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A Day in the Life: Xero's Craig Hudson

Craig Hudson is the managing director for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands of Xero, which makes beautiful accounting software. He shares how he gets through the day, how he organises his time and how he handles the madness of business.

What time do you wake up?

Between 6am – 6.30am. Whenever the puppy wakes up to be let outside.

What’s the ideal way to start your day?

Sunrise paddle board on the beach, followed by breakfast with the kids – neither of which happen often enough.

Do you have any morning rituals?

Nope.

How soon do you begin doing work-related things, i.e. checking phone or emails?

As soon as I wake up. It’s a bad habit and I wish I didn’t, but once I’m up, I grab some water and then start checking my phone.

What’s your media consumption or interaction like from the morning onwards – do you listen to podcasts, radio, watch videos, read books and magazines, visit new sites?

I listen to the radio if I drive into work or I listen to podcasts if I am on the bus.

What kind of work do you do?

As managing director of Xero for NZ and the Pacific Islands, I'm responsible for the business performance of Xero in those regions. That means I need to be the champion for small business and the accounting profession to solve their problems through technology in all industries from Stewart Island to Vanuatu. If we are able to do this, the by-product will be amazing results.

What’s unique about your line of work?

Leading a hyper growth tech business of our scale in New Zealand is unique. We are solving problems that not many have had to solve before and it gives me the opportunity to have a New Zealand Inc. lens to my job, as well as daily core operations.

What responsibility does that involve in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?

I’m responsible for the business performance of Xero in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. For the most part what takes up most of day is meetings!

Who do you see/talk to?

It varies from day to day, but I try and spend time as much time as possible with the Xero crew.

Where do your best ideas come from?

My team and our customers.

What are the most important tools or programmes you use for your work?

Slack.

How do you juggle all your responsibilities?
I’ve learnt to not be too hard on myself for what I don’t get done. Doing that has helped with balance.

What kind of breaks do you take throughout the day?

Hardly any, but the days that I don’t have breaks I make sure I have at least one walking meeting where I can get out and get some fresh air.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?

Hearing how my kids day was.

What about the least enjoyable?

All the meetings.

Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?

Yes – it’s a bad habit of mine.

Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?

Yes, definitely accomplishments – both my own and my teams. We celebrate milestones, whether they are global or smaller successes.

No to measuring productivity because I think there is too much ambiguity around what productivity is. My focus is on the speed of decision making and how fast my team can activate, as well as how fast I can remove the roadblocks for them to do a great job.

One way I do try and focus on getting the work done though is to spend less time in my emails. Realising you don’t have to do everything instantly and that emails disrupt my flow helped so now setting time aside to do emails is something I work on.

Is there anything you think is unique about your day?

I don’t think so – I’m just a regular guy going about life.

What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? Can you be both a successful businessman and a good father/partner/friend?

You can – but it’s hard. My focus is family and work, and it’s a constant battle to get that balance right, especially if you have younger kids. For the most part it means that I have limited time for myself and networks outside my immediate.

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?

I used to because I would take everything on myself. I have got a lot better in the last four years though on focusing on what I can control and not taking life too seriously.

But yes, every now and again I do get stressed. Breathing and talking to get perspective is important for me, because that thing stressing you out in reality might not as big a deal as you think.

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?

I eat dinner with the kids and hang out with my family.

I try to switch off and some days are better than others depending on what is going on. I’ve got better at it though and that has helped my relationship with my wife and my kids.

What time do you go to sleep?

Between 10pm – 11pm.

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