The Legends ūüéô Live at QuickBooks Connect

Released Friday, 13th December 2019
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SponsorsShow Notes
  • 01:25 ‚Äď Meet the legends! ¬†
  • 02:54 ‚Äď Our guests share their biggest takeaways from QuickBooks Connect 2019
  • 03:04 ‚Äď For Michelle, it's AAA - apps, automation, and AI
  • 03:28 ‚Äď For Laura, it's the evolution of advisory
  • 03:47 ‚Äď Clayton's takeaways included latest iterations of cloud evolution and getting ready for new opportunities
  • 04:54 ‚Äď Clayton sheds some light on what he's doing now
  • 06:04 ‚Äď Laura's got her head and her firm in the cloud!
  • 06:59 ‚Äď Michelle's recent focus revolves around app selection and integration along with consulting and training
  • 09:05 ‚Äď What's changed since the very first QuickBooks Connect?¬†
  • 09:49 ‚Äď Michelle's seen a huge improvement in networking over the years
  • 10:18 ‚Äď Just because you hit legend status doesn't mean you stop learning new things!
  • 10:30 ‚Äď Laura see a shift to development now that the majority have found their way to the cloud
  • 11:16 ‚Äď Clayton thinks people are moving away from "appstraction" and moving towards action
  • 12:41 ‚Äď After all the hype of cloud fades, you can now focus on the actual productivity¬†
  • 14:44 ‚Äď More talk of what's to come for these three¬†
Connect with Michelle, Clayton, and LauraGet in Touch

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This episode of The Cloud Accounting Podcast is sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks. Accounting professionals and bookkeepers have long been at the forefront of using cutting-edge technologies to take the profession to the next level and to ensure they're delivering the best possible service to their clients. Whether you want to grow your firm or sharpen your skills, Intuit QuickBooks provides you with the AI-driven products, services, and the resources that you need to help all sides of your career take shape. To learn more about how QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Online Accountant, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, and the ProAdvisor program can help you grow your practice and scale your impact, head over to That is Cloud Accounting Podcast dot promo forward slash Q-U-I-C-K-B-O-O-K-S. QuickBooks - Backing you.

Michelle Long: ... Because I don't do taxes. I'm a CPA who hates taxes, right? I'm unusual.  Blake Oliver: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver. David Leary: I'm David Leary. Michelle Long: And I'm Michelle Long. Laura Redmond: Laura Redmond. [00:01:00] Clayton Oates: G'day, I'm Clayton Oates.  David Leary: Wow, we have Laura, Michelle, and Clayton here. We're at day two of QuickBooks Connect. Yes, they had some famous people on stage, but we have the accounting famous legends with us for this podcast. Blake Oliver: So great to have all three of you sitting at the table across from us. Thank you for joining us. Michelle Long: Thank you for asking us. Clayton Oates: I'm wondering about that word legend. That just sounds old. Michelle Long: I know! I know, right? Clayton Oates: I'm talking about myself here. Laura Redmond: Me, too.  David Leary: I truly think all of you guys are legendary in your own way, right? Michelle, you're legendary [00:01:30] because back in the day for QuickBooks, there was this QuickBooks community. It was like when companies used to host their own forums - pre-Facebook, pre-Facebook groups, pre-LinkedIn groups - and you answered 35,000 or 40,000 questions. Michelle Long: A lot. David Leary: Every night for four years. Then, that led you to become a legend there. Then, they shut that down. You moved to LinkedIn, and then 100,000 people joined your LinkedIn group. Then, Laura, you were the first person, the first QuickBooks ProAdvisor to move to cloud in 2011; nobody was in cloud then. Laura Redmond: We had our firm and our first client on in 2005. 2011 [00:02:00] is when we pushed all clients. David Leary: All clients to it- Michelle Long: Oh, wow!  David Leary: Then, Clayton, you kind of discovered QuickBooks in Australia. I think it was the Reckon product then. You saw there was a conference in the states, and you were like, "I'm gonna fly out to the States. I don't know anybody there. It'll be fun!" Clayton Oates: It was in Vegas, baby! I could do that. Blake Oliver: I will never forget meeting Clayton Oates in Las Vegas. He used to wear costumes to all of these parties. Clayton Oates: Oh, that's right. Blake Oliver: I think one year you were Austin Powers. Michelle Long: Yep [crosstalk]  Clayton Oates: It was smashing, baby! It was amazing! Laura Redmond: I remember that, and Jacinta looked amazing. [00:02:30] Clayton Oates: Oh, behave!  