I’m gearing up for my second foray into the mom blogging world with big plans to attend the Mom2.0 Summit this coming week on May 2-4. Last year, my good friend Nicole Standley from The Jet Set Family encouraged me to go, and boy was I glad she did. Being among all those amazing and talented bloggers and influencers was a turning point for me, even though I was a dad among moms at the Mom2.0 Summit.

Vera Holroyd and Jon Bailey at Mom2.0

Old friends and new friends combine at Mom2.0 to celebrate and learn together. So glad to spend quality time with my close friend and fellow Hilton Hotels brand ambassador, Vera Holroyd of Passports & Spice.

A Dad Among Moms at the Mom2.0 Summit

Yep, out of the 700+ attendees at Mom2.0 last year in Orlando, I was among the rarified group of maybe a dozen dads in the crowd. At least we stood out! Passing each other in the halls of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Orlando, we men smiled and nodded – shaking hands, exchanging a few words, making friends. To be honest, I felt a little lost because I am not a woman (!) and also not a straight dad. I think I met one other gay dad there, and Mitch Chatain of Gay NYC Dad is accomplished and quite comfortable in his position. Me on the other hand? I felt awkward and tentative, not sure how others would react to my jam.

posing with Flipblogger

Mom2.0 Conference sponsors like Flipblogger make a big impact with attendees.

However, I quickly learned this was the perfect place for me to be. Many other attendees felt awkward and tentative, and there were lots of first-timers there just like me (only not male). They instantly drew me in with welcoming smiles and reassuring stories about their own journeys. I fell in love with all of them instantly.

Suddenly, we weren’t women and men – we were bloggers and influencers all there to learn and support one another. It was powerful and awesome to be a part of it.

attendees learning from conference speaker at Mom2.0

Every conference attendee at Mom2.0 Summit was there to learn, and boy did we ever! Here, Nicole Standley leads a session on travel blogging.

Instant Friends and Lifelong Supporters

With a few good friends and a number of new connections, I dove into the crowd with eyes and mind open. What I received in return was more powerful than anything I could have imagined – true and supportive friends who genuinely want me to succeed.

On an outing with the TODAY Parenting Team to Universal Studios, I boarded the bus at our hotel and sat randomly next to the most wonderful and inspiring woman. Adrian Harrold Wood, PhD and author of Tales of An Educated Debutante, drew me in with the story of her family and background. Her kindness made such an impression that night, I immediately found all her social media platforms and followed her like a crazy stalker. Our virtual friendship has remained strong, and I can’t wait to greet her with a big hug to catch up.

Adrian Wood, PhD

Tales of an Educated Debutante is one of the most intelligent, well-written, heartfelt blogs I have the pleasure of reading.

Another friend that same night has become a mentor of sorts. Catherine Pearlman of The Family Coach is an accomplished parenting specialist and successful author of the book ‘Ignore It’, and the short amount of time we spent together has grown into a steady mutual support system. Although we talk every so often, I can’t wait to see Catherine IRL and talk about that book I keep trying to write.

I met my good friend Amber Mamian of Global Munchkins at Mom2.0 last year, and our friendship has grown tremendously over the past year with many partnerships and knowledge exchanges. She’s destined for the big time (kinda already is a big deal) and I’m grateful for her wisdom and guidance.

Amber Mamian rocks it with her empire Global Munchkins.

I could go on and on about all the amazing women (and men) I am now fortunate to call my friends, all because of attending Mom2.0. I’m looking at you Dana Zucker, Sarah Hirsch, Kim-Marie Evans, Krista Rizzo and so many more.

Brand Relationships Strong and Sure

One of the other important things Nicole impressed upon me was the business of brand partnerships at Mom2.0. Feeling like a total newbie, I wasn’t sure what I could offer brands with my blog and circle of influence.

As it turns out, those brands could not have been more open and interested. When I realized I could just be myself and that is what brands really wanted to see from me, I found my inner strength. I began such a great connection with Kia Motors that now I have actually worked with them, and the same for TODAY Parenting, Marriott, Facebook and a host of others.

test driving Kia at Mom2.0

Kia shows up bigtime at Mom2.0, allowing attendees to test drive the latest models.

Oh, and Maybe an Iris Award

It’s been a long road from last year’s conference to this year’s Mom2.0 Tenth Anniversary Summit in Pasadena. I’ve worked hard, learned a ton, recognized how far I still have to go, and made endless lists of how to get there. Best of all, I’ve collected an amazing group of followers along the way that seem truly interested in my content and what I have to say.

I’m incredibly honored to be recognized by my peers and nominated for Best Dad Blog of the Year in the Iris Awards (the Oscars of the mom blogosphere). The group of dads on this list with me is absolutely stellar, and several of them are friends I will be rooting for on awards night. Jeff Bogle of Out with the Kids and Papa Does Preach‘s Mike Cruse, you’re my Kia crew! To Chris Read of Canadian Dad, Creed Anthony of Captain’s Log, Dad and Buried‘s Mike Julianelle and Someday I’ll Learn‘s Nate Day, I look forward to meeting you and cheering for whomever takes the stage as winner.

What a journey! From newbie to Iris Award nominee in one year. I have Mom2.0 to thank for giving me strength, helping me find my voice, providing me with a support system, and teaching me a TON of shit.

I can’t wait to see what this year’s event brings. My entire next year will be supercharged after this week!