For three days at C2 Montréal 2021 (October 19-21), the C2 community gathered to talk about the future and our collective role in it, our responsibilities to one another and the planet we live on, our stories and how to tell them, diversity and inclusivity for real, how to reimagine ourselves and our businesses, the lessons learned from 18 months of adversity and so much more.
Presented under the theme of (Re), we (Re)convened to (Re)connect, (Re)engage and be (Re)inspired, all while celebrating young business leaders and handing the mic to many bold new voices from diverse communities. It was a unique event in a unique year, and so many of the key learnings to emerge were a reflection of that. As usual, a lot happened, and it’s now our pleasure to share with you 15 of the top takeaways from C2 Montréal 2021.
1. Push yourself to the limit to find your potential
“I always push myself to the limit, and I think that’s what’s led me to so much success, but it also led me to so many injuries,” she said. “How I approach ski racing is how I approach life… I’m a perpetual one-upper: if I achieve something then I want the next achievement… But it’s a double-edged sword. I have found myself in the fences far too often.”
Vonn believes that you never reach your potential unless you push yourself to the limit. “Unless you know what that limit is, you’re not reaching your potential… and that’s an important step in the process of becoming the best person you can be.”
2. Get ready to live your best virtual life
3. New players = new growth… but prepare to pay
4. Investing in science is investing in the future
At her captivating conference, “The final frontier: A conversation about space, science and human expansion,” Aerospace Engineer Dr. Farah Alibay laid out her vision for the future, explaining why it’s critical that we invest in fundamental science.
“Because we don’t know what we’ll find,” she said. “As humans, as a society, it’s extremely important to keep pushing ourselves forward… We might make groundbreaking changes in understanding who we are as humans, how we fit in this society, galaxy and universe, and those things will often come back to us.”
Alibay, who worked on the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter missions to Mars, said that that “the beauty of investing in science is that we don’t know what we’ll discover, but often we find out extraordinary things that end up helping us here on Earth.”
5. Why risk taking is even harder than you think
Pixar Co-Founder Ed Catmull, during his fireside chat with Julia Cyboran, VP — Marketing and Audience for C2 International, spoke about the two different meanings of failure and how they impact risk taking. One meaning of failure “is that you screwed up and there are bad consequences… In politics, business failures are used as bludgeons to damage each other, so there’s a real, palpable aura of danger around failure.” The other meaning of failure is that we learn from failures.
“So we have two different meanings,” said Catmull, “but it’s almost impossible for people to hold these two concepts simultaneously, they get in the way of each other… and you only have the luxury of calling something an educational experience after it happened. But until that happens, you still have the danger of the failure. So people have this kind of subconscious calculation about their risk tolerance which makes [taking a risk] not easy to do.”
6. A better definition of success
7. It’s time to decide what side of history you’re on
8. Judging is not learning
9. Get a grip… and don’t let go
“When I see myself and my contemporaries, what separates us from other people who aren’t successful is not talent,” she said. “The difference is tenacity, and that’s sort of fair and unfair at the same time, because you don’t have to be gifted with tenacity, you just have to decide you’re going to stick it through.”
10. When Indigenous entrepreneurs succeed, everybody wins
11. Authenticity has a built-in smell test
“This isn’t just about who do we hire, it’s about… how do we keep the people we hire in our companies?” added fellow panelist Candice Morgan, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Partner at GV. “Candidates want to know if [a company’s commitment to DEI is] authentic or performative.”
12. Flexibility is organic
13. When advertising’s not advertising
At the workshop “How to TikTok,” TikTok Creative Strategist Connie Chan stated that “culture moves at the speed of TikTok.” A ripple that starts on TikTok can spawn a tsunami, and Chan gave the example of the song Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, which reappeared on the charts — more than 30 years after it was initially a hit — after going viral in a TikTok video.
“When brands show up on TikTok, it’s not advertising,” said Chan. “It delivers like an ad, it’s loved like native content [and] it looks and feels and sounds like a TikTok.”
14. There’s more than one kind of closet
“Cis men wear a mask, straight men wear a mask — we are performing for each other a certain type of masculinity so that we can be accepted amongst ourselves,” said Wade Davis, former NFL player and VP of Inclusion Strategy for Product at Netflix, at his fireside chat. Davis stated that straight/cis, non-queer folks don’t realize that they also exist inside the proverbial closet, and that queer people are allowing them to have a broader spectrum of expression of their own identity.
15. Is Earth better off without humans? Maybe not
The fireside chat with Adrian Grenier — the actor, filmmaker and social advocate best known for his role in the hit series Entourage — was a wide-ranging affair that covered everything from fame to sustainability, investing to farming, cryptocurrencies to media literacy… and even snake wrangling. He shared that he approaches environmental sustainability much like he does storytelling as a filmmaker.
“What is this story that we’re trying to tell?” he asked. “It’s our collective story that we get to tell and co-create, so I imagine the end of this movie as a beautiful, utopian paradise where nature is thriving and restored to its original beauty.”
Grenier dismisses the pervasive notion that Earth would be better off without humans. “A lot of environmentalists want to take humans out of the equation… they want to decrease our footprint by not allowing us to step anywhere. [I want] to maximize our handprint. We are the most creative, collaborative, adaptive, resilient species… we have the potential to come back and make the most of this world.”
Get more insights from C2MTL 2021
Check out The Takeaways, a selection of the top action items and key learnings that came out of C2 Montréal, October 19-21.
Want to know more? Watch the conference
If you were a participant at C2 Montréal 2021, you can watch all the conferences, masterclasses and workshops in their entirety in the video on demand section of the C2Agora platform until November 25.
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