This ain’t that mom blog conference you’ve been to 20 times, y’all.
While I attended the Dad 2.0 Summit, I kept hearing things said aloud that made me think “oh, you’d never hear that at a mom blog conference,” or, “that wouldn’t mean the same thing if a woman had said it.” Sometimes those were hilarious things… and sometimes they were poignant moments that made me recall all the reasons I was dismayed by my last experience at BlogHer. Either way, in sharing all these things “overheard at #Dad2Summit,” let me tell you what I thought of my first Dad 2.0.
“Hey, would you like to join us?”
The first thing I was not prepared for at Dad 2.0 was how friggin’ friendly everyone was! I showed up to the kick-off happy hour late be design because then I would not have to stay long, nor would I have to suffer from not knowing anyone there for a long while. But as soon as I walked in, I ran into someone I knew (thanks, Jessi!) and it put me at ease. Not wanting to monopolize her for the rest of the event, I strapped into my big girl pants and walked further into the room. And true, the event was nearly over by the time I got there, but so many bloggers introduced themselves to me in that time. I had amazing conversations with smart, kind men who’d hug me when they saw me for the rest of the weekend. People were inviting me to join their conversations, or pulling up a chair to join one I was having. No one flinched or judged the new people. No one stuck to their clique — I saw people moving around all over the place. It was really refreshing and I knew then that this was going to be a different conference experience.
“There’s a pretty high concentration of bald guys with beards here. What is that all about?”
I overheard one woman say that to another woman and it just cracked me up. But the bigger picture to consider is that this was/is a really diverse group. White dads, black dads, white dads with black children, stay-at-home dads, gay dads… The diversity was apparent, even advertised, praised, embraced, celebrated… What’s more, another thing I really loved at Dad 2.0? It wasn’t a fashion show. Oh sure, a lot of guys were dressed up, there was style for days, but I never felt like anyone was trying to compete with anyone else. And frankly, as I was a woman at this show, I certainly didn’t feel like I had to compete with anyone, which was liberating and left me free to focus on more important priorities.
“Would you like to drive a KIA?”
Um, YES, I would! Because in my blogging niche, no one’s ever offered me an opportunity like that before. And at blogging conferences, I’m not usually invited to the private top tier events. I’m relegated to my little corner of the “lifestyle,” non-mom blogging world and have always watched family bloggers with envy, taking cars on road trips and for test drives. So I was just a giddy doofus when a delightful Kia rep handed me the keys (metaphorically, because I drove an electric Kia Soul) and sent me on my way. It was a treat. Plus, the Kia Lounge was a lovely space to relax for a bit, chat with more new friends, and they also had a talented photographer doing free headshots for people!
“I’m really excited about this sausage, guys.” or “There’s meat. I checked.”
At a women’s blog conference, everyone obsesses over “gluten free” and “whole 30” and “OMIGOD WHERE IS THE VEGETARIAN MEAL?” It’s such a part of the dialog that my eyes don’t even roll anymore. No one obsessed over that here. I’m sure there was a veggie option and I’m sure anyone with allergies handled it like a grown up, but I never heard about it. But I did hear a lot of folks excited that breakfast always included a meat. There were dudes eating plates of only-bacon for breakfast on Friday and to them I say: RESPECT.
“There’s no line for the ladies room!”
Oh yeah, that was said by me. Every time I had to pee.
“Hang onto yer blazers!”
This must be the modern-day man-version of “hold onto your hats!” It just cracked me up.
“Are you sharing a room with a guy you don’t know?”
Well, let’s face it, at a lady conference, this would mean your Saturday night got out of control….
“Use your strength for service, not for status.”
One of our keynote speakers among the many I enjoyed at the Summit (and kudos, by the way, for not letting any of them run waaaaay too long as is often the case), was Charles “Peanut” Tillman, retired football player (Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers). WHAT A COOL GUY. He wasn’t up there talking to hear the sound of his own voice, he wasn’t up there to be a product “evangelist.” He was dropping amazing bits of wisdom, he was asking us questions and he was aware of where he was and what he was doing there. And afterward, he left the room to take care of some media and no one chased him down for a selfie or to try and claim him as a BFF. It was a classy bit.
The primary reason I was at Dad 2.0, by the by, was to participate in a panel on Saturday morning called “Where We Are: Influencer Marketing.” Sharing the table with John Dominguez (Kia), Patrick Quinn (Life of Dad), Mike Satterfield (The Gentleman Racer) and our moderator, Stefania Pomponi (Clever), I found this to be one of the best speaking experiences I’ve ever had. We had a great pre-conference call to get a lay of the land, everything was organized, and the questions from the room afterward were really on point. I was also relieved that the workshop was well attended. It’s the worst feeling to prep for something like that and have no one show up. It’s happened to me a couple times now because conference attendees are veterans who don’t feel there’s much left to learn, or it’s late into the conference and they’re burnt out, or there are so many workshops happening simultaneously and it dilutes the audience. But a total blast doing this and I hope I get asked back.
* * *
Blogging has been the longest commitment I’ve ever been a part of. I began blogging in 2003 before the word was even mainstream. And so I mean it quite sincerely when I say there’s not a thing left for me to learn about the “business” at this point. I even swore I’d stay away from conferences for a while because I’d pretty much had it. And I think if you’re a super experienced blogger or influencer, you know what I mean. (Full disclosure: I only attended one educational workshop at Dad 2.0 but checked out the moment the speaker told the room how to use a social media tool but left out some of it’s best features.) But in Dad 2.0, I found a reason to keep going to conferences like this – -though I’m not sure any conference is like this one. You go for the relationships and to be around like-minded people. In this rare instance, you go to meet new friends and to try new things. You go because, as Peanut Tillman actually said (paraphrasing), “you should get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
I’m trying to keep myself from sounding corny – can you tell? But I loved Dad 2.0. I’m obsessed with it. I hope I’m asked back next year. These are people I will keep in my life and continue to work with. I encourage you to do the same.
P.S. Dad 2.0 is a sibling-conference to Mom 2.0 and I mean absolutely no disrespect to them in any of my mom-blog-conference digs because I’ve never been and I hear it’s actually quite wonderful — but let’s face it, unless I’m invited to speak like I was here (and I would be more than thrilled to), I’m never going to arbitrarily attend. 😉
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