Nick Urry is the Managing Director & Founder of Dexterous Group, a progressive bookkeeping, accounting and tax services provider.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
After finishing my CA, I decided to leave the Chartered environment and try more commercial roles. I moved through 2-3 different roles in different sized companies and industries over 4-5 years and never really found my home.
During this time, I never held great ambitions to start my own business but I did obtain my own Tax Agent license so I could manage tax returns primarily for family and friends.
This tax agent license would prove highly beneficial as it was the reason why James and I first made contact. The Dexterous business was founded in 2015 based on a conversation with James (Co-Founder and now Innovation Director) about how I could help provide tax services to his Bookkeeping clients.
Ironically, James probably hates being called an Accountant and I was never wanting to be a ‘Tax person’. But it was these two aspects that brought us together initially and became the foundation for what The Dexterous Group is today.
Nowadays, the best part about what I do is the people I work with, starting with my Sydney and Philippines teams and our wonderful group of clients. The current environment has definitely challenged us as a business and it’s been heartwarming to see everyone come together and work through the challenging times.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days always start early and it’s rare that I can control my mornings the way I would like with two young kids (1 and 3). I try to never let this become an excuse albeit it is challenging at times to create strong habits around an unstructured schedule.
That said, after getting the kids breakfast, I meditate for 10 mins before taking the kids to daycare. Once home, I spend 15-20 mins reading the AFR, newspapers or articles of importance that I may have saved from days earlier to ensure I am across current events.
Checking my diary for the day, I will plan a walk or some type of workout to ensure I can get some fresh air and have some time to clear my head. This has become an increasingly important part of my day in this latest lock
I aim to finish work around 5pm, pick up the kids then it’s family time until around 7:30pm until they’re in bed. I then like to log on for an hour if there are things I haven’t got to during the day. That said, I aim to have the laptop off by 8pm so I have 1-2 hours to switch off, catch up with my wife or watch a show on Netflix.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, to flexibility and yes to remote working. We experienced little to no disruption with lockdown as the business was born in the cloud and with a team spread across Sydney and the Philippines it’s safe to say we’re well versed at remote based working.
I’ve maintained the office footprint as I do believe it is important to have somewhere where the team can come together at a frequency of which will be determined post lockdown.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To myself it means being able to spend time with my family with a clear head and then being focused at work without distractions.
As a business owner I am always thinking about the business but I aim to make sure it is not occupying my thoughts when I am with the family on weekends or after hours. This is made somewhat easy with little ones as you are always on your toes so I don’t often have more than 5 mins to think without having to react to something one of them has done.
Conversely, when I am working, I aim to be outcome focused and limit the distractions that can come from working from home and the many distractions that come with teams, email and text messages/phone calls throughout the day. It’s not always perfect but I try not to beat myself up over it as there are exceptions to every rule so it’s rarely going to be perfect.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In summer last year I was reading a lot about the benefits of taking cold showers and I was determined to keep this up. Then winter came and it stopped pretty quickly and I am yet to start again. I was also keeping a daily journal for 12 months but stopped at the start of this year as I found myself questioning the purpose.
Meditation is something I have been very consistent with and I use a habit tracker which I’ve kept up with now for almost a year. More recently I’ve been getting strict with exercise at least 4 times per week and this is as simple as a walk where I make work calls, to something a bit more strenuous.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
James Clear – Atomic Habits has been a game-changer for me. My big takeaways are around habit stacking and I love the comment in the book which is ‘the only difference between a professional and an amateur is the professional gets out of bed and works out even on a bad day’. I often use this for motivation when I am struggling to workout myself.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My Remarkable – it’s like an iPad but designed specifically for taking notes etc – I bought it just recently as I was really enjoying being able to write things down (for memory retention). It also meant I didn’t have to take my laptop to meetings.
The traditional notepad I found was great but then I’d move onto another notepad and was not able to easily reference back to prior notes taken and as a result, I never did. I certainly can’t live without My Remarkable now!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
No one specifically springs to mind here. But I enjoy reading how anyone juggles this delicate balance. I find you can always take away some small nugget or useful insight from other people’s day to day practices.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s about discipline and creating good habits. And importantly not beating yourself up when you don’t achieve an ideal state each day, or every time you try. You should only worry about what you can control and acknowledge that some days as much as you try, it’s not always going to go your way. The beauty is, tomorrow is a new day and you get to start over again.
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