Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dad 2.0 Summit 2.016- Keynotes, Community and a Letter From the Dead.

It's the morning after the event, and I am in my hotel room thinking about the great weekend I just experienced in the company of 400+ dads, and what I want to take away from it (aside from the fair amount of swag that I was given by the sponsors)

This was my fifth Dad 2.0 Summit, and next year will be my sixth:  I already bought my ticket for the next shindig, which will happen in San Diego Feb 2-4, 2017 (Superbowl weekend!)  [You can buy your ticket for $99 (or $119, with a $20 donation to the Oren Miller Scholarship fund)  That price is good for the next 36 hours or so.  BUY TICKETS ON EVENTBRITE

They haven't picked the hotel yet, but they've got a couple of strong possibilities, and truthfully the event could be held in a Super 8 motel and would still be pretty great.  (Although I seriously doubt that a Super 8 motel has the kind of conference space necessary to put 400+ guys.)

Enough shilling:  here are my takeaways/extra special moments for this year's Dad 2.0 Summit.

This was a pledge that Dove Men+Care asked us to make as WE THE DADS.  Their #REALSTRENGTH movement celebrates Dads as heroes not for their physical strength, but for their character and ability to stay involved.  #AWESOMESAUCE
The three keynotes were quite good (as to be expected)  All of them had a great sense of humor and were well-spoken about their topics.

Brad Meltzer, who is an author, spoke about Legacy and about Heroes.  He's written a series of Heroes books for kids called I WAS... (Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, etc) that look really good.  The takeway from his speech was "Live like you want to be remembered."

Michael Strahan, charismatic host of morning shows and former NFL superstar, had a similar message.  But the takeaway that I got from him was "Be relaxed, be yourself, and be willing to try something and fail."  He talked about the fact that he didn't get cosmetic surgery to fix his gap-tooth, although he considered it.  He decided to like himself  He also talked about his dad:  Great quote "My dad is a when guy, not an if guy.  It's when you finish college, not if you finish college."  He surprised me-- I thought he'd be good, but he was a more heartfelt and honest speaker than I thought he would be (which may have to do more with my own pre-conceived notions of tv personalities and football players than anything else)

Derreck Kayongo, a former Ugandan refugee who ended up creating a non-profit to give 10,000,000 lbs of barely used re-constituted hotel soap to 3rd world countries (the soap would otherwise have gone away as trash)  He recently became the CEO of a Human rights organization in Atlanta.  I had met him at a previous Dad 2.0 and he was a compelling and funny speaker.  His story is hard to listen to, but at the same time so compelling.  And at the end he led us in a Ugandan song, in which he admonished us not to sing like an Episcopalian priest.

Here's my not so great video of the song:


the late Oren Miller
Perhaps the most chilling moving moment of the entire event was Oren Miller's widow Beth reading a letter that Oren wrote to himself in 2010.  Oren had gotten into the habit of writing letters to his 10 year later future self on his birthday.  After Oren died, Beth was cleaning up his computer and discovered these letters/emails/notes to himself.  She read one of them, which was supposed to go to his 47 year old self.  As she read and he talked about his kids, and his wife, and a few other things, I started bawling like a baby.  And I was not alone.  Nearly everyone in the room was bawling.

I talked to a bunch of people afterward, and we all agree that it was such a moving and visceral experience to hear that letter read.  We didn't talk too much about why, but here's my thought:  It was not because his writing was so good (although it was).  But because of the ineffable loss I felt for him, and the feeling of my own mortality.  As she read, I couldn't help realize quite forcefully that none of us knows what the future will bring.  10 years from now, I could be dead too. (or living in Canada, if Trump gets elected.)  I love the idea of writing letters to my future self in this same vein, although I am not sure I'd want my wife (or anyone else) to read them.
If you don't have one yet to destroy,
Amazon will sell you one.

I had another friend die recently, and I am sure if I were to read his notes to himself, I would feel the same way.  Perhaps its my age, but this hit me right where I live.

NOTE TO SELF:  start destroying anything I'm ashamed of and would never want anyone to find when I die.  (Goodbye, Hello Kitty diary.)


I've been thinking a lot about doing some new stuff, and one of them has been a DAILY SONNET project, where I write or read a sonnet everyday.  I talked some to Randall Chase, who is a Periscope expert, and he suggested just trying it.  So last night I periscoped Sonnet #1 from Shakespeare.  I had no viewers during the periscope.  But when I talked to my wife the next day, she said, "Aaron saw your sonnet and loved it-- he wants to know where is Sonnet #2?"  I think I'll be continuing the experiment!

Here's the video of that: (It's raw, and an experiment, so cut me some slack)

The point is:  Just try stuff and see what happens!

There were lots of other great things, and lots of great content, but for me, the #1 reason I keep on coming is the community.  Being in a community of these great dads (many of whom are also great writers and raconteurs) is just plain exhilarating.  As a dad, you have your wife as a person to talk with, but she's your wife.  You are related to her.

Having colleagues-- work friends, if you will-  that I can  just hang out with for a few days, talk about parenting, and comic books, and make slightly obscure references to obscurer movies and books, and even on occasion talk about our hopes and dreams with-- this is why I want to come back to Dad 2.0

 To quote a former president-- It's the Community Stupid.

Just some of the great guys from Dad 2.0-- this is from the #citydads meetup

No comments: