Hi all! There’s someone we’d like you to meet! Chances are if you’ve been to Greenville Grok in the past you may not have had the pleasure of meeting her, and that’s unfortunate. Why? Because she’s the powerhouse that runs the whole thing.
Meet Erin Godbey, the consistent thread that has helped shape and make Grok what it is. We’ve got a quick Q/A with her so that you can get to know her better:
You are one of the ribbons that have been woven into Grok since it’s beginnings. Tell us your story about how you got involved, and how you’ve seen Grok grow over the years.
I started working with Grok the first official year of the conference, in 2012. That year we had 100 attendees, and the whole event was very grassroots. I felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants that year, figuring it out as we went, and powering through to make it happen.
But make it happen we did, thanks to a lot of helping hands. After that first year, I encouraged a lot more advance planning from the team and my inner OCD was much happier!
(Side note: Eric Dodds was one of my volunteers that first year, and he did such a phenomenal job that after the event I dragged Peter Barth over to him and said, “You have to meet this kid.” Fast forward, and that “kid” is now a Partner and the Chief Marketing Officer at The Iron Yard. Yeah, he owes me big time. ;P )
As the event coordinator, I’ve had the pleasure of designing the conference experience, from wooden building blocks on the lunch tables to photo galleries of old bearded dudes. I also manage the overall logistics, which means a lot spreadsheets, awesome volunteers, and bossing people around.
The conference has increased in scale and reach over the last few years. The greatest things about Grok are seeing the connections made between attendees, and how attendees grow from year to year. Whether it’s making new friends, find a potential job, or applying the advice shared, attendees often take away much more than they anticipated.
What type of traditions have you intertwined into Grok’s ethos over the years that to help make it success? (What has worked, what hasn’t?)
The foundation of Grok is the 10/20 sessions, it’s our ultimate tradition. These conversations are what makes Grok so special. In the 10/20 groups, everyone is equal and everyone’s voice is important. It’s easy to share a challenge, pitch an idea, and get feedback from your peers and mentors alike. This year, we’re going back to the basics and making the 10/20s the overall focus.
As the conference has grown, we’ve experimented with incorporating different activities into the event, everything from cooking classes to driving racecars. While it’s always fun to connect with fellow attendees in a casual setting, the activities that stayed true to Grok’s overarching vision have seen the most success.
We’re always going to be experimenting a little bit, so that we can continue to improve the conference and make it the best it can be. We’re so lucky to be a part of this community, and we want Grok to exemplify it’s best qualities: inclusive, supportive, and challenging. Cheers to all who have joined us for this ride!
What “new traditions” do you think we’ll have to look forward to this year and in the future for Grok?
The conference has had a different look and feel each year. Last year, I think we really hit our stride with the venue at the Huguenot Mill (an old textile mill, now an event venue with ample natural light, old brick, and exposed beams), and with the vintage-inspired decor.
I especially enjoy the juxtaposition of the bright shiny tech / design world with the worn wooden chairs, letterpress type, and handmade cornhole boards. We’re going to continue with this same venue and style, and let this be our home for a bit.
As part of the return to our grassroots beginnings, we’ve intentionally paired back some aspects of Grok. Instead of constantly trying to create over-the-top activities, we’re striving for more informal yet meaningful interactions.
One of the new events for this year is a Game Night, which will feature everything from old-school board games to Xbox and Wii. I think it’s going to be everyone’s new favorite tradition.
Erin Godbey is a maker and event planner, as well as the co-founder of Indie Craft Parade. She loves old photos, impromptu parties, all the kitties in the world, and is obsessed with baking the perfect cookie.