What to Expect When You’re Attending Dad 2.0 Summit

dad 2.0 summit logoI’ve attended every Dad 2.0 Summit since the very first one, five years ago. Go team! In 48 hours I’ll be in Washington DC for the fifth Summit and I have to admit to being pretty excited about it. Every year it’s a solid few days with some of the best fathers and men in the online world (along with a passel of terrific gals and moms too). In previous years I’ve spoken on panels or run sessions of my own, but this year I’ll be live blogging it on the Dad 2.0 Summit Blog, if you want to follow along, session by session.

My previous coverage of the Summit is geographic-based: San Francisco in 2015, New Orleans in 2014, Houston in 2013, and Austin in 2012, so it’s a whole ‘nother region of the country for us to be heading to Obama’s ‘hood in Washington DC. Staying at the swanky Mandarin Oriental, no less! I haven’t been to Washington DC since I was a lad living in New York, so I’m definitely looking forward to some extracurricular activities too. I’ve lined up a quick visit to the International Spy Museum Thursday morning before our drone flying extravaganza hosted by Best Buy, then Sunday morning’s earmarked for exploring The Mall with a friend on a day that’s forecast to be spectacular. Too soon for cherry blossoms, though, right?

Since I guess I’m a well known Dad blogger myself, I actually got a query from an agency gal about the show, and that’s what’s sparked this post, actually. My new friend Amy asked:

Last year Lauren and Erik met you at the Dad blog conference. I just wanted to introduce myself since I will be attending the Dad blog conference with Lauren in DC this year. I thought you could give me some tips for getting the most out of the conference. I’m not a dad or a blogger so I really don’t know what to expect. 

I do remember Lauren and Erik from the Play Well team, actually, and love what they’re doing with fun engineering camps for kids, highlighting that they’re just as much fun for girls as for boys. STEM, baby. It’s important, and as the father of two girls, I see it as critical for their success too, them finding the joy of creation and data, whether it involves math or not.  Check them out.

But onward to Amy’s question…

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about every Dad 2.0 Summit is that it’s not just for dads. In fact, in my experience, everyone in attendance is remarkably extroverted and welcoming to others, whether you’re male, female, androgynous or not even a parent. As I say to others all the time “we’re all in this together”, so whether someone actually has a child or not, we all have much more in common than we do differences.

And Mom vs. Dad? Parenting and keeping a relationship healthy is so darn difficult that the gender differences seem minor in comparison. In fact, it might well surprise moms stuck with a 50’s mentality about fatherhood how much us dads are filled with angst and worry about whether we’re doing enough, contributing to our families in every possible way and helping keep our partners happy too.

I, of course, speak theoretically, representing the single dad contingent, but someday… someday…

I love conferences where we’re all attending because of a commonality in our lives rather than our business. The Consumer Electronics Show, National Association of Broadcasters, even the State of Influence are great, but there’s something much more enriching and inspiring about sharing personal notes with others and finding out what’s going great in their lives and what’s proving to be difficult and upsetting. We all have the good and the bad, it’s just too rare for us men/fathers to compare notes and get support from others and offer support to other men in need.

mandarin oriental hotel, washington dcOn a more pragmatic level, like every conference, bring business cards, a sense of humor, and a desire to socialize. Even if you’re an introvert, dig deep and try to take a few days off your hermit impulses and instead hang out with a few hundred of the best men you’re likely to meet anywhere. And a lot of pretty fabulous women too. In an all-consuming relationship and they’re already asking you to Skype with them every single night? Maybe you can take a few nights off anyway, to really immerse yourself in the Dad 2.0 Summit experience, because like all good conferences, the real networking – and fun — happen after hours.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t some great speakers. In fact, between the keynote speakers, the panels, the roundtable discussions and the always-heartwarming blogger spotlights, it’s going to be two days of amazing content too. Which I’ll be live blogging, as I said. 🙂

And those breakouts? Here are a few of the many amazing discussions that’ll be happening:

  • Beyond Your Blog: There’s Always Room For A Second Act — Members of this panel have all rebooted and thrived, proving there isn’t much distance between reimagining and reinvention,
  • Major Dad: How Military Life Shapes and Challenges Our Parenting — the sacrifice of service, and the brutality of combat, inflict losses that cannot be recovered. Panelists will discuss how they have reconciled these profound influences—as people, as parents, and as proud providers of the common defense
  • Mastering the Moving Image — panelists have built very large followings for their moving imagery on YouTube, Vine, Facebook, and Periscope, and they’ll discuss the merits and pitfalls of each,
  • Parenting and the Modern African-American Man — panelists are working to break that cycle, both through the simple act of active parenthood, and by the activism that wants 2016 to bear as little resemblance as possible to 1966,
  • The Signal and the Noise: Standing Out From The Crowd — panelists confront this challenge constantly, as both creators and strategists, and they’ll share how their success derives as much from creating unique content as from understanding the science of online promotion.

And that’s just a subset of the panels! Next up, how I clone myself so I can attend every one of these great breakout sessions.

Hope that helps you out, Amy. Me? I’m ready to go!

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