There are occasions in life when our experience completely transcends our expectations – ExpensiCon II has been one of those moments.
A “Contrarian Conference” held at one on the most exotic locations on earth (Bora Bora – the small picture postcard Tahitian island literally in the middle of the South Pacific) was the most amazing Accounting Technology event I have ever had the privilege of attending.
Whilst the invitation list was limited to under 100 delegates, it was by no means elitist, without exception you could sense that everyone attending embraced their role and responsibly to converse, collaborate and contribute to the profession that has given us all so much. My hope is that by sharing some insights gained at ExpensiCon II it will help you further commit to, and enjoy, your journey in the Accounting | Bookkeeping | Technology professions and continue to create partnerships that impact others in a positive and constructive way.
So what made ExpensiCon II such an Amazing Experience and how can it benefit you?
The following are my top 5 components (from an attendee’s perspective) that the Expensify team completely aced at ExpensiCon II.
1 – Creating Community
Expensify carefully curated an audience of diversity from around the globe, with each of us sharing a common connection of Accounting & Technology.
The moment you set foot on the island it was like walking into your favourite sports team’s club room. There were so many people I have admired, respected and grown to know (mostly online) in the room (or in this case on the beach). In our online, “pseudo connected” world there is genuine magic to be made when people meet in real life (I must admit that on more than one occasion I was chatting away to someone thinking we had met before only to discover that this was the first time IRL). Sort of embarrassing but at the same time amazing that we know so much about each other and share so much online that sometimes we forget that we have never actually met. There is always so much more to discover about someone’s story beyond what appears online.
What I have discovered is that no matter how connected we think we are in the online world the real connection occurs when we have the opportunity to greet each other in person and have the time to ask questions and listen intently to the answers, each and every one has an amazing story within them and one which we can always learn and benefit from. Thank you, Expensify, for bringing the Accounting | Bookkeeping | Consulting | Professional Association and Technology Vendor communities together at ExpensiCon II.
2 – Collegiate Collaboration
At first glance you may think that the gathering of 100 leaders from various fields within a profession may be a risky thing to do. Business can often be seen as competitive, win and lose, scarcity, protective and proprietary of ideas and methodologies, with the occasional egocentric megalomaniac thrown into the mix. ExpensiCon had none of that. Hats off to everyone for checking the ego at the door and fostering genuine collaboration, and to all fellow delegates I thank you for your inclusiveness with a collegiate and collaborative mindset. There was a genuine sense of a pioneering spirit, friendship, creating abundance of opportunity for all in our professions by sharing experiences and insights gained over decades of commitment to the craft. What I continue to experience is the more you get to hang around those of greater experience and attitude the more we are inspired to raise our standards and set a course for continual improvement and refinement via life-long learning.
3 – Contrarian Approach
ExpensiCon is different to any other conference I have ever attended (100+ over the past 20 years), not that other events haven’t been worth attending, in-fact all have had unique moments and have been special in their own way and I have always gained something from attending each event. Most have the recurring theme that long after the content has faded the memories remain, and upon reflection these moments are anchored by the experience of human connection. The breakfast meetings, the catch up over coffee or the extended (and often entertaining) post dinner conversations at the bar where most of the challenges of life, business and the profession are solved and sometimes created. What I loved about the way in which Expensify approached the creation of ExpensiCon is by throwing out conventional wisdom about events (such as, large scale for maximum short-term impact, content rich, sales and marketing based at a convention centre location) to instead focus on laying a foundation for collaboration within and outside the profession, a long-term view, a balanced agenda in an idyllic location focused on the attendees obtaining maximum benefit from the shared experience. Next time you are looking at running a client event think about how some of these facets could be baked into the DNA of your event.
4 – Cultured Confidence
Sometimes our futures can be hamstrung by the successes of our past. Thinking we must conform to how we think others see us, making sure we don’t take risks and playing it safe within the industry tram lines. What I noticed (again) about Expensify is an unassuming inner confidence, like they have taken the time to discern their future and are diligently and confidently working towards making it a reality. Whilst this confidence can sometimes foster aloofness and even arrogance, this is not something I have ever seen at Expensify; and going back to the contrarian conversation, it’s as though they have recognised this possibility and have made a conscious effort to move in the opposite direction. What I continue to learn is that the inner confidence game is always worth playing and seeking to master, and the good news is, it’s a single player game in which we control the ultimate result.
5 – Care Free Attitude
Having fun isn’t something that we need to reserve for our after (business) hours life. When work is enjoyable, much of the other parts of our day also become more enjoyable. It’ s as though increased irreverence brings even better business / work results. With our hyper distracted worlds and increased time being devoted to learning the art of being present, perhaps we could benefit from caring a little less about ourselves and more so on the contribution we can make to others. Caring Less (about our expectations) to Gain More (Understanding of others and their needs). The vast conversations at ExpensiCon had two recurring themes, discovering more about the other person (both attendee and Expensify team members) and what are the needs of the people who we are looking to serve. The amazing thing is when focused in these areas we are present on the needs of others and naturally enter a shared discovery mode as opposed to going straight to solution mode, perhaps worth remembering next time we have a conversation with a client.
People sometimes ask me how do you get to go to something like ExpensiCon? and the short answer is I don’t really know (it’s certainly not something I ever expect), however perhaps some of the answers are in these 5 key elements that Expensify created and delivered to perfection at ExpensiCon II.
Mauruuru (Thank You in Tahitian) David Barrett and Team Expensify for the incredible honour and privilege to be a part of this truly unique experience.