What did I win? Oh my goodness I won something huge. I won something big. I won something grand. I won something invaluable. I won it all! What did I win, you ask again. I won EXPERIENCE, FRIENDSHIP, BUSINESS CONTACTS, NEW LEARNING, AN INTERVIEW & MORE.
I first of all would like to tell you how I was able to attend Dad 2.0 Summit held on February 18th - 20th in Washington D.C., I was awarded a Miller Grant. Yes, me. I was beyond excited to have received such a wonderful grant to allow me to attend this event. I was ready to experience everything. First, thank you to Dan Huber of New Act Travel for my flight arrangement and booking. Y'all they are the best! Now I learned of Dad 2.0 when I attended the National At Home Dad Network convention in September of 2015. I knew I was going to be able to deepen some of my new friendships as some fellow dads were attending Dad 2.0 as well. Little did I know there would be more to that. Yay!
Now what experience did I win. Well that list is very long so I will give you a condensed version. On the first day, I was whisked away to Hope Flower Farm for a Best Buy sponsored event to fly drones, make GoPro videos and have a BBQ lunch. Well it was delicious food and I met a new dad, who I interacted with online, named Luke Pieczynski of www.lunchnotesketch.com , so yes #fandad moment. I also had the pleasure of being driven by Kia Motors to the event as I missed the bus. So yes, I did say I missed the bus. Even though my best friend Stephen Tupy dropped me off at the Mandarin Oriental, host hotel to the summit....I missed the bus. It proved to be a good thing this time around.
There were other great experiences such as the Welcome Party where I mingled with a lot of dads I didn't know before. I later went to karaoke with a large group of them afterward. The subsequent days were filled with blogger spotlights, breakfast lunch and dinners, speakers such as Brad Meltzer (loved his opening keynote) and the Marketplace. I went to every station, brand, person and more. I soaked it all in. I was enjoying myself. I felt euphoric. Oh maybe it was the air, the beer or life. Teehee!
I made so many business contacts. Where did I 'win' them? At The Marketplace. Which consisted of the following brands: Dove Men+Care (title sponsors), Kia Morors USA, Lego, Meta, Best Buy, Lee, Rheem, Hello (naturally friendly oral care), Kidde, Memory Web, .Me, Smarty Pants Vitamins, Nickelodeon, YouTube, Restonic, Responsibility.org, Smack, Hashtracking, General Mills, Esquire, City Dads Group, Fatherly, Life of Dad, Camp Kesey and National At Home Dad Network. I received new jeans and pants from Lee that fit me so well. I experienced a cool car ride in a Kia car that I test drove alone in Washington D.C., so this daddy put the petal to the metal!
One standout 'win' was the friendship/community. I met a large group of dads last year as I mentioned before. While here at this event I was able to deepen those friendships. I learned more about them, our differences which are wonderful, our likenesses which warm the cockles of my heart and our shared learnings. I truly felt the community. So much so that people knew me by name without me ever meeting them. I was flabbergasted at how many didn't need to look at my name badge. I was welcomed with open arms. As a gay dad that was a huge relief to me. It felt great being there.
The new friendships I forged was an added bonus. Luke Pieczynski, whom I interacted with online prior to the event, we spoke/connected at the drone event and during the long bus ride back. He made sure to find me at the welcome party to see my outfit change. I met Justin Aclin, whom I didn't know was with the Hello oral care products booth until I actually went to it. When Justin and I spoke it was about me or him or whatever. I know I met a lot more dads and I thank you all for every moment. I really feel like it was a dream but a dream come true!
One of my favorite wins was all the new learning. I had a #FanDad moment when I learned Dai Manuel was partnering with the summit for a DadBod Reboot Challenge in partnership with Smarty Pants Vitamins. I signed up for that 14 day fitness challenge right away. I learned some new things about myself. my fitness and my mental clarity. I also learned that the vitamins I bought helped me too. I actually lost weight. Yay! Not to mention I received an awesome swag bag filled with more fitness greatness. I have a separate blog about that for later. I learned about blog engagement, moving video best practices and also how to be yourself on social media. It was an endless amount of learning. Wow!
When I say 'What Did I Win?' I truly do feel all of what I said above is what I won. Yes I know there were a lot of contests, hash tagging, Tweeting, Instagraming and podcasts going on. I, however, was captivated. I soaked it in. I was in the moment. I actually rarely looked at my phone for much. I enjoyed hanging out with my best friend Stephen, whom celebrated a lot with me. I learned so much in such a short amount of time. I made genuine connections, laughed and cried a lot (tears of joy). I shared a blog post in a room full of people. I went to karaoke too!
I am trying to convey that this trip was an experience of a lifetime. I can't wait for next year, which I already have my ticket for. I also will be posting another blog recap. More to come on that. Stay tuned! My last thought is follow your dreams. I have not ever stopped. I have had a lot of life challenges, ups and downs and setback after setback. I kept on. I asked for help. I shared my thoughts. I opened myself up. I let people in. All of that helped me. Carry on folks. Easy breezy!