.

According to all of the recent articles/videos/news stations, it seems as if another recession is going to occur in the next year to year-and-a-half. I will wait it out until then.

One food for thought to leave you all with: what are your financial goals, do you have them mapped out, and when will you consider yourself to be financially independent? If you are already there: congrats! Now what are you going to do to retire early?

Debt Free!

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The time has finally come: NO MORE DEBT. It is crazy to say and even crazier to think that said has occurred. What a ride it has been. With the help of discipline, friends, and family, I was able to pay off my last $5K student loan through the UofU and my $13.1K car that was financed. Both of which had an interest rate of 3.9%.

However, the student loan could be paid off monthly via a credit card. Such an interesting and dangerous concept: paying off debt with debt.

It will be extravagant to see what happens to the precarious student loan “bubble”. Will it burst and cause the next financial downfall? My money is on yes! The real question will be…who will be stuck in the middle of it with all of the pain and suffering to come?

CES 2019 #CESReady (Videos ONLY)

It’s a three-peat for me! Wow, it feels amazing to join CES once again this new year. CES stands for Consumer Electronics Show and occurs in January each year. Please enjoy the below videos. They will show you what occurs at the event more than words can describe here.

Any questions or thoughts? Please reach out on LinkedIn (Xander Ricketts) or Facebook (XFactorPhotographyAZ).

CES 2019 #CESReady (Pictures ONLY)

It’s a three-peat for me! Wow, it feels amazing to join CES once again this new year. CES stands for Consumer Electronics Show and occurs in January each year. Please enjoy the below pictures. They will explain what occurs at the show more than words can describe here.

Any questions or thoughts? Please reach out on LinkedIn (Alexander Ricketts) or Facebook (X-Man Az).

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Andre House in DT Phoenix

Volunteering brings a human some sense of gratitude, belonging, and self-worth. There are many words that describe the act of giving. Not in the monetary sense, but more of time spent to help others.

Andre House in downtown phoenix is a meaningful experience. You get to prepare, serve, and clean-up the food you give to the local homeless population. The time spans 4 hours and flies by because you are having fun! I highly recommend it to anyone that would like to do more in this world.

To give of oneself is to respect others. Be that light to someone’s day. Say those few words that make the biggest impact to a random stranger. Don’t forget to always be grateful for what you have and to say “Please” and “Thank you”.

Food Line @ Andre House in DT Phoenix

Preparing Napkins and Silverware

Team Intel @ Andre House in DT Phoenix

FAFSA Loans No More! #freedom

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The day has finally come: FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) STUDENT LOANS ARE NO MORE. The milestone of debt-freeness (I might have just made up that word, oh well) is one which words cannot express how satisfied I am. It is like winning a championship in your favorite sport or achieving a perfect 4.0 in school: not many people do it as quickly and easily as I did. Conquering something that has had so much weight on your shoulders is gratifying; so much weight that you don’t even need a gym membership because you’re “that” in shape.

The 6 total loans spread from 2011 to 2015. Each year you have to fill out the FSA application to determine how much money you will be granted. All of these funds have to be paid back if you do not qualify for Pell Grants (which are basically free money). Some of the loans are subsidized, while others are unsubsidized. The former equates to no interest being accrued while you are in school. The latter has interest while you are in school. By the time I graduated in 2016 with my MBA, I had just under $10K in interest that had been accumulating.

I am beyond humbled and grateful for the support and motivation my family and friends have provided. My family loaned me 2 lump sum amounts of $5K each. One loan I paid off within 2 weeks. The other loan I will be repaying within the next 4 weeks. Most people do not have this luxury of cash liquidity. I call this type of financing “bootlegging”, or straight-up using the resources you have right in front of you. Borrowing low-dollar amounts (okay, $5K can be “high” depending on how you look at it) and paying them off quickly, can give reason to the creditor (my parents in this case) to not charge interest. Not having that money for 2-4 weeks isn’t that big of a deal, right?

While paying off the FSA loans, I did help others in need when they came knocking at my door. I planned appropriately and trusted them. That trust was never lost (thankfully!). However, I do understand that you cannot trust everyone and caution is warranted when loaning dollar-dollar bills y’all.

