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Behind the Grins: Thanks & Giving

As the founder and Chief Purveyor of Fun at Grin Events, I get asked how I got into the business of having fun. I realized there are a lot of reasons and many people to thank.

So this Thanksgiving, I am reflecting on the people who helped me fulfill my dream of having a business centered around fun and games …

The Grindle Clan

I’m very much a product of my family, especially Grandma Dotty and my Dad. They showed me how to have fun, be the center of attention, and organize a group. The parts of their personalities I admired most are the parts of my personality I am most proud of. I learned how to connect a group through fun and games by watching them in action. It’s part of my DNA.

Playing games is a big part of the story too. Mom and Dad taught me and my sister, Rita, to play games at a very young age. That’s how we connected with each other (and still do). I simply didn’t know any other way, and now I’m raising my son, Colin, the same way. Although, he might be taking it to the extreme!

The Friends Along the Way

I learned my chops organizing events for friends in high school and college without even realizing it. I credit the decision to make this talent my profession to my good friend, Brian Gemmer, who told me I was “a genius at having fun” and to quit my job and do what I do best. I doubt he remembers saying this to me (we might or might not have had a few beers), but it had a profound impact on me. I spent years working for others and dabbling in (not so successful) entrepreneurial projects until I found my true calling and created Game Night San Diego – a company dedicated to team building through games.

The pandemic was a scary time professionally, but also gave me the amazing opportunity to create a virtual version of a Game Show I had been hosting in person with Game Night San Diego. One of my closest friends from college, Steve Long, was my very first client right after the world shut down. He took a huge chance on me hosting an event for his company, Dome Construction. The event was successful and his boss, Rob, loved it! Dome hired us multiple times and Rob was a champion of our virtual experience telling many other CEOs in his network.


Over the last few years, I have been overwhelmed with how many people want to help grow the business just because they like the idea. Thank you to Bill Kern who spread the word about us to his Vistage group, Betina Osborne who introduced us to Aya Healthcare and their amazing events team, Maureen Stubbs and Lisa Ben-Nun who have hired us to play games with almost the entire company, and Natalie Perali from Latham & Watkins who helped me realize how much fun attorneys can be.

None of these events would be possible without the help of our amazing staff including Philip, Allie, Ken, Tauri, Mike, Cait, Andrew, Tamara, Jim, and many others (past, present, and future).

...and Giving

This is an opportunity for me to share with you the people who helped make Grin Events the company it is today. Rachel from Rachel K Group helped create the strategy to rebrand from Game Night San Diego and serves as an ongoing marketing consultant and informal business coach. John Thompson created the Grin Events brand identity, capturing my idea of two people smiling at each other in one simple logo. Jesse Eslinger created our animated logo, Scott Stevens composed the original music we use in our Game Show, The SkyFloor managed our website, and Rico Molden and Phil Ferrari created our promotional videos. I highly recommend these and many others who contributed to our success over the years.

While I’m most thankful for our clients who understand their most valuable asset is the people and allow us to create meaningful connections through fun and games, I’m also thankful to work with our partners (and think you should work with them too). This includes Jean Walker from Beach Genie, Jordan Bruner from the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, Krissy Raghina from We Crush Events, and all the other amazing vendors, hotels, and event planning staff we get to work with every day.

Most Important Of All

My wife, Christine, deserves the biggest thank you for providing stability and support allowing me to chase my entrepreneurial dream (and maybe even find it), all while taking care of our 6-year-old son and working a full time job and volunteering at the school and … the list is endless. Thank you!

Looking back on the year, there’s a lot to be thankful for … what are you thankful for?

[Photo: Me, my sister, Rita, and Grandma Dotty]