How taking four days away from my family has made me a better Dad.

The San Antonio Riverwalk photo by Aaron Sheldon

A few months ago a friend of mine who has been telling me for the last three years that I NEED to go to the Dad 2.0 Summit emailed me a link to The Oren Miller Dad 2.0 Scholarship which is awarded to first time attendees with funds donated by participants of past summits. The scholarship is named in honor of a beloved and revered dad blogger who died of lung cancer in 2015 and provides a free ticket to the Summit as well as $500 to assist with travel and lodging costs. This year, thanks to the generosity of the dads who have donated I was one of seven dads from across the USA that was awarded the scholarship.

Dad 2.0 Summit in San Antonio. Photo by Dad 2.0 Summit

The Dad 2.0 Summit website describes itself as “…an annual conference where marketers, social media leaders, and blogging parents connect to discuss the changing voice and perception of modern fatherhood.”

"...people who love being dads and sharing their journeys to help educate, inspire, support, and entertain others though social media, blogs, podcasts, and in one case, sonnets..."

What they do not say in that description that I found out very quickly on arrival at the Westin Riverwalk hotel was that this is a group of incredibly gifted, and gregarious people who love being dads and sharing their journeys to help educate, inspire, support, and entertain others though social media, blogs, podcasts, and in one case, sonnets (thank you again David Stanley for ripping my heart out of my chest with your amazing words in your blogger spotlight).

David Stanley sharing his "Sonnets for My Father" at the Summit's first Blogger Spotlight.  Photo by Dad 2.0 Summit

The summit started with a session for first time attendees like myself led by Whit Honea. With a long list of superstar dad bloggers, celebrity keynote speakers, and a bunch of individuals and brands that I have followed on social media for a long time, it’s easy to feel both a bit star-struck and a bit self-doubting (hello Imposter Syndrome!) so this session was a great way to start the Summit as a first timer even though I still fanboyed pretty hard at times, and was more than a little hesitant to jump in to the social events with both feet.

During every Summit related activity, the goal first and foremost was for dads to they share their journey whether it was the opening keynote with Shaun T, the blogger spotlights, roundtable workshops, breakout sessions and showhow workshops, or the closing presentation of Dax Shepard recording an episode of his “Armchair Expert” podcast live. The voices of dads in the workshops were amplified by the help of industry experts (some dads, some moms, some neither but all full of energy and insanely awesome information for the novice like myself).

The City Dads Group hanging out with Shaun T and Dr.  in the Dove Men

Paired with a variety of sponsored social time including a welcome party on Thursday night, Friday evening happy hour, and breakfast and lunch both days, I met and talked with so many amazing dads and other attendees that I came home from San Antonio with new energy, direction, three hotel notepads full of great quotes and information, and a huge list of people to start following on social media.

Now, Let’s talk about the brands that sponsored the event. First off, Dad 2.0 doesn’t just let anyone sponsor them. Each and every sponsor that I spoke with was there because they stand behind the goal of the summit to enrich the experience of being a dad and help to change the voice and perception of modern fatherhood. They were all amazing in that, not only did they make sure we came home with a righteous amount of swag, but also with the tools we can use to better impact our kids lives and the agency to share our experience with others.

"I came home from the Dad 2.0 Summit with new energy, direction, three hotel notepads full of great quotes and information, and a huge list of people to start following on social media."

I’d specifically like to thank:

Dove Men+Care for helping to try to get paternity leave for every dad through their #paternityleavepledge and paternity leave grants ($5,000 for dads who do not get paid paternity leave).

Google and Bark for introducing me to the tools I need to make sure my son is safe and having enriching interactions online.

Legoland Resorts, for a fantastic “hard hat” tour of their new Legoland Discovery Center and Sealife Aquarium in San Antonio, a ton of info about Legoland New York (opening in 2020), and for sharing with me how Legoland Resorts work with families that have special needs to make sure every child who visits their parks has the best experience possible (there will be a LOT more about that in future posts).

Amazon and Best Buy for helping me start to formulate how home automation and connectivity through the Internet of Things might have a big impact in how we introduce interventions to help my son learn more about self-care and contributing to our family (i.e. help around the house more and clean up after himself without constant reminders).

Fodada and their #fodadamentalfitness program. I had the chance to sit and talk with their founder, Bobby Barzi who shared his Mental Fitness Five For Fathers which is a simple toolkit to not only be a stronger part of your kids life, but also how to teach them to want to be part of yours. All simple ideas that are easy to implement but let me tell you, each can have a huge impact on your relationship with your kids!

I’ve placed a list of all the sponsors (with links of course) at the bottom of this post.

To all of the dads, speakers, and panelists I met at this years summit: Thank you for your kindness and generosity and I am looking forward to following your journeys virtually and seeing you all again at Dad 2.020!

If you are a dad looking for a way to connect with other dads, share your journey, or just support some fantastic initiatives for families, I highly recommend attending next years summit. Find out more and purchase your ticket at a massively reduced price at their website.

Dad 2.0 Summit 2019 Sponsors and Partners

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