My 7th Dad 2.0 Summit took just shy of an act of Congress to attend, as we had a mandatory drill weekend from Friday to Sunday, and I needed a 2-star general’s approval to miss it. But I couldn’t miss my favorite conference in my favorite city (my 22nd trip!) with some of my favorite people, so I did a lot of pleading and praying, and on Thursday morning, I landed at 11:15am, just making the 11:45 show time for the Best Buy drone flying experience at the old abandoned Market Street Power Plant, which we toured after eating awesome local food truck grub that was spicy and creamy and now I really need to go for a run.
When not hanging from a large metal hook, I befriended a new Dad 2.0 attendee from Nashville named Aaron, whom I enjoyed talking to, and learning from, for a couple hours.
After a happy hour sazerac at its namesake bar in The Roosevelt, I went with the City Dads group to Brennan’s for a delicious “second dinner” at 10pm to follow the also delicious offerings we had at the Dad 2.0 Welcome Party, because eating and drinking is what one does in New Orleans if one is to do New Orleans well at all. Then our group met others from the conference at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop before we walked to Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street where “third dinner” was had at 12:30am, and then it was live music at Spotted Cat and Apple Barrel until 2am or so, and then we walked back (just over a mile).
Somewhere in there, Jim and I got together so he could wear his new pants in public for the first time, and for a few seconds, as the camera phones flashed, all was certainly right with the world.
Friday morning began the programing, where we had NFL player keynote talks and then informative sessions on branding and monetizing and legal issues that can come up for bloggers, followed by roundtable workshops I liked on writing, photography, SEO, and even yoga.
Oh, and I flew the Millennium Falcon with Lego Star Wars characters.
That night, I had another Brennan family restaurant dinner; this time at Tableau. Hanes and its “Two B” PR firm were kind enough to invite a few of us to this event; both the food and the company were excellent. Later, several of us walked down Royal, stopped at Golden Lantern for a bit and then spent several hours at the Gold Mine Saloon we discovered last year at Mardi Gras, where a great time was had by all. Not content to go to bed when most everyone else did, Dave and I went back out (after walking to the hotel) until 4am.
On Saturday, I did not do a very good job of attending many of the sessions, but I did enjoy a test drive with Kevin and Lance in the new Kia Stinger, which was loads of fun despite the rain. I had a more intimate dinner with Jessi, Amy, and her boyfriend Luke at Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse (because culinary triumvirates are cool!) Then a whole bunch of us met up at the Sazerac Bar again (including the guys I never get to bring out during the conference, because they ensure it runs smoothly all weekend, but since now it was over, Doug and Whit were totally out with us!). We revisited Lafitte’s and Apple Barrel and a few of us (okay, just Amy, Luke, and I) even had fried chicken at Willie’s Chicken Shack at 3am on Canal.
Getting packed and to the airport for my 10:30am flight was NOT my favorite part of the weekend, but I enjoyed time with Mitch and Mary (a fellow Act 3 Theater board member and PR extraordinaire) in the Sky Club before heading back to Atlanta, where I would spend the day with my children and then go to bed as soon as Justin Timberlake finished his halftime show at the Super Bowl, because maybe New Orleans never sleeps, but I occasionally must.
This morning, I was one of only 2 dads who volunteered to help chaperone a large group of 6th graders experiencing the Junior Achievement Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center, where they learned about starting and running a business, managing finances, marketing, etc. I needed 3 large cups of coffee before 8:30 (the children arrived at 10; adults had to assemble for training at 8), but seeing how happy it made my 11-year-old to run a miniature simulated Wal-Mart with her dad and 4 of her peers was wonderful, and her sincere gratitude expressed to me as I tucked her in tonight…well, it was perfect. And I can’t help but think my regular attendance at the Dad 2.0 Summit and the friendships I’ve been able to maintain both online and in person as a result–with other men who genuinely care about fathering well and who make it a priority–have helped me to pivot in that healthy direction as well.