3 days, 150 speakers and more than 2700 attendees out of over 35 countries – the very first me Convention, produzed by Mercedes-Benz and South by Southwest (SXSW) in Frankfurt, delivered a weekend packed with inspiration, innovation and thought-provoking insights. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin entered the stage on Friday with a moonwalk, and rap icon A$AP Rocky delivered the final words on Sunday. In between Sheryl Sandberg met Dieter Zetsche in a rare public exchange of industry leaders; startup cities came together and explorer Mike Horn inspired to conquer earth. Thought leaders such as cyborg Neil Harbisson and sociologist Auma Obama challenged our way of thinking; art influencer Hans-Ulrich Obrist painted his version of the future of the art world; and young hackers reinvented the way of unlocking cars.

“We are proud that this very first me Convention together with our partner SXSW has become such a big success”, said Dr. Jens Thiemer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars. “More than 2700 guests from over 35 countries followed our invitation to an inspiring dialogue about the future. Each and every visitor enriched the event following exciting talks, sharing creative ideas and contacts and last but not least having lots of fun. I also thank our inspiring speakers from all over the world for providing fascinating insights and taking us on a journey towards the unknown world of tomorrow. Our goal had been to transform the traditional exhibition stand into an inspiring community platform and that worked out perfectly. The SXSW has been the ideal partner and I am very confident that this has not been the last me Convention.”

The first-ever me Convention at the IAA Frankfurt from 15 to 17 September 2017 has been an overall success. The new format by Mercedes-Benz and SXSW was an inspiring platform for discussing a range of future topics, bringing together people from the technology, design and creative worlds. Under the motto #createthenew, international experts and thought leaders exchanged views on the topics of new creation, new urbanism, new leadership, new realities and new velocity. Future topics have also been examined in 16 workshops, 150 international speakers inspired the guests in 52 talks, interviews, panels & keynote speeches were held, 24 cities presented themselves to start-ups, two yoga classes and one meditation class were held and the attendees enjoyed drinks, food and entertainment in the festival-like setting of the Festhalle, where they consumed 7.500 fortune cookies, 7.000 bags of popcorn, 12.000 bottles of Lemon Aid, 15.000 bottles of beer, took lessons in the flight simulator for 27 hours, spent 108 hours in virtual reality, wrote handwritten messages on 800 packages of post-its.

At night the me Convention comprised a series of events accompanied by parties and concerts in the city’s Bahnhofsviertel district in cooperation with the Frankfurt nightlive trend-setters David and James Ardinast and Amin Fallaha. Top acts were the private concerts of rapper Yung Hurn at the me Club, American singer Beth Ditto for She’s Mercedes, rapper Iggy Azalea at the Gibson Club and the German hip-hop band Beginner at the me Club.

He entered the stage with a moonwalk: Buzz Aldrin, the 87‑year-old American astronaut who became a living legend as the second man to ever set foot on the moon. A man who has seen #newrealities before anyone else, he also took the first selfie in space – with a camera attached to the Apollo 11 spacecraft, “the most expensive selfie stick ever invented.” Aldrin’s efforts today reach much farther than the moon: He wants to get humankind to Mars in the next two decades. “Don’t visit and go back. Visit and occupy”, said Aldrin, before leaving the stage with a clear message: “Explore or expire.”

Finding common ground between two industries that have been mostly separate for the past decade was the main message of the highly anticipated conversation between Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, and Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Both Zetsche and Sandberg stressed how Facebook and Mercedes are aiming for the same goal in the end: connecting people and bringing them together, virtually and in real life.

“I share a body part with insects, with all animals that sense infrared”, Neil Harbisson said about living with his antenna, a device permanently attached to his skull. “As a cyborg, I’m feeling closer to nature than to machines.” Harbisson, who was born colorblind, decided to have the antenna implanted without legal regulations in place about a decade ago, breaking many boundaries and challenging common concepts of humans interacting with technology. His device, bending from the back of his head to his forehead, translates the dominant color in front of him into a specific sound, enabling him to identify fashion, food and even human faces in an entirely new way. Now trying to establish a ‘Cyborg Foundation’ pushing for legal guidelines, Harbisson is permanently expanding the technical parts embedded with his body. His sound impression of me Convention: “C‑sharp with a high pitch that gives you an alert.”

Curator and art scene networker Hans Ulrich Obrist gave an insight into his journey from a young art enthusiast curating his first art show in his kitchen – “27 people attended”, he remembered – into a globally working and thinking influencer. To explain how his profession has evolved from taking care of dead objects to actively creating connected spaces for art, Obrist showed his Instagram account. “First, I didn’t know what to post. I didn’t want to post selfies, I didn’t want to post food, or artist’s studios.” Then he discovered handwritten art by befriended artists as a way to fill his feed and also drive a mission: fighting the disappearance of handwriting in the digital age.

The grand finale of three days of programming at the me Convention was a chat with the American rapper & entrepreneur A$AP Rocky and Josh Rubin, co-founder & editor in chief of online publication Cool Hunting on forging creative paths in entrepreneurship & the arts. “A lot of value is missing in hip-hop today”, A$AP Rocky said. “There are lots of mini-me’s and wannabes.” He explained that recording technology and distribution being available via phones and laptops has had a positive impact, but also brings some artists to highly paid deals at a very young age, with them not aware of their responsibility. “We (the rappers) dictate what your kids are wearing, what they like, what they eat, what they listen to”, he told the audience. “We need to be more genuine.”

Asked why he puts independence at top of his priorities but still works with various big brands, Rocky explained that “signing with brands is targeting the underprivileged”. Most of his collaborations have educational goals. “I’m here to change communities, not to sign a contract.” His latest projects include designing clothes for college kids. “If Kanye West would have designed my school uniform, I would have come to class every day!”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; nbsp;

As the audience demanded a performance, A$AP Rocky delivered an impromptu rap about the future. The fashion icon, dressed in black and white, received standing ovations and left the stage stating what could be me Conference in a nutshell: “I encourage you all to be a better you.”

Source: Daimler AG