We were equals. Some of those guys have millions of followers, some have dozens but at the Dad 2.0 Summit, we were equals. Dads. Men. Fathers. Guys who loved their kids and wanted to be around other guys who love their kids and want to celebrate what it means to be Dad 2.0.
It was a refrain echoed by rookies and veterans alike over the 72 hours of Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans this weekend.
My people. Dads who love being dads, aren’t shy about being dads and find just as much joy in family as they do singing karaoke with their buddies on Bourbon St. It was a whirlwind
STORYTELLING TRUMPS SEO
I’ve got all the SEO plugins on my blogs. I try to write catchy headlines, and repeat keywords to attract a search based audience. I tackle controversial issues to create emotional reactions in the audience and bring in the eyeballs. I mix in personal anecdotes about life with the boys, but I don’t really tell stories.
To break up keynotes and panels, assorted bloggers went to the podium and read blog posts they had written. You could call it a gospel reading, but they were beautiful, personal narratives about their deepest emotions, random days with their kids, or their hopes and dreams for the future.
This reading from Lorne Jaffe and the emotional, honest, and instant acceptance from a room full of strangers who were his friends sums up exactly what this weekend was about.
I NEED TO WATCH PARENTHOOD
The opening day keynote was a Q&A with Jason Katims, an Emmy winning producer of shows like Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and the upcoming About A Boy.
Jason is not afraid to show men in a fresh light in his programs. The dads in his shows have depth and are not afraid to share intimate, and emotional thoughts with each other. They have real conversations about what it means to be a dad and the struggles they have with their place in society, or the family. The same sort of stuff we all feel, but dads have had the branded image that it wasn’t manly to express them.
Well, that’s changing.
“You put it on the screen and it’s there and people start to accept it just because it’s being talked about,” Katims said in his keynote. “And if you talk about it enough, eventually the weirdness about it goes away.”
“The idea of a stay at home dad was something I hadn’t seen, but I knew it was something that was a relevant and important thing to talk about. I thought it would be interesting to explore not just him, but her – this sort of reverse of the expected thing.”
Digging up Parenthood on Netflix and will immediately schedule About A Boy for the PVR.
DAD BLOGGERS ARE DIFFERENT
I don’t know if Dad 2.0 is billed as a ‘bloggers’ conference’ per se, I mean many of us are bloggers who have various websites and outlets where we discuss the modern fatherhood experience, but there wasn’t really much blog talk happening during the weekend.
Sure, there was a panel on creating community, but just down the hall the other two simultaneous panels were about genuine fatherhood issues relating to work life balance and dealing with the paths blazed by our fathers before us.
Even the ‘creating community’ panel was more about how a few guys have built communities that have networked dads around these common modern fatherhood ideals of engagement. Then the women on the panel spoke up and, well, the discussion turned into brand partnerships, money, and business. It felt out of place.
One of the marketing people in the audience remarked how it didnt seem to fit in. At the Mom Conferences he attended, the bloggers were hardline on questions about monetization, how to engage with brands and turning their hobby into a business. I don’t know if the Dad community is more altruistic, naive, or just in the infancy, but this conference was more about ‘being a dad’ than ‘being a dad blogger.’
I WILL SING DOVE MEN+CARE’S PRAISES
Yes, I won a contest from Dove Men+Care in advance of the conference that will have one of my nights at the JW Marriott comped. Yes, Dove Men+Care made a donation to Team Diabetes Canada in exchange for me doing an interview with Jason Katims and writing about it (see above). Yes, Dove Men+Care was a title sponsor of the Dad 2.0 Summit and sponsored bike tours, meals, parties and swag for the attendees. None of that matters. Seriously. Other brands made similar efforts at Dad 2.0, you’re not seeing me sing their song. I am singing Dove’s.
I am a Dove Men+Care convert because of Rob Candelino. The VP from Unilever took to the stage to welcome the attendees on Day 1 with an honesty and emotion that showed he was not here to court favour with men and convince us that we need to get on board with his brand’s values; instead Dove Men+Care was at Dad 2.0 Summit, (and has been title sponsor of every edition) because HE is on board with OUR values.
He opened not with a pitch for his shampoo, but a story about how, when his second son was born he worried if he could love him as much as he loved his first son. That’s real. It’s an emotion dads understand and appreciate, and it was expressing that vulnerability on stage in the opening moments of Dad 2.0 that told me this was where I needed to be.
I FOUND MY FRATERNITY
I love being a Dad, this was a kumbaya moment. Josh Levs echoed my emotions when he took to the stage on Day 2 and said “this is the coolest fraternity in America. We’re all fighting the same fight and we realize there is work to be done and we’re doing it. This is what a real fraternity can be.”
See you at Dad 2.015.
Thanks to Dove Men+Care for supporting Team Diabetes Canada and inviting me to interview Jason Katims.