Here’s to the Humans of C2
May 27-29 2014 was marked a by three-day conference celebrating commerce and creativity. Entering its third year, C2MTL embraced more than 4,000 attendees, making it bigger and brighter than ever. L’Arsenal, a vast industrial space transformed into an art venue, was the perfect fit for hosting the event. At the invitation of f. & co, Roxanne Hamel, a M.Sc Marketing student from HEC Montréal and president of the International Graduate Competition 2014, and myself, a recent Bcom graduate from Concordia University, set out to meet and greet the conference’s participants. It was intimidating at first as we struck up conversations with the conference’s impressive roster of global business leaders and thinkers. We quickly realized that C2MTL is not about impressing – it’s about connecting.
Connecting, Learning & Inspiring
C2MTL is not your average business conference. Walking through the Arsenal doors on Day 1 felt less like entering a corporate convention than jumping into a playground for adults.
Visitors were immediately greeted by a gargantuan quote displayed against a colourful wall facing the entrance. It read, “No man is an island/Nul homme n’est une ile”. Opportunities to interact and connect are endless. Participants mingle and get to know each other through workshops, meet-ups and brainstorming labs. There are many local artists and designers showcasing works, eager to answer questions and satisfy curiosity. Even the conferences with headliner speakers (including James Cameron and Professor Muhammad Yunus) are interactive, inviting the audience to ask questions. Speakers are diverse, ranging from top-notch business representatives to architects to musicians.
So, who are the humans of C2?
Based on the well-known photoblog Humans of New York, Humans of C2 is a website that showcases participants’ individuality and their unique stories in a business context. Roxanne and I prepared a bank of questions to serve as a conversational template and help steer greetings in the right direction. “Why are you at C2MTL? When has creativity won over practicality in your business?” For three days, we walked the rooms of l’Arsenal in our red shoes, getting to know the humans of C2.
We met all kinds of humans – global leaders, thinkers, local entrepreneurs, designers, founders, volunteers, students, account executives, collaborators, gurus and creative directors. The list goes on. Each conversation was different. People were friendly, eager to share, and most importantly, intriguing. Often enough, we had the opportunity to communicate with international visitors, consistent with reports of attendance by nearly 2,000 participants from outside Quebec.
Most C2MTL participants came to the conference with the aim to connect and establish networks. The C2 online portal, the HUB, was an excellent tool for attendees to gain access to others and set up private meetings. Participants were also searching to be inspired by the actual conferences and local talent.
Not all C2MTL participants came to the conference with the need to affiliate. Among the business executives and creative directors was Jennifer Campbell, an anthropologist. Jennifer was at C2 to observe her surroundings and study how creativity functions in late capitalism.
"Why am I here? I’m actually doing research.
I’m looking at how human creativity functions
within the capitalist economy."
- Jennifer Campbell, anthropologist
& McGill University student
For some participants, creativity is a philosophy and a way of thinking that becomes naturally integrated in company strategy. For others, creativity is a tool to solve problems and gain new insights. People operate with different definitions of how creativity can be applied in business. However, everyone we spoke to at C2MTL agreed that creativity is an essential ingredient in creating a memorable and meaningful business. If you doubt the power of creativity, C2MTL can convert you into a believer. We had the fortunate opportunity to meet Florin Fabor, Creative Director at Mega Brands. When asked if he thought creativity was an essential part of business, he laughed and responded, “Is that a serious question?”