Cartoons and Greek Life

by Matt Mattson

So, I was watching a cartoon that is targeted toward toddlers today. Yes, I admit that.  In my defense, my 1 year old daughter was watching in my lap, but I found myself fascinated by the topic and thought it applied really well to Greek Life.

Apparently the badger and the bear were starting  a secret club on the playground.  Scandal was bound to ensue.  And sure enough it did.  The turtle (named Franklin) and the snail (named Snail) didn’t get in at first.  Then, the badger (apparently the recruitment chair of the club) said this to the turtle:

“I have something special to ask you, Franklin.  Will you join our secret club?”

I was amazed!  You mean that when they invite someone into a secret organization (with secret handshakes and passwords, and yes… t-shirts), they don’t do it by tossing a “bid card” at them during a party like a frisbee?  You mean they don’t invite someone to be a part of a life changing organization by making them walk across a stage in front of everyone and shout out “I JOIN Alpha Beta Gamma!  YEAH BITCHES!”  You mean they treat an invitation to something that is important to them and life changing for the new member as something… SPECIAL?  Yep.  Cartoons have it right.  It is something special.  Good job, Badger, Bear, Franklin the Turtle and Snail.  Have a meaningful, powerful, transformative conversation when you share an inviation to join your organization for life.  Man to man.  Woman to woman.  Take it seriously… it is very serious, and special.

Then I heard this…

SNAIL: “Secret clubs are dumb.”  

FRANKLIN: “Secret clubs aren’t dumb, Snail.  Just secret clubs with stupid rules are dumb.”

For real?  These cartoons agree with me?  Are these cartoons in my head?  This is awesome!

When it comes to recruitment, Franklin’s right.  Stupid rules do make secret clubs kind of dumb.  When it comes to recruitment, this turtle is on to something.  Someone much smarter than me once suggested  (I think Dave Westol is the inspiration for this) that maybe the only recruitment rules your council needs are something like, “Play nice. Represent the best fraternity/sorority values.  Don’t be dumb.”  Then when they do something that would come even close to an “infraction,” we could just go back to our simple rules.

If you’re going to comment on this post and tell me I need to start watching grown-up shows and maybe I’d have better things to write about.  I already know that.  Thank you.

It Only Works If You Do It (& Results to Prove It)

by Matt Mattson

Dynamic Recruitment doesn’t work if you don’t do it.  If you learn it, read about it, come to the programs, shake the presenters hands, and talk about it… you still haven’t done it.  We’ve mentioned before that “To know and not to do is not to know.”  Here’s a very real story from Illinois Wesleyan’s IFC community with very real data to prove what we’re talking about.

During the course of our year-long partnership with IWU and its IFC community, we’ve delivered three unique on-campus learning opportunities (with one more planned for this upcoming fall), along with an opportunity for individual chapters to invest in specialized service.  One chapter did invest in that extra level of service (“Chapter 4 Below”).  There was a clear differentiation between the three chapters that adopted that adopted the Phired Up Dynamic Recruitment philosophy and chose to execute it, versus those three that didn’t.   You’ll see that clearly in the table below.




Fall ‘08

Spring ‘09

Fall ‘09

Spring ’10 (likely #’s)

Change Over Yr.

Chapter 1






Chapter 2






Chapter 3






Chapter 4






Chapter 5






Chapter 6















’08-’09 Total






’09-’10 Total

101 (+19%)


According to this data, and despite only three chapters truly buying into a new way of doing business thus far AND a shift from formal rush to open recruitment, overall recruitment performance improved over the course of a year in the IWU IFC community by 19%.  The three chapters that truly adopted at least portions of the Dynamic Recruitment philosophy performed 58% better than they had the previous year.  Further, the three chapters that chose to execute Dynamic Recruitment are all on pace to reach their highest housing occupancy levels in recent memory, which was a major motivating factor for the partnership to begin with.

[Note: Two chapters that have thus far underperformed have indicated new levels of interest in executing Dynamic Recruitment. The Spring '10 numbers are for results to-date.]

