Greenville Grok 2013

Reflections on a couple days with some amazing folks in Greenville, South Carolina

I had the opportunity to spend four days this past week in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina attending Grok. What makes Grok great? Think of it as a SlowTech conference. It’s a “tech” conference that focuses on relationships and doing work with a purpose.

I’ve walked away with many new friends, new ideas and challenging thoughts. This is my attempt to sum a few things up:

1. It’s about the people, dummy

The event is designed from top to bottom around providing opportunities for you to ask hard questions, listen and be challenged by others. It’s not a place where you can checkout and learn random technical facts. It requires you to be engaged, interested and willing to participate. It was the hardest and most challenging conference I’ve ever attended. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

If you’re interested, I’ve made a twitter list of many of the people I met during my time there. (It is by no means comprehensive.) Also, here are more thoughts about the people focus of the conference.

2. It’s good to be uncomfortable

Much of what was discussed at Grok revolved around taking risks and learning hard lessons. One of the keynotes was by this incredible guy named Bryan Martin. This video is a good summary of what he talked about:

Bryan Martin, Designer & Illustrator from 9/8 Central on Vimeo.

As a risk (and mistake) adverse introvert, this conference was a wake up call and a huge, healthy dose of encouragement. Doing something you care about is worth all the necessary risks and mistakes.

3. There are many paths forward, but you won’t find them in a bubble

Grok provided me so many opportunities to talk to people who have started successful businesses, and all of them have taken different paths. The one thing that was the same was that they all knew what they were capable of and found creative ways to support and sustain what they were passionate about.

Srsly, You should go

Grok was just awesome. I’m inspired and excited about my work and its potential - but that’s normal for right after a conference. Grok is different because it offers information in the context of relationships. I’ve learned real lessons from real people, and these are lessons (and people) I can go back to again and again. That is flipp’n awesome.

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