The Accounting Technology Diaries: Xerocon 2018

Last week I attended Xerocon in Brisbane. It was an epic three days, starting with Heather Smith’s Cloud Apps Meetup and then Precon hosted by Practice Ignition on Tuesday, followed by two days of amazing content and networking at Xerocon itself.

Day 1

Walking into what has been termed “Coachella for Accountants”. There were strobe lights, a giant pool (filled with balls) with blow up floaties and surrounded by pool chairs, ping pong tables, and a basketball court with pro-basketballers shooting hoops alongside accountants and software vendors. It was an incredible sight to behold. Upon entering the Main Stage, it was like walking into a nightclub, complete with more strobes, a DJ and a low blue light so the room was dark.


Xerocon opened its first Keynote with a bang, with local Brisbane artist Tom Thum, taking to the stage to educate the crowd on the power of voice, creating an incredible soundtrack of impossible beats and phenomenal sounds. Steve Vamos then took to the stage, speaking about his journey to becoming the new CEO, and the power of relationships and people.

Steve Vamos Opening Keynote

The second keynote, on the AI revolution by Professor Genevieve Bell, showed that the 4th industrial revolution will end up having no actual people involved, as it will all be comprised of cyber-physical systems.


The majority of the day was spent chatting with app vendors, and fellow accountants, gaining a greater understanding of what changes are happening in the industry. Day 1 wrapped up with networking drinks, and a live band pumping out crowd favourites from a stage in the ball pit.

Day 2

Day 2 kicked off with the author of ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’, Mark Manson, taking to the stage to speak about choosing your struggle, and how to find happiness. Mark spoke about the power of choice, and how we have the opportunity to choose how we respond to each event that occurs, and what we feel helps to give our lives meaning. Something which many would not think to realise is that if you remove struggling from someone’s life, you don’t have a metric for things that are valuable, resulting in people becoming unappreciative. You always need some pain and suffering to be successful.


One thing that truly hit home, is that Mark referred to the fact we all need to be taking depression and anxiety much more seriously, especially in this industry. We all need to be looking out for each other and trying to reduce the stigma around this topic. Make sure you look out for your team. 

Bonus points for Mark as he also referenced Harry Potter during his talk!

Key Takeaways from Day 2:

  • Anna Curzon reinforced that Xero wants to give back to you (the accountants and the bookkeepers), as you are the centre of the small business economy.
  • Trent Innes reinforced that the 1% that your customers see you do is everything as 99% of what you do for your customers is invisible. A direct quote from Trent: “When you recruit people who embody your mission and values, in roles that energise and excite them, you build a high performing culture that values the relational over the transactional”.
  • Rod Drury spoke about what he has been doing since stepping down as CEO, and how important it is to have downtime. He also reinforced how he is excited to be working on Xero Learn and the “Ahha” moments he is going to be having with AI over the next year. Fingers crossed Steve Vamos lets him have the keynote he’s requested next year to showcase what he’s working on!
Rod Drury on stage at Xerocon

The App Ecosystem

With 85 exhibitors at Xerocon, it was quite overwhelming to know which apps to speak to. Xerocon provided numerous networking opportunities, not only with the software vendors but other accountants. Hearing how other accountants are utilising Xero and the app ecosystem partners for clients provided a chance for reflection on current processes and apps being used, as well as an opportunity to gain insights on which apps to speak to. Make sure you pick the apps that will benefit your client’s businesses and improve efficiencies.

The Gala

Xero certainly put on a gala to remember at Cloudland.  It was definitely the best way to wrap up an epic conference! There were aerial silk artists, photo booths, and apparently a live snake.


My Highlights

  1. Seeing Mark Manson’s keynote on Thursday – so many valuable truth bombs!
  2. Hearing what Rod Drury is going to be working on.
  3. The ball pit – because we’re all giant kids at heart.


I can’t wait for Xerocon next year!


If you were at Xerocon this year, please feel free to shoot me a message on LinkedIn.

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