In 2010, Cirque du Soleil’s Daniel Lamarre came to us with a challenge: to conceive a corporate event that would help business leaders integrate creativity and innovation into their organizations. We loved the sound of it. As we did our research, we found that there indeed existed a significant opportunity to create an international business event that not only directly addressed innovation, but was also innovative in its approach.
That’s how we came up with the concept of a three-day immersive event where discussions on creativity would be mirrored carefully in the experience, where the concepts shared on stage would also be experienced by the attendees through participative installations and powerful collaborative moments. It would be a creative sandbox where anything could happen. Simply put, our goal was to reinvent the business conference by stimulating attendees not just with speakers but exhibitions, multimedia, conceptual venues, projections, workshops and parties (it is held in Montréal after all). We also saw this as an opportunity to bring together the C-suite from all business sectors and industries, in what could become something of a global innovation summit in Montréal.
But that was the easy part. Following through with the concept took time, energy, investment and a fair amount of tolerance for risk. Most of all it took a lot of faith from a lot of people—all of whom helped shepherd this event from concept to reality. To mention only two, this never could have happened without Tourisme Montréal and the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation, who believed in this crazy idea from the start.
They believed, and still believe, as we and many, many others do, that creating a truly immersive and at times unsettling experience for our attendees not only leads to a deeper understanding of the concepts shared by our speakers, but also creates opportunities for deeper connections between attendees. And as those executives across industries and geographies connect, converse and share, we think we can inspire them to push the boundaries of what they believe is possible, and to take the risks necessary to deliver profound, game-changing innovation. In that sense, the success of C2MTL is as much theirs as it is ours.
The tough part is to avoid resting on our laurels. What is a business conference? How do we strip it down to its essence and build it back up in a way that creates the most value for participants? These are questions we continually ask ourselves, and will keep asking ourselves. Even if answering them means starting all over again.
President of Sid Lee, Curator of C2MTL