Blake Oliver: One year, you were Crocodile Dundee. One year, you had a crocodile with you. Clayton Oates: Yeah, mate, that was [inaudible] crikey, I'll tell ya. Blake Oliver: I wanna thank you, Clayton, for teaching me, as a first-time attendee to one of these conferences, as a newbie in the accounting tech industry, that it could be fun [crosstalk] It could be really, really fun, so, yeah-  Clayton Oates: -totally, and you guys are carrying that candle bright into the future for sure! So, this is gonna be good. David Leary: For all of you, this is, I think, your sixth QuickBooks Connect, like myself. I've been to a bunch of these. [00:03:00] What's the big takeaway this year that you guys have seen?  Blake Oliver: Who wants to go first? Michelle. Michelle Long: I think the big thing is apps, and automation, and AI. Like Sasan said on the main stage today, our technology's been changing rapidly in the past, but over the next five years, because of AI, it's gonna change faster than ever before. I love the idea that Intuit is here to help us, to bring us along on that journey and to help us keep up with the technology. That's kinda what I've been thinking, anyway. Laura Redmond: I see the industry trying [00:03:30] to keep the conversation about advisory going and try to ... It's evolving. I think they're trying to define what exactly it is. How do we do it? They've been talking a lot about doing things like value pricing, and advisory, and we're getting more into the how to do it for everyone as a collective industry. Clayton Oates: I suppose I'm seeing a couple things. One is from Intuit' side, the step up in innovation and delivering. I think Ariege's session yesterday was, "Wow! Okay ..." We're really starting to see, perhaps, that next iteration [00:04:00] of evolution of cloud. The other piece is preparedness by the advisor of certain mindset, probably more than anything. It's been interesting watching Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. sort of being in both markets really, over the last six, seven, eight years here. Definitely the mindset and opportunity preparedness of the audience to adapt, and adopt, and run with the new solutions. No longer are we the, "You're way out there five years," and all that, and so forth. It's just this convergence [00:04:30] now where people are really starting to run on the same road globally. I'm excited to see where this country can take this future because this is a big tap, and I think it feels that it's getting turned on right now. David Leary: Where are your guys' practices at? I know you guys have all had practices grown. I know some of you do training, you do other things. Clayton, I don't even know what you do anymore. Clayton Oates: That's a great question [crosstalk] David Leary: You just do conference travels. Clayton Oates: I might use this podcast as the catalyst for our dinnertime conversation, "This is actually what dad does." For me, I [00:05:00] still have kept the firms. I had a firm grow out of an accounting practice - software advisory, consulting, recommending solutions, training, and support. This is 1994. I thought this thing was gonna be over in about two years. I thought everyone's gonna have all this sorted [crosstalk]  David Leary: 1994; Blake, were you alive then? Blake Oliver: I was [crosstalk] up and kickin', yeah [crosstalk] Clayton Oates: -I was 12. No, I was later than that. The thing was, now being independently owned and operated for the last 18 years, we came out of the accounting group. For [00:05:30] me, it's ... We've still got the consulting business, so we're actually out there as a team. I do a little bit of this, of walking through clients' businesses, and doing the site reviews, and walking through their business systems, and now, just trying to plug in what we know and learning at QB Connect, for example, and what can suit and fit that market need for clients. We're not the accountant. We're not the bookkeeper. We're the software advisory guys, and we hopefully play a role in connecting the accountant with stronger connections with their clients; also [00:06:00] the bookkeeper's and, importantly, the technology vendors, as