Fraternal Inception

[RING OF PHIRE: The Ring of Phire is a team of undergraduate fraternity and sorority members dedicated to delivering the messages of Phired Up Productions to their peers around the country.]

by Steven Cruz (Ring of Phire Member)

What idea do you plant in the minds of future potential members?

“What’s the most resilient parasite? An Idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.” – Inception

Truer words haven’t been spoken in a movie since “Hakuna Matata” was said in the Lion King, but that’s a story for another day. It all starts with an idea.  An idea planted in someone’s mind by our actions. From my perspective,  in the case of fraternity recruitment, it started with the idea that no man is an island, and it went on to develop into the fact that we need each other to succeed.

inception-posterWhat ideas do you plant in the minds of students at your school?  What ideas do you subconsciously tell potential members about through your actions (and your words)?

Do we tell them about our parties or our brotherhood development? Do we tell them about our leadership opportunities and academic standards or the state of our sorority relations? Do we tell them about our love of T-shirts and chanting?  Or do we tell them about our organization’s values?

What is it about our values that makes us love them so much and at the same time be afraid to share them with others? We’re hiding our secret weapon of the subconscious mind, when we should be unleashing it upon unsuspecting potential new members and watch them drop like flies into our lifestyle of fraternal excellence.

Values – sell your product as it is supposed to be and you won’t have a problem attracting the right kind of customer. When you look back as an alumnus of your chapter 2 or 3 years from now think about the type of members that you want to see and then think about what’s going to attract them. Plant the idea of your fraternal values in action and you’ll see the results be out of this world.

So start with the idea:  the values our founders dreamt up almost 200 years ago are still strong and relevant, and move from there. Show one and all what it means to be a brother or sister of your organization and let them make their own decision.  Your behaviors and decisions, both during recruitment and outside of recruitment, plant ideas in non-Greek students’ minds…

Plant the idea of excellence in their head and let it grow – remember recruitment is not just one week, act the way the way you should all the time and let the character of your organization infect your community. Recruit on a reputation that you earn everyday.

To contact Ring of Phire Members, E-mail

Double Down: Recruit With the Recruited

by Matt Mattson

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY in your chapter knows more non-Greek first year students than your recently recruited new members.  Many of you will be having your first new member meetings here in the next week or so.  THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THEY CAN LEARN RIGHT NOW IS HOW TO RECRUIT! 

Many chapters educate their new members on how to double themselves by working witht he recruitment team to bring in a second group of new members.  Encourage your newest members to, as a new member class, spend the next 7-10 days recruiting another new member class!  How?  Start with this…

Mind Joggers:  Add 100 additional warm leads to your chapter’s names list immediately.  Do this exercise at the beginning of your first/next new member meeting…  Give all new members a piece of paper and a pen.  Tell them they have 60 seconds.  It’s a race.  All they have to do is write down the NAMES of all the non-Greek men/women they know on campus.  Get ready, get set, go!  After 60 seconds see who has the most names, and the let everyone know that they’ve only done round 1.  For round 2 they’ll have about 2-3 minutes.  During this time you’ll be reading some things called “Mind Joggers” to help them remember people they haven’t thought of yet…  Get ready, get set, go! (Fraternity Mind Joggers, Sorority Mind Joggers).  At the end, most of your new members will have 15-35 names on their Names List.  Have them add phone numbers, E-mails, etc. 

Quick Call Session: The next step is where you turn that short exercise into real recruiting. Tell them for the following 10 minutes they have one simple job… Get 5 people they just wrote down on the phone with them and invite them to lunch, coffee, a pick-up football game, to work out, video games, shopping or any other small activity (fraternity small activities, sorority small activities) that has to take place in the next 72 hours.  GO! 

If you do this, it is likely you’ve just created 50-100 small recruitment opportunities that will happen in the next 3 days, and it only took 15 minutes to do so.

Now is the time of year to double down!

