On Comfort Zones, Inspiration and Being Vulnerable {#Dad2Summit}

Floating on Air

It’s a constant struggle for me to turn my thoughts and my passions into typed words. Case and point, I am trying to do justice to the experience that was the Dad 2.0 Summit in Houston, Texas, yet I know that the finished product of this summation will be nowhere close to what I actually want to say.

Much like my trip to Blissdom Canada last October, I came into this conference with a fear wrenched stomach. The difference this time around was that these were my direct peers in that we are all occupying the space in the fatherhood advocacy industry. We write about fatherhood with the knowledge that there is still a limited market for what we do, which means that in order to get your message viewed you have to stand out from the crowd; or write like Black Hockey Jesus

The Dad 2.0 conference, for me, was about stepping out of my comfort zone and doing the exact opposite of what my brain was telling me to do. It was forgetting about idolizing people and realizing that we’re all just people. It was tackling my fear of flying. It was about not holding back the personality I tend to subdue and letting people see the real me. And yes, that crazy dancing, high fiving and ear to ear smiling maniac that a few of you saw at back to back karaoke nights was very much the real me. Special shout out to Amy Spreitzer Windsor of the Bitchin’ Wives Club for organizing those nights out. You can check out her amazing Karaoke montage right here!

I took so much out of this conference that I’m still processing and remembering things days after they happened. I had real conversations with people and I’m not talking about the average “being a Dad is kind of neat talks” either. I had meaningful conversations about people’s passions, kids, cancer, death, writing and relationships. Every single person’s story was unique and amazing and interesting. There were no ego’s, no competing and people were more than willing to engage in conversation, regardless of how many followers they had on their websites and social media accounts. It was awesome.

I had the special opportunity to stand before my peers and read to them something so personal to me, that I wasn’t sure I would be able to get all the way through it. Well, I got up there and I got through it; and then I went immediately to my room and I cried for what felt like hours, even though it was only a minute or two. I wasn’t ready to be completely vulnerable in front of everybody. I think I am now.

I think I accomplished almost everything I set out to do by attending this conference. The only regret that I can think of is that I didn’t take more time to sit down with Jim Higley, who I didn’t know much about going into the conference. I’ve come to realize that he is one of those rare people who inspires us to be better people to each other. He further exemplified this by telling that group that his $3,000 1st place prize from the Ready, Set, Eat competition, would be going to help a young boy with testicular cancer. I didn’t get a chance to tell him that he inspired me in person, so I’ll do it here.

I have a million Thank You’s to hand out but I’ll save a lot of them for emails because I’m sure you’ve either stopped reading this already or are getting close to it. That said, there are a couple people I would like to mention.

* To my roommate, Andy Herald of How To Be A Dad. If I bothered you with my incessant questions, messy side of the room or general hovering, you didn’t show it even one time. Thank you for being open with your thoughts and ideas. I got a lot out of our conversations and appreciate you taking that time with me.

* To my Blogger Spotlight co-readers: Whit Honea, Carter Gaddis, Jon Hockey Jesus & Kevin McKeever. It was an honour to share the stage with you and listen to your stories. Through this exercise I learned that I don’t have to write like other people in order to be successful. Just because someone’s writing is great, doesn’t mean that mine can’t also be great in its own way.

* To the brand sponsors, who are proving that they believe in the voice we are developing as fathers and as men. And to title sponsor, Dove Men+ Care for everything they provided to make this conference the huge success it was. Thank you for everything!

* A very big Thank You to Sharon, Zeev and the rest of the staff at Parent Tested, Parent Approved for sponsoring me on this amazing journey. Without your help, I would have never had the chance to experience it and I am eternally grateful for it. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as partners and hope I did your brand proud.

* Last but not least, to Doug French, John Pacini and every other person that put their sweat and tears into this project, Thank You. I had the time of my life and that is not just lip service.

I got on the plane to come home and as I started writing this, I began to cry and had to stop. Every time I started trying to write again, I started to cry again. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m just tired. It certainly can’t be that I got emotionally charged and inspired by a bunch of dudes, right? I really miss my family and the only thing I want at this very moment is to be home with them. PS – After typing that last line, I put the computer away so my seat mates didn’t think I was unstable.

In the end, I laughed, cried, sang, spoke and even danced on a pole (for the first time, I swear). I left everything on the table, had few regrets, made many new friends and leave as a different man, who is more energized and inspired than ever. Thank you to everyone who took the time to get to know me and who made this the incredible event it was. I hope I represented myself and my country in a positive light and I’m already planning to do it all over again next year!

I’ll leave you with my interview with Brad from DadLabs, which was a lot of fun to do. Cheers!.


Video streaming by Ustream

48 replies
  1. Erin Blaskie says:

    Chris, so glad to hear that you had a fabulous time! My favourite line of your whole post was this one: “It was forgetting about idolizing people and realizing that we’re all just people.”

    Love that.

    Reply
    • Chris Read says:

      It was so much harder to approach the guys than it was the women at Blissdom. These are the blogs I read daily and dream of being able to capture life the way they do. It was cool to see that they were all as down to earth as I had hoped.

