Becoming a Woman/Man Through Social Excellence

by Matt Mattson

I had this acquaintance in high school who I’ll call Nick.  Nick was a decent enough guy, but he never really stood out.  He was just kind of there…  Mehhh.  That was Nick.  Just, mehhhh.  He was kind of rough around the edges, a little messy, a little blah.  Nick was a good person, got pretty good grades, and even played some sports, but he was never really anyone you noticed.  He just kind of hung around the edges of our high school class, which was quite an accomplishment since a total of 79 people graduated with me from my small town school.  Anyway, Nick was just kind of… mehhh.


Not Nick. You see what I mean though.

After graduation, most of us went to colleges in the area, but Nick made a different decision.  He went to West Point to become an officer in the United States Army.  Then, the next summer, Nick came back to our small town to say hello to everyone.

Have you ever seen someone you know go through this utter transformation after they join the military?

Nick came back a different human being.  Nick somehow stood six inches taller.  He looked different, he acted differently, he talked differently… he was a different person — no that’s not right — he had become a dramatically better version of himself.  His experience at West Point had turned him from a boy into a man.  He had become more confident, more bold, more polite, and more (among other things) SOCIALLY EXCELLENT (read more on Social Excellence here, here, and here.)

I remember the mothers of my friends in town asking, “Who’s that gentleman?”  My friends and I would answer, “Mom, that’s Nick.”  Absolute shock would wash over the mothers’ faces, and then they’d give us sideways glances that would subtly suggest we should become more like Nick.  Nick had transormed.  Nick was someone we now looked up to as an example, but somehow it was still Nick… just a different, better version of Nick.

What if fraternities and sororities could provide this level of transformation for our members? This is what we believe a focus on Social Excellence can provide to the Greek movement.  Once we return to our roots as social organizations, and choose to intentionally prepare our members, as our primary purpose, to become the best versions of themselves, then our value to members, communities, universities, and society will skyrocket.

The more cynical among the readers will point to hazing as the reason for a military person’s transformation, but I just don’t buy that we need to do that.  I know this is a complex matter, but in my mind hazing that occurs in the military is meant to teach emerging military personnel how to follow, in strict obedience, before they can lead.  How to not question authority.  How to follow orders and behave.  I don’t think any fraternities/sororities want to create follower drones in their organizations.  Since we’re not leading people onto a battlefield, we have the luxury of  preparing our members to become critical thinkers, immediate leaders, and empowered individuals.  We have an entirely different purpose than a unit in U.S. Armed Forces.  In fact, we should be focusing on one thing — increasing the self-esteem of our newest members so that a) they’ll stay involved, and b) they become seen as the most confident, bold, assertive, yet compassionate students on campus.

If we can provide this level of positive transformation in the lives of our members through a focus on Social Excellence, then one day…   One day leaders of industry and politics will look at their pool of candidates for important vice president jobs.  They’ll notice a group of men and women who seem to stand a little taller, who command a room a little more, who connect with other people on a deeper level.  They’ll notice that group of people and say, “Those men and women are socially excellent.  Those must be Greeks.  Those are the leaders I’m looking for.”

Horses, Mules, and… Donkeys?

by Matt Mattson

I’m no livestock expert.  Let me start out by admitting that.  I talk to some students occassionally, however, that have a lot of experience with livestock and they often like to correct my lack of equine experience.  This conversation will often come up following a Dynamic Recruitment Workshop that includes the analogy of Horses vs. Mules (get some info on this here.)

In our analogy of Horses vs. Mules we often teach that there are two types of members — HORSES that make up 10%-20% of the chapter but account for 80%-90% of the results, and MULES… the rest of the members.  Our most important message in that analogy is that HORSES RECRUIT HORSES while MULES RECRUIT MULES.  So, instead of the horses spending all their time trying to push or pull their unmotivated mules to just show up for recruitment work, simply GATHER YOUR HORSES AND GET TO WORK.  You can get more results by recruiting with your MOTIVATED MEMBERS than you can trying to motivate your mules. Your horses are who you want on the front lines of recruitment anyway.