Of course, this is short-term data and real results are measured over time.  Quick analysis, however, clearly shows that dramatic recruitment performance is possible for a chapter and a community, but the true variable that determines success is not whether information is transferred from Phired Up to a community/chapter, but whether the members choose to take action on that information.  Phired Up is very proud of this partnership.

For more actual recruitment results from groups that have adopted Phired Up’s Dynamic Recruitment philosophy, visit here.

Become a fan of Phired Up on Facebook:

Big Events – When They Work and When They Don’t

by Matt Mattson

Our regular readers know that Seth Godin (click on pic to the left to go to his blog) is one of our favorite authors and thinkers.  His books have changed our lives, and his philosophy on marketing is one we love.

We read his blog EVERY DAY, and the last two days have been eerily familiar messages which seem to be speaking directly to us and to our fraternity/sorority audiences.  Their titles: “No More Big Events,” and “The Best Reason for a Big Event.”

While these blog posts from Mr. Godin are really targeted toward businesses, I thought I’d take a moment and draw some lessons that apply to fraternity sorority life.

First, it is no secret that Phired Up has some specific thoughts on “Big Events” in the  fraternity/sorority world.  See here, here, here, here, and here among a whole bunch of other posts.  By “Big Events,” we mean giant rush events — expensive, overcomplicated, giant meat markets that many organizations think are attractive to potential members, but to the vast majority of students (especially the best students) just look stupid.

In Seth’s blog from yesterday titled, “No More Big Events,” he says about big events for businesses, “They don’t work because big events leave little room for iteration, for trial and error, for earning rapport. And the biggest reason: frequent cheap communication is easier than ever, and if you use it, you’ll discover that the process creates far more gains than events ever can.”  I agree.  Plus, for Greeks, they leave little room for genuine conversation, relationship building, meaningful dialogue.  They are a fun celebration, but if you want to get results (in our case, recruitment results), focus on small, interpersonal, every day interactions and communications. 

Now, in today’s blog post titled, “The Best Reason for a Big Event,” he argues that the only way a big event can make a difference for an organization is if it is REMARKABLE.  In his words, “The best reason for a big event… is being big. Nah, HUGE. Ordinary big isn’t good enough any more.”  He continues later on, “If you’re going to have an event, better make it big. Or even bigger than that. It needs to be awe-inspiring, frightening, on deadline and worth losing sleep over.”

At Phired Up we make fun of fraternity/sorority Big Events for three reasons, 1) They’re overcomplicated and expensive – you could get better results from just inviting people to lunch for a week, 2) Big fraternity/sorority events look like giant used car sales that cheapen the experience of making a lifelong commitment to Greek life, and 3) They’re lame.  Most fraternity/sorority big events are either childish/silly (think balloon arches and/or matching T-shirts), boring for potential members (while fun for members), offensive (fraternity men with strippers, I’m talking to you), or utterly expected — there is no surprise, no meaning, no pizzazz, no grandeur. 

So, to take Seth Godin’s lesson from today’s blog post to Greek Life… If you’re going to do a big event to draw attention to yourself, DO IT HUGE!  I’m not talking 25 kegger-kind-of huge.  I’m talking do something meaningful, remarkable, inspirational, wild, bold, powerful, ginormous!  I’m talking about something that people will tell stories about for years to come.  I’m talking about something that represents the best version of who your organization is.  I’m talking about something that people are shocked about (in a positive way).  I’m talking about something that redefines the expectations of Greeks and students as a whole on your campus. 

So… Big Events… ignore them unless you have one that can’t be ignored.

Recruitment Technique: “Chunking” and Closing with Phone #’s

by Josh Orendi

During small activities and 1-on-1 meetings (fyi: coffee is awesome for this) with potential new members it’s ideal to close by asking them to share names and numbers of the people in their social network that they consider top notch.  Remember:  we’re always growing our social network and building our names list.  Ideally, you want to get 3-5+ additional names at a meeting or up to 10+ from someone that’s showing a high level of interest.  Every new relationship is a gatekeeper to dozens of potential new members. 

So what is chunking? 

