Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

Stupid Question 145: ITGirl conf 2013: What is the cake story?

Hello Umeå! Thank you for the snow, people and spirit!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the DataTjej (ITGirl) conference as a speaker for the about 150-200(?) girls attending. My session ‘My Barbie did not have a computer’- was well received and I had a lot fun. The conference was in Umeå- and although I refer to it as North Sweden, it’s actually not that far up. It just feels like it because it is so extremely cold. I was met by thick white and beautiful snow, *only* -12 degrees C, and with regret I had decided to wear a T-shirt and a thin cardigan under my jacket, needless to say it was a bad idea.

Spotify at DataTjej2013

The girls at DataTjej2013

During the session I told a story that I refer to as the cake story. At my school the site manager and regional manager there, Martin Axelsson loves to talk. And lucky him he does just that a lot. Lucky us, he says a lot of things that make sense. Even after hearing it 10 times or more :D During my very first week I asked him, why are there so few girls here, and why do so many decide to quit?

How are you getting up that mountain?

He told me the cake theory (which turned into a story over time). While he explained this as the difference between girls and boys, I like to tell it as two ways of approaching learning.

Meet Martin!

The famous cake-story/theory

What you are about to learn is like a cake. A giant cake. It’s a knowledge cake. And you are given a tiny tiny spoon, for massive massive cake. Now here comes the best part. Somebody keeps slapping on stuff on the cake, new layers, more decoration (all eatable of course). It keeps getting bigger and bigger, faster and faster than you could eat it. How do you go about eating this giant cake? A spoonful at the time, right? But the way you eat it will define the whole experience, you just don’t know it. Say there are two people, with a tiny spoon each. The first person takes a bit of the knowledge cake. This person is giddy, exited, about what has just been learned. The taste and effect is savored, motion is remembered. He or she shares this with everybody, ‘wow- look at what I can ,- I can all this of this bite, and I will know all that when I take all those bites’. The second person takes bite. Looks at the hole after the bite, then looks at the rest of the cake. Another layer is slapped on. The hole seems even smaller. The cake even bigger. The person thinks: ‘I know so little, and there is so much to learn. It’s impossible.’
Martin told me that the second person was more likely to do worse and fail. The cake would win.

So whenever things get hard, and seem impossible I give myself a spoon. I take one spoonful at the time, savoring and focusing on that one spoon being proud of my bites, even if ever so small. I know I’ll get to the stage where I feel full and contempt and I also know that I can enjoy and appreciate this journey as long as I want. It’s a good cake, a really really good cake. And it’s free. And you don’t need to panic diet on Monday.

Who doesn’t like cake anyway?

And that my friend, was the cake story/theory.

The best advice I was ever given was to focus on one spoon-full at the time- and as an ex-dietitian I can confirm that is the best way to eat as much as possible ;)


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Anders Bratland
2/10/2013 11:25:48 AM
Martin is the man! 
Iris Classon
2/10/2013 11:29:49 AM
Reply to: Anders Bratland
Ha ha:D Yeah, he sure is :D 
Mike Brown
2/10/2013 11:41:26 AM
There is a similar saying in America. You eat an elephant one spoon at a time. 
Iris Classon
2/10/2013 11:42:44 AM
Reply to: Mike Brown
I knew Americans had weird dishes and diets, but that's new :D :D 
2/10/2013 11:55:25 AM
Nice write Iris :)...  I guess at the end you just have to enjoy the journey as you would enjoy the destination, one step at a time. 
2/11/2013 9:48:43 AM
I'm a vegetarian, can't eat elephants or cake :( 
Matt Heffron
2/14/2013 2:43:11 PM
"...weird dishes..." :) Not *that* weird!
This is the answer to the metaphorical question proposing a seemingly impossible task:
"How do you eat an elephant?"
"One bite at a time!"
I.e., one should approach a huge task by breaking it into smaller pieces. 
3/9/2013 6:45:26 PM
Nice story! (and quite right, as well!) Inspired me to write a blog post of my own :) 

Last modified on 2013-02-08