A Look Back (and Forward)

By Josh Orendi 

Many people have asked about the history of Phired Up Productions. Some people think we've been around forever, while others are just learning about us. We thought we’d take a moment to share a little about where we've been, where we are, and where we're going. Thanks for supporting the Dynamic Recruitment Revolution! 

Winter 2002: Matt and I started Phired Up with a big dream of providing revolutionary education services to membership organizations. We chose Greek Life as the place to establish our footing for a variety of reasons ‐ mostly because it's what we knew and what we cared about most. We were crazy enough to believe that we could introduce a new recruitment model for success that would change the way Greeks recruit new members and eventually become the industry standard. 

4 ½ years later "

Summer 2007: Phired Up Productions has been featured on well over 100 college campuses, partners with over 20 international fraternity headquarters, established a best-selling book on fraternity recruitment (Good Guys), and touches the lives of over 10,000 Greeks per year. Our Dynamic Recruitment system is quickly becoming the standard for excellence in the Greek world.

Two amazing women came into our lives in 2006, Colleen Coffey & Jessica Gendron. These women were able to see the potential of Phired Up's model for the sorority world. They built on our vision, took ownership over the curriculum, authored the first ever book on sorority recruitment (I Heart Recruitment), and began delivering a female-specific version of the Dynamic Recruitment Workshops. We anticipate success for them beyond what we've experienced in less time ‐ not only do they get to learn from all our mistakes, but let's face it, women are much smarter than us men.

Phired Up has also expanded its offerings into an arena that we always knew would work out, but we just took our time getting there — non-Greek membership organizations. We're working with collegiate student organizations of all sorts on growing the quantity and quality of their memberships. We’ll soon be working with more and more community organizations and corporate partners, but we’ll probably always be most closely aligned with the fraternity/sorority world.

The next 5 years "

By 2012: Look for Phired Up to provide the front end education and backbone support system for the membership recruitment process of the world's most successful membership organizations. Look for more programs, more resources, and more publications. Look for the revolution in recruitment excellence to continue. Look for every member of every membership organization to know about Phired Up, to know about The Eight Steps to Limitless Possibility, and to realize their potential for true greatness.

Man! What a fun ride this has been. Thanks to all our interfraternal Greek friends and colleagues who have supported the work we are doing at Phired Up. We're confident you will continue to reap the rewards of realizing a higher quantify of higher quality members through the year-round, values-based model of Dynamic Recruitment. 

Yo Yo Recruitment

by Josh Orendi and Matt Mattson 

When was the last time you yo-yo'd? What a fun thing to do as a kid. First just trying to keep it going up and down consistently. Then, when you get a little better, trying to "walk the dog" and "loop-de-loop." We don't yo-yo enough anymore.

Did you know that the yo-yo was patented in the 1920's by Donald Duncan, but the origin of the yo-yo dates back hundreds of years prior? Over 400 years ago, the yo-yo looked a bit different than it does today and it was used by Filipino men as a weapon for hunting and combat. Can you imagine the pressure of knowing the responsibility of your family's survival rested upon your ability to bonk running animals in the head with your jumbo Yo-yo rock? Why did the people of that time settle for the yo-yo system for survival? The obvious answer is, because it worked. It must have been the best thing they had at that time.

Today, we can look back and see how ridiculous this seems, but at the time … this was cutting edge stuff. It was a proven system that worked better than no system at all, so they used it. In fact, they used it for quite a long time. And if you had been in their shoes (if they wore shoes then), you probably wouldn't have questioned it or seen it as old-fashioned.

So here is a question that brings us to recruitment" Does RUSH work on your campus? (keep in mind that it was good enough to recruit most of you) Is it the best system available? Is it possible that you just haven't been introduced or inspired by a better alternative? Is it possible that you're hunting for the survival of your organization with yo-yo's?

Let's examine that a little bit further. Look back at your membership trends over the past 5, 10 or 25 years. Do they consistently grow? Do they stay even at your perfect number of members? Or, more likely, do they go up and down like a bobbing yo-yo? Here's another question" Is your chapter so good at recruitment that it can "walk the dog" or do "loop-de-loops" with its recruitment practices? Or are you still trying to master the basics?

