running before you can walk

Running the wrong way

You don’t have to look too far to find half-a-dozen tips on how to make this or that social network sing for you. A series of tips to increase engagement, or to having a more disciplined content creation schedule.

Engagement is a good thing – having someone keen to read what you have to say is great. But this can be a case of losing sight of the forest when concentrating on the trees.

There is a time for refining the exact words of your social media post, for understanding the current trend with regard to images or videos, knowing the emerging trends: virtual reality, the Internet of Things, even working out what kind of metadata you can gather from your visitors’ interactions so you can be informed as you make changes over time.

But all of this is too specific and hands-on: it’s running before you have learned to walk.

Instead, ask yourself some more fundamental questions.

What change do you want to see: in yourself, from creating all this content? Do you want to meet new influencers who can help you understand your craft better? To improve your reputation as an expert? To have a structure for the reading you’re already doing?

What change do you want to see in the people who see your content? Are you seeking to create a community where nothing existed before? Do you want to augment an existing community (offline or online) with new conversations, content and opportunities? How will you manage the risks involved in making these changes – to help people change is generally more challenging than we think at first.

Before you try to decide on metrics, networks, and even platforms, you need a criteria for success in your endeavour. Before you improve your skills and understanding of tactics, you need to make sure your vision and strategy is well-aligned to what change you want to see in the world.

Photo Credit: Marcelo Nava via Compfight cc

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla

The Grounds Coffee. Shop 5, 33 Surf Lane, Cronulla. I saw this one via Instagram activity, and it looked like a perfect storm of coffee and food enthusiasm. For a place that has only just opened, they’re doing spectacularly well – the front-of-house staff are courteous and efficient, the coffee-making staff are skilled and knowledgable and the kitchen staff are professional and churning out delicious, creative food.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. Shop 5/33 Surf Lane.

We arrive in time for a late lunch and find the place is crowded, and there’s a wait. We’re immediately added to a waitlist, and seated well in advance of the expected waiting time – always good to under-promise and over-deliver on wait times.

An initial coffee order is taken while we look at the Summer menu; there’s a small set of kids options which are well explained (the fruit paddle pop is actually a frozen fruit puree, not a fruit kebab) and delivered ahead of the grown-up meals.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. Where the Magic Happens

But it’s the coffee that’s a pleasant surprise. Among the coffee options are aeropress and V60. I order a V60 – the coffee on offer changes each week; this week’s is from Small Batch Roasters in Melbourne, the previous week was Reuben Hills. Staff choose the filter coffee in a cupping session, and fill in the tasting notes themselves.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. V60 Ethiopian Chele'lektu

Their milk coffee game is strong too: it’s a well-presented standard Grounds offering.

Blackwood Pantry, Cronulla. Flat White

It looks like this place is going to find a solid customer base for Cronulla locals who want creative, well-made food paired with changing coffee.

Official website –

movie: The Big Short

Movie: The Big Short

A star-studded take on the Global Financial Crisis that’s part drama, part TED talk, and regularly breaks the fourth wall to help explain advanced financial concepts to the audience. Some needless adult content that seems to be included to push up the rating rather than help serve the plot. Perhaps its biggest risk is making the viewer seem like they’ve accessed an unbiased account of events, rather than a particular, incomplete take, but an enjoyable journey for the most part.

Movie: The Hateful Eight

Movie: The Hateful Eight

Tarantino’s latest movie is part mystery, part character study of awful people, part scenes of violence that are in keeping with his usual tradition. The cinematography is strong – especially for a film that’s so often set in enclosed spaces.

There’s so much objectionable content, it’s hard to know where to start. But if you like his work, you’ll like it.

Stan: Muriel’s Wedding

Stan: Muriel’s Wedding

I’m not a completist when it comes to Australian films, but a couple of people had mentioned this film in a short space of time, and I had some spare time, so I sat down to watch it.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a time capsule of 1990’s Australiana. The ABBA references are not as overwhelming through the movie – I was half expecting a kind of ABBA musical, but that’s just a minor part of this story of growing up, and making sense of parental expectations. It’s more crass in its humour than I was led to believe, but is generally a celebration of life.

Movie: The Good Dinosaur

Movie: The Good Dinosaur

Widely reported as the first bad Pixar movie, this is a beautiful looking film that lacks the spectacular quality of character and story we’ve come to expect from Pixar. 

There’s a set-up, an unhappy event, and then a lot of travelling, and a resolution, but not much else.

A little too scary for very small children, but it’s not nearly as difficult in its “Mufasa scene” as some press reports (spoilers). 

Not unenjoyable, just not as great as one would expect from the same studio that made “Inside Out”.