This year my In-Depth is cake decorating, and I have an amazing mentor, Cassandra! So far, we have had three meetings. The first meeting, Cassandra and I discussed a general overview for the project, as well as just talking to get to know one another. During our next meeting, we dove right into baking pound cakes, which I froze after the first meeting so that I could ice them the following week. While I baked, Cassandra gave me tips, instructions, and feedback. I learned a lot of new facts about baking that I did not know before. As an example, when I was cracking the eggs for the cake, Cassandra explained that they should be cracked on a flat surface, not the edge of a bowl. This is because when the eggshell hits a thin surface, like the rim of a mixing bowl, the shell will break into the yolk. On the other hand, when it cracks on a flat surface, like a counter, the shell will not crack inwards, and there is a smaller chance of getting shell in the egg.
During our third meeting, I made the ganache that is used to fill the pound cakes. As well, since making the ganache did not take too long, I started preparing the decoration for the cake: hot chocolate balls! I did this by melting white chocolate and brushing a thin layer of it on the chocolate molds. The molds were then frozen, and later I applied a second coat of chocolate to the molds. During our next meeting, we will assemble and decorate my first cake!
“How to Have A Beautiful Mind”
Throughout this project, we are reading “How to Have A Beautiful Mind” by Edward de Bono. This book discusses ways to become a more interesting person by having more interesting conversations with others. The first three chapters of “How to Have A Beautiful Mind” cover agreeing, disagreeing, and differing.
When meeting online with Cassandra, I found it all too easy to agree with everything she said. Cassandra obviously knows way more about baking and cake decorating than I do, so I had to work to not over agree. “How to Have A Beautiful Mind” explains that when you agree at all times, you will rarely learn new ways of thinking. Edward de Bono writes, “when you lose an argument you may as well have gained a new point of view,” and that quote really stuck with me during my conversations with Cassandra.
A good example of when I applied the concepts in the first chapter was during our first meeting. I had a vague plan for the project (which I addressed in my last post), and Cassandra also had a few ideas. She suggested that she could teach me the steps for decorating a cake in stages, with one new step each week. For example, the first week we would make the cake, the next we would ice it, the following week we could decorate it, etc. I thought that this was a really great way to slowly introduce the skills in a memorable fashion, so I told Cassandra that I fully agreed with her idea. Once we had agreed on that broad plan, we could focus a bit more on the specific details of the project. Because I was able to see the value of her ideas, we created a plan that I am really excited about! So, while the final timeline we created was not what I had originally expected, by agreeing with Cassandra I gained a new point of view, and I believe that I will learn so much more because of our agreement.
The next chapter discusses how to disagree. This chapter gives necessary advice such as not disagreeing just for the sake of disagreeing, as well as always giving a reason behind your different views.
Luckily, Cassandra and I have not had much to disagree on so far; however, there were lots of times when I applied the concepts from this chapter in our conversations. One of the key points when disagreeing is politeness. If you are rude, others are less likely to attempt to understand your opinion, and having a conversation becomes extremely difficult. At the start of this project, I asked Cassandra to complete a criminal record check for the school. When the deadline started approaching, I considered how to best address the topic in a way that would not seem too harsh. In the end, I made sure to be polite and explained why getting the crim check done was important. Because I was able to apply the concepts from this chapter during this discussion, Cassandra was able to understand why this was important to me. As well, I was able to consider her side. I knew that Cassandra is super busy, and her taking the time to mentor me is extremely generous. She agreed to go complete the crim check in a few days’ time, which was a compromise since she was able to work around her schedule, while also completing the important task for the project.
Finally, the third chapter is about how to differ. The main point I took away from this chapter is that different points of view and life situations will create varying opinions, and often the best way to handle a situation is to try to find a middle ground.
One of the first conversations Cassandra and I had was about scheduling our weekly meetings. I have a fairly busy schedule because of the amount of extracurriculars I take outside of school, so finding a day and time that worked for both of us was a challenge. While Cassandra had more available time near the start of the week, Mondays and Tuesdays are two of my busiest days. To find a middle ground, we applied one of the concepts from this chapter, which was to clearly state what each differing opinion was. Once we both understood what the other was thinking, we were able to compromise on Wednesday, since it is still fairly near the start of the week, and I was able to find a time that did not interfere with my extracurricular activities.
In-Depth 2021 is starting out really well, and I am super excited for the rest of the project! As always, thank you for reading my blog post, and if you have any questions, please put them in the comments below 🙂