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The Ups and Downs of San Francisco (Dad 2.0 Summit)

I woke up that morning to zero degree temps and a frozen bathroom sink pipe. Next, my wife called to tell me her 24 hour shift at work had just ended and her car wouldn’t start. I was scheduled to leave on an airplane in an hour. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” She said.

She could not be more awesome.

So, off I went. When I arrived at the airport, I walked in, hopped on an escalator and headed straight to baggage claim, the exact opposite direction I was supposed to be going. Clearly, I’m a rookie traveler, but I kept repeating my wife’s wise words over and over to myself. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

Next stop, Dad 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

I’m not really sure how to best explain what happened over the next three days.

It probably makes sense for me to start at the beginning. Dad 2.0 Summit is a conference for dad bloggers. Yes, there is such a thing and even though is was my first time attending, in fact, this was the forth and largest Dad 2.0 to date.

What was I expecting at Dad 2.0?

For the last 6 months I’d been a part of a private FB group of approximately 1000 dad bloggers. I guess over the last few months, I’d become friends with some of them. Virtual friends..an idea I used to think was just plain weird. Anyway, many, many of them would be there. It would be great to finally meet some of those guys. The guys that don’t give you a blank, glassy eyed, stare when you tell them you’re a blogger. The guys that understand walking the fine line between telling open, honest stories with complete strangers on the internet and invading the privacy of your own family.

I also knew there would be a lot of sponsors. Many of the guys I spoke with beforehand made many connections with brands at the previous Dad 2.0, something I had some interest in as well (Looking at you Lee Jeans, Nerf, and Transformers).

Like I said, I left my family, in a snowstorm, and headed to San Francisco, prepared for just about anything.

The first night’s welcome party was a combination of excitement, nervousness, and the unshakable feeling of being “out of my league.” There was a lot of shop talk. Much discussion about our families. It was hard to match a person’s face with their tiny FB picture, luckily we all had on name tags. At first it was a little strange to be walking around a room looking down at names hung around necks, instead of looking into the eyes of people, but eventually I figured out which guys were ones I’d “met” before. That night I met many of the guys I knew from my online group. The food was really good and beer made awkward conversations a little easier, I survived.

The actual conference began the next morning. Of course, I was still on Indy time, at 2am my phone rang to notify me that my kids’ school would start on a delay that Friday, after that I couldn’t get back to sleep. The conference that day was good, but I still felt out of place. There were some guest bloggers reading posts, of course breakout sessions regarding blogging, and once again a lot of food. I buzzed through the blog sponsors, was given a pair of jeans from Lee, a shave courtesy of the Dove Men+Care brand, swapped a few business cards with people in the booths, hell I even built a beer carrier using Ryobi power tools. It was a BUSY day, but didn’t leave me feeling completely satisfied that I was getting everything I could out of this conference.

That night a couple hundred of us boarded charter busses and had a private showing of some confidential, not to be released or spoken about movie clips at Lucas Film (seriously… they were NOT joking about this), sitting in a private theater at Lucas Film, the production company that created Star Wars and Indiana Jones was an unreal experience. Later that night I almost kicked a stormtroopers ass too, but that’s another story for another day.

The night was better than the day, but I still didn’t feel that great about things. Part of it was the fatigue of being up so early and being away from my family. Most of it had to do with the fact that my daughter had been sick at school causing my wife to have to leave work early to pick her up. Rescuing our sick kids from school was my job. And I wasn’t there to do it. Suddenly my decision to go to San Francisco seemed really selfish. Once again, my wife reassured me everything at home would be fine. “She’s got this.” Remember.

I was feeling a little bummed out and frustrated. I’d been in San Francisco for two days and all I’d seen was the airport and the inside of our hotel. I was in a amazing city, at least that’s what I’d heard. I needed to experience it. I needed a new plan for my final day.

Saturday I woke up feeling refreshed, early, but nonetheless, refreshed. I found a quiet spot in the hotel, drank my coffee and had a fantastic thirty minute phone call with my wife and oldest daughter. They gave me reports of life back home, my daughter was feeling better and BONUS, our frozen bathroom pipe thawed.

My next plan, in order to enjoy the conference to the fullest that day, was to bail out on the morning sessions. My thought was if I got out and DID SOMETHING, I would be able to really enjoy the few remaining hours of the conference.

I headed to Blazing Saddles bike rental shop and rented a bike with a goal of seeing the city and riding to the Golden Gate Bridge. The guys at the bike shop were great, they gave me a map, a few suggestions for routes around the city to take and sent me on my way. The also told me a few of the places I was planning to go were what they would call “San Francisco flat.”

On my ride, I quickly realized that “San Francisco flat” is hillier than any part of central Indiana, but I didn’t care. It was sixty degrees and I was riding a bicycle through the streets of downtown San Francisco! I navigated my way between cable cars, down to the piers, over to Fisherman’s Wharf, past Ghiradelli Square all the way to the base of the Golden Gate bridge. My ride back to the bike shop through Chinatown was equally as exhausting and exhilarating as my ride to the bridge. It was awesome! When I arrived back at the hotel, my legs were tired and burning, but my mind was clear and refreshed.

Instead of trying to meet as many people and sponsors as possible, much like the day before, I slowed down, talked to the ones I had interest in working with. I attended a meeting with the City Dads group and was amazed at how a small group of guys were responsible for connecting thousands of dads in 16 different City Dads groups across the country.

I sat in and listened to a great panel discussions about writing sponsored posts, and how to better focus my writing. It was great to listen to all these different opinions from seasoned bloggers.

Finally, after the closing of the summit and the beer reception, I had a burger with a guy I didn’t know until three days prior, he was also my roommate while were were there. We had great one-on-one talks about our blogs, privacy, trademarks. It was just a really cool way to end the weekend.

Looking back on the Summit as a whole, I’m still trying to process all that happened. It was so great. Even the day I was overwhelmed and frustrated, I met some great people, learned a lot, and most importantly I really enjoyed it. In fact, I’m already looking forward to next year. With one under my belt, I feel like I’ll be able to make the most of Dad 2.016 in Washington D.C.

What changes with this conference have on me and my blog long-term? I really don’t know yet. But whatever they end up being I look forward to sharing them with all of you. “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”

And, as always, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

-Pete

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