Conjure up some winnings : Poker event

Tucked away in the borough of London “Borough” I know confusing right? is a Mobile App creative agency, This company is one of the new wave of young and dare I say it..  ‘innovative’ businesses (so over-used but this company genuinely is)  headed up by a young MD and entrepreneur Sam Clark .. the company is mobile app designers Conjure   http://www.conjure.co.uk   – very impressive as i’m sure you’ll agree , but what’s more important than the technological wizardry and sound designs… there is a monthly poker night held in the offices and it’s open to Digital media peeps, developers, designers and entrepreneurs.

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I found this business through the recommendation of a candidate: A very plugged in Social media professional, and when I asked “what’s the  best networking event you’ve seen in London”  this was at the top of her list  .

And I have to agree…. This has got to be one of the most ingenious fusings I’ve come across… combining networking with a form of gambling is an inspired stroke for a number of reasons; the first being once people have been for a game, many keep coming back. Now speaking as someone who got the poker bug back in my student days in the dark underworld of Sheffield.. no, not Casino’s the unoffcial Derbyshire Cup actually (wooden spoon winner 3 years running). Anyway they keep coming back not just down to the innate nature of gambling, which has apparently shown some popularity to date, the real draw is you want to meet up with the people and personalities you met there the last time, not to mention, try and win back your £5 wager…

As someone that goes to many events.. and that’s not just me bragging ..  I can say under some authority that with many of these kind of events being so droll and lifeless it’s a refreshing blast of real people and fun. Infact in the more dark and depressing corners of ‘Digital networking events’ I have considered throwing any ‘internet enabled’ devices I had at the speaker’s head, and then diving through the powerpoint presentation slides just to spare everybody the misery of another soul crushingly patronising talk on revolution of social media.. yawn #twitterruinedyourlife

Also to Conjure’s credit this event has to be the best mix of laid back ‘getting to know you-style’ networking in a great environment. Combine this with 2 hours or more poker session .. and seriously what’s not to like?.. The beauty of this event has to be, even if knocked out nobody takes the game too seriously with plenty of laughter to had .. and copious amounts of beers and pizza to keep you going late into the night.

I guess what to take from this is if you want to make a successful networking event where people really get under the skin and keep coming back for more … up the stakes, literally.

To find out more about Conjure visit their new site http://www.conjure.co.uk  – also if you have any recommendations of the best networking events you’ve come across tweet me @markwears with hshtg #conjurewin

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We need a Coffee Revolution

Hello little coffee bean…

You are responsible for artificially instigating bouts of productivity, spates of dizziness and shakes worthy of Elvis .. And the humble cup of Jo holds the title of the most popular hot drink worldwide (temperature dependent popularity is a fickle scale).

I love my morning coffee, or espresso, macchiato or Latte… or sometimes all four. But, to quote esteemed directed Quentin Tarantino; ‘I want to taste my coffee when I drink it’. I bring this quote to light (ref. pulp f) because it seems that some people are really struggling to grasp the concept behind making coffee. And it really grinds on me. Literally.

How hot is too hot?

Why the ‘big boys’ in the coffee industry (not to name any names but it could rhyme with mars – trucks) refuse to respect how a coffee should be made is a conundrum that has puzzled me for years… Capital coffee crime numero-uno: coffee should be made with hot water, stop… not boiling or just boiled! Just ‘hot’, as in ‘above warm’ (why?) so you don’t burn the beans (good idea) so what do we do? Burn the beans… grrrr

Stop distracting us with muffins and rich mahogany

Many coffee outlets forego the idea that we might understand the concept of where coffee comes from by presenting us with a grossly large vat of coffee beans in an intimidating Perspex wall. Stood cowering beneath this monstrosity I imagine a scene of impending doom; The wall… ripe to breach… at any moment, enveloping those careless enough to have lusted upon a few minutes of free WiFi … crushed under the weighty sea of lava java in mission-impossible-esque dramatics.

Anyway.. coffee is ordered. Currency is exchanged. Loyalty cards are scanned in a futile attempt to regain a sense of financial responsibility. The impossibly large steampump  machines grind away, beans spilling from atop their tower, plunging a few whole feet from their holding pen – the chosen few.

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Trustworthy Beans…

All to ensure your coffee is ‘freshly ground’! People like to witness grinding you see. After freshly grinding your coffee from the second largest Perspex-locked stock pile of natural matter in the county you are presented with your paper cup with the insulative properties of a wet paper bag.