I had an undergraduate fraternity gentleman challenge this assertion recently.  He was one of those livestock/equine experts, and he pushed me to re-think our analogy.  Devin Patton, a member of Alpha Gamma Rho at University of Idaho shared these thoughts with me over E-mail today.

Coming from a livestock background I thought to myself, mules aren’t worthless.  And coming from living within a fraternity I also thought that there aren’t just people who work hard and people who do nothing.  So I started trying to figure out a better way to explain this so I could bring it up to Matt after we were finished. 

To me a mule is an animal that is half a horse, so it has some ability within it to do a good job working.  But on the other hand it is half donkey, so it is half an ass.  I’ve spent a little time packing mules recently and I came to the conclusion that while mules aren’t the type of animal that is going to put out all of its effort and energy to the cause at hand.  You can still take several mules, tie a pretty heavy load to their backs, and lead them along with a horse.  Even average mules will just line out and follow packing their load, and a lot of times they will do this better than most horses, but there has to be a leader showing the mules where to go. 

I began thinking the similarities and my perceptions of the type of men that live in most fraternities.  And I thought, there are guys in fraternities who when given a job, they will do their job very well, but as soon as the job is done they go back to doing nothing until a leader gives them another job.  I thought well that sounds a lot like a mule to me. 

After the presentation was over I presented my case to Matt for him to change his presentation, and to change his definition of a mule.  Surprisingly he agreed with my idea about three kinds of fraternity men.  And after I explained that mules aren’t the worthless animals, that those are the donkey’s, he started laughing and said nobody had explained that to him before but it explains a fraternity house a little more in depth than just horses and mules.   

There are horses who are the leaders within the fraternity who may not have the most skill, but they put forth the most effort and are willing to go to their limits if need be.  Then there are the mules, which with a horse leading them have the ability to pack a pretty heavy load and do a good job.  Which leaves me with the donkeys; the donkeys are the true worthless animals.  Granted sometimes you might get a donkey to do some sort of work, but donkeys have a bad habit of just deciding to quit at the most inopportune times creating a lot more work for all the others involved in the situation.  So just remember, if you have a mule who is half-assing it sometimes, that is just because it is half an ass.  Just be glad you don’t have a donkey on your hands for they are complete asses.

So, perhaps there are horses, mules, and donkeys/asses.  I still assert that you want your horses on the front lines of recruitment so you are sure to get horses in return.  However, Devin’s lesson is that good leaders (stallions) can give specific tasks to some of the mules, and they’ll carry that load.  There are jobs to be done that mules should do.  There is leadership that should be done by horses.  Then there are the asses in your group.

I’m still confused by all the different actual variations of real-life stallions, horses, donkeys, mules, asses, jack-asses, etc.  But I do know that unmotivated members are NOT a valid excuse for recruitment underperformance.  Gather your horses, assign tasks to your mules, and leave the barn door open for your donkeys as you just go out and get to work recruiting more high performing members.

The Spring Break Mindset

by Woody Woodcock

So you’re back from spring break?  Anybody have any interesting stories to tell, new tattoos, scars, maybe a new girlfriend/boyfriend… maybe an ex-girlfriend/boyfriend?  Ha ha! I’m sure you do and hey I’m not judging.  Did you meet anyone interesting on your trip? How did you do that?  Oh, by small talk on the beach, at a bar somewhere, cruise ship, airplane? What did you talk about? March Madness, Tiger Woods, Healthcare, how much you guys party at your school, who you know from their old high school? Yeah, I gotcha.

Anybody screw an outrageous amount of people into a conversation and maybe get some digits ? [readers that haven't seen Phired Up programs may not understand the term, "screw" here.  It's not what you think.]  Maybe now you have some people to follow up with.  How many Facebook friends did you add over spring break?   Ask yourself, “Why was it so much easier to meetpeople on spring break?”  It was easier wasn’t it… didn’t waste all your time hanging with just your crew did you….?  I hope not.

