I’m finding it really hard to sum up, or maybe even just wrap my head around, the weekend in Houston that was the Dad 2.0 Summit.
I’m not sure what I expected, going in, but I feel pretty confident that whatever I was expecting would have been pretty lame compared to what I actually got.
To understand my experience I’ll steal an object lesson from BusyDadBlog himself, Jim Lin, in saying that I sort of wore three hats to Dad 2.0…
I was, on the one hand, there wearing my hat as a representative of the National At-Home Dad Network. My purposes and intentions were wrapped into connecting with dads and brands there to talk about what we do, and to learn ways that we can improve our own annual convention. I was making connections with people who believe in our purpose and mission and can offer support, and generally just got our name out there to all the dad-bloggers who do their thing in the context of being a stay-at-home dad. In this regard I am really excited to see where the next few months take us, because it turns out a lot of people want to do what they can to support what we do. Our organization and our convention will be better for what we have learned.
On the other hand, I was also there wearing the hat of an artist and blogger. A “content creator,” as I came find out some like to phrase it. I was there to learn about better use of social media, to be inspired, to meet brands who see value in what I do and might want to work with me, and to meet or catch up with as many of my fellow brothers (and sisters) in blogging that I could. I learned so much, and was challenged in ways I never expected. But I also felt a real sense that I am a part — an important part — of a community. This was a huge takeaway from me, especially in terms of my own confidence as having an important place in that community.
On the other, other hand, I was also there wearing the hat (let’s assume that for the purposes of the above analogy I am a three-handed monster who wears a hat on each hand, okay?) as the author of this little blog last March. You know, The Huggies Guy, who cause so much commotion. In this role, I was meeting with some of the Huggies brand people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to over the phone or email this past year, to see the fruits of our conversations. I was there to see if other brands learned anything from it, and as an advocate for eradicating the dumb dad stereotype. I’m sure I’ll write a lot more about this later, but suffice to say I am really, really happy with how these brands have listened and continue to listen.
I got the opportunity to sit down with some of the Huggies brand people who I have been in communication with over the past year, and get a sneak preview of some of their new ads. Honestly, it’s almost freaky how well they have listened, and I think you will love the result. When the time comes, I will get to share them here and you will all get to be some of the first people to see them.
I think that no matter what proverbial hat I was wearing, this was one of the most rewarding weekends away I’ve had in a long time (a close second to the At-Home Dad Convention last year!).
I got a chance to sit down in the DadLabs Live Lounge to talk about all sorts of stuff. That was a thrill too:
It’s a bit surreal, meeting in person people who you have only every seen in photos online. Rockstars of the dad-blogging (and mom-blogging!) world, who shocked me not just because they often knew who I was, but in their graciousness and humility. Then there were the actual celebrities, who made me feel like they honestly were getting more out of their experience than they ever expected, touched and delighted at this gathering of dads talking about being a good dad.
I was brought close to tears several times, and pushed over the edge more than once, hearing men honestly share about their experiences as dads, being vulnerable, honest, and brave. That it was in front of these huge brands who are still trying to figure out what 21st century dads look like was amazing. Hearing an amazing keynote address by Brene Brown about being vulnerable, followed up by hearing my new friend Chris Read from Canadian Dad throw it all out there talking about missing his own dad? Amazing.
I could go on and on about this, so let me just close with one example of the kind of thing that I think sums up this weekend for me:
One event from the Summit that was ongoing for months beforehand was the ReadySetEat Great Dad Cook-Off, a cooking competition sponsored by ConAgra Foods, that culminated in the four finalists doing an Iron Chef-style competition Thursday night before a live audience. On Saturday, the winner was announced, and it was a man by the name of Jim Higley.
If you don’t know Jim, he writes Bobblehead Dad, and is a well known and well-respected member of the blogging community, and advocate for dads and kids. He also has a moving story about his own fight with cancer and how it inspired him to be a better dad.
Jim took to the stage to receive his trophy, and was asked to give a little speech. In it, he shocked the audience by saying that he’d be using the $3,000 prize to find a child fighting testicular cancer and give him a day he’ll never forget.
It was a moment I don’t think anyone at the Dad 2.0 Summit will forget either.