This June, fan favorite Greg Kyte will be returning to the Xerocon stage in Atlanta. From impromptu serenades to keeping attendees in stitches (or at least on their toes), Greg is the MC who knows how to keep things interesting. But don’t be fooled by his comedic timing. A CPA in his own right, Greg was voted one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting Accounting Today in 2013 and 2014. He is also co-host of the ThriveCast monthly practice management podcast, a regular blogger for the THRIVEal CPA Network. He is the creator of Exposure Drafts, a bi-weekly cartoon featured on the Going Concern website.
This is Greg’s third time hosting Xerocon in the Americas. We sat down and talked to him about his experience in the accounting industry and some of his most memorable Xerocon moments.
You’ve MCed for Xerocon for a number of years now: What keeps bringing you back?
Greg: I keep coming back for the people and for the content. Xero’s a countercultural accounting software company and Xerocon attendees tend to be countercultural accountants – those are my kind of people. Plus, every year Xero is somehow able to get this amazing lineup of insightful, inspirational speakers. Since I’m the MC, I get to hang out with them!
Your rendition of “I need a Xero” was met with rave reviews in Austin. What might Xerocon Atlanta attendees expect from you? Can you possibly top that?
Greg: That song was lighting in a bottle – pure alchemy! Since these conferences are live (obviously), you never know what might happen. But I think the only way I could top “I Need a Xero” would be to douse myself in gasoline and light myself on fire. That or some kind of trapeze act.
So, accounting comedy? How did that come to be a thing?
Greg: I started doing stand-up about sixteen years ago, back when I was a middle school math teacher. When I switched careers and became an accountant, comedy came with me. My first year as an accountant I started sending smartass letters to the editor at the Journal of Accountancy. The very first one was published, so I figured I was onto something.
You may have seen that a part of the Hunger Games was filmed in the basement of the Southern Exchange, where Xerocon is being held in Atlanta. What special skills would accounting professionals bring to a Hunger Games?
Greg: We would be a big help to the other tributes by being so easy to kill due to our lack of both real-world skills and upper body strength.
You attend a variety of conferences from Comicon to Xerocon. What is the best thing about in-person conferences?
Greg: It’s all about engagement. Online networking and learning is fine, I do plenty of it myself; but when you attend a conference in person, you can’t help but become more engaged in the content as well as engaging with like-minded people.
Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning — many think robots will take over, but what should accounting professionals think about all this technology stuff?
Greg: I recently read a quote from a very influential person in the accounting profession who said we should all learn as much as we can about Blockchain. I’ve heard the same sentiment about AI, and I disagree with both.
It’s like someone telling a chef that he needs to learn all he can about microwave technology. Nope. He does, however, need to learn how to use that magic box that unevenly warms frozen burritos. Chefs don’t need to earn 40 CPE credits discovering the mathematical formulas behind the magnetrons and radio waves that make microwave ovens work. What they do need to do is take the time to find the right microwave for their purpose and learn how to leverage the technology to its fullest potential.
Same with accountants and AI. We need to look for the threats and opportunities that exist in our profession – something we need to do anyway, regardless of AI or machine learning. We need to leverage AI and machine learning to our fullest advantage, and to the fullest advantage of our clients. If as an accountant you don’t know the minutiae of Blockchain and machine learning, you’re going to be just fine.
What do you see as the accounting professional’s biggest pain point today that needs solving?
Greg: Accountants’ biggest pain point is in the sciatic nerve. There’s also firm growth. But I’d say mostly the sciatic nerve pain which can best be solved through regular exercise, ergonomic seating, and a standing desk.
Why should accounting professionals come to Xerocon?
Greg: Coming to Xerocon will help bring joy back into your job. Engaging with people who are passionate about our profession, learning new ways to leverage technology to make your life easier and to better serve your customers. Getting inspired to make changes at your firm that will increase your fulfillment and increase your profits – that’s what I get out of it. That and a bunch of free pens.
As you can see, you never quite know what to expect from Greg, so you won’t want to miss his encore performance at Xerocon Atlanta.