What I Learned at C2 Montreal
I attended the event C2 Montréal as a “civilian,” meaning I went to experience it for my own personal benefit, enjoyment and learning. What I learned was that I couldn’t be just an attendee; I couldn’t resist my own need to experience C2 through the lens of 360’s “4D Experience Filters,” which are the four dimensions of live experiences—physical, physiological, emotional and intellectual.
If you don’t know about C2 Montréal, here’s how the organizers describe the event on their website:
“C2 Montréal unites global trailblazers, business innovators, entrepreneurial icons, social game changers and a host of other engaging thought provocateurs at the top of their creative game … representing a diverse array of industries with a common goal: to inspire creative solutions for commercial problems.”
Here’s my experience …
1. First, the physical dimension. C2 Montréal was a massive visual, experiential, immersive environment; it had a real sense of place. C2 knows how to bring the physical space to life. It was vertical, outdoors, indoors, alive, intimate and expansive. It had seating galore and just about every cool idea you could imagine. It was snowing inside! You could get your nails done, lay in a bathtub of plastic balls, lounge in the sun, experience a guided nature tour and hear Martha Stewart talk about her garden—just what the doctor ordered for the creative, business-minded audience that dominated this event. I spoke to the head of partnerships for C2 and learned that attendance was over 5,000—not bad for an event celebrating only its 5th anniversary.
2. “Feed me Seymour”…on to the physiological. Did someone say food trucks? For my money, I’d rather have healthy, delicious food options that I pay for (and you do pay for everything at C2, except the H2O on tap—still and sparkling) than have to drink bitter coffee, consume carbs and eat food served in a bag. There was an ample supply of good, healthy food, and lots of wine and alcohol available all day (Montréal is French after all). The service was great.
3. Next, the emotional dimension. Don’t come to C2 and expect NOT to be emotionally engaged. This event is designed to mash up, connect, and create a community that learns from each other more than from instructors, facilitators or keynote speakers. The awesome power of any live event is the confluence of ideas, needs, dreams, answers and questions that the audience brings to the table. The irony is that 95% of the power of a live event is never switched on. The power of the crowd and the real potential of co-creation is unlocked only when an event designer creates an environment of emotional connection. C2 created just that, largely due to the powerful technology of Brain Dates powered by the company E-180.
4. And finally, the intellectual dimension. Of course everything we feel and experience—everything that moves us emotionally—is a function of our brain. If reason leads to conclusion and emotion leads to action, we know that both are a result of our brain doing the work. Intellectual stimulation, cognition and cerebral processing are made possible by the combination of a well-designed physical environment and a physiologically high-performing body fueled by great food and enough sleep. This leads to an emotional state that is open, aware and present. Then and only then does our brain fully tune-in, turn-on and deliver the new insights and ideas we need to power our businesses. You could feel the endorphins vibrating throughout the venue known as the Arsenal, which was the warehouse that became C2 Montréal.
No wonder it’s so hard for event designers, planners and organizers to deliver an individually irresistible and indispensable experience when so many conditions must be present. C2 Montréal is on the right track. They have the right model, mindset, motives and methods. They have created a meaningful experience with a soul and personality. The environment allows their audience to come as they are and leave transformed.
The real test of how valuable I found this event is that we bought 10 tickets for C2 Montréal 2017. I’m looking forward to tapping into this bold, new way of designing meaningful, moving and memorable live brand experiences.