A C2 State of Mind
Experiencing C2 Montreal had been in my bucketlist for some time and this year, I finally made it. All the buzz surrounding the event as “transforming the way we do business” certainly lives up to its hype.
Inspiration was Everywhere
Once I arrived to the open space warehouse which hosts the conference, I did not know where to start. I discovered huge, indoor tall trees and hanging gardens evoking the event’s sustainability concept, people diving in plastic ball swimming pools, networking snowing strolls (yes, snow), multi-level meeting spaces, a gardening meditation lab. Even pasta sticks played the role of plastic coffee stirrers. It was a wonderland for creative and design freaks.
But hey, what else can you expect when you have Cirque du Soleil as part of the event’s production creative team.
Inspiration did not come only from a never seen set-up. Business leaders, Nobel Peace Laureate, innovators, disrupters, media trailblazers, big thinkers, future entrepreneurs and many others shared their wisdom with the audience in masterclasses, workshops, talks and panels. (check out @BigThinkGroup’s tweets for insights).
A playground of inspiring ideas indeed.
I Began to Date Again
No, it’s not what you’re thinking. But I did participate in what C2 calls “Brain Dates”, a pre-assigned, easy to manage, 15-20 minute conversations with fellow attendees who share common interests.
The result? 5 dates in 3 days – not even when in college. Seriously, we discussed trends and insights in sponsorship, experiential marketing, art installations in brand activations, and digital content in public relations. I even had a crash course in the cannabis industry (just theory, no practice).
Promising hook-ups without the “don’t call me, I’ll call you” effect.
More than 3,000 people from 40+ countries and all walks of life attend C2. You mingle, meet, network and share war stories with marketers, startups, designers, entrepreneurs and the occasional accountant seeking to “get away from his comfort zone”. And before you know it, you’re discussing Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis and favorite vacation spots with the CEO of a global luxury brand company.
But probably the most inspiring connection I had was with Spencer West, whom I met in a “fireside chat” at one on the on-site pop-up stores. Spencer lost both his legs at age five due to a genetic condition, and since then, and contrary to doctors’ predictions, he has been unstoppable. His smile and contagious spirit outshines any physical “limitation”. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the educational charity Feed the Children. Spencer is a motivational speaker, a philanthropist and an inspiration for all, especially when we’re focused on the can’t dos or don’t haves.
Buzzword Alert: Hypertelling
The Zoo at Google’s Mike Yapp presentation was one of those talks that you needed eye and arm coordination with your camera phone to capture each slide, as we learned more about the latest concept in marketing and communications.
In simple terms, hypertelling is storytelling in the digital space, using technology such as virtual reality to create a story. With hypertelling the user is the author, the creator of the story and part of the cast. It’s an evolution driven by technology where the experience is immersive. “We’re becoming story doers rather than story tellers.”
Lockheed Martin’s Mars Experience Bus and Google’s Expedition Program are great examples of the use of hypertelling using virtual reality to enhance educational experiences among students.
“We need to think less like writers and designers and really truly more like inventors.”
One Final Thought: Collaboration – Oversold and Underused
This year C2’s theme was The Many – where collaboration among consumers, companies and even competitors are the driving force in today’s marketplace.
Collaboration was a common theme in almost all talks. We learned about the power of sharing and how innovation is becoming much more collaborative. But why are we still adamant to adopt a complete transparency in collaboration? Why is the cover you ass and watch your back attitude still ruling some of our business decisions?
Pepsico’s Carla Zakhem-Hassan described it best. “Collaboration is a diplomatic act”.
Maybe diplomacy is that transforming way we need to start doing business.