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Archive for May, 2014

When K and I got back to Sydney after four years living overseas in April 2012, we weren’t aware of Vivid Festival beyond a few facebook updates noticed and then forgotten over the previous two years. I accepted a speaking invitation even, without really realising what I was getting involved with. And then May rolled around and the city lit up.

Literally.

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Vivid wasn’t just a bunch of talks, it was a showcase of the most amazing digital projection technology I’d ever seen, complimented by Burning Man-style installations around the Harbour foreshore. It was extraordinary. And that was just the “Light” part of it; there’s also a brilliant Music program and, yes, a bunch of talks which comprise the Ideas stream. Each would be an awesome festival in its own right; together than seem to energise the whole city.

Despite my rockstar fantasies it’s the Ideas section I find myself involved with again. This year I’m thrilled to be part of four events, two of them organised by my friends at Vibewire, one put on by StartSomeGood ourselves and the last a panel on the funding of creative projects organised by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

Here’s my personal program if you want to come along to any of them:

  • #fastBREAK: Save the World: A special edition of Vibewire’s monthly #fastBREAK sessions made up of rapid-fire ideas from interesting people. Instead of the usual 7.30am Friday start this is at the very civilised time of 10.30am on Sunday May 25 at the Powerhouse Museum. It also features an incredible line up of speakers, from activists to politicians to hip hop legends to and entrepreneurs. It’ll be my please to introduce them all as MC (yo yo!). Get your tickets now!
  • Funding Creative Work Now: a panel on the new ways creative work is being funded, featuring a bunch of awesome creative entrepreneurs and me! 1.30pm Thursday May 29 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Be Awesome at Crowdfunding Masterclass: I’ll be teaching a 3-hour crowdfunding masterclass sharing everything we’ve learned while helping people raise millions of dollars through crowdfunding. Find out everything you need to know to be awesome at crowdfunding and how you can use it to launch or grow your initiative. For creative or social entrepreneurs, community organisers or non-profit fundraisers. 1-4pm Thursday June 5. Some tickets still available, book now!
  • Pitch the Future: A pitch event for ideas which could change the future, hosted by Vibewire in partnership with StartSomeGood. I’ll be hosting. This should be really fun and is free so come along! Sunday June 8.

And I’ll be in there with the family tonight when they turn the lights on at 6pm.

If you’re in Sydney have a great Vivid Festival! If there’s particular events you recommend please share them in the comments below.

Photo of the Sydney Opera House lit up during Vivid Festival by Jason Meaden shared on flickr with a creative commons license.

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The pomodoro kitchen timer after which the technique is named.

The pomodoro kitchen timer after which the technique is named.

Since March I’ve been working from home full-time, with frequent trips to the city for meetings and events (it’s only 8 minutes on the train away). There’s a lot I like about this, especially being close to Bodhi and Kate and having a nice blend in my days: I’m able to play with B in the yard for ten minutes, or take him for a walk, have lunch with the family and make sure I’m here to put B to bed. But I miss the energy of having other entrepreneurs around me getting stuff done. The rapid-fire conversations, the sense of comradery and support, the greater ease in achieving focus when others around you are also focusing.

So I decided to start inviting some entrepreneurs I know to come and work with me at home every few weeks. We’ve done it twice and so far it’s been great so I thought I’d share the model here.

Here’s the email I sent:

Hello friends,

You’re getting this email because I think you’re great and I want to invite you to something new and different which I’m kinda excited about.

You’ve probably heard of Jelly, a day when people come together to co-work, often at people’s houses. Well I want to do that, basically, but with a twist I’ll get to in a bit.

Since Bodhi’s birth I’ve mostly been working from home and since we had to move out of our subsidised StartSomeGood office in the city a couple of weeks ago I’ve been working from here basically full-time. This has lots of advantages but I miss having awesome people around me and the focused and creative energy produced when everyone is getting shit done.

So I want to invite you over to work with Kate (who is also working on a new business) and I periodically. We’re thinking every second Thursday if there’s interest.

Everyone getting this email is a) an entrepreneur and b) someone I’d be happy to have in my house. So it’s a select group! You’re all people I want to learn from and collaborate with.

Our house is very easy to get to being only two blocks away from Waverton station, which is eight minutes from Wynyard Station. We have a lovely open and light-filled back living room/kitchen where we can work and a back patio and yard with a fantastic view down the harbour and to the blue mountains in the distance where we can also work weather-permitting.

Thursday Bodhi is at daycare, so it’s a day Kate and I both aim to get a lot of work done and is a good day to have people around between 9ish and 3ish.

So, to the twist.

You may have heard of a productively method called Pomodoro. For those that haven’t it’s very simple. It basically divides up your day into a series of “pomodori’s” or 25 minute sprints, where you pick one thing and finish it. Then you take a five minute break. Than another 25 minute sprint where you finish something. Every four of these you take a longer break.

I want to run the day strictly along these lines, with time at the start and end and a longish lunch break for general catching up and conversation, but with four pomodori sprints on either side.

So this isn’t just for people who like working in social settings, it’s for people who like working in social settings while getting heaps of stuff done.

I’m excited to try this and I think it’d be work best in a group to hold me accountable and to task. Doing it together will make it more effective and more fun. We’ll play a bit of music, enjoy the sunshine and crank out work alongside each other. I guess we’d call it Pomodoro Jelly, which sounds like a very weird culinary experience but might just work as an awesome working experience.

Speaking of culinary experiences during the third small break we can order thai food which will arrive in perfect time for the long lunch break.

Here’s how the day breaks down:

9am – arrive, general catching-up, drinking coffee, etc. Please arrive by at least 930am so there’s time for hellos before we get our pomodoro on.

1000 – 1st pomodoro

1025 – break

1030 – 2nd pomodoro

1055 – break

1100 – 3rd pomodoro

1125 – break – order food

1130 – 4th pomodoro

1155 long break for lunch.

1pm – 5th pomodoro

125 – break

130 – 6th pomodoro

155 – break

2 – 7th pomodoro

225 – break

230 – 8th pomodoro

255 – finish, move to Botanica (great local café across from the station) for coffee, chats and debrief.

We think the right number of people would be no more than 8 including us, so there are a maximum six spots available for visitors. I’d ask that if you do RSVP with me you be genuinely committed to coming, as we’ll be saying no to other people. But I know the unforeseen happens (regularly!) so if you are unable to make it that’s fine just let me know asap so I can offer it to another. If more people want to come than can fit I’ll keep a waitlist.

I hope you’ll be part of this experiment with me.

Cheers!

Tom

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So far we’ve done this twice and it has been fantastic! The hardest thing is actually committing to the breaks. And then sticking to only 5 minutes for the break, because everyone is so nice and so interesting. But when everyone is focused and working the energy is very productive, and the chance to catch up with awesome people and quickly share ideas and news is very cool.

I’m open to extending this invitation to a few new people in Sydney so if you’re working on an entrepreneurial initiative and you want to be added to the list please drop me a line and let me know. If I don’t know you already tell me more about what you’re up to. And if you’re doing important work but feeling isolated think about organising something like this in your house or a friend’s house. If you decide to run with it let me know how you go!

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