"Chunk" from Goonies

It can be a little awkward (read: creepy) to ask someone having coffee with you to write down 10 names and numbers of their friends.  So we use a technique called “chunking” along with a series of intentional questions to make sure they feel great about recommending their friends.  Chunking is the process of getting to a lot of referrals by asking several times in the same sitting for smaller ‘chunks’ of leads.  Here’s an example:

— Setting the Stage —

MEMBER:  It sounds like you could be excited about the idea of helping to build a fraternity that’s different than the stereotypes on campus.
PROSPECT:  Yeah, I am. 

MEMBER:  I need your help.  The only way we’re going to be able to tackle a project this big is if we have the best-of-the-best men at the table.  From my experience, top caliber men typically associate with other top caliber guys, would you agree?

— Chunking —

MEMBER:  I’d be willing to bet that a guy like you has dozens of quality men close to him.  When you think about the BEST non-greek men in your current social network … who comes to mind?
PROSPECT:  My roommate, Steve … My friend, Mike … A guy from my class…

MEMBER:  Steve, Mike, and what’s the other guy’s name?

MEMBER:  Okay.  In addition to those 3 guys, who are 2 other men that really impress you?
PROSPECT:  Well, my buddy Craig is a really nice guy … my RA is super involved.  His name is Pete.

MEMBER:  Cool.  Like I said, the best chance we have of really blowing the doors off this project is to have the right guys participating in the conversation.  When you think about all the guys you know on campus.  Who are 3-5 more guys that you think could contribute to this idea?�
PROSPECT:  Bill, maybe Scott, Tom … and that’s probably about all I can think of….

— Getting contact information —

MEMBER:  Awesome.  I’d really like to meet these guys.  Would you be offended if I reached out to those guys to offer them the chance to sit down and talk with me, too?
PROSPECT:  No.  I’m okay with that.

MEMBER:  Perfect.  I’d like to reach out to them with a personal invitation.  I was thinking a phone call might be better than an email.  Would you agree?

MEMBER:  What number can I use to reach them? …
Personal Story - Delta Sigma Phi:  I’m recruiting today at Texas Tech with the Delta Sigma Phi expansion team.  Last week was their first week on campus and they locked in 20 signed bids!  (these guys are rock stars)  The problem is that they forgot about the importance of growing their names list, so leads are running dry.  This morning we met with 10 prospects before noon.  Using the script above we’ve got over 30 new referrals that we’ll be calling this afternoon to set up meetings.  I can’t wait to see the results of the 15+ meetings that were already booked for this afternoon and the interest meeting tonight.  Chunking and phone number closes are working!

Look at Yourself

by Matt Mattson

Take a look at yourself.  Right now.  Seriously, do it.  Look in a mirror… what do you see?  I’m not talking about the surface “attractiveness” stuff.  I’m wondering one thing…


You know the members in your organization who are almost always sending out positive rays of energy?  No, not the annoying cheeseball just dripping with fakeness.  I’m talking about the members in your organization that are genuine, caring, positive, seeking the best in others and in situations.  Think about them.  They’re not just in a good mood, they’re also “workhorses,” aren’t they?   They’re the ones who make stuff happen in your chapter.

Wanna know why?

Because they understand the leading organizations, improving lives and communities, and attracting new members is ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS.  They also know that the more authentic positive energy they send out into the world, the more people will like spending time with them, and the more they can influence those people… because they’re spending time with them.

Stuff gets done because of relationships.  Because of conversations.  Because of people connecting with people. 

So, if you want to influence people to make a positive life-changing decision (JOINING YOUR ORGANIZATION), you’ll probably need them to spend time with you, and they’ll probably spend more time with you if you send more authentic positive energy out into the world.  So, look at yourself.  What message are you sending with the energy emanating from your pores right now?

stuart-smalley-on-snlKeep looking in the mirror.  Now, try smiling.  Seriously…  Good.  Now, pretend that there is a person talking to you and pretend that you genuinely care about that person’s well-being.  See your face?  That’s good.  Now, put your shoulders back a little.  Lift your chin a little.  Look like you’re proud of the decisions you’ve made in your life.  Send out some energy to that mirror that says you’re one of the best of the best people around.  Send out the energy of a high performer.  Look into the mirror and look for the best version of yourself.