The overall journey was tough, sacrifices were made, and lessons were learned. I am here to openly discuss and provide bad and good advice (for free of course) to anyone who would like or need it. Contact me on my cell phone, email, or DM. Best of luck to those of you that are still grinding.

The screenshots below are a summary of my total principal. I started repaying my student loans in October of 2016, and finished paying them at the beginning of November 2018 (roughly 2 years). Total principal debt from my undergrad and grad was $61,500 for all FSA loans. The servicer was FedLoan Servicing.

As a side note, I still have over $5K to pay off to the University of Utah. The loan is separate from FAFSA and will come to an end briefly. Stay tuned for that execution, my friends and family.

My questions I pose to you all are: How do we fix this? Who is the “we”? When will tuition stop increasing more than inflation? When will more colleges like ASU offer free tuition (e.g., full-time MBA program)? Will there be a student debt “bubble” that will burst and lead to the ultimate downfall of the American economy?

As promised…


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*Never accepted this loan, hence the $0 Original Balance.

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2014


2015

CBD Oil: What Is It?

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Ah, yes, the brand-new, all-happening, omnipresent CBD Oil. But what exactly is it and how can it benefit you?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, and differs from THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Both are from the cannabis sativa plant though.

CBD does not have the “high” effect of THC. It is a molecule and a cannabinoid. It is one strand found in the plant. There are over 80 other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Pain, anxiety, nausea reduction
  • Suppresses CB1 Receptors (the receptors that get you “high”)
  • Positive mood change
  • Decreases short-term memory impairment

There is a medical article that goes into much more detail here.

CBD can be made from flowers, leaves and stalks of the hemp plant or a high-CBD strain of a THC-containing marijuana plant.

There are various ways to consume CBD oil. Here is a list of the most common:

  • Place onto finger or spoon and put on tounge
  • Put under tongue
  • Use a vaporizer pen
  • Chew as gum
  • Mix with your favorite food or drink (Gatorade, tea, coffee, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Rub on your skin
  • Use shampoos/conditioners to wash your hair

Companies that produce the product can be found on reddit. They are also listed here for your ease of use:

There are also up-and-coming companies that provide reliable products. Some of them are listed here:

 

Fun Fact of the Day: Eco, the New Cryptocurrency

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Fun Fact of the Day:

Eco is a new cryptocurrency being produced by Garrett Camp, Uber’s cofounder.

Eco is differentiated from typical coins in the following ways:

  • Eco’s blockchain, or shared ledger system, is designed to run on “verified nodes,” rather than on the machines of an anonymous network of volunteers.
  • Eco’s incentive structure. Instead of having cryptocurrency “miners” compete against one another for the entire crypto-lottery prize, in his proposed system, every time an Eco node confirms a block of financial transactions, the cryptocurrency reward gets dispensed across the network to all nodes and users.
  • Another factor is distribution. Camp doesn’t want a small group of speculators to hoard Eco tokens. The more people who get their hands on it, the better, in his view.

Mr. Camp expected to have a test site up and running soon, perhaps as early as 6 months from now.

Will you invest in this new-age currency?

CES 2018: Full Review

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And so it all comes to a sad end. CES 2018 has officially ended and I cannot wait until next year (check out the videos and photos below).

Some of the biggest hits were:

1. Robot dogs– pet it, feed it, hug it, pick it up. Do as you wish, as this toy is as dog-like as they come. One little note…it has creepy eyes! (check out the video of it below)

2. Fitness trackers– there were compression socks with monitors to diagnose blood pressure, heart beat, etc. Also, shoes and insoles had monitors on them to help use statistics to help individuals change daily habits.

3. MicroLED screens– these bright LEDs allowed for an amazing picture, in what was titled “The Wall” in the Samsung booth (check out the video if it below)

4. 8K screens– double the amount of pixels as a 4K television. However, can an average consumer tell the difference between a 4K and a 8K? My assumption is no. Therefore, although this is a “wow” product, the reality is that this won’t go to market any time soon…especially at the current price point (tens of thousands of dollars).

5. Robot carriers– these help move trash cans, contaminated waste buckets, boxes, and anything else you need moving. Say goodbye to floor workers? Absolutely! I see this as a viable solution to decreasing a company’s SG&A line, decreasing on-site injuries and disasters, and increasing efficiency in the workplace. Plausible locations might take place at retail and manufacturing sites. (check out video of it below)

6. AR glasses– AR stands for augmented reality. Instead of VR, where the individual is fully immersed in a “new” world, AR allows the current “real” world to be seen, with data and information overlayed via smart glasses. This is a strong product in the manufacturing, health (think surgeries), and construction fields.

