Kind supporters of Cupcake Camp Sydney

A number of organisations have stepped up to offer prizes for Cupcake Camp Sydney. I wanted to take the opportunity to thank them for their generosity, and also to show the prizes that our cupcake makers could win.

The Plantronics has provided one of their Discovery 925 Bluetooth earpiece.

It is a nifty designer headset for both men and women.

“Delivering exceptional audio performance, complemented by bold lines and distinctive finishes, the Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth earpiece embodies technical craftsmanship previously unseen in the mobile accessories category.”

Plantronics has also provided on of their GameCom 367 Closed-Ear Gaming Headsets.

This headset “delivers an immersive audio experience with

50mm stereo speakers and earpods that redistribute pressure for maximum comfort.

The headset features a noise-canceling mic boom which allows you to

Adjust audio levels using in-line volume

and mic-mute controls.”

Altec Lansing have provided one of their Muzx 126 SnugFit noise-isolating earphones.

These are iPhone, MP3 and iPod compatible.

“Sound quality is excellent thanks to the use of wood and other materials to help sound resonate and gold plated plug for superior sound transfer.

The earphones also feature fashion detailing.”

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

Why cupcakes, why animals?

CupCakeCamp SydneyMy current obsession with cupcakes and supporting the RSPCA results from two things that came together recently.

Last year I was intrigued to hear about the various cupcake camps that were being held around the world. It seemed like a nice thing to do – getting people together for a social occasion and trying to build a bit of community spirit.

I miss the kind of community gathering we used to have when I was a child. People would prepare food at home, with each family bringing a plate of food & everyone would share. We  would all gather, usually in the church hall or grounds – the adults talking & sharing news or stories, while the kids ran around burning off energy.

Also, I really like animals and supporting organisations that help animals. Then, when the RSPCA’s cupcake based campaign came out, it seemed like an opportunity to combine (a) support for a charity that helps animals in need with (b) a real life community building event.

Thus Cupcake Camp Sydney seemed like a very good idea indeed.

What’s not to like? Cupcakes, socialising, and helping animals – it is full of win on many levels.

I really hope people will come along to participate in Cupcake Camp Sydney on Friday 28 August at the offices of CBS Interactive.  We need cupcake makers as well as cupcake consumers – all are welcome.

You can register for free here.

Caturday is for cupcakes

a @firstdogonmoon original cartoon
a @firstdogonmoon original cartoon

Normally on Caturday this post is an amusing LOLcat.

But today it is a serious request for people in Sydney to help to raise funds to help real animals with real problems.

Cupcake Camp Sydney is on Friday 28 August 2009 – REGISTER NOW.

It’s a simple idea: bake or buy cupcakes; bring them to cupcake camp; share them with other people & enjoy a social occasion; and donate money to the RSPCA.

There’s some great prizes for our cupcake makers – from Plantronics, Altec, Ripples Cafe – and it will be fun too!

Cupcake Camp Sydney needs cupcake eaters too

REGISTER NOW for Cupcake Camp Sydney

a @firstdogonmoon original cartoon
a @firstdogonmoon original cartoon

For Cupcake Camp Sydney on Friday 28 August we need people to come along to help consume the cupcakes & to support the RSPCA.

Our goal is create a fun social occasion based around the sharing of cupcakes together with the opportunity to help out a charity that does great work for animals.

It all depends on people – come along and join us.

Follow Cupcake Camp Sydney on Twitter @cccsyd & the hashtag is #cccsyd

Great judges lined up for Cupcakecamp Sydney

REGISTER NOW for Cupcake Camp Sydney

For Cupcake Camp Sydney on Friday 28 August we’ve got a distinguished panel of judges who are going to help us to award cool prizes:

They are going to be judging the cupcakes in three categories & there will be prizes for the creator in each category:

  • best decorated cupcake
  • best cupcake overall – based on presentation, taste & texture
  • craziest cupcake

All cupcake bakers go into a draw to win a bottle of champagne too.

Follow Cupcake Camp Sydney on Twitter @cccsyd & the hashtag is #cccsyd

Cupcake support grows in Sydney, help animals with cupcakes

Cupcake Camp Sydney is scheduled for Friday 28 August in Sydney & the support continues to grow.