Phired Up's Dynamic Recruitment Training and our books, Good Guys and I Heart Recruitment, help chapters understand the difference between your traditional “yo-yo” approach that produces up/down results, and a system for limitless growth. By transforming your recruitment practices from the tried-and-true (but ancient and mediocre) practices of traditional rush to a more dynamic system that utilizes The Eight Steps to Limitless Possibility, you can move past recruiting for survival. Your chapter can not only survive, it can thrive if you use the latest technology, and that's what Phired Up's publications, training, the blog, and our other free resources offer. Take a minute to look back through past blog posts, explore our free resources, and give us a call or E-mail to talk about how you can move past using yo-yo's for recruitment.

Recruitment Campfire Song

by Matt Mattson

One of my favorite things to do during the summer months is going camping. I love sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, and of course, singing campfire songs. A couple of years ago I bought a guitar and took a few lessons just so I could play those campfire songs.

Since everything in my life revolves around recruitment, I found a way to write a recruitment campfire song. The truth is, I wrote this song thinking about the great revolutionary songs of the 1960's. It seemed like for my parents' generation, music lead the movement for positive change. So, I figured if Phired Up is going to call for a recruitment revolution in the fraternity/sorority world, we had better have a song to lead that revolution.

So, here it is" I offer it to you for singing round the campfire this summer when you're enjoying s'mores with your brothers or sisters ‐ use this to inspire some motivation for a recruitment revolution within your organization.
[note: this was written for fraternities, but sorority women could easily change a few words to make it their own!]
To the tune of LET IT BE, written by John Lennon and made famous by The Beatles. Key of G. If you’d like to learn how to play it at your campfire this summer, check this out.

When I find myself in times of RUSH
My founders' faces comes to me.
Your values are the answer.
Recruit me. Recruit me.

And at our rush events we talk
About ourselves way too much.
If we'd just stop and listen, we'd hear
Recruit me. Recruit me.

Recruit me. Recruit me.
Recruit me. Recruit me.
BEER is not the answer.
Recruit me. Recruit me. Yeah.

And when prospects from the Names List
Show up at the house this year.
I'll try to get to know them,
First make me your friend, then recruit me.

And though it may be tempting,
We won't rely on a big party.
Rush events are scary,
Singin', Recruit me, Recruit me.

Recruit me. Recruit me.
Recruit me. Recruit me.
CHICKS are not the answer.
Please just recruit me. Yeah.

And when initiation's over,
Our pledge class will be the biggest yet.
Because we got to know them.
Recruit me. Recruit me.

We'll wake up to the sound of music.
My brothers will all be hugging me.
[Spoken] Brothers don't shake hands, brother hug.
Hug all your brothers
Recruit Me. Recruit Me.

-One more time!

Recruit me. Recruit me.
Recruit me. Recruit me.
RUSH is not the answer.
Recruit me. 

10 Steamy Recruitment Ideas for the Summertime

By Matt Mattson

Summer is on its way! This time of year many student organization leaders are NOT thinking about recruitment. Many of you, however (especially those of you who attended a Phired Up Dynamic Recruitment Training or read one of Phired Up's publications), had some good discussions and learned some important lessons about building a year-round recruitment system. So, while the summer is a time to relax and unwind from the rigors of the school year, it is not a time to forget about the importance of recruitment.

And in case you're having a hard time remembering why it is necessary to think about recruitment during the summer, remember that recruitment is at the foundation of all of your organizations successes and challenges. If you want a great 2007-2008 school year for your organization, start working now and over the summer to drive a higher quantity of higher quality members into your organization. After all, a higher quantity of high quality members will mean more people to do the work of the organization, more friends to hang out with, less work for you, more money flowing into the organization, and more energy to accomplish the mission of your group.

Here are 10 Ways to Work Toward Recruitment Results During the Summer!

