The Storyteller Is the Most Powerful Person in the World | Paul Dunn
The Storyteller Is the Most Powerful Person in the World | Paul Dunn
“More and more, we’re understanding that technology is an enabler of more human things that we can do, if that makes sense. So, in other words, it gives us more freedom to become human”. – Paul Dunn, Clarity & B1G1
“That’s probably a message to all of us, to be bolder in our execution. To be bolder, in terms of the reach of things that we do. To be bolder in terms of being able to unlock the potential that not just we have, but the potential that our users have to do great things. We can be that example of being bolder”. – Paul Dunn, Clarity & B1G1
I am thrilled to bring you an interview with Paul Dunn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulb1g1/), the fourth and final interview in our series of interviews from the Accountants BootCamp. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you listen to the previous three episodes and subscribe to the Cloud Stories podcast.
When I first heard about the re:Boot of the Accountants BootCamp, I was intrigued by the opportunity to see Paul Dunn in action. I have heard so many good things about him, from so many people. I was of course concerned that he could not possibly live up to the hype, but he was all that and more. He started in the industry in the early 70s and at the re:Boot event he was extraordinarily sharp, energetic and charismatic. He made everyone in the room feel like a VIP, and I watched him take time out to speak with everyone. I don’t even have that level of energy!
Among other topics, in this podcast, we covered:
Technology is an enabler of more human things.
Edutainment, as education.
Getting nervous when speaking.
The way to connect is to be more focused on them than on you.
The storyteller sets the vision and the agenda for an entire generation.
The importance of having a strong presence.
The storyteller is the most powerful person in the world.
Tech is not about the inputs.
The importance of telling stories that are relevant to people.
Outcomes are the key to a successful pitch.
TOAGlobal: The human-verse is a human-to-human thing in tech.
Paul’s first memory of an accountant world.
Becoming one of the first 10 in Hewlett Packard Australia.
The standard accounting joke, the 9800, and how to use it.
The world’s first thermal printer and the first ‘trial’ balance.
The world’s first thermal scroll printer.
The Australian accountants number crunch system.
The story of Zig Ziglar.
The importance of getting your thoughts out into the world.
The human element of the podcast.
The connection to tech and termites.
Nature does not solve problems. Nature solves for potential.
What is a discovery call and how can you use it?
Hiring people based on their potential.
Tech is an enabler to create a better, more fulfilling human experience.
The top three things accountants should do.
Engaged with original people impacted by Rod Drury’s vision.
Opportunity for entrepreneurs to do their own thing.
The opportunity for larger companies to grab that space and be able to say “this is not some sort of charity thing”.
Charity is a meaningful thing, not just a charity thing.
You can go through a door, but you can come back through that door.
At the re:Boot event, we were fortunate enough to have attendees and speakers from the original Accountants BootCamp in the 1990s, including Aynsley Damery, CEO of Clarity. The three-day workshop focused on delivering repeatable, scalable services that benefit both the firm and the client. Many attendees used Clarity’s software platform to assist in delivering these services. And in case you missed it, Aynsley Damery joined me on a previous episode of Cloud Stories in May 2021, where we discussed “How to double your clients’ profits in 5 easy steps”:
I was extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to speak with Paul Dunn. I think I have really saved the best interview for last, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Now, let’s get into today’s episode, where I am joined by Paul Dunn Chief Story-Teller at CLARITY, and Co-Founder of B1G1.
Can you share with our listeners who you are and where you’re from?
Paul: Well, I certainly can. And first of all, I can also thank you for listening. And also thank you for inviting me because it’s been forever. Right. And so it’s a real privilege to be here. So as Heather said, my name is Paul Dunn. I currently do a number of things. But I guess the thing that I’m currently most known for is the founding of an entity called B1G1. And what B1G1 does is it adds or allows you to make more impact as a firm, or more impact as a human being, both on your business and on our world. So for example, just to link this to tech, what I do…We’re going this way? That way?
Heather: Yeah, I’m going over there.
Paul: Okay. So what I do, Heather, it’s just a very simple example. Every time someone is on a Zoom call with me, and by the way, all of our members around the world do similar things to this. So every time someone’s on a Zoom call, I make sure something great happens. So for example, typically, I might make sure that five kids in need get access to education. Game-changing education. And that is just because you and I are on a Zoom call. So for the first time, what happens is B1G1 makes it possible to link all the things you’re doing technically, to doing great things in the world and doing that automatically. So for example, you know, it could be every time someone uses Ignition or something like that. You know, the client accepts your plan, and then bang, something nice could happen as a result of that, where the client could be involved as well.
