Accounting Salon Interviews: Amanda Aguillard of Elefant Training

David and Blake catch up with Amanda Aguillard, founder of the Accounting Salon, a different sort of accounting-focused gathering in its second year in New Orleans. Amanda shares what inspired her to start her own conference, why it's called a "salon," what makes the Accounting Salon different, and how to nominate yourself (or another) to be invited next year. To learn more, visit


Show Notes

  • 00:48 - Why start your own accounting conference?
  • 01:47 - What is an "Accounting Salon"?
  • 02:47 - What makes the Accounting Salon different
  • 04:08 - Agenda for 2019
  • 06:04 - How to nominate yourself (or another) to be invited next year
  • 07:01 - Thank you to this year's sponsors!
  • 07:38 - Visit for more information

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Blake Oliver: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver-
David Leary: And I'm David Leary-
Amanda Aguillard: And I'm Amanda Aguillard.
Blake Oliver: We're in New Orleans for Accounting Salon.
Amanda Aguillard: Woo hoo!
Blake Oliver: Yeah!! 
David Leary: Right outside the Metrodome. No, it's not. Superdome.
Amanda Aguillard: Superdome! [cross talk] 
Blake Oliver: It is actually enormous! Looking out this window, it's super-intimidating. Did you do this on purpose, Amanda, to intimidate all the other football fans? [00:00:30]
Amanda Aguillard: Well, you know, what's funny is Kenji, and I have this love/hate relationship about football, because, he's from Atlanta, and I'm from here in New Orleans, and the Saints, and the Falcons are rivals. I made him stand in front of the window, and take a picture, and tweet it. 
Blake Oliver: Here in New Orleans for Accounting Salon-
David Leary: -which, last year was just a hashtag. Now it's something real. How did we get to this point, Amanda? 
Amanda Aguillard: A couple of years ago, I had this [00:01:00] idea that if we could grab all the people we knew, like both of you guys, together, and pull all of our cloud-accounting experts together, we could create some kind of event that would really be valuable to people at the highest levels of cloud accounting. 
Having gone to conferences for years, I found that I got more out of what happens after hours, or the back of the room, than I did really from the stuff that was coming from the stage. In the [00:01:30] spirit of a French salon, we thought, well, can we just grab a bunch of people together, and start talking cloud accounting? That's how Salon was born. I had this wacky idea, and the first person who raised his hand, and said, "I'll do it with you, was David Leary.
Blake Oliver: So, here we are. 
Amanda Aguillard: So, here we are.
Blake Oliver: Let's go to the name - Salon ... Accounting Salon. You said French salon? What does it mean? 
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah, a French Salon of- 
Blake Oliver: We're not getting our hair done.
Amanda Aguillard: You're not getting your hair done. I think French salon of the 18th [00:02:00] century, where folks gathered together, discussed big ideas. Everyone was equal. There may or may not have been some drinks served. People talked about big things. That's really what I want the spirit of Accounting Salon to be, where everyone's equal. We discuss. We might disagree. We really process all the things that are going on in the industry.
David Leary: If you look at the history of the salons, it really embraces what this [00:02:30] event has turned into, because we were trying to decide on a name ... We were gonna call it Cloud Accounting Conference, or Cloud Accounting Expo, or the other 50,000 names that have already been used. Salon is very, very unique, and it seems weird, until you go learn about the French salons of the late 1800s. 
Blake Oliver: The big difference is it's not a bunch of speakers up on a stage telling the audience what to think. That's what we're all sick of. As somebody who gets up on stage, and tells people what [00:03:00] to think [cross talk] 
Amanda Aguillard: Exactly.
Blake Oliver: I'm sick of myself, too.
David Leary: Amanda, and I did not work together to create a conference, so Amanda, and I could have a keynote. We don't have a keynote. We don't speak. Even somebody that's ... We have the members do the talks. We combined forces. For example, last year, we had a talk. We took somebody who was a QuickBooks expert on Zapier, and somebody who was a Xero expert on Zapier, and they'd never met each other; we made those two work together to create a presentation. That's what the [00:03:30] spirit of it is, is just bringing- colliding these worlds together that have kind of been separate.
Amanda Aguillard: There's really not, to date, a great cross-platform accounting conference. Xerocon's great. QuickBooks Connect is great. As far as something where all of us can come together ... I'm Xero. David was at Intuit for a long time. He, and I never crossed paths in the years that we were in accounting. We just made something up where we would. [00:04:00]
David Leary: We had to meet at a law-firm conference.
Amanda Aguillard: That's right.
Blake Oliver: Really? Which one? 
David Leary: Clio- 
Amanda Aguillard: Clio. 
Blake Oliver: Clio Law Conference. All right.
Amanda Aguillard: That's kinda crazy.
Blake Oliver: Well, what's on deck for the next couple of days, Amanda? 
