Welcome to my regular series titled "My Light Bulb Moment". This series highlights a "blinding flash of insight" that business, cultural and sports leaders have had in their careers, and how this changed their lives forever.

As a country, we pride ourselves on being a nation of innovators, entrepreneurs and visionaries. One of those at the forefront of this Kiwi innovation wave is Rod Drury, a leading technology entrepreneur. In 1995, Drury set up Glazier Systems, a software development and consult-ing firm, selling this to Advantage Group in 1999. He then founded AfterMail, an enterprise email archiving provider, which was acquired by Quest Software (and later by Dell) in 2006.

Since then Drury founded Xero, a publicly listed accounting software as a service (SAAS) company. Serving as chief executive, he has taken Xero to the international marketplace, winning numerous technology and innovation awards from Microsoft, Fast Company and Webby along the way.

Drury's Light Bulb Moment came soon after selling AfterMail to Quest Software.

He found himself sitting in convention centre in Los Angeles. "The CEO came on stage and shared how he looked really forward to working with us. After chatting for a while, he then started mapping out his long-term vision for the business as a whole, and how it would be successful far into the future."


Suddenly Drury had a light bulb moment. "The next level presented itself." His next business would not be a build and sell, but would be a public company, go international, and most importantly, be sustainable and enduring. "It was like one of those moments when you reach a mountain top after a long climb, to suddenly see other larger mountains ready to be conquered in the distance."

Drury's light bulb moment allowed him to understand that the journey of building a sustainable business is the reward, not necessarily a big pay-out some day in the distant future. "Doing business is the fun part of it. If you are not genuinely enjoying what you are doing, think about getting into something else."

As well as this, Drury believes the key to success is to "focus on developing a business that is purposeful and makes life easier for people. Working on something that impacts the world positively unlocks the passion within our team."

This type of singular long-term focus will ensure the company's enduring legacy.

"I treat work as sport. It's a fun game and to win you need to develop the best performing team. There's a fellowship, pride and enjoyment - it has never felt like work."

Tom O'Neil is an award-winning business speaker, international author of The 1% Principle and Selling Yourself to Employers, and CEO of both CV.CO.NZ and AchievementExpert.com. You can contact Tom at tom@cv.co.nz