Heather: Absolutely. And I know a number of accountants and people in the accounting community are active members such as Wayne Schmidt, Natalie Lennon and Aynsley Damery.
Paul: Yep. There are a few.
Heather: Absolutely. Accountants and bookkeepers are very generous people and it’s great to have a method of just continuing to support the community with something like that.
Paul: Oh, native stingless beehive nearby.
Heather: I went for a walk this morning with Graeme and we passed a few things and he kept talking about snakes. He’s very worried. So stingless bees, we shouldn’t be worried about them. That’s very good for our environment.
Paul: Exactly. By the way, the bees are very important to B1G1. The bee itself, you know, just landing, giving pollen back and all that kind of stuff. But anyway. But I think from a technology point of view, and you know, some people think of technology as like the silver bullet for things. I think more and more we’re understanding that technology is an enabler of more human things that we can do if that makes sense. So, in other words, it gives us more freedom to become human.
Heather: Yeah, absolutely. And definitely, it’s an enabler. And it sort of puts it formalises processes for some people to enable them to scale, if that’s what they wish to do, or free up their time to do other things, whatever they wish to do.
Paul: Exactly. And I think the other thing it does as well is it gives people and, particularly, customers, but also yourself, it gives you structure. And when you have or exhibit structure, what actually happens is the level of trust rises significantly between you and the people that you’re privileged to serve. So yeah, it’s a really great combination.
Heather: So one of the things that I would say that you’re extraordinarily skilled at, is what I would term or coined the phrase of edutainment. You’re an educator, but you’re extraordinarily entertaining and very personable.
Paul: Well, thank you. Thank you. You can come again.
Heather: So why is that important? And what thought process? How do you go about preparing?
We’re here at the Accountants BootCamp. How do you go about preparing, getting the energy together and sort of hyping up that room?
Paul: It’s an interesting question. And also thank you for the compliment. So for me, this is going to sound like a little bit woo-woo. But it’s actually happened. So for me to be in front of a group of people who you could move, but it’s like your podcast, right? In the sense why because people are gonna listen to not necessarily this one, but all of the ones you do. And as a result, some of them are going to be moved in a way that they would not have been had they not listened.
Paul: And so if you imagine in the presenter, who gets up on stage, and you come from this position of what a privilege this is to be here. And interestingly, I went through a sort of metamorphosis. A friend of mine, well, a former friend of mine, and as much as he’s no longer with us is a guy called Ron Tacky. And Ron once said to me, He’s regarded as the godfather of speaking in this country.
Heather: Are you able to get in there?
Paul: Of course I am. Yeah. So he said to me. Paul, he said, Do you ever get nervous when you speak? And I said, Well, yeah, I do, actually. He said, Great. That’s a blessing. That’s a blessing. And I said, Why is it a blessing? Actually, what he said was, Do you ever get butterflies? And I said, Yes, I do. He said, the trick is, to get the butterflies flying information. I love that. I love that thought. And so then what I did, I just say to myself, you watch me at the back of the room, for example, before I get introduced, I will be saying something to myself. Typically with a spoon or some reflective surface so that I can look at it. And for years and years and years, more years than I can remember, I used to say for them, for them, for them, for them, for them. In other words, to get it off myself, does that make sense? And then, you know, and get it on them. And then I saw a programme which I think was produced one rainy day in Singapore, where I live now. And sometimes we have rainy days. And it was from the Norwegian government and talked about diversity, and it was an incredible thing. And we got run over. An incredible thing. And so what I realised, and this was like, four years ago, I realised but the mere act of me saying for them, was actually putting me apart from them. Ah, that makes sense. Yeah. So now what I’ve said, every day since then, is this little thing goes in my head. And I go for us, for us, for us, for us as opposed to for them, for them. And that just gets me. It makes us kind of move more together if that makes sense.
Heather: Absolutely. And one of the things I noticed that you do is take the time before the session to meet numerous people. And then while the session is actually running, you talk back to them. And you’ve managed to recoil a lot of names as well.
Paul on the untapped power of connecting in person
Paul: Well, first of all, I think people are fundamentally interesting. And yeah, it just helps you get some connection. In fact, when you think about them, whether you’re up on stage, or you’re pitching to investors, or whatever it is like in the tech space. Fundamentally, it’s about connection. That’s what we need to do. And so what is the way to connect? The way to connect is to be much more focused on them than on you if that makes sense. So, traditionally, you know, we go into the pitch and all that sort of stuff and most pitches. I don’t like that term, by the way. By the way, talking of pitches, I remember meeting with Rod Drury.