well. Laura Redmond: This is gonna sound cheesy, but in the cloud, that's where we're located. Let me explain. I live in Silicon Valley. That's where I am, but my COO is on the East Coast. We have staff on the East Coast. I have people in different states. We really do have Zoom meetings and Google Chat. We are on all day. David Leary: All remote? Laura Redmond: All remote. Then, I've got Aero. We're all remote. We're headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia. Three of us are out here, though, on the West Coast, so our meetings are all ... There, [00:06:30] we're in Slack and on Zoom-  David Leary: Aero ... You have an app. Laura Redmond: Have an app, sorry, called Aero Workflow. David Leary: You run your app company and your accounting firm- Laura Redmond: And accounting firm.  David Leary: -all 100-percent remote. Laura Redmond: Correct. David Leary: Got it.  Blake Oliver: Wow! Laura Redmond: We have a new Advisory Institute, all remote. Michelle Long: Very cool. Blake Oliver: I'm excited. I see more and more firms ... I'm meeting new ones I'd never even heard of that are completely remote, and we're not talking six people, we're talking 60. It's getting- Michelle Long: Well, and it's not just accounting firms, it's the small businesses now. Blake Oliver: Yeah.  Michelle Long: They may not have a physical [00:07:00] location. They have salespeople that are doing their thing, and they may have us or somebody doing the bookkeeping, and the owner. They may not have a real physical office anymore. They're all working virtually, too. I think that's pretty cool. I've been focused lately on doing app selection and integration and working with other ProAdvisors and things. As always, I love the consulting and training, so I love it when I'm on the road. I had a hard time this spring because of my foot surgery. I didn't get to go on the tour, and I sat home, and I watched everybody posting all this stuff, and I'm like, "Oh, I'm missing out!" So, it's thrilling to be back- Laura Redmond: But she's [00:07:30] back on, and we're teaching together next week here [crosstalk] So, we also are on the road traveling for things; conferences like this or when we teach QuickBooks. Michelle Long: Right. Clayton Oates: That's one of the great things, too, actually getting out to the community.  Michelle Long: Yes.  Clayton Oates: I love roadshows. I've done over 100 roadshow events in the last 10 years, often with vendors. Our own business was built off the back of roadshows; going to where the community and the audience is. David Leary: Tell everybody your secret. You go to all these conferences, but you don't look aged. It's not wearing on you. How do you do this, Clayton? Clayton Oates: I love the fact that this is a podcast. Laura Redmond: Yeah [crosstalk]  [00:08:00] Clayton Oates: Look at my hair.   David Leary: Should I describe how he looks? Michelle Long: No, he looks fabulous, and you don't age-  Laura Redmond: Kinda gorgeous. Clayton Oates: It gives you an energy, doesn't it? Fulfilling work, and fulfilling contribution - this is what it's about, ultimately. We happen to do tech. We happen to do accounting ... We're all in the client relationship/client service business. Blake Oliver: I'm starting to think the secret is the Vegemite. David Leary: That's his secret. You've got Vegemite [crosstalk]  Michelle Long: That stuff is awful! [crosstalk] Oh, my gosh.  Blake Oliver: It must have health benefits. Clayton Oates: Well, the thing is with Vegemite, if [00:08:30] you have a really late night and that's conference scene, and a really big night, the next day, if you take some smashed avocado, because that's the thing these days, and a slither of Vegemite, and you eat that, you may feel marginally better for 30 seconds!  Blake Oliver: This episode is brought to you by Vegemite. Vegemite, it keeps you younger longer. Michelle Long: That's just awful. I tried it when I was down in Australia. The only way I could describe it is it's [00:09:00] like car oil or something. It's just awful. Clayton Oates: When you're brought up on it, you don't know any different. Michelle Long: I know. Blake Oliver: We're at QuickBooks Connect number six. You all were at number one? What is the biggest change that each of you has noticed from one to six? Michelle, I'll start with you. Michelle Long: I think I notice way more networking and interactions, and the accountants are really coming out of their mold. They're not as