Leadership / Management | Technology & Social Media

CPAs gone wild at SXSW


"If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done."
 -- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Q: Why would I trade my blazer and button-down shirt for a day-glo orange T-shirt that says "CPAs Gone Wild" for my first visit to SXSW? (Pictured: Jason Blumer, Jody Padar, Kasey Bayne, Tom Hood, and Greg Kyte)

A: To experience some "edge thinkers" who are starting a movement that may just signal what our profession is in for next.

That was how my first trip to South By Southwest (or SXSW) started last Thursday when I arrived in Austin, Texas.

I was there to be part of a live "Thrivecast"" for the Thriveal and New Vision CPA groups sponsored by Cloudsway and hosted by Freshbooks, at their SXSW Ranch party. (You'll find a great recap here and pictures here.)

The party was terrific, the podcast went great, but the energy and conversations were the signature moments for me.

I think this e-mail says it all (reprinted with permission from Robert "Rex" Schuller, CPA). He blogs at Business of Arts.

"I get home and my wife asks how it went.

"I tell her about the mechanical bull and seeing this group of people in orange day-glo tie-dye t-shirts that say ... nay, SCREAM ... 'CPAs Gone WILD.'

"Of course, she thinks I'm bullshitting her, which isn't atypical, so I SHOW HER THE T-SHIRT.

"Appropriate jaw slacking ensues.

"I tell her that the entire night, I speak to NO ONE other than these four wild & crazy CPAs and the cute gal from FreshBooks.

"These CPAs who are passionate about not being sticks in the mud.

"Nerds who know it's really about the relationship you build with the client, despite how much they love the technology.

"My monologue goes on like this for at least 10 minutes.

"Her only response?

"It sounds like the mother ship just called you home."

"I kid you not.  And that's where I find myself this morning.

"As you make your ways back home today, please think about this: I want in.

"Perhaps a less self-centered way of putting it--a la JFK--would be to ask "how can I help?"  But I know I couldn't bullshit the four of you if I tried.

"I'm not even sure what I'm getting myself into.  But I want in."

They are a tribe -- as Seth Godin describes in his book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, "a group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea."

Or the CPA version of Generation Flux in FastCompany's February issue that I described in my quick video intro to Jody's meeting in Chicago, titled I C Opportunities. (See Rick Telberg's coverage here.)

The point is that despite the "silliness," they are doing important intelligent work that matters. 

They are using the latest technology tools and the cloud to serve clients in new ways and they are not bound by geography -- or anything else for that matter.

They are passionate about the relationships with their clients and focused on adding value as CPAs, the trusted advisers. They are "not your father's CPA," and I think they are onto something and we can learn some things from them.

They are a tribe (or a movement or whatever) and they have an idea and a growing group of followers.

What do you think?

Interested in seeing Jody and Jason live?

Come join us at our Beach Retreat (sun, surf and CPE) over the July 4th holiday (July 3rd, 5th and 6th) in Ocean City, Md. (see last year's event here). Maybe you'll even get a day-glo orange T-shirt. Maybe they will do a Thrivecast from the beach?

And don't miss our 2012 MACPA Innovation Summit featuring some of the latest innovations in the CPA profession and the hottest technology vendors like Avalara and many more. The Summit is scheduled for June 27 in Baltimore.

Or catch them on Twitter (@JodyPadarCPA, @JasonMBlumer, @KaseyBayne, @gregkyte, @rexcpa, @webbstevens, @Freshbooks, @avalara)