Heather: Oh, yes.
Paul: In 2000…And when was it 2010?
Paul: And of course Xero, as you know, it was started in 2008.
Paul: It was Rod, Harnish and all those guys. And I was sort of semi-involved in that. So Rod says, I’m down there visiting in Wellington. And he says, Would you like a cup of coffee? And I said, Sure, I’d love a cup of coffee. Sure, I’d love a cup of coffee. So we go to this little thing near the Xero office.
Heather: Is this in New Zealand?
Paul: This is in Wellington. Yeah. And he says, Oh, by the way, did I ever tell you about how we started? And I said, Well, no. And he then talked about their why and about beautiful accounting software and all that kind of stuff. As it was back then. And he said, and you’ve always got to be somewhere. And so I realised very early, that if I was to really make this as big as I thought it could be to serve more people and to make a bigger difference. Those are literally his words. And I realised that I needed to go somewhere, I need to be in the centre of it. And so where would I go? I go to Silicon Valley. And I decide what I’m going to do, I’m going to visit some VCs. So can I tell you about what happened when I visited Peter Thiel, Playboy and extreme right?
Heather: Yeah, from PayPal.
Paul: All that sort of stuff. And so he said, I did this pitch to him. And he said it’s amazing. He said, five minutes into reaching into his right-hand drawer, and putting it up on the good, they could pull out a gun good. No, but he didn’t. He pulls out his chequebook and he puts a chequebook on the table. And he says, interrupting Rod, would 72 million do it? Here’s the other important thing about that it probably would not have happened on a Zoom call if he hadn’t been there, you know?
Paul: You got to be there. You know what I mean?
Heather: Yeah, absolutely. And Rod Drury was always and still is such an amazing presence.
Paul: He’s got a great presence.
Heather: And I feel so grateful for those of us who were there in the early days. Those who got the magic meetings, like like you did. I’m really appreciative of you sharing that story with us. I know that Peter Thiel is quite a controversial character. And I’ve seen Rod talk about it on Twitter, and one of the things he said was, look, you know, some people attacked, because of Peters, sense of values, et cetera. But Rob came back and said, he introduced us to a lot of great people. And, you know, when you’re working the room and trying to do something, you sometimes need to work with extremes.
Paul: You do. Sadly, there’s a whole lot of stuff that goes on now, as you know, because you’re right, and I’m wrong and all of that sort of stuff. But the reality is, we’re human. And we must, I think, learn from having these different opinions. It’s okay, right, and I’m not gonna fight you on it, you know?
Paul: I’m going to learn from it. But increasingly, we seem to be moving more towards I’m gonna fight you.
Heather: Yeah. And that is a shame. But I do think that there is great value in knowing people with different perspectives, knowing people from different cultures, etc. And that’s one of the reasons I think it’s so good, for people who’ve come out here to Australia to do this BootCamp. But also for, for me when I sort of travel and go (that way there) to various places, to conferences overseas. So one of your other roles, of the many hats that you wear, is that you’re the chief storyteller with Clarity.
Heather: I love that. And we are constantly telling people to tell stories.
What does telling stories mean to you?
Paul: You may recall, I kind of hinted at what happened when I really got that. I got an email which said, I got it from a lady called Bernadette Jiwa, who by the way, now conducts classes in storytelling. She’s written some brilliant books about what you and I are talking about now. Anyway, um, so she writes me an email and the subject line in the email is the storyteller is the most powerful person in the world. And I looked at that. Sometimes you get an email and you just have to click, you have to click. And so I clicked. And I’ll tell you what happened after I click. Well, in fact, I saw who said that line and it was Steve Jobs in 1994. When he left Apple or to give you the official line, he resigned. Anyway. And he says, the storyteller sets the vision, the values and the agenda for an entire generation yet to come.
Paul: And the critical line in there is for an entire generation yet to come. By the way, the reason that I clicked on that email, and the reason that it’s so powerful, is when you think about it, the word story is in our DNA. Granddad put us on a knee and said, Once upon a time. So when you can put the word in the email, you will, in fact, get a bigger open rate. Seriously, you will. I know that because that day, I wrote an email that had that in the subject line, and, boom. It just kind of went, not exactly viral, but it got much bigger open rates than anything I’d ever written.