7. Smart home everything!- yes, there were hundreds of connected devices, all vying for the title of biggest, badest tech device that pairs with Google Home or Amazon Alexa. These included Wi-Fi light bulbs, smart ACs, smart sprinkler systems, smart shower heads, smart refrigerators, and smart stoves (to name a few). Who will be the next big player to integrate the majority of devices used in homes today? My take would be Google.

8. Robots in general– these robots can hang around the home and help protect those inside. Whether it be if someone is seriously injured and the ambulance needs to be called, or if a person wants to Skype her/his grandchildren in another state. Whatever it may be, these robots are the future and are going to help our generation live longer and feel more comfortable on a daily basis. Yes, these are creepy as well!

9. Autonomous driving– driving without the help of a human is Level 5. Every car company is competing vigorously to be the first-to-market for Level 5. Some of the big players include Intel (yay!), Nvidia, BMW, Nissan, Toyota, and Mercedes Benz. One of the most unique technologies in this space is LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). LIDAR uses light laser pulses to gauge how far away objects are from one another.

10. Smart security– companies like Vivint, Ring, ADT, and others are implementing fingerprint detection, 2-way cameras, sirens, and motion and light detectors in order to help secure homes even more. The benefit of some of the smaller companies like Ring is that these devices can be set up with little to no effort, and don’t require a handsome amount of upfront cash to get started. Also, the consumer can cancel services at any time, without penalties.

11. All-in-One devices– I saw a lot of features that were included within all-in-one products. For example, instead of a simple speaker, the product included a bluetooth speaker, radio, night light, weather station, and accepted voice activated commands. The reason for this consolidation of features is to reduce the amount of products that one consumer needs. These solve the problems of clutter and one device not being able to connect with other devices.

Here are the statistics from this year’s massive event:

*As a side note, CES first kicked off in June of 1967, with 250 exhibitors & 17,500 attendees in NYC*

  • This year there was more than 3,900 exhibitors
  • 2.75M net sq ft of exhibit space
  • Largest show floor in CES’ 51 yr history
  • 860,732 tweets about CES 2018
  • 450,554 uses of the #CES2018 hashtag
  • Eureka Park presented more than 900 startups from across the world
  • 900 speakers, including 240 women, across some 200 conference sessions

Citibank Mastercard Double Your Cash- THE BEST

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Fun fact of the day: I usually do not post “opinions,” but let’s try this out. Citigroup has a Mastercard (generally accepted everywhere) credit card titled Double Cash. If you do not use a points card, I HIGHLY recommend this cash card. Individuals earn 1% as they spend, and another 1% as they pay.

Like all other credit cards, it allows users to send text alerts when the card racks up so many dollars (reaches a sum threshold), or when a specific purchase is over a certain threshold (i.e., > $100…or if you are that big spender, always call me before you go shopping, and set your notification limit to $1,000).

The threat detection program works great. I just received a text asking me if I had made a purchase in Austin, TX, to which I called and had my card cancelled straight away (yes, Irish people use this expression) and a new card sent my way.

One of the unparalleled features is the direct deposit for your rewards. You heard that correctly; this credit card allows you to shove your earnings into that huge bank account you have (checking or savings)! Of course, there is always that 1-2 day delay before it is actually liquid “cash.” Another note is that the rewards amount has to reach a total of $25 BEFORE you can redeem any dollar amount. Other options include a check being sent to your residence, a gift card, or a statement credit (which I personally do most often).

One last alteration is the number is on the back (allowing for easier readability and security).

Any questions, let me know!

10th Annual Governor’s Utah Economic Summit 2016

I had the incredible experience of attending the Economic Summit at the Grand America Hotel in downtown SLC, Utah. I sat in on a panel, representing Simply Mac, Steals.com, and Jamberry Nails. All entrepreneurs start with a problem they want to solve. Eventually they create a solution out of these problems.

