Community, caring and cupcakes

It was so touching to see a bunch of people who linked up via Twitter join in and participate in a community event like Cupcake Camp Sydney last Friday night.

To explain: CupcakeCamp (which was invented by Ariel Waldman) is:

… an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and eat cupcakes in an open environment.

There is some debate about the actual number of people who attended, but the consensus now rests on more than 70 & less than 100. The most amazing thing is the wonderful people who invested time and care in creating the cupcakes (see some pictures on the Flickr group).

We raised some money for the RSPCA to help animals, if you’d like to help too then here’s an online donation form. Please type CUPCAKECAMP in the Position field so we can track donation numbers.

It was cool that even people who were at another event raised some money for the RSPCA too (we did send some cupcakes over to them though 😉

I love how there is something about homemade cupcakes that brings out a sense of community that we do not often see nowadays.

A huge thank-you to CBS Interactive for hosting, to our kind prize sponsors, conscientious judges, and most of all to the people who cared enough to create cupcakes and share them with other people. Thanks also to those who came along to support and eat cupcakes (that was me, couldn’t cook a cupcake to save my life).

Think it might be fun to do this again next year? Please let me know via comments.

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 15.34.47 Source:

WTF? Dumped by a personal trainer?

I have noticed a strange phenomenon recently among service providers. Some of them seem to think that the mere fact of providing services to a customer for money creates an actual personal relationship with their customer.

A recent example of this phenomenon came to my attention when a friend got dumped via the following message from his personal trainer:

Hi mate. Just tried to give you a call. I think we should break up. :-). you’re right recently I have lost interest in training you. As a paying customer you deserve better than this. So rather than let this slide any further I think we should go our seperate [sic] ways before it gets bitter. I am completely happy to help you find a new trainer and info you need. If you want to discuss it give me a call. Sorry abut this but I think it is the best solution. — ‘Tommy the Trainer’

See the strange mix between the personal and the professional? For instance the smiley face at the end of a sentence saying “we should break up” as if there is some personal level to the relationship; or the notion that it might get “bitter” if the break-up does not occur now.

It’s fascinating. My friend thought he had a professional relationship with his service provider, whereby money was exchanged in return for guidance in a fitness workout. Clearly, by the nature of his communication, the service provider thought differently.

A professional services relationship, not bound by contract, could easily be severed by a quick phone call to say something along the lines of “a change in circumstances means that I’m no longer available to train with you”. Somewhat impersonal, but perhaps less confused in the message?

This highlights a real problem for marketers who are so in love with relationship marketing. What if your customers simply don’t want a relationship with you? What if your customers don’t even want a relationship with your brand or your product? What if they just was good service at a price they can live with?

Perhaps it is more important to think about the customer relationship from their point of view? Perhaps differentiation on features and benefits that customers care about is more important?

One thing that’s likely is that ‘Tommy the Trainer’ has just bought himself quite a bit of negative word of mouth advertising with that text message. It’s very likely that he’ll become the poster boy for bad PR in the local personal training scene in the leafy northern suburbs of Sydney.

CupcakeCamp Sydney 2009

Follow us on Twitter: @cccsyd

See what’s happening at #cccsyd

When:Friday 28 August 2009 (5.30 pm – 7.30 pm)

Where: CBS Interactive SydneyWe are running this as part of the RSPCA Cupcake Day fundraiser

Registration: here

  • admission: free; BYO alcohol; soft drinks & nibbles provided
  • donations for RSPCA will be collected on the day ($2 or more tax deductible)

We’ve got a distinguished panel of judges who are going to help us award the cool prizes

Cool prizes


Coverage (blogs, videos, photosets, etc.)

Pointless banter and the building of bonds

There’s been some ‘research‘ about Twitter by Pear Analytics claiming that “Pointless Babble” represented “40.55% of the total tweets captured”.

What’s interesting is that these folks completely miss the importance of banter in the building of social bonds between human beings.

On Twitter it is a bit hard for us to sit together & check out our buddies for fleas.  So the banter & seemingly frivolous chatter helps to bridge the gap that would be bridged by other means in real life.

The many ambient contacts that we have every day are the cement that binds our social connections.  The casual conversations at the coffee cart or water cooler create a level of comfort between us.  And this level of comfort makes it easier to work, play or socialise together.

Twitter is a great way to have that kind of ambient social contact between people who are not physically proximate.

It’s a pity some people don’t understand how important these seemingly trivial and non-threatening social communications are in building relationships and community.

