I was excited to go to my 4th Mom 2.0 this year for several reasons:
1) I hadn’t been to Austin since 2012 (the first Dad 2.0), and I’d read there are several great speakeasies and dive bars that commanded my attention.
2) my bride had never been, and I’ve been telling her she should go for nearly a decade
3) the speakers they secure for the keynotes and instructional sessions are better than I see at any other conference in this space (and I’ve been to nearly 20 blogging conferences). Yes, it’s way more expensive than any of the others, but we all know the applicable cliche regarding getting what one pays for.
After watching Brené Brown’s Netflix special on the flight over to pre-game, we did a photo walk with new Canon cameras that was supposed to be outside, but the rain pushed us inside the capitol building, which I’d last graced Easter weekend in 1999 when George W. Bush was Governor, and it was still very impressive.
We ate ungodly amounts of swine at Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ next to our hotel before meeting my friend Patrick from Life of Dad at Mort Subite, a pub full of Belgian beers I’ve not seen concentrated in one place this side of Brussels. Afterward was the conference “welcome party” on the rooftop deck of Brazos Hall featuring live music and a lot of seeing folks I’ve not seen in years.
After that, we went to our 10pm reservation at Midnight Cowboy, a speakeasy featuring 1920s style drinks with amazing presentation but not quite the quality of mixology we’ve seen at similar establishments (though we’re admittedly spoiled in this area), but we still had a great time reconnecting with old friends in a unique environment.
A couple hours later, we went underground to the Elephant Room for some live music before hitting the sack.
The next day, the substantive part of the conference began. I attended a session on entrepreneurship I really liked and then went to Gretchen Rubin’s session based on what she’s learned about order (the theme of her last book), and it had great practical tips I need to employ as soon as possible. That afternoon, there were 3 excellent keynotes, including an interview with Brené Brown that I thought justified the conference + travel costs in itself. My bride and I have read a couple of her books, seen the TED talks, and watched the Netflix special from 30,000 feet up, but seeing an interactive, relaxed interview was altogether different–even more sincere and “real” than the other talks we’ve seen her give.
Thursday evening, there was a very warm outdoor party we enjoyed briefly, but then met Patrick and his wife for tacos and queso at Chispas. After dinner, a few of us sort of crashed a wedding reception at the W Hotel and then went to the Secret Room behind the bar for drinks before going to another hidden bar behind Clive Bar on Rainey Street (where there’s lots of live music and revelry) called Bar Ilegal, which is a mescal bar in a hidden concrete outbuilding, and the cocktails were awesome. Brent led us to Oil Can Harry’s after that, but it was not very lively, so we retired, and I got to bed at like 3am or so.
Friday, there were several round-tables set up with various experts to sit and listen to for 20 minutes each, and I chose some on focus, getting stuff done, qualitative metrics, etc., and now I have a bunch of notes that I need to turn into action items. There was a break featuring puppies, so naturally, I had to hold one and get an awkward photo with John Pacini.
There was then a session I liked that included some of my favorite people, so afterward, I bought books from two of them– Jenny + Karen –and had them (the books, not the ladies) signed before we snapped a picture together, and it warmed my soul.
I went to an improv session with Wendi Aarons, and then programming ended to allow prep time for the Iris Awards, but there were like 4 hours to get ready, and we only needed like 15 minutes, so we rode to a dive bar with great cocktails I read about in Garden & Gun Magazine called Nickel City, and it was awesome. Patrick joined us again, as it was his birthday.
We went to the awards and then went to The Continental Club, which was packed and had a high cover, but just above the mothership was another secret bar we’d read about called Continental Gallery that featured ping pong, an outstanding band playing, and lots of fun, so a bunch of us from the conference walked up and stayed a few hours, until 4 of us got tacos at 3am from the Al Pastor Taco Truck, and they were amazing.
I felt we’d thoroughly Austin’d now, so we finally went to bed.
I’ve never been disappointed with a Mom 2.0 Summit. In fact, the only reason I’ve been to 4 instead of 3x that number is they frequently fall on my Air Force Reserves weekend or during my Georgia Trial Lawyers annual conference (which it did this year), but next year, it conflicts with neither, so we’ve already bought 2 tickets to L.A.’s summit in 2020. But first, I’ve got to start implementing all my notes from 2019.