What did you talk about on Spring Break?  It was so simple because you kept it fun and easy nothing too serious.  You didn’t dive into selling your fraternity/sorority by the third sentence of every conversation like some desperate member during recruitment week, right?  Sometimes that is all it takes tostart a relationship with someone.  What if you met that many new people each week on your campus?  How different would your social network be if it were always that easy to meet people?  How cool would it be if you added that many Facebook friends each week and maybe these people turn into prospective new members… or as I heard recently “Bro-spective” new members?  How can you bring that Spring Break Socially Excellent Attitude back to school with you?

I just came awayfrom an amazing experience in Los Cabos Mexico thanks to Tom Pennington and the American Leadership Academy which is attended by men of Phi Kappa Psi.  During my time at the American Leadership Academy successful people like Jerry Nelson (Founder of ALA) and Paul Wineman (National President for Phi Psi) along with other top speakers kept talking about a winning mindset.  Winners and losers have a certain mindset.  Top negotiators have a certain mindset, top leaders, top recruiters and gold medalists from the Olympics like Coach John Speraw USA 2008 Beijing (Phi Psi, UCLA, now head men’s Volleyball coach at UC Irvine).

You actually WON with people on spring break because of your mindset not to be afraid to have a conversation with a stranger. You probably were offering to help them with a seat, offering to share some sunscreen, offering a Gatorade or bottled water, or maybe a cerveza… you had a generous mindset, and that is how you need to be all the time to WIN with relationships.

Don’t worry if you don’t get anything in return from these people immediately.  Chances are if you consistently treat people right, they will want to spend more time with you.  Change your mindset, be generous be normal and do normal things to make friends on your campus.   Can you try to have that winning spring break mentality year round?  You were just there and I know you have the sunburn or hangover to remind you what it was like.

High Five Etiquette

Many of our past Dynamic Recruitment Workshop attendees give high fives all the time.  They appreciate the energy of high fives, the connection high fives establish, and the inherent recruitment lessons that live in the power of a high five.  High fives get people Phired Up.

This is just for fun (although I could imagine using these tips for a “high five workshop” your organization could run to drive names onto your names list).   Anyway, Woody found this on a blog at  Enjoy.



A Day In The Life…

by Matt Mattson [written at 3:59 p.m. on 3/16]

As many readers already know, at Phired Up we don’t just teach recruitment, we do it.  Many of our team members are busy engaging in real recruitment this time of year, from Jessica out at USC last week, to Woody, Josh, and Geik working with Delta Sigma Phi and Sigma Tau Gamma at ECU, UW-Osh Kosh, and Miami of Ohio, to all of our M.D. chapters, to my work with the Colorado State IFC and where I am now — Georgia Tech’s Chi Phi chapter — we’re busy not only presenting Dynamic Recruitment but also demonsrating it in live environments.  I wanted to provide a snapshot of a day doing this type of work (mostly because I thought it might provide some good, practical, real-life recruitment examples).

Yesterday I showed up at Georgia Tech and presented to the “horses” of Chi Phi’s chapter. We did an evening workshop and training session from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. where the participants learned Dynamic Recruitment, but also put the finishing touches on a plan for today.  One of those finishing touches was to run a last minute March Madness Bracket Challenge for all studnets on campus.

img00099-20100316-1033This morning at 9:30 a.m. I met with several of the men to get our table set up on campus.  We spent 3 and 1/2 hours on their main campus walkway doing three things, 1) Conducting Surveys, 2) Getting participants for the March Madness Bracket Challenge, and 3) being Socially Excellent.  It was awesome to watch these guys all day long push themselve outside of their comfort zones, engage with other studnets, and try to collect the names and contact information of nearly everyone they saw. 

