What we learnt about leadership at Xerocon South 2016

Date: 21st September 2016

It may surprise you to know that it’s not all number crunching for us here at Findlay & Co! Once a year we make a trip to meet with colleagues and catch up on the latest and greatest in cloud accounting. Xerocon is a lot of fun and we always learn some cool new things, not just about cloud accounting but also small business management and leadership.


This year’s Xerocon South was no exception. We met in Brisbane for 3 days of networking, learning, and entertainment! Two of our favourite speakers had backgrounds unrelated to accounting. The first was a Hindu priest, entrepreneur, speaker and former monk; the second was the youngest person ever to lead an expedition to Davis Station, Antarctica. Both had interesting insights into leadership.

Here are some snippets from their keynote addresses.

Distraction vs productivity

Former monk turned entrepreneur, Dandapani, explained that productivity in the modern workplace is being sabotaged by distraction. This takes the form of noise in open-plan offices and the ping of notifications from chats, phones & emails.

Dandapani suggests small businesses should consider establishing daily solo work times. Blocking out a couple of hours a day for employees to complete work without interruption may just be the solution.

At the Xero offices employees can book themselves a private meeting room or take advantage of a whole range of quiet workspaces. Those who prefer to remain at their desk sometimes just put their headphones on as a way to signify they’re busy.

Leading through adversity

Antarctic explorer Rachael Robertson, spoke about leading in adversity. She took us back to her year-long expedition in Antarctica where she led a team 18 people in winter, 120 people in summer, and a $20 million science program:

“Imagine your office is perpetually dark, windy and isolated from the rest of the world, the temperature hovers around minus 35 degrees, and you hate the cold. It’s the ultimate test of leadership!”

Having successfully come out the other end of this mission, and with an MBA, and a bestselling book under her belt, she has some wise words on leadership, what she calls big leadership in small moments. Her key messages were:

  • Whether your team is remote, office based, or stuck with you in the wilderness, a poor culture has the ability to undermine your best work.
  • Build integrity within the team. “Integrity means no triangles. We all agreed, ‘You don’t speak to me about him. I don’t speak to you about her.’”
  • Create moments of momentum. “You have to find things to celebrate. When in you’re in the middle of a hard slog, you need to be able to say, ‘We are still achieving; we are still doing important stuff’.”
  • Protect your tribe. “Penguins survive because they literally huddle together to keep warm. Everyone needs to take turns on the edge,” said Robertson.

What the flock?

Well if that doesn’t inspire you, maybe this will? Some cheeky Australian caricature artist whipped up these two beauties. Always with the sheep those Aussies, a striking resemblance none the less, enjoy!

scott-cartoon wayne-cartoon

Learn more about the Xerocon speakers


Rachael Robertson

Posted in: Alexandra, Latest News, Queenstown, Wanaka