What I Learned at Greenville Grok

My friend Matthew Smith organized a small gathering (conference? alt-conference? nonference?) in my proverbial backyard this past weekend. The first Greenville Grok was a blast for a handful of locals and out-of-towners. 

So, what’s a grok anyway?

[grok] — verb

1. to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity
2. the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed

The weekend was equal parts 10 or 20-minute presentations/questions/thoughts (here’s a spreadsheet of topics), relaxed conversation, shared ideas, food and drink from local eateries, and good old fashioned camaraderie. 

I’m an introvert by nature and I admit to not being much of a “conference guy,” so this format was very appealing to me. No fluff, no filler, no lines for the bathroom—just an onslaught of ideas and feedback with a stellar group of people. Here are a few highlights and orphaned thoughts from my notebook…

On Project Managers:

Project Managers without any subject matter expertise are glorified secretaries.

On free [journalism] content:

If it’s free, it’s dead. Either no one’s going to do it or everyone is going to do it and it will suck.

On side projects:

Getting stuff done isn’t the only thing.

On articulating the mission first:

Unless pixels help you hone it, iterate goals and your message before you begin development. 

There was much more to chew on regarding business, clients, teams, side projects, language, trust, paywalls, journalism, apps, beer (oh, the way these gents love their beer…) and I was only there for one day of the three. I can get down with that kind of return. 

Many thanks to Matthew for organizing and everyone else who attended — you filled Grok chock full of amazing content. Let’s do this again sometime soon.

Update: Cameron posted a great write-up and curated a Twitter list of all in attendance.