The World View

When I started decorating cakes, I only knew the decorators in my local cake group. The Internet was relatively new and message boards were in their infancy. It was difficult to meet decorators from other areas unless you went to a cake show. 
To build a reputation, you had to travel. You had to build a great web site. You had to compete in cake shows. You had to do great work. If you were lucky, you got on some of the early cake tv shows and the world learned your name. At least, the United States did. 
I am just flying home from Cake International in Birmingham, England. It is the largest cake show in the world. It is a true melting pot of accents, cultures and decorating styles. 
I was lucky enough to attend the Cake Masters Awards for the second year. As I listened to the presentations for the nominees and the winners, it became clear to me that there truly is a world cake decorating community. 
Mike McCarey was named the Cake Hero. While he rarely teaches outside of the US, his social media accounts and Craftsy classes have taken him into the homes and hearts of decorators across the globe. 
In almost every instance, the winners were people who have a strong social media presence. The value of that presence is that it helps to connect them to people everywhere. A picture can go viral in minutes. A Periscope can be shared repeatedly. The new applications keep making it easier and easier for people to interact with their cake heroes. 
Many decorators tell me that they wish they had more recognition for their work. I would tell them that they simply MUST promote themselves. They aren’t just sharing with potential customers…they are connecting with future friends and collaborators. 
We all need to take a world view of our work and our social media influence. I am constantly surprised at the number of people who follow my cake journey, my triathlon journey or even my posts about my puppies. It reminds me to be very conscious of the things that I post. 
Too often, I see decorators posting negative comments about their customers or, even worse, their families. I wish so badly that I could help them realize that their constant negativity is how the world views them. Why on earth would you want that reputation?? I’m not saying you have to be fake and only post happy things; I am saying that social media is rarely the place to air your personal anger or laundry. 
Social media just gives us the slightest glimpse into a person’s life. If you think of it as a snapshot of your life, what is the picture you want to give the world? Will you be known for your talent or for your attitude? The world is in your hands. 

The Earlene Factor

When I went to my first cake show, I was a wide eyed decorator looking to learn as much as I could. I watched those around me and figured out who the influential, inspirational decorators were. They were the people I wanted to be more like. For me, that was Maxine Boyington, JoEllen Simon, Cheri Elder, Cheryl Hawkins and, most importantly for me, Earlene Moore. Earlene created cakes with lace and butterflies that were far beyond my knowledge. She was always smiling and happy and sharing her love of cake.

Earlene went further than most decorators, however. Before there was Facebook, Pinterest and You Tube tutorials, we had Earlene. She created a web site called On her site, she offered advice for entering cake shows. She posted tutorials on common problems decorators faced. She shared recipes. This was so ahead of its time that, in my opinion, it contributed to her being named to the ICES Hall of Fame several years ago.

Every cake show and cake club seems to have someone like Earlene. I call it the Earlene Factor. As I was growing up in cake decorating circles, there were always groups of ladies (and some men) who were about 10-20 years older than me that were my guiding lights in the cake world. Some became mentors. Most became friends over the years. Because they were who they were, they continually inspired me to push myself to be more, to go further.

A year or so ago, I was at a cake show, talking to young, wide eyed decorators. All of a sudden I realized that I had become a type of Earlene. You never realize that you’ve moved from the young decorators group to the “slightly” older, influential group. I still think of myself as one of the young ones, but the mirror and my birth certificate beg to differ. I remember how much it meant to me to get the chance to learn from Earlene. Some of you have written to tell me how much it has meant to you for you to learn from the decorators of my generation. Many of us are trying to emulate a life that reflects the Earlene Factor.

I read a FB post last week from a decorator that had written someone she respected. She posted that the response she received was so arrogant and condescending that she was truly rocked by it. This broke my heart. That means that someone didn’t take the opportunity presented to them to inspire a talented young decorator. How sad. Part of the Earlene Factor is making sure that you check you ego at the door. Earlene is one of the most humble women I have ever met. She doesn’t walk around listing her accolades. She doesn’t talk down to you. She motivates. She inspires. She informs. I am so incredibly blessed to call her a friend.

If I am becoming an Earlene, then I am achieving one of my life goals.

Who has inspired and motivated you? Who has the Earlene Factor in your neck of the woods?