This year’s successful, Vegas-themed Xero conference in Brisbane really was as amazing as it looks in the pictures (yes, that ball pit swimming pool was real!) with accountants and bookkeepers from all around Australia and New Zealand attending. The final delegate count was a whopping 3702. So many people there that I found out later there were people there that I knew but whom I hadn’t even seen.
I like to attend industry events such as Xerocon to network with familar faces, to make new connections, and to keep up with industry trends. As a Xero Gold Partner it’s important to me that I keep up-to-date with what Xero is up to as a company, and with their software.
The keynote speaker line-up was truly fantastic. Special mention goes to Mark Manson, author of the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*!k ( I’m a fan of his book so had a wee fan-girl moment), and to Professor Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist who has been working in Silicon Valley for decades.
But the crowd favourite was probably Gill Hicks, whose story of surviving the 2005 London terrorist train bombings. Her message that it’s not enough to simply survive, that the worst thing that can happen to us is to be alive and not live, was moving, humbling, and inspirational.
I also appreciated the breakout session presented by Sharon McClafferty from Slipstream Coaching who spoke about the importance of work-life balance with a touching personal story about her father. And the session presented by Rachael Powell, Xero’s Chief Customer and People Officer (essentially she is HR and Customer Service in one role, a very interesting combination at first glance but making so much sense at second glance). Her talk centered on putting your purpose and people at the heart of what you do, and the human ripple effect that happens when you get this right.
Purpose and people were, in fact, a huge theme of this year’s conference, in particular one of Xero’s core values – Human. The theme infiltrated through multiple presentations. I lost count of the times that Xero’s own purpose (mission) and values were up on the big screen as being integral to the message and vision being presented. By the end of the two days I was clear about what Xero is trying to achieve and inspired to be a part of it. The impact of a business having a strong purpose that goes far beyond shareholder profit cannot be underestimated.
In my coaching group for bookkeepers, From Bookkeeper to Business Owner, we have just finished the first module which deals with this very thing. It’s been so rewarding to help my bookkeeping business clients come up with their own values, mission and vision statements. They’ve become really clear about why their business exists and the impact they can have on their clients’ lives and the wider community. The human ripple effect.
One of my favourite things about the bookkeeping community in Australia and New Zealand is the wonderful, welcoming culture we have created. New people coming into the industry are always pleasantly surprised by how supportive and helpful we are to each other. The Certified New Zealand Bookkeepers and their recent, well-attended, conference is a prime example of that.
There is so much opportunity in this industry, and whilst a certain amount of business competition is good, I also see that there is plenty to go around and it’s not at all unusual to see bookkeepers referring to or collaberating with each other, and accountants and bookkkeepers working well together for the benefit of their mutual clients.
I absolutely love being part of this special community. Not only do I love the technology aspect of where this industry is headed, but I get the opportunity to work with some truly inspirational people, many of whom wear various hats including raising families alongside building their businesses. I have walked in those shoes and I understand the realities of juggling commitments. It can be hard, but ultimately worthwhile and satisfying.
In my role as a business coach I’m still very much involved with the bookkeeping and accounting software industry. I work predominantly with bookkeepers around the world who are making a difference, helping them to transform their bookkeeping practice into a thriving business. The results that my clients are getting, by creating profitable, sustainable businesses, are transforming their lives and rippling out to the lives of their clients. It’s a real honour to walk beside them on their journey.
Check out the image gallery below. Most of these photos were taken very early in the day before the throngs of people filtered in.