Paul: That gets back to the story that we tell in tech. And one of the issues that I think we have in tech is that we get so excited with the stuff, you get so excited by it does, look at this feature, look at this feature. And we forget, that is not about the inputs. It’s never about the inputs. The only reason that I’m going to buy what it is you have is because in some way, it gives me an outcome that I’m looking for. And outcomes are the key. But so often, you see these pitches, which are just boring. These boring, boring, boring things, which is talking about, oh, well, we do this and we do this oh, by the way, have you noticed this? And maybe you notice that? Whereas we could be talking about outcomes, the potential that you have through using this technology. The moment we focus on outcomes rather than inputs. That’s a fascinating change. And the way to do that is to be able to tell stories that are relevant to people sitting right alongside you and talk about how that is transforming their experience of life, their experience of business and so on.
Heather: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s a message that we’re talking to the accounting and the bookkeeping industry about in terms of, they have the hard dry numbers, which we hope are accurate and timely. But we can sort of tell them the stories of the scenarios, the possibilities, the risk options that they can take with what they can do with their business.
Paul on the reality of the human-to-human verse
Paul: Yeah. It’s also interesting that, in recent times, just in the last two years, you may be aware of a company that exists here on the coast, or he’s based here. They’re incredible. They’re hiring 200 people a month right now. And they are they were previously known as well, and they still are, as I’m aware of. They’re known as TOA Global. This is Nick Sinclair and the guys who do you know, outsource accounting. I did a session with them a couple of years ago. And speaking with Craig Mansell, who’s the CEO. Craig said, our party can’t tell anybody about this at that time. But he said, we’ve realised something in tech, he said. What we’ve realised is with all the people we have in the Philippines or in South Africa. Fundamentally, this is not a b2b thing. This is a human-to-human thing. Sage realised exactly the same thing, by the way. And so he said, we’re actually creating a new group. And we are we are writing tech, now. Trying to take even more care of the people that are there. So we are concerned with their mental health, all of that kind of stuff. And so we were trying to figure out a name for this thing. And it was a little a few months after Mr. Zuckerberg had determined the metaverse thing. And so Craig decided they would call it the human verse. And I love that phraseology why because all of a sudden you aren’t so concerned with the tech and making it great. But are you making it great to provide better outcomes for the humans in that in that process?
Heather: Yeah. As as I know, TOA Global has got multiple offices in the Philippines. And it’s a big deal. The Wellness areas, sick bays and activities throughout the month, through the year for the people. It’s not just turning up, processing, leaving. There’s a lot more. They try and make it a really holistic experience.
Paul: Yeah. And I’ve got to say if there was a Cyclone or whatever they call them in the Philippines today.
Heather: So many. Yeah.
Paul: I know that they would be on a plane now. Yeah, I know they would. And so, this is not a showy thing, this is who they are, and then finding ways of expressing that humanity through the power of the technology that they work with.
Heather: Yeah. So can I sort of circle back to your early days?
What is your very first memory of an accountant?
Paul: Oh, my God. You know, I’m supposed to have this kind of story, which says, oh, you know, life was tough. And all of a sudden. You know, the hero’s story, the hero’s journey. I’m deficient in that because I just see my life as one of incredible luck. So for example, here I am, 21 years old. And I get headhunted by HP. And so I was in the United Kingdom. And I become one of the first 10 in Hewlett Packard way back then. And I literally sit down and have breakfast with Bill Hewlett and Dave, I mean. Can you imagine just how amazing that would be?
And so I remember you asked about my first experience. We just moved offices, in Melbourne, and so the furniture wasn’t in the store, but there was a phone line, and I am like really crazy about answering phones, I really want to get there, right? So the phone rings and it’s not even on a desk. It’s on the floor, right? So I pick this thing up, and I say, Good morning, Hewlett Packard, this is Paul Dunn. And the guy on the other end says, Oh, hello, Paul. My name is Brian Capon. And he says, I’m an accountant in the Mornington Peninsula, as I recall, are in Mornington. And he said, more and more of my clients seem to be using… this in the days of the punch card or other magnetic letters. And he said, a lot of my clients, they’re surveyors, and they’re using some of this Hewlett Packard. This is before Hewlett Packard, had, you know the 30, the HP 35. And calculators and 2116, etc. Just before those days. Almost simultaneous that those days. And he said, So I’m an accountant. I’m just wondering if this Hewlett Packard staff can do what accountants do. I said, Brian, the answer is probably yes. But can I be really totally open with you and explain that? I don’t understand what accountants do. But I’d love to learn from you. So he said, Oh, why don’t you come down? So I go down, and he literally tells me the standard accounting joke, which is, oh, you know, the debits are on the left and the credits on the right. And so I took a look at what he was doing.
