Why People > $

My Experience at C2 Montreal

Isabella Grandic
Jun 1 · 8 min read

I was recently in Montréal, Canada for C2 (a conference). If I were to explain the experience in 3 words they’d be goats, smiling and high-fives (ok the hyphen is cheating but whatever.)

Goats as in actual living breathing goats, AND goats as in “greatest of all time”. C2 isn’t your average conference/event. It’s an experience. Like, when was the last time you went to an event with literal goats??

GOATS!

There were also circus performances between talks and in the convention halls, interactive events (stuff like practicing leadership in a dark room), fancy smart-badges, and crazy-dope food.

and ball pits….

As you can see/imagine, C2 was insanely fun.

If C2 was a person, I’d give them a nice big high-five.

It wasn’t like any conference I’d been to before. It was hands-on, exciting, and I’m never going to get over the goats.

I was also one of C2’s 7 under 17 — something I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever thought would happen to me. The experience blew me away. I was on the HuffPost, La Presse, Journal de Montreal and more media outlets. I got to be a big girl for a day!!!

How many people can say they were on the Huffington Post before being legally able to attempt getting a driver’s license… 🤔

I even got to do a panel! Watch it here.

Being a speaker at C2 was just fantastic, not only for the experience/ability to tell my story but also because there were free snacks in the speaker’s lounge.

None of this crazy stuff (and fancy macarons) would have been possible without people. People who have supported me, people who were interested in me, people who helped me and people who were plain fun. There is no amount of money in the world that I would trade this experience for.

And I live in a world where people will take a selfie with a squirrel for a $20 bill.

but then…

The squirrel doesn’t look too happy! … At least this dude is $20 richer

In this day and age, a $50 bill basically means you can make anyone do anything.

I wouldn’t trade C2 MTL for any amount of money, and I would definitely try and take a selfie with a squirrel for $20. Yes, I’m that easy to bribe.

Now that you have a little context on C2, and my experience as a 7 under 17, I’ll tell you about what exactly made this experience so flipping valuable.

Top 3 Things I learned at C2

(PS. At C2, a smart person once told me to do everything in 3’s .. so I learned that too)

1. Relationships are everything

But relationships are not the number of people you “know” It’s the number of people you know.

We always hear about having 5 really good friends rather than 100 mediocre ones. But it’s actually true.

C2 makes networking (and everything to do with conferences) next level.

They have brain dates, which take the pressure off networking. I had some pretty dope conversations. There are so many chances to talk to interesting people, I even got to hang out with the IBM crew 😎.

There were 3 main things I learned about relationships:

  1. Answers don’t always matter
  2. create interesting experiences + make it exciting
  3. Smile: people like being happy

Answers don’t always matter

I found myself asking tons of questions about people’s experiences. I mean… did spend 3 days surrounding myself with the most exciting people in the world. I wanted to learn!

But, what I then realized, it was weirdly unfulfilling to ask people about their life experiences.

I kept wondering why I felt so unfulfilled hearing about people’s awesome stories. What I realized is it was so surface level. They’ve probably answered the “what’s your favorite place you’ve been to” or “how do you spend your time” questions a bazillion times.

What becomes super interesting is the intuition behind their answers.

→ Why place x is their favorite place (maybe there’s an emotional tie) → learning the why behind the emotional tie (perhaps a childhood event) → asking how else the event impacted them (ex. developed their sense of love) → learning about how love makes them feel, and the positive impact of it on their life… etc.

All of a sudden, I went from hearing about cool zip lining stories in Costa Rica and Safaris in Kenya to… people’s feelings of compassion caused from seeing someone die or their family history of feeling unaccepted until they visited a country where they immediately became part of a community, and that’s why they love place x.

I uncovered people’s most hidden stories.

Learning about people’s whys was powerful, exciting and made for some good conversations/relationship starters.

People are stories: they’ve loved something, hated something, feared something, wanted something — at some point. All of us are interesting in some way. If you ask why enough times, you’ll uncover so many stories.