quiet, and they're welcoming to new people. The thing I love is seeing all these people who know one another online from [00:09:30] social, and everybody here is like a hugger ... "Oh, my God! It's great to finally meet you!" People aren't sitting in their own little corners, and I think it's just really a great conference with a lot of networking going on. I encourage people to do that. I'll tell them, "Don't sit by somebody you know, or somebody you came with; go sit by new people, so you get to know more people." I think the networking has really improved a lot over the years. David Leary: Well, then there are those brain dates or whatever. Michelle Long: Yes. David Leary: You sign up appointments. If you wanted to learn from Blake, I could have signed up for an appointment. Blake was not [00:10:00] in the brain dates, but this is the concept of it. I could sign up, and Blake could teach me how to do a podcast [crosstalk] voice. Blake Oliver: I'm gonna make David officially sign up for brain dates with me from now on. David Leary: Everybody could have a brain date with us every week if they subscribed to the podcast [crosstalk]  Blake Oliver: That's right. Laura Redmond: I signed up for a brain date with a marketing person yesterday. Michelle Long: Awesome! David Leary: Even if you're a legend, you still can learn more. Laura Redmond: Oh, my! Michelle Long: Oh, yeah.  Laura Redmond: Oh, my!  Michelle Long: We're always learning. Laura Redmond: We are constantly working on our businesses. Blake Oliver: Laura Redmond, what is the change for you? Laura Redmond: Difference between one and six? Blake Oliver: Yes, yes. Laura Redmond: I [00:10:30] would say - I have no data on this - but I sort of feel a shift from maybe Intuit dollars on marketing and ... Just go on; go to the cloud ... Everyone kind of gets that. We're all in the cloud, yeah, yeah, yeah ... I see, it seems maybe, a shift to dev, right? I feel like big, big features are coming out and being built faster, it seems, so I love that. That's fantastic because that's what we really need. We do love each other as a family, and that is a great part of this, but when we [00:11:00] go back to our clients, we need features. We need tools. Michelle Long: Wasn't that exciting some of the stuff Ariege brought out yesterday- Laura Redmond: Yeah, yeah. That was amazing. Michelle Long: -with the Bookkeeping Review, and the KPIs, and stuff? I'm like, "Yes!" I love that stuff. Laura Redmond: Yes. Michelle Long: That's amazing. Laura Redmond: Now we have a visual to sit down and talk to our clients about. Michelle Long: Yes!  Blake Oliver: How about you, Clayton? Biggest change from one to six? Clayton Oates: Yeah, well, it's hard to remember back six years. I can hardly remember yesterday. Look, I think it's the preparedness of the audience to ... It's gone in waves where people have, perhaps ... When they first come into this arena ... This [00:11:30] whole space is new; 10 years, think of it, in other vendors and independent events around the world ... There was this overwhelm, you know? People would come into the audience and just ... Appstraction, I suppose, is what I call it. We're distracted by all the apps. It's like, "Wow! I need to know it all." There's this stress and anxiety, basically, built up.  I sense we're getting over that hump. Different people will go through at different stages, but there's a base-camp level, perhaps, that we've helped establish, in a way, to put that sort of concerns [00:12:00] and fears to one side or alleviate them very quickly so that we can get on with actually partnering, and taking action, and creating a future for ourselves and people you're serving. David Leary: That's an interesting observation because somebody last night was saying it just felt like there was a downer in the room. But I think you're right, the energy level is just ... That anxiety, that stress isn't here now. I think you're right [crosstalk] They're like, "Oh, my God! I'm gonna fall ... I'm gonna lose my whole practice if I don't go to the cloud, right now, today; if I don't do advisory ..." [crosstalk] The stress is gone. Clayton Oates: - if you look at the garden of hope cycle ... I [00:12:30] don't know if you're familiar with that, or people out there, but take a look at it. There's this- effectively, this technological change that happens at cloud- platform-type shift, and we tend to over-hype the whole thing. You think of the driving cars-  David