I spent this past week in Washington, DC taking part in the 5th Dad 2.0 Summit. This being the first Dad 2.0 that I wasn’t speaking at, the first thing I noticed is that my anxiety level had dropped dramatically. Don’t get me wrong, I love speaking at this conference but I get myself so worked up for imminent failure that I can’t let myself relax until I am off the stage, so it was nice to have that calm feeling the whole time. Of note, imminent failure has yet to happen…
The hotel for this year’s event, Mandarin Oriental, was the classiest one to date and this fact became evident to me after my first night there. I drew the short straw on night one and slept on the floor, however the Mandarin provided me with a ton of pillows and comforters to make a bed with. When I entered the room after the cleaners had been by, I noticed that they had remade my makeshift floor bed for me, left me some slippers and folded my previously worn clothes for me. The only thing missing was the towel swan! On top of that, they had what can only be described as the “greatest promo video ever” playing on the television sets in each room. Check the link and I promise you’ll be amazed.
Oddly, one of the highlights of the Dad 2.0 Summit over the years for me has been the unrelated karaoke night that usually happens. Last year in San Francisco was a very light, yet extremely fun, group of people and so I expected this year to be about the same. Imagine my surprise after a couple of us planned the outing to find about 40 people waiting in the lobby, all excited to join us for a night of fun. We laughed, sang and danced, and I’m thankful to everyone who showed up!
There were also a record number of Canadians at the event this year and it was great to see so many of my countrymen and women representing what they do. If you are looking for great Canadian content, here are some links to these fine people! Mike & Andrea Reynolds, Mike Vardy, Justin Connors (also my roommate extraordinaire), Buzz Bishop, Dai “the Moose” Manuel, Andrea Nair, Mike Granek, Matt Clarke, Stewart Reynolds! I’m still buzzing and apologize if I’ve missed anyone. I promise you will be added!
Finally, it isn’t lost on me that the reason I get to attend Dad 2.0 every year is because of the sponsors. I am now going to take a minute to show them some deserved love in the hopes that they continue to want to support fathers from around the globe by sponsoring future conferences. I can’t mention everyone but there were a few that really stood out to me so I’ll give you the bullet points on them.
- Not to play favourites but I look forward to the Lee Jeans booth every year and they certainly didn’t disappoint. More than just being able to walk out of the room in a brand new pair of jeans, Lee creates an amazing experience by offering couches, beer, basketball and an amazing staff who take the time to connect with the attendees. Relaxing in the Lee Lounge has become a Dad 2.0 staple.
- A new sponsor to the event this year was photo app company, Memory Web. They were so new in fact, that they launched their business just before the summit began. We deal with a lot of PR firms, which is great, but I really thought it was great that the actual owners of the company were there running the booth and their pride in their company shone through in my discussions with them.
- I couldn’t talk about Dad 2.0 Summit without giving a great deal of credit to the people at Dove Men+Care. These guys have been title sponsor of the event as long as I’ve been attending and they bring it to a new level each and every year! Outside of the amazing barbershop they set up each year, they sponsor meals, speakers and create a mad rush for the tons of product they bring each year. On top of all that, they truly respect and understand the importance of good fathers and that is evident not just at the conference but also in the work they do with the dad community throughout the year.
- Best Buy took us out on a wicked drone experience in the Virginia countryside and the laughs on the bus ride alone would have been worth the trip.
- The LEGO night out at the Smithsonian was outstanding and the interactive games they had planned at the event made it a night to remember! You are looking at one third of the LEGO Duplo Bridge Building Competition champions, baby! Getting the whole room to belt out “Oh Canada” was a career highlight for me, too! They also have some great stuff coming down the pipe for dads so keep your eye out for that!
- KIA added a new wrinkle to their test drives this year by offering professional headshots and the lineup was 6-7 deep at all times, proving that we all want to be made to look pretty!
- Meta Wellness brought Michael Strahan to the event. Enough said! (They also had an awesome snack bar that I frequented on a “regular” basis. Get it??)
- In the “memorable moments” category, the folks at Kidde Fire Safety had one of the more interactive displays as they allowed us to compete in a firefighter challenge to see who could get geared up from head to toe the fastest. If you want to see me struggle with this challenge you can head over to the HowToBeADad Facebook video…
There were so many more great sponsors, which you can find on the Dad 2.0 Sponsor Page, but these are the moments that stuck with me.
I’ve decided to split my recap into two posts so that I can talk about my personal takeaways, and there were many, separately. For those of you reading this who were or are on the fence about attending the Dad 2.0 Summit, not only is it excellent for meeting the people in the dad community and also for personal growth and development, but the connections you make here are invaluable.
Thank you to Doug French, John Pacini and the rest of the Dad 2.0 team for another excellent event!