Don’t forget to check out some critiques of the Pear perspective on Twitter:

Pear Analytics Twitter Report: Criticisms of the coding methods … by Stephen Dann – BTW the comments on this post are especially amusing & worth the effort

Twitter babble twaddle – by Stilgherrian

Stephen Fry

Graham Linehan

Note: This post is reproduced from my Posterous blog

Are blogs really dead?

Some have argued that blogs have had their day, for example: Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004.

A blog (a contraction of the term weblog) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary …

I still think that some topics need more than 140 characters, and some topics call for a narrative integration & dialogue not open to us in many of the briefer social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook posts.

But perhaps we are seeing a move away from the old fashioned blog – e.g. Blogger, Movable Type or WordPress – for some users?

Along side this we are seeing the evolution of newer platforms like Tumblr and Posterous that are changing the way we can easily share different forms of content. They seem to sit between a short message sharing medium and a traditional blog, and they also easily incorporate multimedia content.

Seeing how all this will feed into other new stuff (like Google Wave) is going to be very interesting.

You can check out my Posterous – have been signed up for ages but had not really played with it much until recently.

NB: I am conscious of the irony inherent in a discussion about the death of blogs on a blog – it’s almost as amusing as reporting the death of newspapers in a newspaper 😉

Social media, reputation and immediacy

Reputation is critical for any person or business – we only have to look at the professional reputations of the James Hardie directors & managers in the news today.

Social media can be a great way for companies & individuals to build their reputations. But it also means that we need to manage reputation proactively. This is because social media harnesses the effects of network amplification, for both good and ill.

The great success stories show how it can be done effectively. For example, Tony Hsieh of Zappos (just sold to Amazon) has used social media – like blogs & Twitter – to share the corporate culture & to support both customer service and branding goals.

Also a number of people I know personally have obtained new jobs via social media – posting about their availability for work on their blogs, LinkedIn or Twitter.

But the other side (some might call it the dark side) works just as effectively. One friend of mine lost a job because of a seemingly innocent (but slightly derogatory) remark on Twitter. Or the very recent examples of:

The very thing that makes social media a powerful force for building online profiles so rapidly also enables the downside unfold just as quickly. The sheer velocity with which bad news can spread nowadays makes social media a sword that cuts both ways.

As Jeff Nolan points out:

“… there is no latency in communication today.”

More great supporters of Cupcake Camp

A number of organisations have stepped up to offer prizes for Cupcake Camp Sydney and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank them for their generosity.

Ripples Cafe has donated a gift certificate for a dinner for 2 people (to value of $150) at their restaurant on Sydney Wharf.

Cupcake House
Meaghan from Cupcake House has donated a prize pack of ‘cupcake liners from Vestli House and Bella Cupcake Couture Wrappers’.

Everyone who makes or buys and brings Cupcake-Daycupcakes to share is in the running to win one of these prizes. Again, a big thank-you to the donors.

Remembering Lan, an ordinary woman …

I have been privileged to know many inspiring women during my life. But the first of these influential women was my mother.

Lan grew up in a large and rambunctious Irish (Greek) Australian family in Sydney’s inner west.  It was a time when ladies wore hats, gloves & a nice frock to go to town. Lan also grew up as a child of depression era parents, and knew frugal living first hand.  Not a wealthy family, but one with a love of books, words, talking and reading.

She also came to adulthood in the days of rock ‘n roll and jazz, and of dances at the old Sydney stadium.

In her youth access to education was largely the preserve of wealthy women.  For Lan and most of her contemporaries (pre-women’s lib) a girl worked until she married and then made a home and raised a family.  And, in some ways, her acceptance of those old conventional ways used to annoy me.

lan-kateBut, it was at her side that I learned important things – like the value of education and restorative power of a good laugh. On travels with her I saw economic inequity and its results first hand, and learned how one person can make a difference. She was personally active in helping people via the local St Vincent de Paul Society and had strong opinions about social justice to go with that personal activism.

She taught me how to make my own lollies and soap & did not mind when I made a huge mess.

During my terrible teen years we had stand-up fights, of the kind that only mothers and daughters can understand. But after all of that we became friends. She provided insight, support and an example to which I aspire in many ways.

Her sayings resonate in my head even today, in a kind of wise counsel. And her words in my memory resonate with a feeling of love, trust in my abilities and a can-do attitude.

Things like social justice, reconciliation, working to the best of my ability, helping others, and standing up for principles – these are all things I learned from Mum. As her brother Brian always said of her, she was always wearing rose coloured glasses.

As a result of her influence it rarely occurred to me that there were things I could not achieve. Even though her own acceptance of a woman’s role from a different era annoyed me, she never imposed that on me.

Mum passed away when she was only in her forties, too young to leave a husband and five children. I miss her still and it’s her birthday today.