  1. Summer Recruitment. Many organizations (fraternities and sororities especially) operate a full-fledged summer recruitment program. They work with incoming first-year students before they even set foot on campus through home visits, community fairs, direct mailings, group trips to baseball games and amusement parks, and many other creative initiatives. Look at Phired Up's publications and free resources for more ideas.
  2. Summer Reading. Have you read Good Guys or I Heart Recruitment? These are the only two books in the world on how-to do values-based dynamic recruitment for fraternities and sororities. Also, check out some of Phired Up's other recommended readings for your summer days at the beach.
  3. Recruitment Retreat. Consider gathering the leaders and/or "horses" of your organization at a cottage in the woods or a meeting center nearby to discuss how you'll implement dynamic recruitment practices in the upcoming school year.
  4. Find a Recruitment Mentor. The summer is a great time to talk with your alumni members, your campus student life professionals, or other community professionals about serving as a mentor. These individuals know how to run successful businesses and organizations and you can learn a lot of important lessons from them that can be applied to your recruitment practices for your organization. Find salespeople, business leaders, or leaders of community groups and ask them for advice.
  5. Build Your Names List. If you haven't built a formal database yet to collect and manage the names that your members are driving into your organization, the summer is a great time for that. Remember, you can't recruit who you don't know, so the first step to a successful recruitment effort in the fall is building a way to manage the contacts that you and your fellow members will be making.
  6. Learn from Work. Many people have summer jobs, and while they can often be a drag ‐ keeping you from the beach ‐ they can also be a great way to learn about successful businesses and how to run a quality organization. Whether you work in food service, sales, customer relations, construction or consulting, you can learn some great lessons by watching how your summer job's business operates, and applying those best practices to your organization.
  7. Learn from Other Organizations. Most campuses have over 150 registered student organizations, but rarely do the leaders talk with one another about their successes and challenges. Connect with some of the other leaders of high performing organizations on campus during the summer months and see what you can learn from how they do business.
  8. Attend an Inter/National Conference. Many organizations have summertime Inter/national conferences, conventions, leadership institutes, or even recruitment schools. Go to these. They're almost always life-changing experiences. In fact, you might even see Phired Up at your organization's conference this summer"
  9. Practice. If you attended one of Phired Up's programs this past year, or if you read one of our publications, you learned about some recruitment SKILLS that only really work if you PRACTICE them. The summer is a great time to practice "The Screw," "Getting Digits," "The 5 F*n Ways to Master Conversations" and other interpersonal communication skills. Try these out at the mall, at summer parties, at the beach or even at your family reunion! Practice makes prepared.
  10. Plan for Fall Training. Plan now to bring Phired Up or another recruitment trainer to your organization in the fall or winter of the next school year. The sooner your members are exposed to revolutionary recruitment practices, the sooner the revolution of success will begin for your organization.

Enjoy the summer, and stay cool!

The “Pledge Test”

by Josh Orendi 

Most fraternities and sororities have moved beyond the word "pledge" ‐ which often carries a negative connotation ‐ to terms such as "candidate" or "new member." In recent years, we have seen most national organizations officially reduce the length of time between new member bidding and initiation by over a month's time. At the chapter level, this shortened the typical "pledge period" from as many as 10-16 weeks down to a more typical 4-6 week time block. Several groups have gone a step further by eliminating their "pledge period" all together! It's true. The trend of new member education appears to be moving toward a full-membership education program rather than a front end loaded process. 

All that being said, this article is about one very specific part of the new member process that is more than a century old for many fraternities. It's that sacred rite of passage that many of us had to endure " The Pledge Test. In some cases, this exam comes directly from the national headquarters itself. This feared exam is administered to confirm that "you've learned your stuff" and verify that you are indeed prepared for membership. 

Ironically, most undergraduates will admit that they often "help" their new members pass the exam and most national representatives will admit that they never even look at a new member's results. Still, despite the education trends and failure to administer a true assessment of knowledge, many of our undergraduate chapters swear by this "important" teaching tool. 

A wiser man than myself once said, "meet them where they are at." If the idea of a final exam inspired Pledge Test is important to the undergraduate membership, then let's provide the chapter with a test that has some educational benefit. Most pledge tests are little more than a history exam of fraternal factoids. If the purpose of the test is to assess incoming members' understanding of the organization and gauge how well prepared they are for leadership responsibilities, then we need more from them than regurgitated facts. 

Here is an example of a typical pledge test:
1. What year was XYZ founded?
2. Name the founders of XYZ.
3. Where was XYZ founded?
4. What is XYZ's creed?
5. What is our secret motto?
6. Where is the National HQ located?
7. Name the chapter executive officers.
8. List the Greek Alphabet.
9. When was our chapter founded?
10. What are the fraternity's colors?
Need proof? Here are several pledge tests available on the web by Googling "fraternity pledge test."
http://www.pikes.org/media/documents/OfficerResources/pledged.pdf (pages 60-67)
http://www.apo.org/site/site_files/clearinghouse/ls_2001_apo_pledgetrainer.pdf (pages 21-35)

If we were being totally honest in this article, I should have added a few additional questions that we often see sneaking their way onto the test, such as:
1. Which brother is nicknamed Flounder?
2. What is your big brother's pledge name?
3. Write out your family tree.
4. Which brother has the hottest sister?
5. How many members can XYZ fit into an outhouse?

