Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reach the Summit


A lot can change in the course of a year. Perfect example: one year ago today I had one kid and now I have two. The magic of science and calendars is astounding. Also one year ago, I was a novice blogger. I’d been doing it for less than a year and was still learning on the fly, which I guess is still partly true today. But when I attended the inaugural Dad 2.0 Summit last year, I had no idea why I was even there among so many seasoned bloggers. 

This year I returned to the scene of the crime a year older, maybe a smidge wiser and certainly a significant amount more tired. For various reasons both economical and familial, I debated whether or not to attend the event even up to just a couple weeks beforehand. Even though I’d registered last July, I didn’t know if I could make it work. In fact, I sent out a search beacon (via Facebook, naturally) trying to find someone to share my room to help defray costs. Just then, I received a notice that I’d won a free stay at the Four Seasons Houston from Dove Men+Care. Just like their great products, that didn’t stink. Fate wanted me to go, so I went.

I arrived in Houston and as I made my way to the baggage claim, I saw a guy holding a Honda sign for attendees to get chauffeured rides to the hotel. I’ve always wanted someone to pick me up at the airport with a little sign containing my name, but this was probably as close as I’ll ever get so I took it. Along with a couple friends from LA, I ran into Mike Adamick, who I'd met last year, and he joined us for our very smooth ride in a decked out Honda CR-V. Apropos for Texas, I rode shotgun. 

Upon arrival at the Four Seasons, I went to the Dove Men+Care lounge where I received a great straight-razor shave by a local barber named Joe. He took his time and my sensitive skin appreciated it. You can’t rush art.


I changed my clothes and headed to the opening event where I ran into a few friends from last year and some that I only knew online and met in person for the first time. One person I was looking forward to meeting was The Captain. And not just because he’s another Cleveland expatriate. Great writer and great guy. Period.

My left ear hadn’t popped after our flight landed and I could only partially hear all night, so I didn’t join the gang for karaoke that night. I hung out with friends new and old in the hotel lobby bar which was quite entertaining and not only because Lady Gaga was playing next door and her traveling freak show kept passing by looking for her meat dress, presumably for a snack. The NBA's Charlotte Bobcats were staying there, too, which gave me an opportunity to meet another fellow Buckeye:

Former Ohio State hoopster Byron Mullens.
(I'm the one on the left)
My room was great and though I never used the object on the right:


…I had a very comfortable stay.

Sunrise from my 18th floor room
I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and with restored hearing in both ears. The self-described "Forrest Gump" Jeff Pulver gave the opening keynote.  Pulver shared stories about taking risks in life and not being afraid of trying new things, and it's evident that he's not since he was wearing purple glasses, purple polo shirt and purple sneakers,. He made one particular statement that really stuck with me:  “I believe in personal reboots, if something isn’t working out, start over”. He did that several times throughout his career including starting Vonage so I’ll take his word for it.

Several other speakers that morning really opened my eyes to some new possibilities in life, including Alan Kircinek and Three-Headed Dad Jim Lin. The perfect cap to that morning was some epic grilled cheese made by Kraft. I melted like that yellowy goodness between the buttery bread as I devoured my lunch. 


I attended a great session that afternoon about sharing vs. discretion when writing a blog. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.

That night was a casino night which is always fun for someone who doesn’t gamble. Even if it’s fake money. The one thing I confirmed is that I will never understand the game of craps. After the party, I traveled with some new friends to a Karaoke bar nearby. Let’s just say it was obvious who the locals were and who the bloggers were among the performers.
Canadian Idol Chris Read rocks the mic
After a night of way too little sleep, I needed to pack my belongings to head home and was going to skip the morning speakers, but am quite thankful I didn’t. Whit Honea read a piece he’d written about how understanding kids isn’t always as easy as you’d think. That was followed by keynote speaker Brene Brown who gave an incredible talk about Daring Greatly, vulnerability and dealing with pretty much every adverse situation in life. It was likely the highlight of the weekend for me. Other than the grilled cheese. 

After another great panel discussion that afternoon, I chatted with some of the great event sponsors and learned about Jamba Juice’s new kids meals, how great milk is, and that Turtle Wax actually exists beyond 1960s game show reruns.

Oh, and this happened:


I’m already looking forward to throwing some steaks on that thing soon. Thanks, Kraft!

So after I’d waffled on whether or not to go to the event, am I glad I did? Absolutely. I left with tremendous new insight into myself, my goals and more that I never would have anticipated or expected out of the conference. I made new friends and hung out with old ones. I got to spend time with some guys who I’d gotten to know virtually over the last year and picked their brains as much as I could get away with. I’m already looking forward to next year, somewhere in the heart of Texas. (Hopefully not El Paso). 




Special thanks to Doug French and John Pacini for organizing such a great event 
and Dove Men+Care for sponsoring my stay. 


15 comments:

  1. Glad you came, too! Well done on the winning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Muskrat. Wish we could have hung out more. Next year!

      Delete
  2. Jay, it was awesome meeting you and chatting in Houston. I thought you were joking about the bidet, though. Where the hell was my bidet? What a ripoff. I WANT A BIDET!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's weird, Carter, since I believe we were both on the 18th floor. Had I known you were bidetless, I would have certainly invited you over to use mine.

      Delete
  3. My Mom always told us that the thing on the right was for washing your feet in ....

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm glad you went! It is ridiculous that we live 15 minutes apart and have to travel to Houston to hang out, but it was worth it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Whit. Me too. Let's try to get together soon. I'd even cross the county line to do so.

      Delete
  5. Jay, great to finally meet you.(I don't think we meet at the first Dad Summit ... obviously, you don't drink as much I do or else our paths would have crossed in the Lost Pine bars.) Thanks for all the encouraging words, both on my reading and my "singing." You truly are The Dude. k

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree completely. Thank you for making me glad to have sons.
      Looking forward to seeing you again soon.

      Delete
  6. Great to meet you! And, Go Buckeyes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ditto, Momo.

      (That is one of the strangest sentences I've ever written)

      Delete
  7. Why do I look so angry in that picture??? Is that really my singing face? If so, why did people keep talking to me? It was great talking life with you, it was one of my conference highlights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nah, you were just rocking out. Unfortunately my iphone battery died right after I took that pic of you or I might have had something that made you look more Bryan Adams-like. (First Canadian rocker that came to mind).

      Great meeting you, too, Chris.

      Delete