Leary: Like podcasting-  Clayton Oates: The podcast is a thing. That's a thing. Then we get out into this over-inflated expectations, and we sense that, "Oh, we're missing out, or we're the only ones that don't get it ..." if everyone's gonna move to it straightaway, but then you move to this trough of disillusionment. It's like, "Oh, no, it's not that," but we have over-inflated [00:13:00] expectations. Then it moves out to this plateau of productivity ... Slope of enlightenment; plateau of productivity. That's boring, in one sense. It's not as hyped up, and over-hyped as exciting, but that's where the stuff actually meets the road. David Leary: Is that where we are? Clayton Oates: Yeah! Laura Redmond: Party's over, back to work? Clayton Oates: Which is great ... Yes! In Australia, we have definitely, on that slope, almost passed the slope of enlightenment, into the plateau of productivity, and that's not a place to be afraid of. That's where we actually get out there and start implementing, making real change to [00:13:30] the clients and people that we're serving. Michelle Long: I couldn't agree more because I remember, five to seven years ago, we were doing Freedom in the Cloud tours, where we were introducing people to the cloud and all that. Now, we're talking about the apps - app stacking, app integration, app selection. I call it 'appifying' the processes. Like you say, helping these clients and ourselves to automate these processes to get significant efficiency and time savings ... People have accepted it now. I agree with you. Blake Oliver: Now that we're out of that trough of disillusionment, [00:14:00] you see the larger firms deciding now is the time to make the shift. I met a woman this morning. Firm is 70-plus people. No cloud accounting whatsoever. All desktop-based Thomson Reuters GL product. She is here. She's been hired by the firm to move all of their thousands of clients from that product to QuickBooks Online. She's here scoping out the apps, and gonna build a stack, and gonna do it. Michelle Long: Oh, wow ...  Laura Redmond: Does she have someone to hold her hand through that-  Michelle Long: I know! Does she need some help? Laura Redmond: -because we just took a firm ... Our firm helped another firm do that about nine months ago. David Leary: The important part - did you tell her to start with The Cloud Accounting Podcast? [crosstalk] that first? [00:14:30] Blake Oliver: Exactly, yes. Clayton Oates: Binge listen. Blake Oliver: Binge listen [crosstalk]  Laura Redmond: She needs a partner in that. David Leary: What's next for you guys? Can you be more legendary? What are you doing next? What are you doing next week? What do you think you're gonna do a year from now? What's coming up? Michelle Long: I don't know if I wanna say.  Blake Oliver: Oh, breaking news? Clayton Oates: Exclusive. Laura Redmond: Oh, that's exciting! [crosstalk]  Michelle Long: I'm hopefully working on another book. [00:15:00] Laura Redmond: Oh! Blake Oliver: All right. Michelle Long: I'm not gonna give the name or the details or anything, but hopefully I will have another book coming late spring. I'm hoping over tax season because I don't do taxes. I'm a CPA who hates taxes, right? I'm unusual. I'm hoping to get it done, so we'll see. Fingers crossed. Clayton Oates: Maybe you can get an Audible deal and Clayton could read it on Audible. Michelle Long: Oh, there you go! Clayton Oates: I was hoping I'd get you to write my book. I know I've got one in me. Blake Oliver: Laura, how about you? Laura Redmond: Well, next week, Michelle and I are on the road teaching [00:15:30] Grow your Practice in QuickBooks. With Aero Workflow, we have two big launches coming right now starting beta. We've got a whole new interface, and then we've got Aero Advisory, which allows you ... With all of your knowledge capital, your documented processes, all your checklists of how you do things as a firm, you can now open an Aero account connected to yours that your client could log in to. You can pass your checklists right onto them- Michelle Long: Oh, great!  