This year, I had the privilege of attending C2 Montréal (C2Mtl), the annual business event that brings together commerce and creativity, which took place between May 23 and 25. The theme of this year’s conference was TOMORROW. Here are the key messages I took away from the conference.
1. Dare to be unique
Embrace what makes you different and be unique as a person and as a brand. Angela Ahrendts, former Senior VP of Apple Retail, talked about how Apple is unique in several ways, including its sales approach.
“Never be selling, tell people how you will enrich their lives and educate them.” according to Steve Jobs.
I loved that talk. At Performa, we believe that companies benefit when they take the time to define what makes them different, figure out what their mission is and think about what they offer their customers clients and society, versus simply displaying their company and their products in a showcase. Yes, that means investing valuable time. But doing so can help simplify everyday decision-making and mobilize your entire team around the same goals. Getting an outside perspective can help you integrate this strategic process into your company’s busy schedule.
Influential marketing executive Bozoma Saint John (previously with Apple and Uber, currently CMO at Endeaver) exemplifies why it’s important to highlight your uniqueness as a person. She certainly showed her uniqueness when she presented at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. The audience was used to hearing business leaders dressed in the standard jeans and black turtleneck, but Bozoma Saint John showed up in a colourful outfit and integrated African-inspired music in her presentation. It was authentic and it worked. At C2 Montréal, she shined in a chic white number. Ok, it may not be revolutionary, but that little bit of extravagance is enough to challenge conventions. Small details are a sign of planning and dedication, and they often make all the difference. That’s the foundation of a positive client experience.
Photo credits : C2mtl
« Journalists described Saint John’s presentation of the redesigned Apple Music onstage during the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference as her breakthrough moment, with a captivating «passion» and persona that captivated both local and online audiences.»
2. Promote intuition, active listening and empathy
Many leaders mentioned the importance of listening—to yourself, your clients and your employees. Use this advice without moderation!
Guy Laliberté was asked what to do when you’re unsure about taking on a new project. He explained that there are several factors to consider, especially how you anticipate feeling about the project further down the road. And it’s true: I believe we often underestimate our intuition when we think we’re making rational decisions about the future.
One of my idols, David St-Jacques, spoke to us (live from space!) about the importance of following your dreams and listening to your inner voice, which he calls a treasure. He’s so right! In his words, “you need to stop thinking about what might happen if you don’t make it. It’s not worth worrying about. Why? Because the journey makes you.”
Photo credit C2Mtl
The founder and CEO of LIGHTSPEED, Dax Dasilva, spoke to us about the importance of expanding our circle of empathy, going beyond family and friends to embrace the citizens of all countries as well as nature. And listening is the first step toward empathy and greater understanding. I believe it’s important to connect with your inner essence as a human being—and also as a company. What motivates you deep down? What is your company’s role in the world?
3. Hold structured brainstorming sessions more often
I loved the workshop on “Designing the landscapes of our future” at #c2mtl with Daan Roosegaarde from Studio Roosegaarde.
In 45 minutes, we managed to create a product that addressed two environmental challenges, we identified benefits and targets, we chose a name and we even created a preliminary logo. And we weren’t the only ones. There were around 30 teams in total!
LESSON LEARNED: Don’t underestimate what a multidisciplinary team can achieve when it takes the time to brainstorm using a structured process (for example: challenge + solution). It’s incredible. Make sure your brainstorming sessions are structured and invite everyone on your team, no matter what their role. Write down the rules of the brainstorming session like you would for a school activity. Give people permission to express all their ideas (even “bad ideas”), set specific objectives, set a strict time limit to create a sense of urgency, set aside budget issues and, most importantly, have fun! And why not throw in a bit of inter-team competition? You’ll always have a spirited brainstorming session if you allow people to have fun and express themselves. We were all very impressed by the experience. Here’s a photo of my amazing team:
4. Take inspiration from the youth
“I’m really passionate about coding” says the budding entrepreneur. “I want the kids to be the same way, because coding is the future and coding is what the world will depend on in the next 10 to 15 years. So if kids learn to code now, [when] they grow up they can think of coding maybe as a career option.“
According to Mehta, her company has generated around US$200,000 in revenue since April 2018 and sold approximately 6,000 games. She says she reinvests the money in the company while also saving for college and donating to charities that tackle homelessness in her community. It’s extraordinary! All too often, we’re the ones putting up barriers to our own success, but young people aren’t limited like that.
A few concluding words
TOMORROW won’t build itself. It’s up to all of us, with our strengths and our weaknesses, to build the future together. Knowing ourselves and embracing who we are is what will allow us to grow. Our diverse life experiences are our strength. Through collaboration, creativity, innovation, transparency and empathy, each and every individual can contribute to finding solutions for a better world. Sometimes, all you need to do is listen. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, every day you have the power—and the responsibility—to be a better citizen and help solve the complex problems facing your company and society at large. At Performa, we believe that searching for meaning is profitable and strategically beneficial. So let’s not wait for tomorrow and start asking the right questions TODAY!
Contributing editors : @julievilleneuve, @stephanierichard