The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Event Review: Participation is the new consumption — June 10, 2013

Event Review: Participation is the new consumption

As part of the Vivid Ideas festival, community ambassador Mark Woodrow went along to the Participatory Revolution, an event inspired by Michelle Williams, connector, collaborator and  founder of Ideaction.

Panel discusses big Vivid Ideas
Panel discusses big Vivid Ideas on participation

“There is the same power in our phones as what took humans to the moon.” Michelle Williams inspires passion in us all to join the revolution in opening the half day conference at the MCA in Sydney, 27 May.

“This is the era of creativity. Participation the new consumption.”

It’s not what we consume, it’s how we participate

Greenpeace CEO David Ritter defined their early vision with blunt clarity in quoting David McTaggart  “We have to get our world into 21st C in one piece. Fuck everything else.” Greenpeace works by active participation. The latest campaign targets the horrendous damage by plastics on bird life. Two thirds of Australian sea birds are choking on a stomach full of plastic. You can participate by not purchasing from a multinational like Coca-Cola, which shows no interest in recycling. And watch the compelling ad that was censored by mainstream Australian media.

“Greenpeace’s mission hasn’t changed  but now there are many more options for activism.The action items on the menu for social change have expanded in the rich opportunities contained in digital age.”

Participatory democracy and citizen centricity

‘Social media is just a part of a broader cultural change’ according to self proclaimed geek and open data advocate Pia Waugh.  Gov 2.0 means 3 key things:

1. open data, 2. participatory democracy, 3. citizen centricity.

It is good to have Pia representing the thoughtful application of technology in government and promoting that as citizens we should all be central participants. “For two years, we’ve had more people engaging with government online than through any other medium”, says Pia.

Learning to be a citizen scholar

James Arvanitakis is the lecturer you wish you had at University, winning a Prime Minister’s award for being the most popular Australian lecturer in 2012. He advocates participatory education where we trade knowledge to attract students – we need more citizen scholars, as “Students aren’t empty vessels”.

Like newspapers, James believes the model for traditional university education is outdated. Studies show that attention in lectures goes downhill from 12 minutes. James overcomes this by interacting before, during & after lectures with downloads, and interacting on Facebook.

“Knowledge is like a big picnic. If we all bring something & contribute it will be awesome. We need to get students ready for jobs that don’t exist”

Dan Ilic (Very funny MC), Michelle Williams (Amazing Curator), Mark Woodrow (Fetching)
Dan Ilic (Very funny MC), Michelle Williams (Amazing Curator), Mark Woodrow (Fetching)

Know your sense of purpose

People are interested in doing the right thing and changing the conversation, according to Paul Bennett, Creative Director at renowned design firm IDEO. But to truly participate we need little less conversation, a little more action. Paul recommends we:

1. Have a higher purpose. ‘Know your sense of purpose’, but it needs to be integral, “Purpose is not a layer that you just add on top”.

2. Make stuff. ‘Less talking more doing’ is what leads to human centered design.

3. Be transparent about success & failure. Leap forward into growth rather than step back into safety.

4. Play well with others – collaborate. Assume the good.  “If you care about solving problems, you can’t try and own the solution”

The rule at IDEO is that everybody is in it for everybody. Incredibly IDEO puts everything online. You can see it all, download it. frameworks , designs etc. According to Paul:

“Burning eyes are the business eyes of the future”

The Maker Movement

Yammers Steve Hopkins is all about eliminating silos.  “How you make things is as important as what you make”. Makers are true participants and they are on a different schedule. For a further insight read Paul Graham’s Maker’s Schedule versus Manager’s Schedule

For projects to work, Steve’s suggest’s the Yammer formula:

“Two to ten people in a team for between 2 to 10 weeks. Never longer”

For Ian Lyons, the ‘maker movement’ is increasingly creating value. Ian makes drones (pilot-less flying machines) and suggests you investigate over funded projects on crowd funding platforms,  such as KickStarter. These are a great source of market research. Collaboration is the key – find a community that will help you build what you want. There are great Australians ‘Maker Spaces’ including  Robots & Dinosaurs, Ozberry Pi, Ninja Blocks and Dorkbot. These vibrant, creative communities that provides access to tools, software, space, ideas and support. As do #coworking spaces. You just need to search them out to participate.

The time is now. Reward collaboration over competition. Join the participatory revolution. Vive la révolution!

