Just got back from a fantastic few days in San Diego, California, attending the sixth Dad 2.0 Summit. This time it was almost 400 men talking about masculinity, fatherhood and the role of men in modern society. Just men? No, there were a liberal sprinkling of women to make sure we didn’t just sit around having burping contests and talking about women. Or sports. Or beer.
I’ve attended all six of the Dad 2.0 Summit events as we’ve bounced around the United States from Houston to New Orleans, Austin to San Francisco, to San Diego. San Diego has a special place in my heart too because I lived there for four years while attending the University of California, San Diego. Bachelor’s in Computer Science, minor in Philosophy, if you’re curious.
Why do I keep going? It’s the people. I believe there are lots of great men in this world, lots of great dads who work really hard at being the best parent they can be, but it can be darn hard to find them in the day-to-day. Worse, us guys are a bit stunted in terms of having real conversations about real topics. Much easier – and less threatening – to talk about sports, beer or, yeah, you guessed it, women.
But imagine being at an event where every guy you bump into is not just looking for a deeper connection, but ready to go there too. And so I’m reminded of the challenge, the emotional journey and the joys of being a man and a father in contemporary society. That’s quite a thing. Next year, we’ll be in New Orleans for a second time, and I’ve already bought myself a ticket. A year in advance.
Dad 2.0 Summit isn’t just about the men, the camaraderie and the sharing, but it’s also a place where corporations, companies and brands can reach out, connect with dads and demonstrate that they’re hip to the new reality that families aren’t about the mom and kids, but that the dad’s in the picture too.
And so, rather than talk about the sessions I attended, I thought it would be interesting and different to share a bit about the companies that were sponsors and were front and center, demonstrating their commitment to men and dads with hard, cold cash. The two companies with the biggest presence were Dove Men+Care and Kia Motors. In fact, Dove was so omnipresent that the restrooms at the host hotel had this on the sinks:
Not to be outdone, Kia not only had cars for us to drive (I’ll be posting a writeup of my experience driving the really cool 2017 Kia Soul EV when I can get the time to write it up) but were filming and interviewing some of us while we drove the new 2017 Kia Niro. It’s a bit daunting to have this much gear around you while you’re on the highway, I can say that!
It was also important to trust all the car’s smarts too because with that panel LED light on the passenger window, there was really no way I could see what was to the right of me. But they said my footage was good, so who knows, perhaps Creative Artists or someone will be calling me next week to begin negotiating my national ad campaign role. Or not. 🙂
I also have a long term relationship with Rheem and it was great to see them return as a sponsor of Dad 2.0. This time they brought along a celebrity from HGTV: Josh Temple, host of the popular House Crashers and Flipping the Block. In the below picture, he’s entertaining Mike Armstrong, who blogs at daddyrealness.com:
With all those shows under his belt, I was a bit surprised Josh wasn’t challenging attendees to a sledge-hammer swinging contest or something, but in fact he was charming and quite hilarious. And Rheem? They introduced their 2017 line of EcoNet products, including an upgrade from my own Rheem smart water heater. Now I want that one instead!
Another sponsoring company I really respect is SmartyPants Vitamins, who also hosted some of our food (always a smart move with hundreds of hungry men at an event). In the spirit of disclosure, it was only a few days prior to the conference that they emailed to tell me I’m going to be one of their brand ambassadors (the “Smarty Squad”) this year too. But we already consume their vitamins anyway, so it’s a win:win.
We had a good discussion about the challenges of making a truly vegan vitamin too. Turns out that it’s not easy to have 100% of everything recommended by the FDA and keep it clean of all animal products. But they’re working on it, and that’s great news, particularly to my vegan older daughter.
Best Buy was present, promoting its Geek Squad technical support service group. They claimed their man was the geekiest at the conference, but I think there are a few of us that could give him a run for his proverbial money. Still, Best Buy also sponsored a drone experience with DJI that was terrific fun. Here guys are mobbing their resident nerd:
One sponsor that was very generous with its product was Russell Athletic. I never knew until talking with them that the company invented the sweatshirt. Pretty cool, and for a budget priced brand, the products they offered up are comfortable and durable. They’re now in my gym bag.
They also had some nicer gear that was just for show, sadly:
Wouldn’t have minded a set of all those togs in my size, frankly. Rumor had it they were involved in a morning run for some of the guys. Me? I was too busy talking at breakfast to run, and in any case, hey, no-one was chasing me, why would I go running?
A surprise sponsor was Facebook. Yes, that Facebook. Their space was split between Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Live, which was an interesting choice. I am definitely more interested in doing some live broadcasts through FB Live, but while they had some fun things they were showing to promote Marketplace…
Since I’m not much of a fan of random people coming to my house to buy things, I don’t find FB Marketplace much better than Craigslist, though each party does have more info about the other. Still, a very pleasant bunch and I ended up sharing an Uber with the head of Facebook Live to the airport, which led to an interesting discussion about the future of the group in the company.
There were some other companies helping underwrite Dad 2.0 Summit, notably including Baby Bjorn and Plum Organics, along with the cool password management software Keeper Security, but I’m already at 1100 words and you’ve indulged my loquaciousness long enough. Props to every company involved for their help in making the Dad 2.0 Summit the premier place for men to connect around fatherhood and being a man in contemporary society. It wouldn’t be a conference with the men, but it wouldn’t be a cool conference without the sponsors too.