So, here's a bold idea ". Let's consider questions that might actually benefit our new members. Let's think about a few questions that might challenge them to think critically about the organization and express their own ideas. Let's focus on the parts of the organization that will actually make them better members and even better men. (Knowing my founding father's middle names hasn't yet helped me in my fraternal quest for excellence.)

Try these on for size:
1. What were the conditions that led our founding fathers to create XYZ fraternity?
2. Describe the purpose of the fraternity in your own words based on the vision of our founding fathers.
3. What are the shared commitments of every brother of XYZ?
4. Please define and share the fraternity's position on the following:
a. Misuse of Alcohol
b. Hazing
c. Scholastic Achievement
d. Community Service
e. Philanthropy
f. Social Fraternity
g. Sexual Misconduct
5. Explain why it has been historically necessary to create and maintain fraternal secrets.
6. Please explain the role of each of the following, followed by resources available to the chapter by each:
a. National Headquarters
b. Interfraternity Council
c. Greek Life office
d. Alumni Corporation
e. Alumni Association
7. Please identify and describe the primary responsibilities of our chapter's executive officers.
8. Please highlight several ways your money is being spent when paying dues to:
a. Chapter
b. Insurance Premium
c. Housing Corporation
d. IFC
e. National HQ
9. Please offer three examples of how our chapter rewards excellence. Also, offer three examples of how we hold members accountable.
10. Is our existence on this campus a right or a privilege? Explain.
11. How does the fraternity serve brothers after graduation?

In recent years, it has been suggested by several University officials that Greek life is a detriment to the health and wellbeing of students. Several case studies have been highlighted including examples of alcohol poisoning, sexual assault, academic declines the semester a student joins, hazing allegations, and community complaints of fraternities violating local ordinances. You have been called to present a statement to the University Board of Trustees. Looking at the school's mission statement (attached) prepare a presentation defending a pro-Greek position that will convince the Board of Trustees of the valuable role that fraternities play in serving our institution.

Clearly this is not an all-inclusive list of questions, but I think you'll agree that we are setting an expectation that incoming members do more than memorize data. The process of learning about the fraternity at this level has both academic and real-life merit. If you're not convinced, keep doing what you're doing. At least they'll be able to recite the fraternity flower.

“Get Your Name Out There”

by Matt Mattson

As an undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University, I earned my Bachelor's degree in Advertising/Public Relations. I learned all about messaging, marketing, advertising, press releases, media relations, etc., etc. I focused four years of my life on those subjects, so you’ll probably expect me to offer tons of tips about how student organizations (fraternities and sororities especially) can “get their name out there.” After all, that's one of the first strategies we hear when we ask student leaders about their current plans for recruiting a higher quantity of higher quality members into their organizations. They say, “Well, we've got some great new plans for big events and advertising efforts that will get our name out there.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to offer those tips (not here anyway). Because based on what we know at Phired Up Productions as the recruitment experts, getting your name out there is not nearly as effective as getting names into your organization.

For those of you who have read Good Guys or I Heart Recruitment, or for those of you who have participated in one of our Dynamic Recruitment Workshops, or even if you've been a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we often talk about several core concepts to re-shape recruitment practices. 1) You Can't Recruit Who You Don't Know, 2) People Don't Join Organizations, People Join People, and 3) Quantity Drives Quality. None of these cornerstone concepts call for great advertising, world-class marketing themes, or “getting your name out there.” In fact, they teach the importance of building public awareness simply by creating recruitment processes that support as many one-on-one relationships between your current members and the population of your campus/community.

Now, of course, we do address marketing efforts in our publications when we talk about ensuring that any marketing/PR that you do invest does two things: a) Communicates your organization's core values, not just catchy sayings or cute themes, and b) Describes the benefits of membership, not just the features of your organization. The truth is, however, that we offer these tips because we see that many organizations' marketing and PR efforts actually do more harm than good for the organization (or at the least are a waste of money).

Phired Up's messages, philosphies and systems are about driving results. While we value (me especially, with my PR background) good marketing, advertising and public relations efforts, we recommend that these efforts not be the bulk of your recruitment plan or system. Instead, change public opinion and “get your name out there” through empowering your members to meet as many prospective members as possible (and referral sources). Use a Dynamic Recruitment model. Get more names IN, worry less about getting your name OUT.