Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Dad in the Momiverse-- a report from the Mom 2.0 summit

The Ritz Carleton Hotel in Key Biscayne
This past weekend I spent my time with my wife at the Ritz Carleton in Key Biscayne Florida. Well, my wife, and about 200 other really smart funny gorgeous women. It wasn't a honeymoon getaway weekend, or an orgiastic fantasy of gargantuan proportions. or a MENSA meeting gone wonderfully amok.

We were attending the Mom 2.0 Summit . I don't want to say that I was behind enemy lines, or a spy, because that implies a war between the sexes, and that is devoutly not to be wished. (Not the least of the reasons is that these ladies had some serious firepower!) Let's just say I was a stranger in a strange land, and leave it at that.

We were there checking out our sister conference and promoting our conference The Digital Family Summit (in case you were unaware,that's our brand spanking new conference for teens, tweens, and their families who blog, vlog, or otherwise share stories and creativity using digital means, coming to Philadelphia at the end of June)

Mom 2 has a similar idea, although clearly it's primary focus is on mom bloggers (or bloggers that are moms) This year's theme was What's Next.

We were there without our son. We had dropped him off at his grandmother's house in the Villages, the world's largest retirement community in the middle of the state, about 1.25 hours from Orlando. We got there late at night, and took off in the morning. It was the first time that he was going to stay without both of us, and we were expecting some separation anxiety, but there was none to be had. He couldn't wait to see us out the door, for an action packed 3 days of hanging at the pool, riding in the golf cart, watching crazy cartoons, eating chicken nuggets, and Sea World! We were more nervous than he was by a long shot.

First thing you need to know is that the Ritz Carleton is in a beautiful gated community, and the views and the grounds were pretty luxe. High end shopping, marble foyers, paintings everywhere, pools and manicured gardens everywhere, and also lots of friendly and helpful staff. Everybody has a smile, and a question, "Can I get you anything?" It was delightful.

The conference was also pretty delightful as well. Lots of women speaking about blogs and blogging (although there was much less technical content and hands on content than I expected-- it was much more on the rah-rah/big ideas end of things.)

I did feel a little on the outside there, although my wife most decidely did not (she seemed to know just about everybody on the stage and off, and quite frankly, I think I was cramping her style a little bit.) It was her second or third Mom 2 conference, and it was my first.  I knew a few people, and definitely connected with a few others (both men and women) but continued to feel a little bit on the outside.

I'm still trying to figure out why I felt on the outside: Men were welcomed, and nearly every speaker acknowledge that a lot of what they were talking about applied to men and women bloggers. Here are maybe a couple of reasons.
  • Maybe it's me. (I tend to be on the periphery of lots of social groups, but not really feel like I'm on the interior of any particular one-- although this might be more fodder for my therapist)
  • Maybe I was taken aback by the sheer amount of estrogen in the room. I estimate there were 90-95% women, and 5-10% men.
  • Maybe there is a vast feminine conspiracy, of which the Mom 2 Summit is the tip of the iceberg.
  •  Maybe despite the undisputed fabulousness of the people in the room, I haven't quite found MY peeps.
It wasn't like I was the only Dad in attendance- there were a few of us brave souls-- Doug French & John Pacini of the Dad 2.0 Summit, Adam Keats of Weber Shandwick, and Pedro Velloso of Limetree . I'm sure there were a few others, (Rob Candy, who is part of the Dove Team of Sponsors ) for sure, but those are the guys I mostly hung out with there. And I'm sure if queried, those guys would have different' feelings and thoughts.  And I really enjoyed hanging with the people I met.  But somehow, for me, something was slightly missing.

As a report, I'm not going to re-hash the schedule (you can see that by looking here, and you can see the amazing speakers they had as well. Rather I'm going to share a few choice tidbits of what I learned this weekend. This isn't everybody, or everything, but it's a start.
  1. Card Munch-- it's an app from Linked In that allows you to take a photo of a business card, and then a short time later, their info is digitized, and if they have a linked-in account, that info also appears. Thanks to Betsy Cadel of http://www.thinkingcapnyc.com/ for the hot tech tip.
  2. Brené Brown- she's a researcher from U.T. Houston that researches shame in girls and boys. One of the things she said that really resounded with me was talking about the practice of gratitude-- really appreciating all of the good things you have in your life. (and telling those people that) I don't do that enough, recognizing and telling the people that I am grateful for in my life that I am grateful. She also talked about realizing which friends you can call to "move a body" and they will respond without judgement (at least not too much judgement) Later, we did something very similar, where we tried to break a Guinness World Record on behalf of Dove soap by tweeting out who inspires you. (we didn't end up making it, but it was a noble try)
  3. Gabrielle Blair - of Design Mom and Altitude Summit - gave a very nice presentation on where she was 6 and 2 years ago, and how she couldn't possibly see herself where she is now then. The idea being that, things change, and you need to stay flexible and do things that seem crazy but will somehow work out in the end. (She was in NY 6 years ago, and now she's living in France with her 6 children, with a sojourn in Denver)
    The fabulous Versace shower room,
    complete with 2 lovely ladies
  5. Versace was a hedonist. We had a party at the Versace mansion for the closing night. I'm not much of a party guy, but his mansion was very impressive, especially the gold-painted shower big enough for 10 people (with 6 shower stalls) The interior pool was beautiful, but I could not imagine myself living there (and I can imagine myself living in lots of fabulous houses, just I don't think I see eye to eye with Versace on fashion or style) Which might bring us back to why I was feeling a little on the outs.
  6. Stacey Ferguson of Blogalicious gave a great talk about being multi-passionate, not scatter-brained or unfocused. Really struck home.
  7. Karen Walrond of http://www.chookooloonks.com/ She was great at talking about being creative and about risking everything to do your work. I've seen her speak twice now, and loved it both times.  She's a talented writer and photographer, and is very genuine in her creative search.
  8. Serious coin. Some of the bloggers there are making a fair amount of cash and getting serious gifts by writing sponsored posts, being brand advocates, and otherwise "selling" their services as bloggers/writers.  The week before Mom 2, was something called Disney Social Moms, in which Disney World gave mom's a seriously discounted rate (along with their families) to experience Disney World in the hopes that they will write about it.  I'm not sure how I feel about that-- on one hand, I'm all for corporations paying for advertising, and writers getting paid for work.  But there is another part of me that starts to wonder about the authenticity of bloggers who are CONSTANTLY getting paid for their sponsored posts.    I guess if the shoe were on my foot I wouldn't turn it down, and I haven't read a lot of those sponsored posts, and I'm sure they are all handled responsibly.  This is shrift for a different thought process.  But Walt Mossberg at the WSJ also gets paid to write about stuff. The difference is that the WSJ pays his salary, not Apple.  (well, at least not directly)  Grist for a different mill, I think.

There was too much to really talk about and take in in one sitting, and I feel like I'll be chewing on some ideas that I got from here for some time to come.
And here are some other views of Mom 2.0


There's also some great coverage of the individual sessions on the Mom 2 Blog

The next one will be next year in California.  I'm pretty sure I'll go again, and hopefully feel less on the outside. Maybe there will be more dads next year.  Will you join me?

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