At the time, we had this thing called the 9800, which was a, you know, like a programmable computer thing. And, you know, Wang was there in those days and stuff. And so I go, Oh, it’s pretty simple. So I said, Oh, well, of course, it would need some software. And based on what you’ve shown me, I think it’d be really, really cool. And he says, Oh, that’s good. I said, Well, Brian, that’s going to take a little while. And I’m going to need permission to do that. So would you be able to commit to me that if I, when I finished that thing, if I show it to you and you love it, you will buy it? He said, of course. So I go back to the then gentleman, his name is John Warmington. I say, John, I got an interesting experience this morning, or an interesting experience this past week. And he said, What’s that? I said, Well, based on a survey that I’ve just done 100% of the accountants when I actually said that he used to say to me, Don, you age me every day. Anyway. What then happened was, I wrote the software, and it was in basic, you know, and the storage device.
Heather: You wrote the software?
Paul: Yeah, it was very basic, of course. And it was, you know, the storage device was audio, can you believe that the storage device was an audio cassette, and everything else? And the output device was a facet type, but not even an IBM thing. It was a facet typewriter. So I take it down and lug it up the stairs because it’s pretty heavy, particularly the typewriter and Capon sees us and he goes, Oh, that’s really good. I’ll order one of those. So he orders that. So I go back to Mornington, and I say, I think this is a magnificent opportunity for Hewlett Packard. So why don’t we run some seminars? And he said, Well, okay, go and run some seminars. So I run this seminar. It’s so funny. There are 30 accountants in the room, and at the time, we just replaced this. There’s a clickety clickety typewriter with the world’s first thermal scroll printer. So it’s the wide thing called I forget what it was called the 9816 or something. Anyway. So I’m in this room, there’s an aisle down the middle. And there are 15 accountants aside and 15 accountants on this side, and I cannot wait to show them. Oh, and by the way, the thing had like the first one to have Function keys. So you had F1, F2. And you could programme these function keys. And so I programmed them an F1. I remember saying, trial balance, and you have to said that something else everything. I just couldn’t wait to show them this printer because it was silent. And they’d never seen any like, so I go around. You’re welcome. Welcome, welcome. I remember one guy typically comes over sitting there, and he had his pants up kind of thing. So anyway, so get the picture. So I press the button on trial balance, and the printer goes (hissing sound) So when I flip it to break the page, then (hissing sound) good. Oh, my God. And so I passed these two. They’re both the same page, right? So I passed this one over here, to the right hand side, and then to the one over here, and I keep going. And as I’m keeping going, the guy on the right as my right hand is coughing. And my first response is to take him a glass of water. I say, is there some problem? And he says, yes, there is. And I’m think he’s going to talk about a health problem. And he says, it’s this trial balance. And I probably shouldn’t be saying this publicly. I said, What’s wrong with it? He says, it doesn’t. And I say, it doesn’t what? And he says, it doesn’t balance. And I say, so I didn’t even know it’s funny. I say, well, that’s okay, because it’s only a trial. And then the whole room erupts kind of thing. And amazingly, people bought this thing. And then a couple of days afterwards, David Hartley, who was a customer of mine in Brisbane, came down. He was literally on his pants, because he’d been investing a lot in trying to do things for consulting engineers. And he said, So, Paul, what have you been doing? So I’ve got this programme. It had a name, by the way, the name was AANCS, A-A-N-C-S the Australian Accountants Number Crunching System, can you believe that?
Paul: So David is, you know, literally struggling financially at that time. And I said, well, why don’t you have this? And so I gave it to him. And knowing that, you know, the guy’s a genius. And so then we created what was one of Australia’s first computer companies, which was Hartley computer. And I discovered about this time last year. Oh, you’re gonna be so pleased to hear this, that I am actually in the Australian Computer Museum. Seriously, I’m there.
Paul: And the funny thing is that Bepo who’s upstairs, right? I’m doing a session in the United Kingdom next two weeks from now. And he said, I’ll pour your love it. And I said, I really wait. It’s over the venue is really great. And I said, What’s the venue? And he said, is the British Museum. I said, they might give me an overnight as an attraction. So anyway, that’s sort of a long-winded story to say that I really did get lucky. And, as a result of the Hartley experience, I then created a thing called Results Corporation. And we ended up having 23,000, small and medium scale businesses that we were doing all the marketing for, and then that segwayed into the Accountants BootCamp and stuff like that. So, you know, my life has been of extraordinary-like but also, at the same time, extraordinary curious.
