The speakers of Toronto’s CONEX

Franz Liszt

I found this statue of Franz Liszt tucked away in a little alcove. Franz looks like he’s wondering who all these visitors are. Photo credit: Blogger’s own.

In my last post, I wrote about a content marketing conference I’d attended in Toronto called CONEX (Content Experience). The conference was held in this beautiful multi-story building with lots of glass windows at the back. It also featured practice rooms for musicians, a big auditorium, and other fascinating features such as display cases with musical instruments.

There was a library with works of music (I couldn’t help it — I had to peek in) and a little cafe that sold snacks. They fed us very well at the conference (!), but you had to hike all the way downstairs if you wanted to sit at a regular dining table to eat or to work. C’est la vie. I’m quite sure I burned off what I ate going up and down the stairs, and my Fitbit was in esctasy over all of the total steps and flights of stairs I logged in over the course of the conference.

royal conservatory of music theater toronto

The contrast between old and new. Photo: Blogger’s own.

The building was attached to the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM), a nice older building. RCM boasts some well-known alumni, including composer David Foster, actor Robert Goulet, musician Loreena McKinnett, and actor Ryan Reynolds. It was an interesting experience, picturing them walking up and down the halls of RCM.

royal conservatory of music hallway

One of the hallways at RCM. During a break, I asked if I could take a quiet look around and the RCM people graciously said yes. Photo credit: Blogger’s own.

One very funny experience was watching “Content Feud,” a version of “Family Feud” played by well-known experts in the content marketing world. It was both entertaining and informative — I got a lot of notes out of that one.

The host was Jay Baer and two of the contestants were Ann Handley and Mitch Joel. Mitch was kind enough to leave a comment on my blog years ago when I reviewed one of his books. I had the chance to thank him in person later and am delighted to report that he’s as nice offline as he is online.

content feud game Conex

The Content Feud game. Ann Handley is the one in a white sweater and pink slacks. Mitch is the tall man to Ann’s right. Sorry about the railing — I could only get a decent shot from the balcony. Photo credit: Blogger’s own.

The conference had some fun workshops. One of the most memorable was Matthew Luhn of Pixar Studios, who talked about powerful storytelling. He pointed out that the reason that Pixar movies work is because they constantly go from high moments to low moments and back again, so that you’re always kept on the edge of your seat, agog to know what happens next.

Ever seen the scene in the movie “Toy Story” where the plastic military soldiers hop out of their bucket and go down the hallway for a recon mission? Some of that was Matthew’s work. He showed us a short film where he nailed his shoes to a piece of wood, put them on and waddled around the studio to create a realistic impression of how such toys would move.

I also learned that “Finding Nemo” came about because a lot of the Pixar Studios husbands had had kids around the same time. The fathers got very overprotective.

Another memorable speaker was Scott Stratten of UnMarketing. He had the entire audience rocking with laughter as he dispensed his marketing wisdom. I hope to hear him again someday — if you’re interested, he has several videos on YouTube. (Video credit: Scott Stratten, YouTube.) He also mentioned the differences between generations (no offense intended to younger generations; I consider that all generations still have a lot to teach us).

One of these days I hope to revisit Toronto. It was a marvelous city for walking around (I did manage a bit before and after the conference) and I saw some of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) during a lunch break.

I went into ROM and said, “Help! I only have an hour-long lunch break! Any suggestions?” One person said to start at the top floor and work your way down, so I said “Excellent plan!” and I did. I whizzed from floor to floor.

ROM deserved more attention that I had time to provide (sorry, ROM), so I definitely want to go back and see it again. I also managed a quick visit one evening to two of Toronto’s libraries. One was a typical small library, but the other library…….WHOA! What a paradise!

The Toronto Public Library was a wonderland of books, fountains, glass elevators, gift shop and cafe. I drooled over the architecture and had fun wandering around the bookshelves and historical displays. They also had cool private study cubicles that reminded me of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude — clear cylinders with a door.

toronto public library

Toronto Public Library. Gorgeous, eh? Photo credit: Blogger’s own.

So if you ever find yourself in Toronto, check out the places I’ve mentioned. Enjoy.

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “The speakers of Toronto’s CONEX

  1. zannyro

    What an interesting conference! “Content Feud”, love it!

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