About our Ambassador // Mark Woodrow. Prefers the more informal self-appointed title of No1 Fetch Fan.  Runs a design and communication consultancy, The Galaxy. Resides at Hub Sydney. On the NSW Board of International Assoc of Business Communicators. You can connect with Mark on Twitter @markwoodrow

 

Event Review: Vivid Keynote – Johnny Cupcakes — June 2, 2013

Event Review: Vivid Keynote – Johnny Cupcakes

I’m pretty sure I booked my ticket for the Vivid Keynote the day the schedule was released this year. I got my first Johnny Cupcakes t-shirt as a gift in 2006 and the brand has been on my radar since then. They’ve developed a bit of a cult following over the years, proving they are more than just a t-shirt company. Fans of the brand have gotten Johnny Cupcakes tattoos (I even saw a few in the audience during the talk at the MCA).

J cupcakes talk

Johnny Cupcakes (aka Johnny Earle) started the company operating from the truck of his car, selling t-shirts on the road while touring with his band. The company has now grown into a multi-million dollar business with physical store in multiple US locations and now London, in addition to the online shop.

His keynote at Vivid told the story of his journey as a young entrepreneur and the steps that led to starting his company. He also shared some lessons in business that he believes has helped Johnny Cupcakes grow and become a success. I walked away with two main themes that really stuck with me from his talk.

Lesson one: Invest in your company

A point that Johnny made several times was the importance of reinvesting profits into the company. When he was in school he used to buy items like prank toys (i.e. whoopee cushions) and candy bars to sell to his classmates. It sounds pretty trivial until you find out that he was moving about 200 packs of candy per day and making approximately $1,000 in cash that, in the words of Johnny, “the government didn’t know about.” As a young kid it would have been easy for him to spend that type of cash, but he didn’t, he reinvested. He went to the shop and bought more candy or prank toys and was thinking about what was next on the agenda.

He did the same with Johnny Cupcakes, on a slightly larger scale. He talked about how he made his first million by age 24, but he wasn’t rich. He claims he did and still does probably have a similar looking bank account to many people in the room because he always believed in putting back into the brand he built.

Lesson two: Consider what makes your brand unique

Johnny said he gets approached by 50+ young people every day who say they want to start their own t-shirt brand. He thinks it’s great and encourages them to go for it, but does give the advice that they need to consider their own unique positioning. There are thousands of t-shirt brands out there, but what will make yours stand out. Fans camped out for 24 hours waiting for the Johnny Cupcakes London shop to open, and that’s certainly not something that happens for just any t-shirt store that decides to open.

Lesson three: Value the personal touch

I’ve been to a couple really good talks recently that spoke to the important role that “non-scalable” activities can play in startups.  There is so much hype and talk around things like growth-hacking and automation or spending your time figuring out how to maximize output and minimize input in business. So it’s really refreshing when you have someone like Johnny who stands up and talks about how he still writes hand-written notes in customers’ orders some days from the store.

Johnny said details like the packaging were always important to him. It needed to be special and up to certain standards to delight the customers, even if it meant loosing money or a lower profit margin. He wanted to sell his t-shirts in packaging that didn’t get thrown out, and cited Apple as another company who does this extremely well.

photo (17)

Another great story came from when they were looking to build and open their store in LA. Johnny stressed how important it was to create a store that didn’t just sell clothing, but created an experience when you visited it. They hired the same design team that had worked on clients such as Disney in the past to help create the new LA shop. They built fake ovens into the wall that opened and closed by themselves and released fake steam. They spent $700,000 on those ovens (and they weren’t even real ovens) that took them well past the original $60,000 budget for the entire store. However, in the end that risk paid off, and the Johnny Cupcakes brand continues to create an experience for its fans.

Today is the final day for the Johnny Cupcakes Pop-Up Shop in The Rocks. Otherwise, you can check these guys out online at JohnnyCupcakes.com to get your sweet fix. 

Event Review: Sydney FailCon — June 25, 2012

Event Review: Sydney FailCon

This event review is from Sydney Community Ambassador, Lisa Fox (CEO and cofounder of OpenShed). 

photo credit: Josh Stinton

FailCon Sydney twitter stream commenced with a steady stream of #Fail tweets as late participants declared that it was only 10am and they had already racked up their first fail for the day!

FailCon is all about removing the stigma that attaches to failure and embracing it instead.  I found it a thoroughly refreshing morning (unfortunately I couldn’t stay all day). The speakers generously shared their highs and LOTS of their lows. It was very different from the usual events where successful entrepreneurs talk about their success and gloss over their failures.

FailCon was started in San Francisco in 2009 as a one-day event for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for future success. Last year it launched in France and Brazil. And earlier this month 6.2 brought it  to Australia to be part of Vivid Sydney 2012.