Make it ⓔⓧⓒⓘⓣⓘⓝⓖ

C2 as a whole was exciting.

I think all its pizzazz (goats included) made for a more fun-time.

I had conversations on swings, fancy tables, next to goat pens, eating snazzy food, on branches under circus performers, in BMWs and at one point in a fancy bubble thing… with Sophie Trudeau

Me in a life-size bubble chatting with Sophie Trudeau and all my friends. 😱

This experience inspired me to always do out-of-the-box things. Having interesting conversations +with interesting people +in interesting places + doing interesting things = dope.

In order for Life to = Dope, I need to always be around/doing interesting things.

C2 inspired me to think outside of the box and challenge the way I think of relationships.

Smile.

This has been a general takeaway recently: people like to be happy. It makes us feel good.

If you’re chilling on cloud 9, you’re never going to think: “Dang, life is soooooo fun right now, but you know what would be super cool? Sadness. Ugh, I miss feeling sad. All those sad people, they’re so lucky!”.

People spend their lives searching for pure happiness. Of course, they’ll soon realize that it’s actually not a scavenger hunt, it’s a choice. (I’m so lucky to have learned that at such a young age (15 and 3-quarters!) ).

Anyway, point is, no one ever craves misery or anxiety. A smile can boost someone’s mood entirely. It’s contagious.

At C2, everyone was smiling, and it was truly infectious. Everyone was happy and excited. The vibe was awesome. I wanted to spend my entire life there.

However, on the opposite hand if the conference was designed around sadness, and everyone was frowning, who would want to stay???

🔑: Surround yourself with happy people, their energy will be contagious. Turn your life into C2, and you’ll never want to leave.

Life. Is. Awesome.

It didn’t matter what other dope conferences/opportunities were going on, C2 was amazing, and I didn’t care about anything else.

If your life is amazing/happy, you won’t care about what other people are doing. You’ll be addicted to enjoying the moment, much like I was.

2. Smart people act fast

Spending several days with the brightest people in the world, I got tons of advice.

CEOs from some of the world’s top companies were impressed with me. It was insane. Our convos were super great!

I learned about following up fast, like immediately fast. I learned about cutting to the chase, because the reality is, the smartest/most influential people in the world don’t have time for fluff.

These people are on top of their inbox + messages, but they’re also really good at assessing social cues/social dynamics.

Smart people understand people. They’re good at asking the right questions, saying the right things and understanding people. Clearly, I have tons of way to go when it comes to understanding people and acting fast in situations.

C2 really validated that I have a heck ton of improvement to make.

I’ll start with being speedy with my inbox 🙌.

3. Ask for help

The most underrated superpower is asking for feedback.

People who ask for help, won’t fail. People will stop them before doing so.

The scariest thing you could do is put yourself out there and ask people to grill you. But it’s also one of the most important activities.

I can’t even tell you how frequently smart people tell me this. And C2 was no exception.

It was the “clicking moment” where I realized that holy shit getting feedback is such a privilege.

If your presentation sucks, wouldn’t you rather have someone tell you before presenting it to hundreds, maybe even thousands of people? Practice before so you don’t embarrass yourself later! Your dog doesn’t count!

Thank you to anyone that has grilled me at some point in the past few months, I sincerely appreciate it because now I can make different mistakes!

… & that’s a wrap of my top 3 takeaways from the most enjoyable experience of my life!

C2 was the happiest time of my life. I was with the best people, doing awesome things. I felt at home. Thank you to every person and goat who made this experience possible. 🙏

Special thanks to Anick for making the whole trip possible!!!

Questions? Shoot me an email: igrandic03@gmail.com

Or — feel free to reach out on Twitter / LinkedIn,

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Isabella Grandic

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Hey, I’m Izzy, a 15-year-old interested in impacting billions with emerging tech. I’m super excited about cellular agriculture and machine learning