I like the story of Zig Ziglar. And as you know, I announced the other day that I was 29,000 days old, right, three days ago. It just sort of came out. I’m fascinated by this age thing. And Zig Ziglar you know, the great speaker, he was 83 at the time, and someone said to him, Zig, you know, you’re getting on, so don’t you think it’s about time to slow down. And Zig looked at me said, he said no, I figured out that I’ve got less time to go than you. So I think I should speed up. And that’s kind of like where I am, and really taking time to continue to be curious about all of the things that are happening. We just did a session, as you know, on AI. And I mean, that just absolutely blows my mind in terms of in terms of what’s possible. We could never imagine that we would be on phones doing things, you know. Now, how we navigate through that experience is going to be really interesting to see. But what I do know is that when we approach that correctly and look at how it gives us more space to be human, yes, that really is a good thing.
Heather: Yeah. Circling all the way back to the human element of it. And for people listening in. I know, I’ve gotten to listen to a lot of Zig Ziglar podcasts. Very fun and informative podcast. I think his wife was Barbara. He’s always referring to her in the podcast, which is always quite amusing. Yes. So the great thing is, like yourself, a lot of his thoughts are out there in the world, and you can sort of tap into them and listen to them.
Paul: Exactly. And that’s why what you’re doing is so valuable, right? It really is so valuable. I mean, you are really getting a lot of people through your skills to tell their story. And as a result of that, that’s changing up other people’s stories. Does that make sense?
Paul: That’s why I said right up front, it’s a privilege to be here with you,
Heather: I really appreciate it. Sometimes, my accountancy world is full of KPIs and benchmarks. But sometimes through a podcast, you will never know who you impacted or how you impacted and you have to be okay with that. And I am okay with that. And I bumped into a lady in the supermarket last week, and she’s like, I listen to your podcast. I recognised your hair colour. I love it. And it’s not that she loves it. But she said to me she’s looking at moving back into the industry. And she now thinks there’s a lot more exciting stuff out there. And that’s right.
About using tech to unlock potential
Paul: Has it ever been? Has there ever been a more fascinating time? We talked yesterday about this lady who we didn’t mention her name, but there’s a lady in Silicon Valley, whose name is Tamsin Woolley-Barker, hard name to forget. And she has a really interesting story. And as much as she was an impoverished researcher, and here she is studying termites, you know, things that have been around for longer than us, and bees, and all that kind of stuff. And so what’s the connection to tech?
She’s studying these termites. And she’s trying to figure out, how do these zillions of termites, how do they know exactly what to do? How do they know how to build the air conditioning in? What’s the management structure? Interesting question that they use or the leadership structure, if you will, to achieve this thing. And so a couple of many nasty things happen in her life, her son dies, that famous photographer husband leaves her. And so she decides that she’s going to publish this this work. And she writes a blog, which is called teeming spelled T-E-E-M-I-N-G. And it talks about, you know, the termites and zillions of zillions of people and how do they organise. And so someone in Google says, Oh, we don’t have zillions, but we we have a few 100,000. So maybe that what she talks about would be very useful for us. And she’s now the number one sort of game changing, you know, consultant, if you will, or trainer in Silicon Valley.
And Verne Harnish, who I just mentioned upstairs, with the scale up and all that kind of stuff. He was interviewing her. And sadly, this line is not in the book. By the way, only buy the book if you’re interested in bees, termite and everything. But the blog goes further. So he’s interviewing her and he says, what’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned through your research? And she, right off the bat, says nature does not solve for problems. Nature always solves for potential. And if you think about that, that’s so interesting. Because if you think about, you know, the tech space and how we sell things, and all that kind of stuff typically what we do is we have discovery calls, right? Those sorts of things. A discovery call essentially is tell me your problems, then I understand the problems and I’ve got a solution. And it’s this much. But imagine that you could change that conversation, which of course you can. And instead of talking about the problems that you’re going to solve, why don’t we start talking about the potential that we unlock? And when you start talking about the potential that we unlock, that’s an entirely different conversation.
Paul: And by the way, when you’re hiring people, why don’t you ask the same question? Why don’t you say that in your firm and your startup company? We are all about the potential of human beings. And that’s how we hire. We don’t hire based on where you’ve been, we hire based on where you will go. So talk to us about how you see your potential in this company. Again, it’s an entirely different conversation.
