Tag Archives: #pancaketweetup

ingredients + improvisation = keys to success anywhere?

A misadventure of the weekend for #pancaketweetup — which strayed from delight to despair to desperation to determination to diligence to deliciousness — made me ponder some key tools to success anyone’s workplace. What I learned: Ingredients and improvisation mean a lot.

For those who don’t know, #pancaketweetup is a monthly virtual online breakfast gathering via social media. It started as a joke between @LaneJoplin and I, but now attracts dozens of participants worldwide, has seen meals from every continent but Antarctica (here’s hoping) and even served as a signature part of the Canadian Post-Secondary Education conference (#pseweb). You can make other foods than pancakes, as demonstrated when I planned to pull together leftovers for what I originally termed Found-Object Omelette on Saturday morning.

The ingredients themselves were quality — eggs, green pepper, mozzerella cheese, sausage and pepperoni, most leftover from homemade pizza — and intriguing enough that my friend Dan Rapp the ad man dubbed it a “Pizza Omelette.” Fair enough. But then I kept having to add eggs to balance the multitude of other ingredients as the butter didn’t fold in and by the time I put it into the pan, it had all the makings of a grand train wreck.

Throughout the process, I kept improvising the mix, the consistency, the plan. Spatula in hand, I toiled ceaselessly once it hit the pan, until I released it was more like scrambled eggs than an omelette. With this new current emerging, I hoisted my sails to tack in this new direction and — voila — the result was what I called Pizza Scramble (see recipe). And you know what — it was really good! And enough left for dinner as well!

Yes, I’ve just bored you with my cooking story, but I have a point. The end product worked because I had good ingredients and no fear of improvisation. In the workplace, I’d say ingredients involve putting the right people in place and giving them the tools to succeed. And improvisation is a necessary part of any experience (to the point I recommend to students they take an improv theatre course).

With the right employees, you can accomplish a lot, even if they don’t necessarily fit into some kind of cookie-cutter hole. I like to work with folks showing enthusiasm, growth potential and willingness to learn over those who may look better on paper but won’t want to learn, grow and be part of a team. As for improvisation … when is the last time you’ve had a day that went according to plan? The ability to think on your feet, brainstorm new (sometimes crazy) plans and seek alternate routes to meet your goals when necessary are critical when management decisions may involve seconds, or nanoseconds. Where being able to turn on a dime is a trait beyond value.

Moreover, it reminds us the greatest adventures involve trying new things. As the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs … even if you don’t end up making an omelette after all.

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recipe (for disaster?): pizza scramble (nee found-object omelette)

6 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup mozzarella (approx.)
1/4 cup chopped pepperoni (approx.)
1 Johnsonville sausage (jalapeno and cheese = my favorite)
1 medium-sized green pepper
large dollop of optimism

Serves 2 hungry people, or 1 hungry person for lunch and dinner

Slice up green pepper into manageable pieces (less than 1 inch squares). Microwave sausage, then realize this has made it easier to slice; slice it anyway. Slice mozzarella into (attempted) small cubes.

Mix together 4 eggs. Add 2 tablespoons butter. Realize this doesn’t mix well. Upgrade from fork to wisk to hand mixer. Panic. Add 2 additional eggs to account for large number of ingredients.

Pour mix into pan. Realize it will not make omelette as intended. Panic . Decide to serve it as a pizza scramble, sort of like a western scramble, but not. Break up dish a la scrambled eggs. Work hard at scraping to keep it from sticking to pan.

When it looks done, place on plate. Consume. Enjoy.

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top 2009 lesson: twitter is other people.

I’ll consider 2009 the year of Twitter. Not everyone would understand. Blame it on the input box originally saying What are you doing? Or blame Oprah. Or Ashton. Whatever the reason, the biggest misconception is that Twitter is all about *me*.

In reality, Twitter is all about other people. It’s about what they’re doing, not what I’m doing.

The first time you really use Twitter is not when you tell people what you’re doing (or having for lunch) — it’s when you ask someone about something they’re doing (or, if you prefer, having for lunch). Twitter is not a megaphone; it’s a telephone, a party line with hundreds of people listening and talking. It’s where people can share advice or help solve problems. It’s people turning others onto new music, new developments and, yes, new places to eat.

This year, I learned about the true community-building power of Twitter. Let me count the ways … or five ways, at least.

1. #pancaketweetup. What started as #wittybanter between @lanejoplin and I evolved into a monthly activity where dozens of people share a virtual breakfast. Our #pancaketweetup Facebook group boasts 72 members from across the world, and it now seems like every Web communications conference (most recently Stamats SIMTech) sprouts a real-life #pancaketweetup.

