On being here: f. & co at C2MTL
It would seem obvious that a firm pretending to specialize in creativity would want to be at C2MTL. But then what does "being here" mean?
One could easily argue for the business development angle. There is a broad array of organizations represented here. The simple fact that executives at C2 spend upwards of $10,000 — and a week of their time — to attend is an indication that there is money available for creative projects. The C2 campus at l’Arsenal is designed with all sorts of nooks and crannies and comfy salons to help people mingle, talk business, explore potential projects, with conversations fuelled by the ambient conversations.
Others will opt for the inspiration tack. With high-flying speakers talking about their business, art and social innovation projects, dedicated professionals facilitating creative workshops and attendees from all walks of life willingly sharing their own experiences, there is no lack of opportunity to find inspiration. There is enough inspiration potential packed in those three day to spur any number of projects, or to re-energize an important endeavour that fell prey to the distractions of the “immediate”.
— louis-félix binette (@iamlfb) May 27, 2014
But there must be another meaning of “being here” that would make C2MTL more than just another conference. We joked around on the Internet that C2 was the “grand messe” of creativity — an important mass with creative congregants and wisdom-wielding pastors. Some more seriously coined the term of the “Davos of creativity.” Alright. And then what? Is this just some event where you need to be seen if you wish to maintain your “creative” credentials?
I’ll try to answer that question from our own perspective, and I’ll start with a question. Why does a small firm, with relatively limited resources, like f. & co, invest so much time, money and energy to mount and coordinate a little army of collaborators at C2MTL? Why would so many volunteer to join the troops?
Because we care. Not as much about ourselves, our network, our growth or our margins. But about this: creativity, Montréal, this conference. This strange melting pot (in which Montréal specializes) where it's suddenly OK to question together business dogmas and empty formulas. We don't glorify it. We don't pay the entrance fee and expect our minds to be blown… and file a complaint on the way out if it isn't. This is not a product we purchase, like just another pair of red sneakers.
We are here more than for the sake of being here. Because we care about us — us here assembled to try to make some sense of the mess of our global economy. The world has changed, like the carpet has been swept from under our feet. Who knows when our once-modern societies will ever return to the global limelight, let alone return to sustainable (ahem) growth? No-one knows when because no-one knows how.
That’s the nature of the complex world we created. It has suddenly escaped our capacity to make sense of it, at the individual, organizational or even national level. We gather in events like C2MTL because we are looking for answers, for ways to derive simpler motives that would help us surf the complexity. But all we have is our questions. And our capacity to come together in the face of great challenges.
We must realize that C2MTL is not about the speakers. They don’t have better answers than any of us, maybe just clearer questions. They are but mere spark makers. We, as attendees provide the tinder. And the fire.
We are here because we want to make this conference better. To let it (help it? make it?) in Nietzschean terms, "become what it is". We are both ambitious and modest, hoping that by giving the best that we got, our contribution will bring out the best in others, and so on — like a chain reaction.
We may not see the flames of success today, reap the full benefit of our efforts tomorrow, but we are confident that our hustling and bustling, our passionate blowing of oxygen to feed the fire, will leave us more than just mildly hyper ventilated. It will have brought our coals to a fiery red, and hopefully left some others burning for more.
Because being here, at C2MTL or in this strange century, is certainly more than about “being”. It’s about “making.” It’s bringing our minds together, in a sometimes chaotic, sometimes harmonious fashion, to prototype the future. It is now gone the time where we could just latch on to the locomotive of innovators or, for lack of them, wait for the next guru or messiah to lift us out of our misery. For God is dead, also said Nietzsche; we have no-one but ourselves to rely on. We must experiment together and, for the next three days, C2MTL will be our lab.
Learn more about f. & co at C2MTL 2014.