3000 professional accountants and bookkeepers spending two days in 32-degree temperatures, listening to updates on tax, software, compliance, e-invoicing and regulations...
...might sound to you like one of Dante's nine levels of suffering. In which case, you’ve never been to Xerocon.
My seventh outing to Xerocon (or as I now refer to it, "Burning Man for Accountants") proved to be illuminating, thought-provoking, challenging and fun. If you’re ever lucky enough to have the chance to attend, don’t pass it up.
A ton of highlights jump out at me from this year:
- Listening to the Xero team talk about human insights, realised in the new single sign-on approach for ecosystem partners (watch this space for future PaySauce integration!)
- Nigel Latta sharing his thoughts on influence
- Connecting in person with several of our app partners (a big shout out to Figured)
- Catching up with some of my favourite accountants
However, the most inspiring and moving moment was Craig Hudson sharing his very personal journey of depression and Imposter Syndrome.
In a brave and persuasive speech, Craig, literally under the spotlight in front of 3000 people, bought home to me the shocking state of mental health in New Zealand. The statistics make for terrible reading, with some estimates showing 1 in 4 working New Zealanders have been diagnosed with mental illness. It gets worse for small business owners, with nearly a third reporting a mental health condition since starting or taking over their business.
Something has to be done, and with Xero launching the Xero Employment Assistant Programme, we have the first step. However, this is a much longer journey. Craig's challenge to the audience, and one that I’m taking on personally, is to play our part in the well-being of those around us and to treat it as a collective responsibility.
So for me, this year’s takeaway is that we can’t always separate the personal from the professional, because they directly impact each other. We’re finally acknowledging that, yes, we’re all still human beings at work. Even in “professional” contexts, we’re allowed to show empathy and be vulnerable. At PaySauce, we’re beginning by creating mutual trust among our team, to overcome stigma and allow open conversations. There’s heaps more that we can and will do, but it’s a good start.
Cheers to all our partners, friends and the Xero team for making this year’s Xerocon awesome. See you in 2020!
Find out more about Xerocon here