Laura Redmond: -and you can have them run their own accounting department, sort of like extending without having [00:16:00] to staff it. You're the advisor; you're the knowledge capital; they depend on you. You're not just giving away a PDF of how you do things, which lowers the value a bit. You can have a subscription service, sort of, and help be the advisor in that capacity. For Redmond Accounting, we're growing our advisory side, and we've got a new Entrepreneurial Advisory Institute, which ... Is anyone familiar with EOS program - Entrepreneurial Operating System? This is used by hundreds of companies. We're getting into that. That's [00:16:30] all about leadership, and executive teams, and things like that. Blake Oliver: What's coming for you, Clayton? Clayton Oates: That sounds exciting. Well, the very near future is, in about two hours, I fly to Melbourne to my wife's family reunion, so that's [crosstalk] That's good. Laura Redmond: My first question is how many days does that go on? Clayton Oates: Well, it takes two days to get there. It goes for three days; from one party to the next. Laura Redmond: I just knew it. I knew it wasn't a two-hour something Clayton Oates: No, no, it's three days. Beyond that, I suppose what I'm curious about, and I'm trying to explore what contribution I can make is, having [00:17:00] been around this for nearly 30 years, actually, is I'm always curious, having grown up in the accounting profession, as to the challenge of a client-focused, ethical-based profession co-existing with essentially what's been a sales-based, product-focused industry, and the coexistence of the two parties, because we tend to have quite different agendas. I think, together, we've gotta really come together stronger. The [00:17:30] profession needs to have conversations that are, perhaps ... Maybe they're not having at the moment with vendors around the world as to how can we work better together to actually help the small-business client and customer? I suppose the other thing that I'm starting to do more of is actually working with app vendors in terms of working out their strategies around actually partnering with professionals. You know, in some instances, we may have that conversation, and it's not a strategy they should adopt. You've got to know that [00:18:00] before you actually start doing it. Therefore, yeah, just helping them at more of an advisory board type level, helping them with their go-to market strategy. Actually, even for accountants and professionals, there is nothing wrong with being a channel to market- totally nothing wrong. In fact, we should partner deeply with software vendors. The challenge is where you don't know that you are a channel to market. That's where expectations are misaligned. We need to bring a few things ... Technology companies bring innovation. Control [00:18:30] what you can control. They need to bring innovation, which is fantastic. Bring great partnership. If you're going to partner, partner really, really well, forever ... Forever mindset, because that's what we have in the profession with our clients. Then, bring manners and respect. When I talk about that, also, I talk about, hang on, professionals! We need to do exactly the same thing. We need to participate in the feedback loop, spot challenges, but never take a problem to a vendor without two solutions. Work on that before you go and talk about what you've found that's wrong and [00:19:00] bring empathy and understanding -understanding commercial reality, understanding the world that the vendor lives in ... A whole lot of competing forces there. Understand, have empathy, but also bring your manners and respect, as well. I think that piece ... There's so much latent potential here, so I wanna see more of that and play a role in that. David Leary: Okay, so if anybody wants to get a hold of you who's not already following you on LinkedIn, and Twitter, and the socials, how do they get a hold of you, Michelle? Michelle Long: David Leary: On? That's it. Michelle Long: Yeah. David Leary: What about Twitter? Michelle Long: I have my links out [00:19:30] there on my website, but it's @MichelleLongCPA on Twitter. David Leary: Okay, and Laura? Laura Redmond: I'm David Leary: And Clayton?  Clayton Oates: or @Clayton_Oates on Twitter. I'm in Australia, so come visit. Blake Oliver: Yes, I'm gonna take you up on that. David Leary: We're taking the podcast there to Clayton's backyard.  Clayton Oates: Bring it!  David Leary: We'll broadcast from there Blake Oliver: As always, you can find me on Twitter. I'm @BlakeTOliver, and how about you, David? David Leary: I'm @DavidLeary. Blake Oliver: Thank you all so much.  David Leary: Bye, everybody.  Clayton Oates: Wow, thanks for having us on the show with these legends. Laura Redmond: Thank you.

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