Jonathan La Greca

VP, Strategic Growth

The C2 conference in Montreal is a special event that combines creativity and commerce and there are two specific reasons why it stands out as an event that fuels innovative thinking.

First, it brings together experts from very different fields including medicine, fashion, entertainment, sports, and business. The fusion of vastly different perspectives and viewpoints has the power to uncover thought-provoking ideas for you, regardless of your industry.

Second, as Caroline Losson, the CMO of CCM stated, the conference goes beyond just connecting financial objectives with innovation, but strongly considers societal purpose. The C2 conference celebrates some incredibly talented rising stars, including teenagers that have accomplished significant societal impact at a very early age.

I had the pleasure of speaking with or garnering insights from the following keynote speakers and would encourage you to follow their content for additional inspiration:

  1. Afo Verde, Chairman & CEO Latin America, Spain and Portugal, Sony Music
  2. Caroline Losson, Chief Marketing Officer, CCM Hockey
  3. Daniela Bohlinger, Head of Sustainability, BMW
  4. Diane Quinn, Chief Strategy Officer, Cirque Du Soleil
  5. Foteini Agrafioti, Chief Science Officer, RBC
  6. Humza Tehereny, Chief Technology and Digital Officer, MLSE
  7. Jacomo Corbo, the Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Quantum Black
  8. Layla El Asri, Research Manager at Microsoft
  9. Michael Jung, VP Theatrical Development, Disney
  10. Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

In addition to gathering insights from conferences like C2, I also run a Brand Builders Community that connects over 300 marketing and insight leaders in over 18 countries. Let me know if you’d like to learn more about it.

Here are 5 stand-out insights from the C2 Conference 2019:

1.Fusing Unrelated Disciplines to Drive Innovation

The key to driving innovation requires the fusion of different contexts. The C2 conference demonstrated several examples of how different and unrelated disciplines will be combined to create new and exciting experiences. Some of the most interesting examples that were shared included combining medicine with entertainment or technology with sports.

Jacomo Corbo, the Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Quantum Black, now a part of McKinsey, originally built a global consultancy focused on transforming data into improved performance in sports.

He started by mixing technology and sports to improve Formula 1 racing through data analytics. From there he extended Quantum Black’s proprietary processes to help predict athlete injuries and now helps several Fortune 100 companies improve their production processes, based on what he learned from the sports world.

In the sports discussion he had with Humza Tehereny, Chief Technology and Digital Officer from MLSE, they shared a point of view that athletes are driven by a culture of ongoing dissatisfaction with their current performance because of the competitive nature of sports. Athletes do not accept the status quo and are constantly challenging themselves to improve.

How might you apply this attitude of not accepting the status quo to drive creativity and innovation at your organization?

2.The Proliferation of Data and Advancement of Robotics, Deep learning, and AI

According to the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, 90% of data has been created in the last 2 years. Apparently by 2023, we will each have 10 connected devices for every person on the planet.

There were several videos of robots conducting different tasks and activities that nobody would have imagined several years ago. Implications ranged from improving the lives of people facing disabilities to robots creating their own advertisements. There is still a lot of room for this discipline to advance and I can’t even imagine what will be possible five years from now.

While I was proud to find out that Canada is a leader in AI research, I was disappointed to learn that only 18% of AI researchers are women. Dr. Foteini Agrafioti, Chief Science Officer at RBC and Layla El Asri, Research Manager at Microsoft shared ideas that can help with this and hopefully we will see more diversity as these disciplines advance.

As AI, deep learning, and robotics continue to advance, have you thought about how your profession might change?

3.Experiences are values more than products

The next generations of consumers, including digital natives, value experience much more than products. It has led to the rise of incredibly innovative services where ownership just isn’t as valued as it used to be.

Michael Jung, VP of Theatrical Development at Disney, believes that as our free time continues to be more and more limited, we will cherish experiences over products even more.

Michael also believes that this increased value on experiences will transform our concept of ‘vacation’, disrupting the travel industry in years to come.

Regardless of your industry, how might you build your brand focusing on consumer or customer experiences that go beyond the product or service you are offering?

4.New Platforms Lead to New Growth Opportunities

As certain products or even services become commoditized, companies will need to uncover platforms to continue their growth trajectories. Several speakers referred to examples of how this has transpired over the last several years, including Blockbuster not learning to adapt to new platforms and how it led to its extinction.

