Edible Monstrosity Part III: Where the Pudding Meets the Malformed Cake

This is the third and final installment of Edible Monstrosity. If you haven’t read Part I or Part II yet, check them out first.

When last we saw The Indoctrinatrix, she had two nearly exploded cakes on her hands and a batch of “frosting” made from pudding in the fridge…


So, I decide to go ahead and assemble the cakes because, even though they weren’t pretty, they were still edible.

At this point, I realized that I don’t own a cake platter. The only thing I can find to put the cake on is an old bar tray with deep, two-inch sides. When I put the first cake on the tray, the sides came right up to the large overhanging muffin top of the cake.

I got out my frosting…

Which I see hasn’t set up at all and is really just chocolate pudding.

I start smearing pudding all over this huge, rounded cake…

But because it’s so thin, I can’t get it to pile up enough to have that really nice layer of frosting in between…

No matter how much pudding I pile on.

After I frost the bottom layer, I placed the top layer on and started frosting that.

But it keeps sliding around on the pudding layer. I can’t get it to hold still, so I search around the kitchen and find some cocktail umbrellas left over from a previous party. I pull the paper off and use the sticks as long toothpicks to hold the top layer to the bottom.

I start frosting the top layer, but by now pudding is just dripping off the sides of cakes that are being held together with deconstructed cocktail umbrellas.

It looks horrible, yet still manages to taste decent. 

I wrap the entire monstrosity in foil and head out the party, where, once we cut into it, discovered that it was super dense, like pound cake but heavier. A 5-pound cake.

Despite the bumps along the way, my first made-from-scratch cake was a success!

So, that’s the story of the edible monstrosity.

What lessons can we take away from this tale?

  • Never give up! Had I kicked in the project at the first sign of trouble (the exploded cakes in the oven), there would have been no end product. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it served its purpose and made for a great story.
  • When you’re just starting out, and are building experience, be open to creative solutions. I didn’t have a cake platter, so I used a bar tray. My frosting was too thin, so I stripped cocktail umbrellas and made long toothpicks to hold it in place. Again, it wasn’t perfect but it worked.
  • Be open to feedback. I had told this story a dozen times, but it wasn’t until six months later that someone gave me some useful feedback that I incorporate to this day (to cut the tops of the cake off to make a smooth surface. Doing this had never occurred to me before that moment).
  • Even the stealthiest ninja, the best baker, the highest-converting marketer, starts as a novice. Don’t let early frustrations or disappointments stop you. Practice long enough and you will get better.

I kept practicing and eventually created a Bûche de Noël, a traditional French yule log cake that I made from scratch.

Where you start is not always where you’ll end, if you keep practicing.


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Indoctrination Is the Pied Piper of Your Business

Season 3, Episode 9 of the HBO show Silicon Valley displays exactly why companies need indoctrination.

If you haven’t seen the show, here’s a quick set up: Richard Hendricks (played by Thomas Middleditch) has developed a revolutionary file compression platform called Pied Piper. The first few seasons of the show are about his misadventures in securing funding for his start-up and bringing his product to market.

So they finally get it launched and quickly reach a milestone of 500,000 downloads. An amazing feat. But the number of Daily Active Users, the number of people actually using the app, is abysmal. Only about 19,000 people are using it.

They put together a focus group to find out why people aren’t using it, what they don’t like about the app.

Richard is watching through a two-way mirror as the people in the focus group say things about the Pied Piper app like, “It totally freaked me out.” And, “It made me feel stupid.”

Richard busts into the focus group and commences to explain, in full detail, abut how the app works. When he’s done people are like “Yeah, I’d totally use this, now that I know how it works.”

Can you see the problem here?

A bunch of engineers created and rolled out a product that’s more advanced than anything available on the market.

But they just threw it out there, without any documentation, guidance or education to the layperson about how to use it and what to expect. When left to their own devices, people were overwhelmed and confused.

And most confused minds would rather move on to something they already know, like and trust. Regardless of how revolutionary the confusing product might be. As Richard says in despair, “You can’t fight public opinion.”

And so it is with your business

You can’t bust into every user’s experience and explain what they can’t see.

Creating and using an indoctrination strategy keeps confusion at bay and helps draw people into your business.

Like the Pied Piper of fable. And not just once, but daily.

When creating a new business be sure you incorporate indoctrination into your marketing.

If you’ve been in business already, no worries. You can retrofit your existing marketing with indoctrination to boost engagement and sales.

What they say about planting trees is also true for indoctrination strategies:

The best time to do it is 20 years ago. The next best time is today.


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