Next coffee morning and how to run one

21.37, Thursday 22 Jan 2015

Let’s do coffee morning again! Next week.

Thursday 29th January, 9.30am for a couple of hours, at the Book Club (100 Leonard St).

It would be lovely to see you, come along! There’s a vague “making things” skew, but honestly I’ve spent a lot of time chatting about dogs and music…

We had way too many dudes last time. So if you’re Not A Dude or you bring a friend who is Not A Dude, I will be extra extra EXTRA pleased to see you. Please help me fix this.

Last week’s coffee morning was bonkers… 15 people, 3 unreleased prototypes from hardware startups, an emergent theme about how to sell products. Other coffee mornings have been more low-key: Six of us talking nonsense and drinking too much caffeine. I don’t really mind what happens, it’s all good, maybe it’ll just be me and my laptop next time :)

(What works for me)

But seeing as coffee morning is spreading to San Francisco I thought it might be worth writing down what works for me…

  • Space beats structure. Hardware-ish coffee morning is once every two weeks, same time, same place. I’ll be there, people come and go. There’s no sign-up list, no name badges, no speakers. There are a bunch of great events out there, I don’t need another place to be in an audience. Open space.
  • Informality wins. It’s good to not have regular attendees… It’s like a street corner, familiar faces and surprise visitors. I try to help this by making sure there are lots of little conversations, not one big one, and by making connections if two people seem to be talking abut the same thing. Mingling is where magic happens.
  • Convening not chairing. I announce a week ahead of time, and send reminders. I circulate my own perspective afterwards. If I’m having relevant meetings, I ask people to come to the coffee morning instead; that helps set a tone. I also collect names: Everyone gets added to a mailing list where they get all the updates. But at the thing itself, I just chat.
  • Bonfires not fireworks. For weird chats that have a chance of going deep and leading to new ideas, I suspect that 2 people is better than 20. A fine balance of familiarity and novelty. So: Slow burn. If I’m on my own one week, that’s fine. Just keep going. Telling everyone and making it too big too fast would kill it.

If I’m ever in any doubt, I go back and read what Russell did with his coffee mornings in 2007. He’s who it all comes from.

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