Tag Archives: party

A birthday surprise in São Paulo!

It’s been a week now since a group of friends surprised me in São Paulo with an Elvis-themed birthday celebration party. I thought I was on my way to the theatre to see a play when my wife said that we needed to call in at a bar to collect a friend.

Only once we got inside, the pub was packed full of friends and family all waiting to celebrate my birthday!

It was a really special moment. I know that Angelica visited São Paulo several times arranging this now and she must have been emailing and chasing people for weeks. When I saw everyone there and realised that we were not going to the theatre I was a bit stunned – I think I probably just looked shocked when everyone was singing ‘Happy Birthday’.

It’s at times like this – when you can see a big crowd of friend who all got involved to set this up – that the importance of friends and family really hits home.

I’m really looking forward to my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews all coming over to Brazil next Easter. I have lived in Brazil for over three years now and nobody from my family has visited. It’s really expensive – I’m well aware of that – but this is also why it felt nice to just see an entire pub full of people all singing happy birthday.

The pub we went to doesn’t even open on Saturdays usually – Angelica convinced the owner to open up because a big crowd would be ordering food and drinks at the party.

I’m really grateful to Angie for arranging this. It’s one of those crazy moments in life that I will never forget. And it was also really fantastic to see everyone who came – some had travelled hundreds of miles to be there.

Thank you everyone for making my birthday weekend a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it and I appreciate all the effort that went into arranging the party and just being there!

bolo de aniversário de Elvis com fogos de artifício 👍😃 #bolo #cake #birthday #aniversario #fireworks #saopaulo

A post shared by Mark Hillary 🏃🏼🐶👍🏻📚📚📚 (@markhillary) on

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Farewell Tom: The End of an Era in Ealing

In May 2009 I had noticed that quite a few of my virtual Twitter friends seemed to be living or working quite close to me in Ealing, west London. This was not as strange as it might seem, there were a lot of media people in the area with the BBC and Sky close by plus quite a few advertising and PR firms in the area.

But I still found it intriguing so I tweeted a message suggesting that any other Twitter users from the area come and join me in the Rose and Crown pub on a Friday evening. And so on Friday May 29th 2009, the Ealing Tweeting – better known as #ealingtu – was born.

If you Google “Ealing Tweetup” now, it gets mentioned around 8,000 times. That’s because it grew into a regular gathering of people in west London with an interest in social media up to the point that when I left the UK, the last tweetup I managed to attend had about 250 people attending, a couple of live bands playing and free drinks from the bar!

Ealing Tweetup - July 8 2010

On that first occasion in May 2009, there was no sponsorship or free drinks or live music. However, there was around a dozen people who randomly came together to have a chat with some strangers just because of a tweet. And the nice thing was that they were not all from the media or PR or advertising businesses.

There were local politicians, teachers, journalists, photographers, actors, charity workers, and business consultants. It was a real mix of professions and everyone was drawn together because of where they lived and the use of Twitter.

The event was never formal or organised. Sometimes people complained that they wanted it to be more structured, with name badges and a list of attendees, but I never really saw it that way. Even when I convinced some companies to shell out so we could have free drinks, what they got for their money was very much up to them.

If you had a pub full of bloggers then what would you do? I think the very last thing would be a hard sell on your products or asking people to tweet in return for a pint. The companies who supported the event could see the value in it and the event has persisted.

I left and moved to Brazil, but Hayden Sutherland took over as organiser, and when Hayden moved to Glasgow, Michael Greer took over and he continues to organise regular tweetups.

I have managed to attend a couple of tweetups since I left London, but it’s clearly not easy being a very long flight away – they need to coincide with one of my business trips back to London. And so unfortunately I am going to miss the next one on February 26th.

This one will be special because Tom Tucker – the boss at the Rose and Crown – supported the idea from the start and he helped it to grow and now he is leaving the Rose. He promoted the events when many customers would ask what on earth a tweetup is all about and he had the good fortune to see it grow and become one of the biggest social media gatherings in London – right there in his pub.