It is awesome to see how far Utah has come in the entrepreneur space, and what companies have come to fruition because of the top-talent pool in the Valley. Utah’s economy is booming, housing prices are rising, labor is cheap, and the mountains are 20 minutes away. Who wouldn’t want to start a company here?

And yes, that is my classmate and I “riding” in a Tesla!

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Get Motivated Seminar Utah

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I had the privilege to attend an event that only happens so often. In April, Get Motivated came to Sandy, Utah at the South Towne Expo Center off of State Street and 9400 South. This event was from 8am to 5pm, and yes I stuck through the whole thing. But, it was well worth it.

Some of the speakers included: Dr. Keith Jonson, Dr. Willie Jolley, Bob Kittell, and the famous Les Brown. Les chose to be last on the speaker order, in order to see if people actually stayed for the entire seminar.

Speaker topics included: motivation, confidence, real estate, publishing a book, investing, and competitiveness. My favorite topics were confidence and real estate. Right now, the real estate market is doing great. A house offers so many benefits, including tax advantages and an asset that can be sold for a monetary gain.

One of my favorite sayings by a few of the speakers, was that a person needs to know when to let others go. Friends, family members, and acquaintances might not have the same vision you do. If they are constantly telling you “no,” then you will start to believe in the “no.” Therefore, it is best to leave them behind and follow your vision by setting goals. Goals are how you get to your long-term vision. Without goals, a vision seems impossible. But…we all know what impossible really stands for, “I’m Possible!” Just Do It -Nike

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UPS, FedEx And The Holiday Season Risks

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The e-commerce industry has really picked up in the past few years. With increasing internet connectivity and many new companies entering the space, online sales are at an all-time high. In 2013, almost 41% of the world’s internet users purchased products online. The size of the market is increasing every year in double digits and could continue to do so for the foreseeable future. To put this into perspective, the current size of the e-commerce industry is $1.6 trillion (which represents growth of about 20.4% year-over-year) and accounts for only 6.6% of total retail sales worldwide ($24 trillion). With the emergence of cost-effective smartphones, and cheaper, more widespread internet access, the potential for growth in the sector remains immense.

A positive effect of the e-commerce boom is that ancillary industries such as the courier services and delivery sectors, should see corresponding growth. Package volumes could increase consistently year-over-year, especially during the holiday season spanning November through December. Intuitively, higher package volumes should mean higher revenues for courier companies such as FedEx and UPS . However, this may not necessarily be true if delivery companies fail to cope with heavy increases in volumes, which could result in major setbacks. Accordingly, while the holiday season represents a big opportunity for the courier companies, it also represents a substantial risk.

In 2013, UPS and FedEx underestimated the volumes to be expected during the holiday season, and as a result both companies were somewhat underprepared. Heavy snowfall and harsh winter conditions slowed them down further. Since then, both companies have carried out a wide variety of changes across the board. The companies have invested heavily in technology to increase delivery efficiency, while upgrading their sorting facilities. Several hubs across the globe have been renovated to ensure the highest productivity. UPS and FedEx have also decided to hire a larger number of seasonal workers – drivers, sorters and other support positions – during peak periods to enable smooth functioning.

In response to these challenges, UPS has invested heavily in its technology. The company recently acquired Chicago-based Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion. Coyote Logistics will provide UPS with the technology to ensure that there are no empty spaces on the company’s delivery trucks. This will allow the space on trucks to be utilized in the most efficient manner. The company has also increased the number of trucks equipped with the ORION technology in the U.S. ORION helps drivers find the fastest and most fuel-efficient ways to deliver packages. Almost 70% of the company’s trucks in the U.S. are now equipped with the technology. Apart from this, UPS has also invested heavily in Europe, increasing the number of trucks available while upgrading its sorting and automation facilities.

Earlier in the year, both FedEx and UPS introduced dimensional weight pricing, which essentially takes into account both weight and volume (length, breadth and height) of a package. This practice ensures that customers optimize their packaging in an attempt to save costs. Recently, UPS also decided to introduce a surcharge on large packages. Both changes in pricing policies should allow trucks to be filled to their highest capacities, allowing larger volumes to be moved.