This isn’t some Stuart Smalley, “I’m good enough, and I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it…” exercise.  I challenge you to critically analyze the energy you send out to the world this week.  Ask a trusted friend to help you.  This time of year it is easy to complain, moan, and be utterly gloomy.  I get it.  Push yourself to be FUN TO BE AROUND. Go one step further… try not to bitch, moan, complain, or be dreary in your Facebook statuses.  Make people glad they read your status.  I dare you.

High performing, socially excellent, “workhorses,” who are great recruiters… they send out a powerful, positive, genuine, fun, caring, confident energy. The energy you send out is your choice.

Turbo Boost Your Recruitment Motivation

by Matt Mattson

turbo-boostWhen you look around your campus, do you see success stories?  Or do you see the same-old, same-old Greek organizations doing what they’ve seemingly always done?  Look around closely at other organizations on your campus?  Are they inspiring?  Do they challenge your concept of excellence?  Or are they just fighting to survive?

When it comes to recruitment (among other things) it is easy to get caught in a rut.  You look around and you see that you’re just as good as or slightly better than other chapters on campus, and that seems pretty good… yet you vaguely FEEL the problems that come with mediocre recruitment (cashflow, behavior issues, lack of recognition on campus, apathy, etc.).  While you know you can and should do better, there isn’t a lot of external motivation to change your behavior.

You need a TURBO BOOST!  Here are 5 ideas to turbo boost your motivation to recruit differently (and better):

1. Read these success stories.  Seriously.  Read how these chapters and inter/national organizations have dramatically changed for the better because of a change in recruitment processes (from static to Dynamic).

2. Call your inter/national headquarters and ask them to tell you about the biggest and best chapters in the country. Better yet, take a road trip to the biggest chapter in your fraternity/sorority at another college or university.

3. Attend a national or regional fraternity/sorority event (or a bigger interfraternal event like AFLV/NBGLC, SEIFC, SEPC, NGLA, etc.)

4. Find a chapter’s composite picture that has at least 50% more members than your chapter has and post a copy of it in your house or meeting area.

5. Calculate what your chapter’s budget could be if it had three times the members it has today.  Calculate the service hours and philanthropic dollars that a chapter twice your current size could accumulate.

BONUS IDEA:  Imagine you aren’t a Greek organization.  Imagine you’re just a group of dozens (maybe even hundreds) of the best of the best students from your campus all working toward a powerful, clear, emotional goal (caring for local foster children, traveling to Haiti to aid in relief, funding the education of underpriveleged youth in a nearby city, networking with the top business and political leaders in the world, etc.)  The only thing that holds you together is a set of shared values that you all commit to living up to every day.  What could you accomplish? If that doesn’t motivate you to want to recruit more people to help you, then I don’t know what will.

Go get ‘em.

The Fun Theory

by Woody Woodcock

Watch this video from

This seems to have clear applications to organizational recruitment. 

For those of you who have been a participant at a Dynamic Recruitment Workshop from Phired Up in the past, raise your hand if you laughed a lot and though it was awesome. Keep your hand up. Now turn to the person next to you and give them a high five right now! 

have-fun-woodyI’ll never forget the first time I saw the Phired Up team in action and high-fived someone. As you probably know watching a Dynamic Recruitment Presentation for the first time is like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant. There is a lot of learning shoved down the throats of participants.  But it works.  Because we have a good time — it is fun. This always begs the question, though, “how do you take this back to your chapter?”  You could do it in a boring way, or you could make it creative and fun.

Think this or this.

I love how the folks at  change behavior by making things creative and fun! 

How can you make recruitment more fun?  How can you make it a game?  How can you make it positively ridiculous or absurd?

The Fun Theory folks are awesome for trying to change people’s behavior in action.  What could you do on your campus, in your chapter, on an expansion, at your HQ, or at your institution that could yield the same results?

People will recruit if it is creative and fun.  People will want to join something creative and fun.  But remember, lowest-common-denominator fun (beer, sex, filth) is not very creative.  Can you actually add creative, fun, value to the lives of students in your organization and on your campus.  If you can, you’ll likely attract a lot of high quality people to do that with you.