      Reply
  2. The Maven says:

    You know, you’re a hundred steps ahead of me. I have yet to attend a single conference. I’m too nervous. I feel out of my element and out of my league. It takes everything I have to get to Blog Out Loud Ottawa every year, believe me. That’s my big blog “outing.” Maybe I’ll use your story as that added push I need to reach out and meet bloggers outside of the tweeterz. Then everyone can know how weird I am in real life. Think of the blog posts!

    Glad you had such a great time. :)

    Reply
  3. Jennifer says:

    sounds like a great time away, I enjoyed your interview. Don’t worry about the crying lol I cried for at least three days at random intervals after my first conference. I think being overtired and over stimulated plays a part. so much to take in and process. lots of emotions. welcome home!

    Reply
    • Chris Read says:

      Thanks Jen! After Blissdom and Dad Summit, I will now have ammo for anybody out there who says they are too shy or don’t feel like they would get anything out of a conference. Amazing time!

      Reply
  4. Carter says:

    (Link to the pole dance video, please.)

    Also? Yeah. Exactly. I’ll write something about this in the next couple of days, once I’ve had time to process it. There’s no way I’ll be able to thank everyone who needs thanking, but I’ll try. I’ll definitely link back to this, too, to cover my tracks in case (when) I forget something/somebody.

    As for the emotional response as you thought back on it all … I’m right there with you, pal. Powerful weekend. It was transformational for me, too.

    Reply
  5. Chris Routly (Daddy Doctrines) says:

    I was stoked to meet you finally, and not just because you were the other Canadian Chris! You did a great job, and frankly it was the perfect follow-up to Brene Brown’s talk on being vulnerable.

    Next time, I’m in for karaoke, come hell or high water.

    Reply
    • Chris Read says:

      Thanks Chris, it was great to meet you too. I mentioned the Brene Brown thing to Doug after the conference and he gave me the “you think that was coincidence” look. He’s a planning genius, that one.

      Reply
  6. Amy says:

    I’m not sure how much more love I can bestow on you without people starting to talk… You are a gem and I am so happy that I got to meet you, hear you read that incredibly personal piece, and karaoke my brains and lungs out with you. Bring on the next conference!

    Reply
  7. Journeysof TheZoo says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us as not everyone has the opportunity or guts to do what you did. You can pull some serious muscles pole dancing.

    Seriously, so glad to hear that you enjoyed yourself.

    Life is short.

    Besos, Sarah

    Reply
  8. Always Home and Uncool says:

    You are yet another reason for me to pack up and move to the Great White North. You know, once that global warming thing takes care of your winter issues.

    The honour and pleasre (I had to get that extra ‘u’ from somewhere) of sharing a stage — speaking and karaoke — were mine as well. Rock on, Canadian Dad.

    Reply
    • Chris Read says:

      Hi Paula, I am only as successful as the people who have helped me along the way and you are a big part of that. So, thank you. I read the post about the passing of my father, which I have now linked in the recap. As for video, sadly I didn’t think of it because of nerves and sweatiness…Next time, I guess :D

      Reply
  9. Jen Taylor says:

    Great recap of what must have been an amazing weekend. I love conferences – the furious jolt of energy being with that many like-minded people, the push and pull as we challenge emotion, the deep love and laughter. Gah. I want another conference. I also read the post that you shared at the conference and was very moved. I commend you for sharing it with others and letting your vulnerability show. Too often we take the easy path of hiding it all, missing the opportunity to reach someone who really may need to hear what we have to say. Well done. Glad you had such a great time. I love the idea of this huge group of dads all jazzed up and connecting. Awesome.

    Reply
    • Chris Read says:

      Thanks Jen! It really was a great time and after reading through everyone else’s recap posts, I am even more inspired than ever. Hope we get to connect at a conference sooner rather than later!

      Reply
    • Chris Read says:

      Hey bro, I had a blast in Texas and it was awesome to have another Canadian to say “eh” with as we navigated through the sea of Americans. I’m glad you decided to come and it sounds like you may have had the best time of all of us…you know, with Lady Gaga and tuxedo shirts and all.

      Reply
  10. RogersSarah says:

    This is such a great post, Chris. I’m glad you had such a good time.

    I felt exactly as you did when I went to Blissdom last year. I was worried it was going to be all cliquey, in the high school sense. As a blogger, I didn’t feel adequate. I didn’t update my blog enough, I didn’t have a huge audience, I had mainly left my blog to die.

    Instead, I learned that the people I talk to online are regular people, just like me. I was inspired to revive my personal blog and give it some new life. I’ve been doing that regularly since December and am so proud of what it is and what it’s become.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

    Reply
  11. Jeff Stephens says:

    I found out about the Dad 2.0 just before it kicked off, so I followed it from afar. With that said, it sounds like it was a great time. I truly enjoyed following the tweets as they were coming out. Barbershops, Dove men care products, mac n cheese, etc all seemed right up my alley. Looking forward to staying engaged and hopefully making it to the show next year. Maybe you’ll be speaking again!

    Reply
  12. Steph Montreuil says:

    So glad you had such an amazing time! I remember the first time I went to Blissdom, I wasn’t even a real blogger… I was sooo intimidated. And then I had to remind myself, jut like you did, that in the end, we’re all just people. Great post Chris :)

    Reply

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