Heather: Yeah, that’s so crystallising for me. I recently spoke to a Xero staff member. As you know, many of them have been made redundant. And I said to her, I’ve been avoiding speaking with you because I’m a problem solver. And I can’t solve this problem for you. And I’m a problem solver. And I have thought through everything, and I can’t solve this for you. But then and I won’t mention what it was. But I said, how about we get together and do this project? I can’t solve your problem. And I can’t get your income in there. And I can’t get you a full-time job, at least work on this project together. But it was a potential. And surprisingly, she’s come back and said yes. And yeah, that’s the potential thing. And I think that you could almost draw a line in the sand of the accountants and the bookkeepers can solve problems to a certain extent. But then the potential can actually pull the whole water, the flow, the goals across, etc. That’s very exciting.
Paul: Yeah, it totally can. The other interesting thing about that potential, I think, I’m learning this as well, right? But so I don’t know the answer to the answer. But there are lots of questions about it. But I think that the moment you talk about unlocking potential, you are talking about the human experience. That’s what you’re talking about. Right? And so once again, you get back to what we were talking about earlier on that tech is really an enabler to create a better, more fulfilling human experience.
Paul: I think that’s exciting when we have that view of it. Because when we have that view of it, it will change fundamentally the way in which we, you know, the way in which we design interfaces. We’ve just fundamentally changed it really well.
Heather: Look, I was going to ask you, what are the top three things accountants and bookkeepers should be doing? But I think that what you’ve just said, unlocking potential, will just be so impactful for them, that I’ll not.
What’s something essential that accountants and bookkeepers should be doing?
Paul: Aside from the fact that it stops me thinking, there’s one thing I would like to add. By the way, thank you for being here. What an incredible time. You being here, it’s actually reminded me of something that I didn’t say yesterday. I feel the need to say it now. Yesterday, even now, we talked about potential, and essentially, that gets down to vision, you know, where you see things and all of that kind of stuff. And a friend of mine said this to me not that long ago. And it’s probably a good way to kind of put a little bow on what we’ve been chatting about here. And again, thank you for it. And the friend said this. He said, if you’re running a tech company, there’s a really good thing to think about right? So said, when your vision becomes more powerful than your memory, your future becomes more powerful than your past. Right? And that’s all about this whole thing. Again, it wraps into potential.
Heather: At this event, and sort of in my world, I am engaged with a lot of the original people who were impacted by Rod Drury’s vision. It’s so nice to be around those types of people. The tech wasn’t there but the vision was.
Paul: There you go.
Heather: And people will say, you know, I bought in three years before the tech did what any type of thing. But the vision was there and I bought in, and paid for the vision.
Paul: By the way, when you think, for example, in the Xero space and the Intuits, etc. I think there is still an opportunity for them to do that. In the tech space, before layoffs, and that kind of stuff, people were well rewarded. And hopefully, they’ll continue so to be. But one of the things I’ve noticed, and I’m sure you’ve noticed that as well, is that here we were rewarding the entrepreneurs and so on. And, yet, what I’ve seen is an explosion of people moving away from the larger companies to do their own thing. There’s been a veritable explosion in that. And I think that one of the reasons that happen is that people who are well rewarded and doing well rewarded financially, sometimes they think, based on my time with a few of them, is that all there is? Is that all there is? I turn up, I get well paid. And then, what they do is to look for that opportunity to do their own thing. And increasingly, what we see is that people in that space, like the shoes were wearing, for example, Cariuma say, oh, we need to introduce something different with these shoes. So when you buy those shoes, to trees get planted. That’s really cool. And that’s not about them saying, you know, we support some kind of charity, wherever it is. It’s a win this, end this. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we thought, say Xero? Let’s take Ignition as a case in point. Every time someone wins a job, you know, bang, this happens. And I think there’s a really interesting opportunity for the larger companies amongst us to grab that space and be able to say, no, this is not some sort of charity thing that we do. But this is like, this is like a meaningful thing. Think about Canva, for example, and we know the whole Canva story. But wouldn’t it be interesting instead of saying, you know, we’ve got a foundation, which is you know, got $1.2 billion, and et cetera? Would it be more interesting to say, by the way, every time you create this, somebody who cannot see you get the gift of sight?
Paul: Wouldn’t that be interesting?