To feign value for money – your coffee is topped up with a pint of milk (no matter what you’ve ordered) run through the steam again and placed upon a counter several miles away from where you entered the shop -You proceed to try and identify your drink, at the baggage claim area- luckily someone wrote your name on the cup. Well they asked your name. Unless your name is ‘unidentifiable scrawl’ you are shit out of luck son.

You do however have enough time to wait until all the other coffees have been claimed as you need at least 30 minutes before thinking about putting your face near to the cup, let alone drink it at a safe temperature…

What is the light at the end of this espresso black tunnel? Well all credit to the Spanish and Italians who for the vast majority know how to make a good cup of coffee (pat on the backs all round) And I will be joining your ranks once i’ve got a down payment on theVilla  ¡Viva la revolución del café

Smiling Ivy Tour the French Alps: Northern Soul meets va-va-voom

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At the precipice… of the crucible… of the *more epic preamble here*  of early-spring 2013 ( a time still vivid in my mind…) as I was to embark on a ‘no holds barred’ all out chaos, music fest, booze-up and extreme sports weekend with my favourite Funk/Dub Band Smiling Ivy.

My perilous voyage into the deep French heart-land. The home of the croissant (and suspiciously rare-cooked hamburger) .. could only be for one reason…  to spend a few of my days on this mortal plane upside down on ski slope with a bottle of snapps.. All to the sound track of “Ape-O-Calypso” by Smiling Ivy.

To begin my journey at the beginning: Picture a guy.. possibly a bit lost, deshevilled,  hung over and clinging to a foamy Amstel like he’s at the last port before the Storm (the Airport bar in the middle of the day….) know the type? That’s me… departing Easy-Jet for the most extreme combo imaginable: Smiling Ivy (Kings of the debauched  sex, drugs & rock’n’roll lifestyle.. with the gig perched on top of an Alp – Funk me!! (excusing my French)

I sat considering this and pondered if I would get back to old Blighty with all my vital organs intact…  but I also had to think of the party about to ensue….. A band boastful of Northern soul leading the SKA / funk / Reggae fusion scene of the North… And generally salt of the earth party-animals (who I am proud to have known for a number of years) and have been at the epicentre of the best and most debauched encounters of my youthful years.

When I heard they were making the road trip in a Van best described as ‘barely legal’ up the perilous French mountains of Les Deux Alpes.. I couldn’t just stand idly by… I told my boss to open up some emergency time off, booked my flight and fortified my liver. For anyone considering going to Les Duex Alpes, Easy Jet offer a  pleasant (if a little basic) trip to Grenoble for the modest price of £47 return. (Thank you Sky scanner!) It was then a 45 min Bus ride or a 30 min TAXI to the top, when I was stood in the doorway of buzzing Bar, filled with the most energetic and physically fit partiers and dancers I’d ever seen, I knew then, I had made a great call.

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Smiling Ivy played 4 funk filled bouncy gigs over 3 hazy nights, the mixed European crowd were a riot and the Ivy boys got a reception way beyond anyones expectations.  I flew to the Alps for 2 reasons: To share the experience of their first international gig, as they’re doing it!! Another reason is to see the reaction of the French or Italian or Dutch as they absorb Ivy’s unique sound in the surroundings, that are so majestic and impressive.

Finally we enjoyed a marked occasion with a feast of a meal joined by the ‘Seasonaires’ Hippy-boarders who would rather go head first down the precipice of a monstrous mountain than face a real job… god bless them.  The next day we took our pounding heads and dragged our weary bones up a mountain to try our hand at snowboarding! Whilst hung over and with little, to no experience between us….. Several concussions later and with a fully inflated sense of pride and ego we disembarked from the frost bitten mountain side to recover in the comforts of another well-earned drink(s), Hot tub, sauna and massage. All capped off by a rum and schnapps chaser, and then another sobering encounter spent face first down the mountain.

Big thanks to all that helped the band: Chis ‘the Arnivore’ Arnold – DJ and eventer @coolbeans http://welovecoolbeans.com/  Sam Staton and especially a massive shout out to James kearney “Seasonaire Extroadinaire” for making this happen. You can find James’ latest entrepreneurial exploits in his typically tongue in cheek clothing brand ‘Stupid’  —

like it here: https://www.facebook.com/StupidClothing?fref=ts

Buy it here!

http://stupidclothing.co.uk/

stupid

To Check out Smiling Ivy’s latest sounds, golden oldies, Tour Dates and much…. much more please visit http://www.smilingivy.com . Also they will be back next year in Les Deux Alpes for a Tour bigger and better than last year (If that’s possible) I hope to be illuminated.

Please send any of your pics of crazy gigs in exotic or not-so exotic locations, Do it for London Boy  #LBcrazygigs