Bring On The Objections

by Josh Orendi

You know which prospects scare me most?  The ones with NO questions or concerns about joining the fraternity.  I’ll take the guy that needs time to think through a lifelong commitment and asks for some help with a few personal concerns about membership.  I like future members that take membership that seriously.

objection-hand1Did you know there are less than 10 objections that cover more than 90% of potential member concerns?  It’s true.  Take a moment to consider every sincere objection you have ever heard.  Ok, now check out this free resource:  (Fraternity version. Sorority version.)

But wait!  That document is a fantastic free resource that we use all the time.  However, it’s a bit like giving you a loaded pistol.  You have to know how to use it.  So, here are three techniques that will allow you to experience 100% bid acceptance using the “quality response guide” that you just linked to. 

1. Preclose.  We always ask this question days/weeks before offering a potential new member a bid, “If we were to offer you a bid for membership, what would you say?”  The only possible responses are yes, no, maybe.  Assuming your potential member offers an objection to membership, use the next two techniques along with your Quality Response Guide.

2. Bracketing.  When he says, “I don’t have time.”  Rather than trying to convince him that it doesn’t take that much time, try bracketing first.  You might say, “I can appreciate the importance of managing your time.  If time wasn’t an issue, is there any other reason why you wouldn’t accept a bid?”  He might say, “I’m not sure I can afford it.”  TIME TO BRACKET.  You do not begin answering his concerns until all of his objections are on the table.  You say, “Yeah, I can appreciate the money aspect.  That was a concern for me, too.  Let me make sure I understand.  If we could figure out the money thing and time wasn’t an issue, it sounds like you’d be ready to accept a bid, right?!?”  If/when he says “yes,” you just BRACKETED his concerns.  This has essentially locked him in by expressing to you that he’ll accept a bid if you can help him understand how to afford membership and fit the time commitments within his schedule.  It’s almost time to use your Quality Response Guide, but not yet.  There’s one more technique to use.

3. Time Constraint.  There are no organisms on the planet more commitment-adverse than 19 year old men.  If you don’t lock in a deadline for making a decision, be prepared for him to dodge you and to string you along with brand new concerns every time you bring up the question.  Let’s avoid that.  You might say, “Matt, I want to make a commitment to you.  I’ll do everything I can to gather as much information as you need so that we can make a good decision about membership together.  If you have all the information you need this weekend, will you commit to sitting down with me on Tuesday night to answer any final questions and make a final decision?” 

Let’s recap. 

Step One:  Preclose
Step Two: Bracket
Step Three:  Time Constraint
Step Four: Quality Response Guide

In my opinion, a man that cannot shake your hand, look you in the eyes, and tell you he’s ready for membership BEFORE he gets his bid … does not get a bid.  Use the techniques in this blog and you’ll get to celebrate 100% bid acceptance rather than stewing on why you couldn’t close those couple of kids that kept hanging out but wouldn’t make the commitment to join.

Leveraging Relationships – Not Your Brand (Undergrad Perspective)

by Clark Buckner, Guest Blogger – Undergraduate Member of Alpha Tau Omega at Belmont University

clark-bucknerOver the course of this past summer I’ve had the opportunity to discuss and share different strategies and concepts with Matt Mattson, President of Phired Up.  Together we’ve discussed how greek organizations at heart truly are grassroots organizations. We both agree Greeks need to realize we can’t get people to join our organization by just branding.  We’re aren’t McDonald’s or Microsoft.  Just because we throw our ‘brand’ and letters in front of a potential doesn’t mean they will want it.  Sure, top of mind presence is good and having a cool branding looks nice and can be beneficial but as far as recruitment goes, branding just isn’t good enough.  This article explains why.

It’s not all about branding, it’s about relationships.  One big problem most fraternities and sororities share is our continued effort to boast how perfect our organization is.  Through that blinding pride we oversee what our potentials’ needs are.  Could you imagine what it would be like if Greeks spent as much time creating quality relationships with potentials as they do trying to look unobtainable and perfect?