A problem that both companies are facing is the difficulty in predicting e-commerce trends during the holiday season. In Q4 2014, UPS invested more than was required for the period, which had an impact on the company’s financials. While both companies stand to benefit greatly from the increased volumes, FedEx and UPS need to find the right balance to be able to make the most of the e-commerce boom.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2015/11/20/ups-fedex-and-the-holiday-season-risks/?utm_source=followingweekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20151123

Fast Food Workers Plan Tuesday Strikes In 270 Cities, Vow To Take $15 Wage To Voting Booth

http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2015/11/09/fast-food-workers-plan-tuesday-strikes-in-270-cities-vow-to-take-15-wage-to-voting-booth/?utm_source=followingimmediate&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20151109

On Tuesday, November 10th — exactly a year before Election Day — fast-food and other low-wage workers will walk off the job in 270 cities and towns across the country as part of a push for a nationwide $15 minimum wage.

These strikes will take place across battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia, as well as in cities like New York, where workers recently won a new $15 hourly wage but will protest in solidarity.

Fast-food employees will be joined by workers from other industries that typically pay low hourly wages, including home care, child care, residential care, maintenance, and security. Adjunct professors — who make, on average, around $31,000 annually — will also be on hand.

Elected leaders, clergy allies, Black Lives Matter activists, immigration advocates and members of women’s groups will all be present at various walkouts and rallies across the U.S, according to Fight for $15, the union-supported group behind this movement.

The day of action comes as the issue of minimum wage takes center stage in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. Fight for $15 notes that all three major Democratic candidates support higher pay for low-wage workers. Hillary Clinton has, however, stopped short of endorsing a $15 federal minimum wage, instead calling for a hike to $12.

The federal minimum wage is at present $7.25 an hour. A recent report by the Alliance for a Just Society found that Americans on average have to earn $16.97 an hour to make a living wage — that is, to pay for housing, utilities, and childcare while putting a modest amount of savings away for emergencies.

As workers get set to push for a pay boost, Republican presidential candidates have been voicing opposition to a federal minimum wage. Carly Fiorina described the federal government’s role in setting a minimum wage as unconstitutional in the most recent GOP debate.

As MSNBC noted, fellow mainstream Republican candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have also opposed a federal minimum, although not as strongly as the former Hewlett-Packard HPQ -7.69% CEO.

There are millions of votes at stake in this battle, given that approximately 42% of the U.S. workforce makes less than $15 an hour. A recent study of workers making less than that sum commissioned by the National Employment Law Project found that 69% of unregistered voters would register to vote in support of a candidate backing a $15 federal minimum wage and union rights.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2015/11/09/fast-food-workers-plan-tuesday-strikes-in-270-cities-vow-to-take-15-wage-to-voting-booth/?utm_source=followingimmediate&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20151109

Wasatch Touring Site Visit (EOIC)

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On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, the Eccles Outdoor Industry Club visited Wasatch Touring in Salt Lake City, Utah. Riley Cutler gave us the site tour and told us all about the operations. One interesting fact is that small outdoor retail stores actually get new products in their doors quicker than larger outdoor retail stores, like Dicks Sporting Goods or REI. The reason for this is because Wasatch Touring can test out a small quantity of new products, without having to buy a large bulk of the product. Therefore, Wasatch is always up-to-date with products, well in advance of the product’s official release year.

http://www.wasatchtouring.com/

TEDxSaltLakeCity 2015

TEDxSLC

This was my first TEDx event, and it was absolutely amazing. I heard from speakers in various industries, including bicycling, skiing, and medical. A complete list of the speakers is below.

One key takeaway was people need to transfer knowledge to other people and help one another succeed. An example given was the computer mouse. Not one person can make and sell the computer mouse, starting from raw materials, all the way to selling it to a customer. Our World has become so complex that relationships are pertinent for success. Helping one another allows for resources to be distributed properly and efficiently. Maximizing resource utilization leads to less waste (Six Sigma) and better improvements in all aspects of business (Kaizen).

Thank you Salt Lake City, for providing such an intriguing event and I hope to attend in the years to come as well.

Speakers (in alphabetical order by last name):

  1. Austen Allred
  2. Nate Bagley
  3. Erik Brunvand
  4. David Eyer Davis
  5. Ivy Estabrooke
  6. Ken Grover
  7. Thea Holcomb
  8. Kevin Jones
  9. Nalini Nadkarni
  10. Ben Rollins
  11. Nicole Roundy
  12. Hala Saleh
  13. David York