5 Takeaways from Collision Conference 2022
Last week, Sidekick attended Collision Conference. After 2 years of offering a virtual experience amidst the pandemic, the highly anticipated conference returned to Toronto, bringing together more than 900 speakers, 1500 startups, 1200 journalists, and 850 investors from more than 140 countries.
Touted as North America’s fastest growing tech conference, in addition to expected topics on Web3, blockchain, and crypto, Collision featured important conversations on topics relevant to today’s work climate, including the future of work, DEIB, mental health and wellbeing, marketing, and sport, culture & entertainment. It was inspiring and rejuvenating to connect and hear from entrepreneurs, creative leaders, and innovators from Canada and across the globe.
Here are 5 key observations and learnings that we took away from this year’s conference:
1. The next generation of entrepreneurs has arrived.
Yung Wu of MaRS Discovery District, opened Collision speaking about necessary optimism for today’s entrepreneurs, citing that “This is a time for small groups of committed people to do special things.”
One of our most inspiring experiences was hearing from the founder and builders behind The Knowledge Society, who are bringing together young people (think 13 to 17 year olds) to solve the world’s biggest problems, from quantum computing to blockchain. Arnav Shah, a 15-year-old machine learning researcher who has raised $1M for his venture, talked about the importance of resilience in teaching yourself how to figure things out, sharing his approach to innovation to “learn it, earn it, and return it”.
We had the pleasure of meeting several students, graduates, young entrepreneurs and supporting organizations like Next Canada, all of whom exuded a ‘boss mentality’ reassuring us that the future innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs are ambitiously transforming the way we work and operate.
2. Multi-dimensional relationships will be our new normal.
It was clear from the content offered that we are moving to an age where terms like crypto, blockchain, and Web3 will evolve from being “techie” terminology to becoming household vocabulary.
Conversations centered on shaping a society where the ability to connect different nodes from the metaverse to the “real” verse will become part of mainstream society. We’re moving to an age where decentralized relationships, and a multi-dimensional world where consumers will own their own data will become the norm. Tom Schmidt, General Partner at Dragonfly Capital shared his belief that “crypto is going to do for money what the Internet did for information.” Carol Carpenter of Unity and Amy Peck from EndeavorXR also talked about storytelling in a virtual world, and the ability of this duality to provide users with a sense of choice and agency, where they can choose to mix in with the virtual crowd or pull back as a viewer, allowing for both an individual yet shared experience that can bring people together.
3. Diversity is everyone’s responsibility, and we are moving from awareness to action.
"Diversity is a team sport. It's one thing to hire people, it's another thing to make them want to stay." In conversation with the Black Professionals in Tech Network, Adijat Akinsipe of RBC shared her perspective that the 'belonging' part of DEIB is often overlooked, and how important it is to recognize that DEI is more than just a class one needs to take, but rather something we need to practice everyday, embedding ongoing coaching, asking, and learning into the way we work. “We need to channel presence into power and start holding [those in power] accountable” says Rashad Robinson, President of Color Of Change. Beyond this, it’s important to recognize that diversity is more than simply gender and race – that we need to acknowledge and encourage multiple dimensions of diversity to foster that true sense of belonging.
4. Solving for hybrid work isn’t just about solving for location adaptability.
Amidst the Great Reshuffle that companies are currently experiencing, we heard several talks around how to adapt to a hybrid workplace. And in equal measure, conversations also centered around employee engagement and how to retain high performing teams (coupled alongside CEO of co:collective Rosemarie Ryan‘s research results that 80% of the population will need to be re-skilled and up-skilled by 2030).
These are not mutually exclusive problems. To enable a happy and synergistic workplace, organizations must first solve for key people challenges and consider the environments and behaviours that conduct high performing teams. Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague, co-founders of co:collective, profiled purpose-led companies who are leading the way, sharing that 90% of today’s ‘GenZennials’ believe companies have an obligation to solve environmental and societal problems. True purpose-led organizations are 3 times more likely to attract the highest performing employees, and can experience up to 40% higher levels of retention and 30% higher levels of innovation. Today, it’s more important than ever that purpose - and authenticity in living out this purpose – plays a critical role in shaping all facets of a thriving organization.
5. Live events are back, and in a big way.
This year’s conference brought together 35,000 attendees from around the world. We saw countless introductions, reunions, and even pitches being made from person-to-person. Witnessing the energy and excitement of every participant, it was evident that we had deeply missed this level of human connection, from brands activating on the show floor, to speakers engaging a live audience, to more than 500 volunteers from all over the world eagerly doing their part to keep the show running. While online access to select sessions was helpful to offer for those who couldn’t join live, the value of the human-to-human experiences just can’t be replicated virtually.
Did you attend Collision 2022? What were your key takeaways? We’d love to hear from you!
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