I Dropped $1,000 To 'Invest In Myself' And, No, It Wasn't At A Spa

by Talia Koren

I wouldn't fork over $1,000 for just anything.

In fact, I can't even bear to spend $15 on lunch at work, which is why I brown bag it every day. I even stopped buying clothes for three months.

But, when I had the opportunity to drop $1,000 on a personal development -- "invest in yourself" -- conference, I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough.

OK, no. It wasn't exactly like that, but the decision was easy to make compared to how long it takes me to decide what to order at a restaurant.

The event was called Forefront, and it was created by a company called I Will Teach You To Be Rich.


The CEO of IWT, Ramit Sethi, happens to be one of my favorite authors. His book about personal finance basics literally changed my life.

So, when he sent out an email about this event in New York City, I was keen on going. The idea of meeting other like-minded personal development nerds was enticing.

Of course, I had to ask myself: Is one thousand dollars worth it? For me, that's almost an entire paycheck.

I've heard friends complain about paying that much to go to their best friends' weddings, yet I spent that money to meet a bunch of strangers.

And that was the first lesson I learned at this conference.

1. Talking to people who are very different from you is valuable.

I don't have any close friends who weren't born in America.

My group of close friends all grew up in New York or New Jersey. We all studied some form of communication in colleges along the East Coast. I won't lie -- it's a bit of a bubble. And I love that bubble.

But going to this three-day event in New York City allowed me to connect with people from different countries with different careers.

There is so much value in sharing ideas and listening to stories from people who are literally nothing like you.

Of course, the 500 people who attended Forefront all have one thing in common: We all care deeply about creating a rich life.

It was pretty cool to have that in common with a guy named Ahmed Bilal who, for example, is from Pakistan and is 10 years older than I am.

Where else would I meet people like Ahmed? One of the many ways to expand your perspective is to talk to people who are different from you. I know that's definitely easier said than done, but it starts with putting yourself in the right place to do just that.

Maybe I don't have to spend $1,000 on a weekend to meet diverse people, but the opportunity was just an added bonus of the entire experience.


2. The most important things don't always have to do with tangible gain.

This is one of the many truth bombs that Sethi dropped in his keynote that stuck with me.

The CEO talked about how he used to have the ROI (return on investment) mindset for literally everything -- like clothes and even smaller everyday things.

It's not an uncommon mindset to have when you're super driven.

One woman at the conference talked about how she gets anxious when she spends time with her boyfriend because she feels like she's not being productive toward her goals.

But maybe there's not supposed to be an ROI when it comes to relationships. Sethi said,

ROI is a tool; you can't use it for everything.

But like most of what he talked about, this one is still sinking in.

In fact, many of the points he made in his keynote and Q&A session won't probably click for me until a few months from now, or maybe even years.

Talia Koren

If I'm being completely honest, I did have somewhat of an ROI mindset going into Forefront -- but I wasn't thinking about it in terms of money.

No, I didn't expect to spend $1,000 on Forefront and find a business partnership of some kind that would put that money back in my pocket.

But by the end of the second day, I had an enhanced perspective. Maybe this "tool" was still relevant at this event but in the future, it didn't have to dictate my actions.

3. Investing in yourself holds you accountable.

You can't rely on anyone else to do the work for you.

At Forefront, we focused on what it means to live a "rich life," or your dream life. It's more than just what your job title is -- it's what your day-to-day looks like and how you spend your time.

Of course, a "rich life" is different for everyone. For me, it involves a lot of snowboarding, helping people and keeping my relationships healthy.

But we didn't just sit there dreaming up what the perfect life looks like, we discussed how we can actually make it happen.

That involves putting the work in, and "going through the fire," as Sethi said in his keynote. He said,

It's fun to think about new stuff; it's hard to do the work.

So. True.

We were all there to learn about the work part. Well, at least I know I was.

Investing in yourself isn't just about spending money, it's about spending the time too.

I committed to a weekend to connect with people from all over the world in different industries, learn and toss ideas around.

I even got the chance to have fun doing things I would never normally do, like talk about some of my biggest insecurities with strangers and get my hair and makeup done for a photo shoot.

If anything, spending the $1,000 made me value the experience so much more because I had to think about what I wanted to get out of the weekend beforehand -- because getting the most out of the weekend was on me and no one else.

Investing in yourself means knowing that whatever you're working on or learning now will result in a huge payoff later.

The connections I made and the lessons I learned will end up being worth so much more than the money I spent.

And that's why I already dropped another $1,000 on the same event next year, which will happen in Chicago.

On the last day of Forefront, we had to write down all of the things we wanted to accomplish in the next year. When I show up next year, I'll reconnect with the people I met this year and I can talk about how far I've gotten with my one-year plan.

So, yeah, it's an expensive ticket and yeah, it will be more expensive next year because I'll have to travel, but that's OK.

You really can't put a price on achieving your goals.