2. #lanesintown. Lane took front in center in this Twitter-related adventure, coming to Ithaca in an episode related to @mhaithaca sending her a Jimmy John’s sub after a tweet about how she missed the distinctive sandwich. Did I mention this weekend included a real-life #pancaketweetup too?

3. The Higher Ed Music Critics Top 100 of the 2000s. Mastermind @andrewcareaga tapped a half-dozen music-minded tweeps (this one included) to count down the Top 100 albums of the decade. Andy and some other participants had previously introduced me to some of the albums I put on the list, most notably The Avett Brothers’ I And Love And You (my album of the year). Twitter probably drove my music purchases more than anything in 2009.

4. The Higher Ed Social Media Showdown. @sethodell brought together a baker’s dozen of Web collaborators (this one included) to help host an interactive trivia game that showed the power of YouTube annotations and quizzes to engage audiences. Downright clever, and educational … and another example of the Twitter community happily playing along.

5. Twitter and conferences. I wouldn’t have even known about the regional HighEdWeb conference in Cornell if not for Twitter, and likely wouldn’t have attended Stamats SIMTech if not for Twitter. I found most of my speakers for the annual SUNYCUAD Conference via Twitter. A Twitter connection with @karinejoly, and a @rachelreuben recommendation, led to presenting my first-ever Webinar. And while HEWeb09 may have included the Great Keynote Meltdown of 2009, it also saw attendees band together to raise funds via a Twitter call when a colleague had her laptop stolen, allowing her to buy a new one.

I could go on, well over 140 characters, on the many ways Twitter changed and shaped my life this year. But mostly it introduced me — virtually, and eventually in person — to some outstanding folks. It is those other people, who epitomize the essence of Twitter, that made 2009 so special.


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Looks like the first-ever #pancaketweetup was a multimedia, albeit modest, success. Kudos to co-creator Lane Joplin, whose pancakes looked much better than mine, and the various Twitters and bloggers who participated. There were some waffles, and some people who had to participate late or early, but it was all in good fun. And good food. Even if I learned it’s difficult to make pancakes, take and upload pictures and tweet all at the same time.

Developed a short (1:17) video snippet for a little flavor from Tim’s kitchen:

Photos? You betcha! (A few more in this Facebook photo album.)

The price of New Hope Mills wheat pancake mix went from $1.99 to $3 in between times I bought it? Inconceivable!

The price of the wonderful New Hope Mills whole wheat pancake mix went from $1.99 to $3 in between times I bought it? Inconceivable!

The one and only Brad J. Ward provided a live video stream of making waffles.

The one and only Brad J. Ward provided a live video stream of making waffles.

All the fixin's: Note that I don't use eggs, so I have to experiment between the level of mix and half-n-half for consistency.

All the fixin's: Note that I don't use eggs, so I have to experiment between the level of mix and half-n-half for consistency.

First one was doughy and thick; had to adjust by adding more half-n-half to the mix.

First one was doughy and thick; had to adjust by adding more half-n-half to the mix.

By the second pancake, the mix was better, but all that multitasking meant they came out a tad burned.

By the second pancake, the mix was better, but all that multitasking meant they came out a tad burned.



Thanks to all who participated. If you didn’t we hope you’ll join us if we do this again!

EDIT/UPDATE: Lane has posted a great #pancaketweetup video. Enjoy.


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social media with a side of pancakes.

With all the marvelous, momentous and monumental potential behind social media, we can’t forget that it’s inherently about connecting. And, occasionally, silliness. Which brings us to #pancaketweetup this Saturday.

Everyone loves pancakes, and somehow a discussion with @lanejoplin evolved into the first-ever virtual pancake meetup via Twitter, aka #pancaketweetup. Yeah, it has its own hashtag and even online invitation if you’re so inclined (everyone everywhere is invited, cuz that’s how social media is).

By now if you’re still reading, you’re asking one of two questions: 1) How do I participate? or 2) What the hell are you talking about? I’ll try to answer both questions at once.

The #pancaketweetup is a virtual meetup this Saturday (March 7) at 10:30 a.m. eastern. Essentially anyone who wants to be involved needs only do two things: 1) make pancakes (yum!) and 2) share the experience in some way via social media. Real-time would be optimal, such as discussing it (briefly, obviously) on Twitter or Facebook, posting a picture of the pancake process on TwitPic and/or Facebook and/or Flickr, blogging about it, making a video or … well, other ways I probably haven’t thought up. Contact me here or on Twitter if you have other questions.

Consider it a low-stress, high-taste way to meet and interact with other neat (so we think) people across the Webiverse. And a chance to eat pancakes! Yummy yummy pancakes! Are you in? Are you hungry?


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