We only spent 3 1/2 hours doing it because we RAN OUT OF SURVEYS!  They did so well that by the end of our time out there we had collected nearly 200 surveys, and most importantly about 70 names and contact information of non-Greek men.  Over 30 people signed up for the March Madness tourney too… Huge success for these guys (especially because nearly doubled the size of their chapter’s Names List in that short amount of time).  And it was a fun day interacting with people.

While the guys were tabling, I took a short break and visited the Greek Life Office.  I was hoping to learn about how I could help these men connect on a deeper level with the leaders of the highly influential Panhellenic community here on campus.  I was lucky enough to meet 4 sorority leaders.  I was nice to them. They were nice to me.  And I ended up getting a very kind invitation to have a few of the Chi Phi men join me at the Panhellenic Executive Council meeting that evening.  Our plan is to just go and learn from the best women on campus about what Chi Phi can do to create a better organization in their minds.  Awesome.

We also have three other meetings set up with leaders of 3 important sororities on campus… All this afternoon/evening at 3:15 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. Unfortunately dorm-storming is frowned upon here at Georgia Tech, but two of the freshman members headed over (on their own) to go through their dorms to shake some hands, have some conversations, and get more people signed up for the March Madness Bracket Challenge.

The 3:15 meeting just happened and it was with two amazing members of Alpha Gamma Delta.  These women gave us their advice about recruitment, offered a couple of referrals (men the Chi Phi’s should connect with), and two other things… 1) They invited Chi Phi to come to their next chapter meeting to request referrals from all 160 members of Alpha Gam, and 2) They were open to the suggestion that Chi Phi take a group of their members out to brunch once a month just to build better relationships and continue to gain advice about how to build a truly excellent fraternity. Brilliant.

Early this evening we’re playing basketball on campus and inviting as many of the guys’ non-Greek friends as possible.  No big deal, just a small activity of pick up basketball with friends. Maybe nobody will come.  But maybe someone will. Maybe a lot of potential members will (honestly, it depends on if the members make calls or not).

Notice how… 1) Nothing took very much planning, 2) The only money that was spent was on a $25 gift card for the winner of the March Madness Bracket Challenge. 3) We had a DAY FULL of engaging with students in a meaningful way. 4) Just by asking, we got same-day meetings with people that could help us. 5) The chapter added 70 names to their names list in a very short amount of time AND they have multiple reasons to follow up with those people. 6) It was all pretty fun, and none of it was weird or awkward or out of character at any point.

I really appreciate these guys.  They’ve been great hosts and they’ve been willing to try new things.  Over the last two days we didn’t just sit in a classroom and learn about recruitment (although that was a great way to start), we went out and felt what it was like to be socially excellent and to engage in results-producing activity. 

We would have worked longer into the night, but I have a 9:50 p.m. flight home…


by Matt Mattson

I’m going to admit right now that I’m not a huge March Madness guy.  I filled out a bracket this year though.  It’s awesome!

My point being, nearly everyone and their brother gets a bit of March Madness this time of year, and it is a great recruitment opportunity.  I’ll keep this short and quick.

1. Host a March Madness bracket competition to drive names onto your Names List.  Maybe even do it for charity.  Distribute brackets, collect people’s predictions, compile data, and most importantly, get everyone’s name and contact information.  I don’t condone gambling on college sports (much), but I gladly paid $5 to get in a pool with my 2010 bracket.  I would have been even more prone to doing so if I knew that 1/2 of the pot went to the winner and 1/2 of the pot went to a charity that I cared about.  Consider being the organization that organizes the mass March Madness hysteria on your campus.

2. Looking for some small activities to engage potential members in?  Well, it turns out that between March 18th, 2010 and April 5, 2010 there will be something like 63 amazing drama-filled basketball games on TV.  Watch them with your friends.  Enjoy.  See, recruitment is easy.  :-)

The Listening Table

by Matt Mattson

While wandering around USC’s campus the other day making friends (which was a blast), I happened upon a very creative student organization recruitment tactic. 