Diane Quinn, from Cirque du Soleil, shared brilliant perspective on how to evolve your brand over time in a way that doesn’t over-extend, but balances risk and reward. In the case of Cirque, their path to growth includes fantastic acquisitions like Blue Man Group and the Illusionist, as well as moving into new platforms like digital to build and reinforce the positive emotions that their live performances deliver.

Again, regardless of your industry, how might you create new platforms to drive growth for your business and how might you create recurring revenues through these new platforms to improve the valuation of your business?

5.Learn to let go, but make yourself available

As I probed to better understand how each of these leaders got to their respective leadership roles, I came across the theme that you should aim to make yourself available to take advantage of significant opportunities, while also learning how to let go of things working out exactly as you want them to.

Jacomo shared a quote from Frederico Filigni saying you should always make yourself available to opportunity but let go of the strong attachment that you have to outcomes that you cannot control. This can be helpful in both personal and professional contexts.

Afo Verde, Chairman & CEO Latin America, Spain and Portugal at Sony Music shared several examples of how taking some risks led to some of the most incredible performances that his organization has delivered. Sometimes, you need to let go of your attachment to specific outcomes and take some risks to see great rewards.

Fear often holds us back from letting go of control, but Daniela Bohlinger, BMW’s Head of Sustainability, had some good advice on this. She suggested that the key to letting go is to be curious and recognize that you can only lose something if you’re not connected to yourself. She suggested that if you know what your values are, even if you can’t control your outcomes, you will always be connected to yourself.

How can you practice letting go and making yourself available to new and rewarding opportunities, despite the risks that might come with them?

Closing Thoughts

Creativity has always been at the forefront of advances in business and our personal careers.

We are now in the fourth industrial revolution, where technology is fusing with biology for the first time ever. This means the pace of change is accelerating, rapidly disrupting our businesses and our jobs.

Creativity may be one of skills that we can still use to create value as automation replaces many of the activities we used to do. It will also help us advance our businesses in the face of disruption.

I hope to continue to continue to curate great ideas from leaders in different industries to apply them to your career journeys, as well as my own journey at Hotspex, where we were recently voted the #1 marketing insights firm by clients in North America by clients for the second year in a row.

If you are passionate about sharing creative and innovative ideas, please don’t wait until next year’s C2 conference to connect with me. I’d be more than happy to introduce you to the Brand Builders Community I run that connects over 300 marketing and insight leaders in over 18 countries. If you’d like to learn more about it, please reach out.


About Hotspex Voted the #1 most innovative marketing insights firm by clients in North America for two years in a row, Hotspex is working with 15 of Top 20 advertisers in over 30 countries to apply cutting edge emotional and behavioral science to help brands grow faster.

If you’d like to be a part of our Brand Builders Community, which currently connects over 300 marketing and insight leaders in over 18 countries, email us at

Also, here are a few of the innovative ways we are helping brands grow faster:

1) Building Distinctive, Relevant, and Profitable Brands: We leverage our proprietary and globally validated human motivation measurement platform to identify a Brand’s Right Space – a distinct, relevant, and profitable emotional territory and all of the nuanced associations that go with it.

We have a best-in-class distinctive brand assets evaluation tool that tool that analyzes brand memory cues to help guide your creative, design, and innovation agencies to deliver ideas that are consistent with your brand’s right space and grow your brand faster.

2) Improve Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI):  Once the brand’s right space is identified, it’s important that your working media dollars are optimized.

We build customized tools that can provide 24-hour feedback on any marketing touch point fits within your brand’s right space. Aside from improving each execution, we know that a brand executed with relentless consistency is the fastest way to build distinctive memory structures and grow a brand.

We also recently integrated Google’s deep learning into our emotional and behavioral measurement platform to create a cognitive media targeting tool which has won several awards for dramatically improving advertising effectiveness, while also making ads less intrusive, by ensuring the ads people are served are emotionally congruent with the content they are seeking.

3) Faster, Cheaper AND Better Research Insights: Agility doesn’t have to come at the expense of deep meaningful insights. We front-end learning to help our clients save time and money when the research is conducted.

We also use best-in-class virtual environments to observe consumer behavior to help guide brand renovations, packaging refreshes, and shopper-based design to accelerate growth in retail and e-commerce.

We have an in-house team of cognitive and social psychology PhDs combining psychometric System 1 implicit and System 2 explicit measurement in a holistic manner to uncover conscious and non-conscious drivers to understand WHY consumers behave the way they do and provide actionable insights that lead to brand growth.

If you’d like to learn more about why we were voted by clients as the #1 most innovative market research company in North America two years in a row or join our Brand Builders Community, which currently connects over 300 marketing and insight leaders in over 18 countries, email us at