Sunday, March 1, 2020

Seeing Dad 2.0 2020 with Clear Eyes and a Full Heart

This was my 9th Dad 2.0 Summit.  I've been to every one of them, as long as you don't count the Dad 2.0 that was actually at Mom 2.0 (which I guess was Dad 1.6)

The conference has just ended, and I'm trying to put into words my ideas and feelings about the conference in general and the love I have for being in this community of men and dads.


At one of the early Dad 2.0's, Brenae Brown came and spoke, and talked about vulnerability and how important it was.  At the time, I thought, yeah, yeah, buzzwords.  And the guys who spoke and talked in those early summits were evolved, but a lot of the conversation revolved around the marketing and branding side of the conversation.  And that's what I thought I wanted from a blogging conference. I wanted to use this idea of vulnerability to get gigs.

At the podcast panel, some podcasters talk about how to create great podcasts
and get great guests.
Now, 9 years after the first Dad 2.0, it's not only the men at the conference that have evolved, but the conference itself.   The seeds that Brenae Brown planted way back when have grown fruit, and the last few Dad 2.0 Summits have been bigass flowers of masculine vulnerability and wonderfulness.  Story after story of dads being vulnerable, dealing with bad situations, dealing with good situations, and dealing with their own weaknesses, foibles, and vulnerabilities.  Discussions about the "professional" end of blogging still happen, but they are not the main point of the conference, and I think sometimes they are not even the point of the conference.

This certainly has something to do with the programming choices and the sensibilities of the founders/owners of Dad 2.0, John Pacini and Doug French, but it also has to do with the men and the brands who self-select to be here.


A little instagram filter magic and - a clown walks
among the dads!
Speaking of brands here's the list of the companies that were in attendance this year, along with what they did/asked for in activation. I want to personally thank each and every one of them for being supportive. 

I was surprised that a lot of companies that have sponsored in the past (Facebook, Google, Kidde alarms, Wrangler Jeans, to name a few) all were not in attendance this year.  Do they no longer want to be in front of dad influencers?  Are they getting them in a different way?

Dove Men+ Care was the premium sponsor, and this marks the 9th year that they've been with the conference in some way.  They brought their customary barbershop and product giveaways back.  They also asked men to sign a Paternity Leave pledge, and asked Dads to create content videos that either asked their congresspeople to support Paternity Leave or imparted some kind of knowledge onto men.  I didn't make a video this year, but I've seen several in my feed so far.

Me (clownbeard) posing with Brickbeard,  one of the Lego
Best Buy came back with their affiliate program  They have been pretty generous and focused on getting their products in front of dad influencers.  They were pushing their influencer program, which I am already a part of, although it seems like it's been on hold.  (The last program they ran seems to have been in December)

Caulipower was a new sponsor this year, showcasing their delicious pizzas and chicken products.
ry year.

Legoland was also back this year, touting this year's opening of Legoland NY.

Bark was in attendance, showing off some great work they've been doing in assisting authorities in capturing online predators.

Fodada the t-shirt company provided shirts.

There were a couple of non-profit sponsors, including promoting responsible drinking, and GSK, who are promoting awareness of a  vaccine for Meningitis B, a strain that has been killing college students in the US. 

And there were a couple of sponsors on the website that I didn't see at the conference, including Capital One Bank and Healthline Parenthood. I must have missed them!


This year the conference tried something a little bit different, they put all of the speakers and keynotes, and blogger spotlights on the first day, and then on the second day they did all of the practical workshops/split aparts/ and panel discussions.

Me (right) with Jason Falls, left.  Jason and my wife have been colleagues, but it was great to finally meet him in person!
It was interesting, but it made for a very heavy day on the first day, as vulnerable story after vulnerable story was told, and there was a lot of sitting.  I think I prefer a more varied day, and wished they had found a way to change up the tone and the pace of the speakers.  (Not to say there wasn't some comedy- Jason Falls had some great and much needed comedy moments, as did opera star Kenneth Kellogg and Youtube video star Taylor Calmus.  But I would have preferred more, interspersed with some of the amazing and heart breaking stories that were told (especially the Bark video, in which Roo Powell of Bark shared how she pretended to be an 11 year old girl to entrap some child predators on the internet.  It was chilling.  (It took 1 minute before somebody attempted to prey on the 11 year old girl once her fake profile went public.)

Here's the chilling  video:

I was also just amazed at the quality of some of the writing that was featured, as well as the


Thinking about the idea of not being an influencer, but of influencing people, and influencing them not (necessarily) to buy products, but to take actions and to have their own ideas.  Doug French, the founder of the conference said he despises the word, but loves the idea, and I mostly have to agree, although dadfluence might be growing on me a little.

• Impromptu conversations
I had a number of impromptu conversations with people from all over the world.  I noticed that a lot of men were journaling and meditating and discussed that several times with people.
We also had a shabbat service for the first time, and said Kaddish for our friend Oren.  It was a great way to connect on a Friday night, and I will definitely continue/participate in that tradition at the next Dad 2.0.  Several non-Jewish dads were there too, and it was great to explain what we were doing and bond over the similarities and differences of rituals.

• Old friends
I've been coming to the conference for  awhile, and seeing old pals (Many of whom I see in person only once a year is always a delight.  It's great to reconnect with people.
Representatives from a number of City Dad Groups (which I've been a part of for 11 years!)

• Practical tips
Although vulnerability was the watchword, I did get a lot of practical tips and ideas from the second day of the conference, including some great ideas about building a subscription service/community from Deborah Moebes, ideas about how to support your kids as they become content creators in their own right from Jason Falls, advice on pitching and promoting yourself to brands from Patrick Quinn and Jessi Sanfilippo, and some great advice from Julie Powell, who during an offsite dinner encouraged me to write every day, something that I have not been doing with regularity.

 • Dad Voices
While bloggers are selected officially to be blogger spotlights, the best readings happen at the end of the night, where anyone who wants to can put their name in the hat and read an old or new blog post or just tell a story.  It's always energizing.  I went  around 11:30 pm, and it was great to read one of my posts out loud to a group of appreciative guys.


While I felt like sponsorships were down this year and the activations were not as grand (in the past we went to offsite parties, had venue activations and world-premiere movies, and sometimes got some pretty expensive swag) I still had a great time and enjoyed so much being in this community of like-minded men.

Dad 2.0 announced at the conference that the next conference was going to be in Los Angeles in October, and that it was going to focus more on practical and actionable ideas to make you a better influencer.   (If you purchase before tomorrow using the code DAD2LA, you can get entry for $79!
 I'm not sure I will be able to afford to go (the most expensive part of the conference is flying and hotels, and I have spent what I expected to already to come here this year.)  Nevertheless, I'm hopeful that I can attend, and keep my streak of attending EVERY Dad 2.0 intact.

It's also not clear if there will be two summits a year, or if this is just a time-change.  Either way, I'm hoping Dad 2.0 can find a way to keep bringing it's message to both the veterans and the newbies, because Dads who are woke to their vulnerability and influence are a powerful force for good.

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