Tom is off to a new challenge in Brighton, but the next tweetup is going to be themed as his leaving party so if you are in London I urge you, go along and see what it’s all about. It is possible to have a social media gathering that is not dominated by people talking about sentiment analysis and how their client reacted to a negative tweet. This is normal people who use social media getting together to have a chat about how it works in their life.

You can sign up for the next Ealing Tweetup here. As always, it is free – just bring some good conversation.

Tweetup

British Festival in São Paulo on 29/09

It’s 50 years since The Beatles released “Love Me Do” – their very first record – so me and Angelica have arranged a Beatles themed British party at a local bar in São Paulo.

There will be live music from 17:00 with a local guitarist and singer warming up the event with Brazilian classics then from 19:00 Daniel Malozzi will be singing classic Beatles – and other British – songs. Check out this video of Daniel singing Eleanor Rigby…

There will be British food such as Cottage pie and bangers & mash, plus British beers, including London Pride and Honeydew.

Between 20:00-21:00 there will be several prize events (Daniel will return to sing again after the prizes):

1. The best three British fancy dress costumes will get original 1962 copies of Love Me Do… worth several hundred R$ each if you can even find a copy in Brazil.

2. Anyone who has registered their name on Facebook will go automatically into a prize draw for Beatles goodies – umbrella, mug etc

3. Anyone who buys food at the event gets a raffle ticket – the raffle winner gets some Beatles goodies

4. The British quiz at 20:00 will cost R$10 per person to enter – the winner takes all the entry money. Last time we did this at the same bar the winner got over R$400.

It’s going to be fun and it’s all British! The singer is great and we have some more surprises for the event too so make sure you come along!

You can find more details and register on the Facebook page for the event here… and why not become a friend of the bar while you are there?

Beatles 7"

Which would you prefer… pancake day or carnaval?

In the Gospels, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert and being tempted by Satan before he commenced on the teaching part of his life – the Ministry. Today in Christian societies this is marked by the celebration of Lent.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is Wednesday next week. Many believers will give up something for the entire period – not quite fasting, but at least refraining from something pleasurable, like alcohol or meat, for the entire period.

In the UK, the advent of Lent is marked by Shrove Tuesday, or pancake day. This is traditionally when extra flour, eggs, and other food from the cupboard would all be cooked up on the final day before Lent – ensuring a feast of pancakes on the last day when such gluttony is allowed.

pancakes front and center

In Brazil it is all quite different. Brazil is far more religious than the UK – truck drivers paint thank you messages to God on their vehicles, asking for a safe journey. It is predominantly Catholic, but with a fast-rising group of evangelical churches too – almost all of them Christian though.

In Brazil there is no pancake day. There is carnaval!

Last year in Rio, almost 5m people joined in the party and it stops the entire nation for almost a week – here in São Paulo, I know that sleeping will be tough for the next week as the music goes on almost all night. This Friday, next Monday and Tuesday, and half of Wednesday are all public holidays in Brazil for the carnaval. So it is almost certain that everything will start winding down early tomorrow and nobody will return to work on Wednesday afternoon – even if that is the official end of the party… many will take annual leave on Thursday and Friday next week allowing almost a week and half off work for just a couple of days leave.

Those who take the carnaval seriously and compete for the various best dancer, best float, or best band prizes will spend the entire year preparing and leading up to this moment – it’s bigger than even Christmas and that’s saying a lot in such a Christian country.

So I guess carnaval more than trumps pancake day, but I still might get the pancake mix out on Tuesday, just to encourage a mix of both cultures. I live in a house with Morrissey pictures on the wall!

Vila_Isabel, samba & platform sandals

Pancake photo by Yesica licensed under Creative Commons. Carnaval photo by Carnaval.com licensed under Creative Commons.

Communism finished in West Bengal

It was always an anachronism in India. West Bengal ruled by a communist party for the past thirty-four years and always trying to bend and flex the limits of communist ideology so they might embrace the real world. Now the communist rule is over.

I remember being in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) working on behalf of the West Bengal government a few years ago. They asked me to give a keynote speech at a conference and then do some consulting work focused on how to develop the local hi-tech services economy – IT and IT-enabled services.

I rose to speak to the conference knowing that the IT minister of West Bengal was going to speak immediately after me, but he had not briefed me on his speech and I had not been asked to brief him on mine.

My main thrust was that West Bengal should play to its strengths; the vibrant higher education community, the strong links between academia and industry, the sheer scale of educated young people…

I showed them that they have a unique proposition that is focused on highly trained resource. I explained that they should not try to ape other Indian states, such as Karnataka (where hi-tech Bangalore is located), and focus on offering low-cost labour into the growing call centre industry as it would not be a long-term opportunity for the region.

The minister stood up and the first image he presented described how much cheaper the labour is in West Bengal, compared to Karnataka, and how great this would be for call centres. The entire conference hall fell about laughing at him.

Embarrassing for me, and probably more so for him as it showed he was not really in tune with the business community and had not even taken the time to check what the speaker ahead of him was going to say.

But as I worked with the government there, one thing in particular intrigued me. The IT sector was declared a ‘special’ industry. The local government wanted to attract foreign investors so they decided that all the normal labour legislation would not apply to this one industry.

In West Bengal, strikes have always been common because workers often flex their muscles and refuse to work if they have a grievance with the management. In the IT sector, strikes were banned.

The minister smiled at me when he told me about this and declared that foreign investors have nothing to fear from the communist government, because of the ban on industrial action in the sectors they were trying to boost.

So I asked how the IT workers would get to work when the bus drivers were on strike, or how the computers would work when the power company workers were on strike, or how the workers could eat if the restaurant workers were on strike?

He couldn’t answer. He only gave some weasel words about IT staff sleeping in the office to avoid transport strikes, or companies bringing in food and using diesel generators to keep the lights on. None of it was a real solution and if I was a genuine foreign investor, I wouldn’t have been impressed because the government was trying to remain communist in spirit, yet also doing anything they could to attract foreign money to the region.

So the communists of West Bengal were never really communist in the sense of Plato’s Republic, they just liked the colour red. And Che Guevara T-shirts. West Bengal has joined the rest of us in the real world at last.

Jorasanko Mansion - Kolkata

Farewell Blighty

In my last blog post I listed a few places I will be over my last couple of weeks in the UK before I leave to go and live in Brazil.

I have arranged a couple of farewell events, one for my local Ealing tweetup crowd, and the other for anyone else who wants to see me in central London. Take a look here for details:

Rupert St, Dec 22

Ealing, Dec 23

See you there!
Matilda at South Ealing

Reboot: The Book Launch on Dec 2nd @ Waxy’s

There is a great blog post here by Rod Trent of 1e that outlines the book launch planned for Angelica’s book on December 2nd in London. It’s going to be a great party and a great way to launch the new book. You can see Angelica’s video invitation here. If you are still not sure about coming then think about this:

  • The first 50 people to arrive get a free copy of the book
  • Everyone gets a free EP of music from the BibleCode Sundays
  • The BibleCode Sundays are playing live
  • We are taking over the Church bar in Waxy O’Connor’s right in the middle in London -and the bar is free thanks to 1e.
  • The food is also free thanks to JD Marketing (they do the marketing for Betfair, who feature in the book).
  • There is a £100 Amazon voucher for whoever uploads the best social content from the evening, tweet, photo, video, blog…
  • 1e are giving away goodie bags full of pens, squeezy polar bears, mints, and various other things, though the bag itself might be the most useful item to carry all the other freebies!

As if you needed any more reasons to party, me and Angelica are getting married the next morning. Yes, launching a book on Thursday and getting married on Friday… and Angelica leaves the country to move to Brazil on Sunday, so this might be your last chance to say goodbye. She will remain as an associate editor of Computer Weekly, but she is entering the realms of virtual working. So you won’t see her often back in London – or me for that matter!

Click here to go and register for the event on LinkedIn…

James Gardner, CTO of the DWP with Reboot