REGISTER NOW for Cupcake Camp Sydney

The very kind folks at Ripples Cafe at Sydney Wharf have donated a gift voucher for ‘a dinner for two’ (to the value of $150.00). It will be one of the prizes for our intrepid cupcake bakers.

It is all in the cause of helping to raise funds for the RSPCA. So come along, bring your cupcakes to share.

All cupcake bakers also go into the draw to win a bottle of champagne.

There’s also going to be prizes for best decorated cupcake & tastiest cupcake – more on that later.

Follow Cupcake Camp Sydney on Twitter @cccsyd & the hashtag is #cccsyd

Managers are important too

After recent thoughts about leadership – just when I thought it was all sorted out in my mind – a buddy, @KerriAnne, made the point that some great leaders are truly dreadful managers. And she’s right, very rarely do we see the combination of a great leader and a great manager in the one person.  Often it is a leader and second in command who work together to provide both.

So the next question for me to consider is:

What does a manager do?

There’s lots of theory around management – going all the way back to the days of Machiavelli, Adam Smith, Frank Winslow Taylor, the Gilbreths (of Cheaper by the Dozen fame) or Max Weber and beyond.

But the most important thing about management is that it directs the actions of groups towards common goals. All great armies in the world have had good management.

That is because good management is about the creation of a cohesive group that enables individuals to put aside differing ideas, agendas and motivations to work together towards achieving group goals. Further, quite often, the group will not have had input into defining the goals that they have been asked to achieve.

Management is not about the moment of inspiration so much as the daily slog of getting things done.  It can often be about seemingly boring stuff, like ensuring that all necessary resources are in place when needed.  Management is about keeping the team focused and capable to achieve the mission over the entire duration no matter what. Management is about knowing the skills and potential of team members, even when they might not know it themselves.  It is about drawing out better performances from people than they ever suspected they could deliver. It’s also about helping people to build mastery of tasks and then moving on to new tasks so that they continually develop and grow professionally.

Thus putting aside all the theory, management is about people & getting them to do things they might not want to do. Sometimes a leader can achieve this. But usually when things fall apart it is not a problem with leadership, rather it is often a problem of logistics. Thus ensuring that people have the right resources to achieve the mission is a key role for the manager.

But in the past the need to coordinate activities across distant operations and with poor communications technologies meant that command and control techniques were essential tools. The military are probably the best exponents of this method of management.

The key to successful command and control management is communication (there’s a nice short discussion here) – which relies upon decent computing resources and reasonable access to intelligence. And that is why the military tend to refer to C4I these days – or Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and (military) Intelligence.

However, the communications technologies that we now have available to us in everyday life & in business mean that management techniques need to evolve to encompass them. Perhaps the ways of managing that made sense in the days of telegraph and radio no longer make sense in the days of social networking, converged mobile devices and the internet?

For me the great challenge of contemporary management is filtering out the noise so that relevant messages can get through and people can collaborate effectively to deliver results.

Communications without intelligence is noise; intelligence without communications is irrelevant.
Gen. Alfred. M. Gray, USMC

Over the years many of us have suffered, working under managers who are bullies. It’s time we stopped accepting the bullies way of doing things – there is some great stuff on this over at Bob Sutton’s blog on this topic.

Who should we invite to judge Cupcake Camp Sydney?

Cupcake-DayJust wondering who we should invite as a judge for Cupcake Camp Sydney.

We’ve had @Neerav volunteer to help out so far.

But we also need a few more people who are willing to put themselves on the line to (a) taste cupcakes & (b) help out the RSPCA, raising awareness of the event & what we’re trying to do.

Feel free to nominate yourself or others below in comments – or on twitter using tag #cccsyd

REGISTER NOW for Cupcake Camp Sydney

Is leadership only about leaders?

Had an interesting conversation with my friend @MaverickWoman about leadership over the weekend. Conversations with @MaverickWoman are always thought-starters and this was no different to usual – she got me thinking.

The big question I started thinking about was:

Is leadership only about leaders?