Paul: And it changes the dynamic, you see what I mean? So it creates engagement. And, it unlocks potential in someone else, just because you’ve had the privilege of being able to use that tech.
Heather: Yeah. And you’re seeing the story. You’re seeing the story unfold?
Paul: Exactly. You are. That’s a great way of saying it. You’re creating even better stories, for those people who are in need, through no fault of their own. It’s a very interesting way of thinking about what we can do and it’s it’s a very different sort of space, than thinking about it as a charity thing. That’s like, donate, donate donate. Well, no, let’s say, why don’t we do that slightly different and just go, we can link what we do to really significant events in people’s lives.
Heather: Excellent. So I’m so excited to be here at the Accountants BootCamp with the legendary Paul Dunn.
What’s one thought that’s stood out of the BootCamp so far for you?
Paul: Oh, well, one that I just mentioned. I think you were in the room at the time when someone relatively well-known in the industry said, Wayne Schmidt. Isn’t Wayne interested and what he’s doing? He is Wayne and Sal Schmidt, kind of Guardians of the Legends? And thank you for that. But they are guardians of the legends that we’re creating.
Heather: Wayne is an extraordinary friend of mine. And Sally is an angel.
Paul: Their pictures of the things. It’s great.
Heather: It brings me so much joy.
Paul: Yeah, exactly right. And so this opportunity to do things. It’s just incredible. But anyway, someone said, Who and Wayne happens to consult to this person. So he said, some of them asked him the question you just asked me, which was, so what have you got so far? And he said, what I’ve got now people would look at this guy and say, Oh, wow, he’s doing really well, you know, look at what he’s doing. He’s not taking on any more clients, because they happen to have made in B1G1 13 point 5 million impacts, for goodness sake. So they’re doing okay, right? And, so this guy, Peter says, when asked, What’s the thing you’ve got on? By every measure, you would say, This guy is successful by every measure. He’d say it. So Peter, what’s the big thing you’ve got? You know, from day one, this is just day one. And he says, I think I should be bolder. And I don’t know how many words that is, five or six words. And I think those five or six words are really interesting words, come to think of it. I haven’t thanked you for the question, by the way, because I haven’t thought of it this way before. That’s probably a message to all of us to, to be bolder in our execution to have things to be bolder, in terms of the reach of things that we do, and to be bolder in terms of being able to unlock the potential that not just we have, but the potential that our users then have, or our members then have to do great things. And we can be that example of being bolder.
Heather: I think especially in this timeframe of coming out of what I’m sort of calling the bruising of the last few years, where we hermitted because we needed to, and then coming out of that, stretching our legs, coming in contact with people, being bolder. I’ll throw in there I’ve just been bingeing. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy who’s the new CEO of Xero, wrote a book on Choose Possibility, which is about taking calculated bold risks. Which kind of wraps us up into that.
Paul: And as you well know, people are looking at us, why are you doing that for? What that means, by the way, is when you’re bold it may not work out.
Paul: I mean, it seriously may not work out. Yeah. But at least you’re trying. At least you’re saying we exist, to create that, that difference that in some way. And if we can create that difference is not about us. But it’s about being bigger than us. Yeah, then that automatically creates more attraction, and it creates more people who are creating even better stories.
Heather: Yeah. And she talks about, you can go through a door, but you can come back through that door. Thank you so much for joining me on the Cloud Stories podcast. I feel that we could talk for many hours, but you have to get back.
Paul: To get back to an old discussion on Cariuma.
Heather: And people want you back at that BootCamp.
How can people get in contact with you?
Paul: Very simple. So you can obviously catch me on LinkedIn where I just simply Paul Dunn. Or you can just email me, you know, it’s Paul at B1G1.com. I need to be careful with this. So there’s the letter B followed by the number one, followed by the letter G followed by the number one, because in England for some reason, some people get that as Biggie. No, it’s not. It’s B-1-G-1.com. And I look forward to hearing from you.
Heather: Thank you so much.
Paul: Thank you.
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About Heather Smith
USA Accounting Today listed Heather as one of 21 people helping shape (and reshape) the accounting industry in 2020.
A technology and lifestyle accountant with a deep understanding of automated integrated cloud business tools and how business apps can be implemented and utilised effectively to improve workflow and surface information useful for data-informed decisions. She extensively shares her methodologies, business strategies and work-life balance practices through the ‘Cloud Stories’ podcast, multiple Cloud Accounting books, the Accounting Apps newsletter, blogs and social media platforms.
A FCA, FCCA, FICB, commerce graduate, and accredited trainer.