Amanda Aguillard: Our Salon kicks off tomorrow morning. We'll do a day of content. As David mentioned, we have our Salon attendees presenting content. We have a panel on advisory; whether it's jumped the shark is ... That's the [00:04:30] defense to everything now. "OH, QuickBooks is being a bunch of jerks." :Well, advisory, so, you don't need to worry about that ..." but, is that really true? Have we peaked? Have we reached peak advisory? We'll have-.
Blake Oliver: Is advisory the new blockchain? 
Amanda Aguillard: Right.
Blake Oliver: That's a good question. 
David Leary: Probably not, because I have not seen anybody who has a firm that says they're doing advising get any VC money, because they're just an advising [cross talk] 
Blake Oliver: Maybe that's the next thing. Let's go raise [cross talk] $20 million to do advisory. 
David Leary: Put together a fund. 
Blake Oliver: We'll [00:05:00] do it through an app. That's what we'll do [cross talk]
Amanda Aguillard: -we'll just be a botvisory. 
Blake Oliver: Botvisory. 
Amanda Aguillard: Botvisory. 
Blake Oliver: We should register that domain name. 
Amanda Aguillard: We'll talk about - that's one of the panels that we have going on. Then we have another one on compensation; interesting compensation strategies for our accounting firms that are neither salaried, nor hourly. As you guys know, we have people from all over the world here in New Orleans.
Blake Oliver: Yes!
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah. Heather Smith is here from Australia. 
Blake Oliver: Came all the way from Australia. That's [00:05:30] so cool! 
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah, it's humbling a little bit to me, because it's ... Of course, this is my baby, and it's in my backyard, but that somebody would come from literally the other side of the world to come be with us is awesome.
Blake Oliver: We have some Canadians.
Amanda Aguillard: We have three Canadians. Rachel Fisch, and Heather are doing a talk about the global accounting environment. I think those of us in the US get a little bit bottlenecked about it. We're like, "Ugh, I don't know what's going on in the rest of the world." They're gonna tell us about it. 
David Leary: Can we get a commitment [00:06:00] that somebody from the UK will be invited next year? 
Amanda Aguillard: That would be awesome. You can nominate yourselves. Go to Anybody worldwide is welcome to submit their application.
Blake Oliver: The Global Accounting Salon. I like that. I like the ring of that. 
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah.
David Leary: I think I mentioned a while ago that we were, at one time, just a hashtag, and now, this has turned into a real site. We have really deep sponsors. We've doubled the size of attendees. How many attendees now? 
Amanda Aguillard: We have 36. [00:06:30]
David Leary: 36, so it's two cohorts- 
Amanda Aguillard: Two cohorts of 18. Invite only, which it's not about being exclusive, or secretive at all. We have a very transparent nomination process. People throw their names in the hat, or their names in the hat ... Yeah, their names in the hat- 
David Leary: Yeah. 
Amanda Aguillard: -or are nominated by other folks. We have a nominating committee that will look at those people, and then we extend invitations. We deliberately are keeping it intimate, and only adding a set number of attendees [00:07:00] per year.
Blake Oliver: And some amazing sponsors this year, including Gusto. 
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah, Gusto's the title sponsor, so, this is the Accounting Salon presented by Gusto. 
Blake Oliver: That's very exciting. Who else do we got? We got Brex, Rippling, Knowify, Jirav, Veem, Dear ... Is that Qount, with a Q? LivePlan, Onpay ... Fantastic sponsors.
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah. They've been incredibly supportive. Again, it's humbling to [00:07:30] see the support coming from all over the accounting industry. Some of those folks will be joining us for the after-hours events.
Blake Oliver: You mentioned the domain a few times, Amanda, but just in case people missed it, if they want to nominate themselves, or someone else for Accounting Salon ... If they want to just learn more about the event; if they want to sponsor it, where should they go?
Amanda Aguillard:
Blake Oliver: If people want to get in touch with you, personally, online, where should they go? 
Amanda Aguillard: Probably easiest to reach me via email: [00:08:00] E-L-E-F-A-N-T Training dot come. 
David Leary: Elefant Training, could you quickly say what that is?
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah, Elefant is the training company that I started a couple of years ago. We focus on technology, and practice management for accountants, and bookkeepers. We do offer CPE. We have live webinars every month on different topics, like Xero, QBO ... Using [00:08:30] QBO for restaurants; using Xero, and Gusto together. Then we also do a lot of practice-management content. Most of our focus this year is around remote, so remote leadership, especially. We're doing a whole series about that this summer. I'll be working with some folks on creating content around remote teams, and remote leadership.
Blake Oliver: Amanda, I'm sure you have a lot to do, so we'll let you go, and organize this event; make it happen. [00:09:00]
David Leary: We'll see you in a couple minutes.
Amanda Aguillard: Yeah. Thanks so for having me on [cross talk] See ya. 
David Leary: The first mixer. All right. 

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