At business school there was so much focus on the leader. There was: servant leadership; charismatic leadership; transactional leadership; transformational leadership; blah blah blah …

We whiled away many hours with huge debates about the difference between management and leadership.

For me the difference came down to the fact that, while I wanted to follow a leader, I often had no choice in following a manager. Usually I was forced to follow a particular manager by the hierarchical nature of the organisation and my own desire to follow was irrelevant.

But much of what we studied did not really look at the followers. This seems to be a very important part of leadership. There are lots of people under medical treatment who think they are a leader (for example those poor souls who think they’re Napoleon or some other famous leader) but few of us would follow them. What makes them different from well known leaders like Napoleon and others?

I know we can look to more formalised theories about this like situational leadership or Leader-Member Exchange Theory, but I want to look at something simpler than that.

During our chat on the weekend I realised that unless you have a voluntary following, you are not a leader, but a manager.

Take the examples of Jesus & Gandhi – they were leaders because people chose to follow them, not because they set out to be leaders. And, most importantly, people chose to follow them because of what they said and did and were.

So my theory is that for leadership content counts. The content of your words and actions are what makes people want to follow you.  The content is what creates the desire to follow in your followers. And without them you’re not really leading anyone.

What’s interesting about this view of leadership is that anyone can be a leader.  It’s not just some special person who went to the right schools.  It’s someone who says and does things that make other people voluntarily choose to follow them.

But what about dictators and other people who rule by might or fear? Well from my perspective they’re just a bunch of managers.

Twitter, purpose and community

A while back Twitter was having some real problems with stability and scalability and it dawned on me that they, like many innovators,  had not realised what kind of invention they had made.  They talked about it as a ‘microblogging‘ platform, that is, as a very short message publishing service.  This is a very web 1.0 view of what this type of platform enabled.

Instead, what Twitter (and it’s competitors) enabled was conversations.  And conversations enable community. So, without realising it,  what they had actually created was a community building platform.

One place that this is really evident is in Australia, especially in Sydney.  About four years ago I recall complaining that there was no real tech community in Sydney even though there were lots of web development and hi-tech companies in town.  At the end of 2007, coincident with the beta of Twitter, a number of people got together and decided to do something about it.  This gave rise, or new life, to various groups.

All of this could have happened using email lists and online user groups, just as it had in the past.  But I’ve found that those groups are hard to maintain momentum with if you are only meeting once a week, month or similar.  What you need to build real community is a village.

This is because villages provide ambient contact on a regular basis that reinforces relationships and creates personal knowledge of each other as members of the community.  Luckily for us Twitter came along at just the right time to provide that kind of ambient community building contact.

One of the first shoots of this community in Sydney was the formation of the  Sydney Twitter Underground Brigade (a.k.a. @STUB & the guys at Happener deserve kudos for their support of @STUB over the years).

This was an important step in creation of a sense of community in the tech world in Sydney as it brought us together in real life on a regular basis.  And that real life contact was reinforced by ongoing conversations on Twitter. Now we know what each other look like in real life and maintain contact with each other, though geographically dispersed, via Twitter.  These days, if I walk into a web or tech conference in Sydney, there’s a lot of familiar faces.  And all this is due to the community building that Twitter has enabled.

Sure, while Twitter serves to keep us in contact regularly, the community is also supported by various blogs, wikis, Google Groups, and web pages.  But it is Twitter that we use to organise and publicise  a conference, or a picnic, or drinks at the pub (check out Silicon Beach drinks each Friday in Sydney).

Here’s some pictures from a recent family tweetup/picnic that was enabled by (a) the community built via Twitter (most of us met first on Twitter & then in real life); (b) the ability to send both broadcast and point-to-point messages via Twitter for logistics & planning; and (c) to remind me it was on – even though I had completely forgotten to diarise it.

Note re language
For some reason I don’t know, tweetups in Australia became focused around TUBs (or Twitter Underground Brigades) and most big cities have a ‘TUB’ (Perth PTUB; Melbourne MTUB; Brisbane BTUB; Canberra CTUB – if I’ve missed any please let me know).  The term ‘TUB’ has now become vernacular for tweetup around these part – hence there’s a fairly regular @girlTUB and a recent #familyTUB (see pics below).