Last week, I was lucky enough to have been gifted a ticket to C2 Montreal by my good friend and president of Luxe Rental (they didn’t ask for the shout-out, but I would be remiss not to thank them). C2 is described as a “three-day immersive event” that “brings together Commerce and Creativity to explore trends, opportunities and major shifts on the horizon”. It was definitely a unique experience, one which I may or may not get to experience again any time soon, so I figured I would share my thoughts in this blog. I also made two vlogs here and here, which will pretty much let you live the experience for yourself.

I say I may or may not experience it again because passes are prohibitively expensive – $2,000 if you pre-book, and they only get more expensive as the event approaches. And even though I did not buy my ticket, it was a nagging question in my head as to whether or not it is worth it – whether or not it could be worth it. But like with caviar and fancy wine, I got the impression that attending this event is something of a status symbol, a proverbial “notch in the belt”. It gives you bragging rights. Everyone wants to be there, and not everyone gets to go (for the above-mentioned reason). Regardless, I knew the value of my entry pass, so I made the absolute most of it.

The event itself suffered from one major flaw: The “labs”, as they call them (fancy talk for group networking meetings, whether a “braindate” or a group meeting in chairs hanging from the ceiling), were insufficient with respect to the number of people in attendance. Once those labs were booked, your options were mingling or attending public talks. And the public talks were sometimes fully booked, in which case you could watch them on a big screen. Which I could have done from home. For free. Gary Veynerchuk, for example, offers marketing gems on his vlogs which, from a substantive point of view, rivaled the best of what I saw at C2.

I only got to see a little over a half-dozen speakers, but particularly appreciated the talks of Amanda Hill, Karim Rashid, Dror Benshetrit, and Steve Wozniak.

At the end of the day, C2 is designed for mingling. All the frills and gimmicks are designed to distract people away from the awkwardness of starting a discussion, and it works. I’m not particularly shy, and have never had a problem striking up conversations with total strangers, so I don’t need to be hanging from the ceiling or baking a 12-layer cake to do it. But I appreciate what the event is going for.

The highlight for me was taking a boat-ride down Lachine Canal, and sitting next to a someone who had flown in from Japan to attend. As we were talking, he told me he worked for a broadcasting company called NHK. Those three letters seemed very familiar to me, so I searched my email. Sure enough, they had previously licensed one of my videos. My daughter and I even did a Skype interview with a live translator, which featured in the show. A total stranger from across the globe, and we happened to already be so closely connected.

The tickets may be over-priced. There may have been excessive use of buzzwords like “disrupters”, “social innovators”, “provocateurs”. And there may not have been enough labs to accommodate the number of attendees (good growing pains to have, to the extent that you can respond to them the next time around). But overall, C2 Montreal was a unique event, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience it myself.

Peace out!