Andrew Fallshaw has summed up the day perfectly with his post How to fail Better and you can check out the day’s twitter stream here, so I thought I would just leave you some of my favourite insights from the day:

Cass Phillipps, Producer of FailCon – “Having a mess up doesn’t make you a mess up.”

Clover Moore,“Don’t go away at your first failure”.  (You can read Clover’s complete presentation here)

Matt and Pip, The Loop “If you’ve got a good idea, the real failure is not executing that idea”

Matt Perry, Republic of Everyone “If we are going to go down, let’s try not to be brought down by a preventable failure”

Paul Breen: “Failure’s an event, a circumstance, not a character trait.”

Ben Rennie, 6.2 “the idea that “failure is not an option” is dangerous. It makes it invisible, then inevitable”

Rebekah Campbell, Posse “prioritise your fears” – what’s worse than failing? “Missing out”

I couldn’t agree more!

About our Ambassador // Lisa Fox is a recovering a Government Lawyer and the Co Founder and Director of the peer-to-peer rental site, Open Shed.  Lisa is passionate about spreading the word about the Australian Collaborative Consumption movement and helping Australians access what they need when they need it! Connect with Lisa via @_lisafox or @openshed.

Event Review: Portable Presents Frank Chimero — June 12, 2012

Event Review: Portable Presents Frank Chimero

I attended an inspiring talk last Friday with Frank Chimero put on by Portable. We were back for an afternoon session at the Vivid Ideas Exchange held at the MCA. An influencer in the design arena, Frank has worked with leading businesses worldwide such as The New York Times, Nike, WIRED, Microsoft, Facebook and more. However, on this Australian speaking tour Frank shared less about his own portfolio and more about his thoughts on design thinking, defining good design and the creative “search” we were challenged to take.

I often find myself most inspired by events and meet-ups that reach beyond my usual work. I must confess, sitting in a room of designers listening to a talk on design thinking (when you’re not a designer) is wonderful. After all, design thinking touches more than just those who actively work in the field. The messages around technology’s growing role in our work and the potential to design a better future rang true with me as someone who identified as a digital marketer and perhaps just ‘creative person.’

One thing that really stuck with me was Frank’s message around the path that we take when creating. He said that he often does things the long, hard and stupid way. He swears and makes the people around him miserable throughout a project. While it’s painful at the time, in the end that hard work is seen by the world. Others can see when someone puts time and care into a project and the audience appreciates it for that reason. We recognise good design when it delights us.

I often feel this way when I’m writing the fortnightly Sydney Fetch (I promise I don’t swear when curating the Fetch). I take my time pulling each link manually. There are quicker ways we could populate the newsletter, but I like to think that some of this manual process can be seen by our readers — that they can see the care and thought that was put into it.

Frank also shared, that as creative people, he thinks we don’t shy away from the difficult path.  We are willing to take on the hard work and go on “the search” in our careers and ask the tough questions. Something that I think many friends of the Fetch can identify with.

Thank you Frank Chimero and Portable for a great event.

What inspired you this week? Let us know, leave a comment below. 

Event Review: Three Awesome Things about Awesome Soup — June 9, 2012

Event Review: Three Awesome Things about Awesome Soup

What: Awesome Soup was organised by Sydney’s chapter of The Awesome Foundation as part of Vivid this year. Each month the group come together to read applications of local projects and then fund one of those projects with a $1000 microgrant. Awesome Soup awarded a $5000 grant to the winning idea chosen by all of the attendees. Your ticket to the event went toward the grant total. By contributing financially and participating in the voting process, attendees of Awesome Soup gained some insight into how the Awesome Foundation operates each month.

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) as part of the Vivid Ideas Exchange.

Overheard: Oh no, I said that ‘awesome word’ again.

Awesome Ideas

We heard five finalist pitches (narrowed down by the Awesome Foundation board). It was everything from a day of bubbles bringing random joy to Sydney-siders, to a business that would turn Japanese tattoos into wallpaper. Each project shared had its own level of awesomeness; however our champion at the end of the night was Oxford Street Design Store — a project that has already shown a promising start, and will continue to give back to the community.

Awesome People

One of the best parts of Awesome Soup was all of the wonderful people who it attracted. It was great to chat with some friends of the Fetch and also see some new faces. As part of the event, we had dinner (soup, if you couldn’t guess by the name) and get to know our table. We were bonded by good conversations and good food, a winning combination in my book.

Awesome Sydney

Hearing these ideas and being in this room surrounded by inspired people was just another reminder of how awesome the Sydney community is. I’m glad that this event was part of the Vivid lineup.  I wonder what other awesome, local, ideas we can support over this coming year.

Have an awesome idea that needs some help getting off the ground? Apply for an upcoming grant from the Awesome Foundation. 

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