There were a number of tables set up along the main drag of campus — there were some political groups, the Greenpeace folks were out there, a guy selling tickets to play paintball, a Relay-for-Life group, and a gospel choir selling delicious $1 cookies.  All were doing good work tabling, but there was one other table that really stood out to me.  They had a sign hanging on their table that read, “What’s Your Beef With Christianity?”

Now, religious content aside, I was first intrigued because their sign was a QUESTION, and not a statement.  So, I walked up and asked them about it.  I assumed they were an atheist/agnostic group that was looking for like-minded people with whom they could commiserate, but I was wrong.  At first they wouldn’t really tell me who they were, they just said…

“We’re here to listen.”

So, I asked them what their position was, and they said…

“Actually, we just want to learn from people.  We’re here to listen.”

Then I asked them what they were going to do with my response, and they said…

“Just think about it and learn from it.  We’re ready to listen.”

So, I started sharing my viewpoint.  They kept asking more questions, listening, taking notes, and asking more questions.  Suddenly I found myself blabbing on about a topic that was meaningful to me, and I was being listened to seriously.  It was awesome.  That doesn’t seem to happen much on a college campus — especially at organizational tables that are typically meant to “get your name out there”.

Imagine, setting up a booth or doing marketing work that wasn’t meant to SHOUT OUT HOW AWESOME YOUR ORGANIIZATION IS…  Imagine just offering to listen.  Listen to others’ opinions of you and your group.  Listen to others’ ideas for your organization. Listen to others’ ideas about your campus and community.  Listen to learn.  Listen to engage. Listen to connect with others.  Listen because it will make the other person’s day.  What if we just listened more.

Turns out this was a Christian organization, and they NEVER ONCE tried to tell me anything about their viewpoint.  We engaged in meaningful dialogue, but they weren’t trying to convince me of anything, they were just trying to connect with me, learn from me, and likely create an opportunity to follow up with me.  Smart.

Fall Down Seven. Stand Up Eight.

by Matt Mattson

fall-downThere’s an old saying that goes, “Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.”  We’ve all probably heard that, but when it comes to recruitment, that saying has two very important messages this time of year.


1. Feeling frustrated or disappointed because your recruitment results to this point have been lackluster?  I understand. Maybe you tried hard at the beginning of the semester, but everything has just sort of fizzled out since them.  You didn’t get the quantity of members you wanted/needed, so instead of working harder to drive more members into your group, you just go about the business of ignoring recruitment and working on the other organizational stuff.

So, you fell down.  Get up. 

There is still a great opportunity left this semester to get back on the recruitment horse.  My advice: simplify and go.

Take out all the planning, events, marketing, and hoopla.  Set all that aside.  Find 20-30 friends of the organization.  Work with those potential members for the next two weeks EVERY DAY to see what you might be able to accomplish.  Interview them, take them to coffee, tell them point blank that you’re trying to get a second wave of new members and they’ve made the short list.  Get up and make that push.  Find five other members in your chapter that share your desire for a higher quantity of higher quality members, and just get up, get out, and go.

It’s the perfect time to get your Second Wind.

I am working with two different chapters right now that are in this situation.  The beginning of the semester had some challenges, and while that hurt a little bit, both of these groups have a renewed commitment to pushing forward and making the rest of this semester the stuff of legends.


2. Did you try some of Phired Up’s Dynamic Recruitment techniques, and they didn’t quite work the first time?�
Remember, one of the lessons we teach at the beginning of our Dynamic Recruitment Workshops is… Our style of recruitment is probably different than what you’re used to.  You’ll probably “swing and miss” when you try this stuff the first time. You’re actually supposed to screw it up the first time around.  What matters is that you practice, try again, and watch yourself improve.  Watch your confidence level slowly rise and then soar.  Watch your results first trickle in, the explode.  Fall down seven, stand up eight.

Get up and go.