I’ll explain further. Studies show that only about 15% of the average campus has students who show up on campus planning to go Greek. However it’s important to remember this number is comprised of some high quality prospects, but also students who are just wanting to party all day every day, so this percentage isn’t that promising.  On the other hand, about 15% of students on campus are “never joiners.”  This leaves 70% of students in the middle who are neutral. They are open minded about Greek Life, but aren’t actively pursing it.  This means if they’re not looking for your brand, they won’t find it.  We can either become completely consumed with an effort to battle it out for the 15% who are looking for us, or we can think strategically and creatively find ways to reach the 70% market.  The bottom line is this: the only way we can recruit new members is for us to go to them.  It’s about relationships, not the brand. Remember, you can’t recruit someone you don’t know.

Here’s another example.  Guess how great it is to have an incredible website?  It doesn’t matter because no one will see it.  The problem isn’t selling YOUR organization, it’s finding WHO to sell it to!  We cant change a potential’s mind by being at the top of a google search or pushing our letters in front of their face.  The only thing that can change their mind is sitting down with real people and having real conversations.  Instead of talking about ourselves, lets listen to them, build a relationship around that and help connect them to our organization and what it will do for them.  Now don’t get me wrong, branding is good and an online image can be a great tool as far as recruitment goes (especially for prospects who are on the fence).  However spending time on ‘creating a brand’ with cool looking websites, videos and pictures is further down on the recruitment to-do list.  When it comes to Greek Life, relationships work.  Branding should probably not be your group’s #1 priority.

Clark Buckner is an undergraduate student at Belmont University double majoring in Entrepreneurship and Marketing.  Interests include video production and being a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. 

For more perspective from undergraduate fraternity/sorority members, connect with Phired Up’s Ring of Phire!

How Good Do You Want to Be?

[RING OF PHIRE: The Ring of Phire is a team of undergraduate fraternity and sorority members dedicated to delivering the messages of Phired Up Productions to their peers around the country.]

by Amelia Mieth (Ring of Phire Member)

It’s been a while since I’ve written a book report for school, so when given the opportunity to share what I’ve been reading, obviously I will jump at the chance. I am a huge proponent of reading, and was extremely excited when Phired Up came out with a “Summer Reading List” earlier in May. However, while perusing my local bookstore this It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling Booksummer, I came across a book that caught my eye. In flipping through only a couple of pages, I immediately was sold. After reading the book about five times now, I’ve come to the conclusion that this should be on the “School Year Reading List” sponsored by the Ring of Phire (There is no such thing, but if you do want suggestions, e-mail me!).

The book I want to share is entitled It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, by Paul Arden.  This book, written by an advertising manager in New York City, is about the creative process of advertising and how it can relate to successful businesses. Well, I interpreted some of these lessons as the process of recruitment and development in order to create a successful organization, fraternity, or sorority. I am sure that everyone is busy with academic textbooks, organizations, work, and just life in general, but hear me out – this book is a quick read, no more than an hour, with a simple design, minimal words on each page, and even pictures (a nice break from college textbooks). However, if you don’t have time to read it, I’ve highlighted some of my favorite points from the book below.

• Excellence vs. Mediocrity: Why would one choose to be excellent in a world where it’s o.k. to be in the middle?  This is pretty much the backbone of Social Excellence. Sure, we can get away with just getting by, but where is the fun in that? Be challenged. Strive to be better.

• Debrief: Chances are you have just completed recruitment (or some other major organizational effort) – congratulations! Now is the time to not only highlight what went well, but more importantly, look at what didn’t go so well. How can you improve upon this? Ask those who were involved in the program, or who participated in it, “How can this be better?”  We all think that our work is golden, so we aren’t in any place to criticize it, but you can’t improve unless you look critically at what was effective and what wasn’t.  (Involve your advisors… this is their job!)

• “Don’t give a speech, put on a show”:  This was a shorter part of the book that explained, well, exactly what it says. People get bored listening to words all day. It’s time to skip the tell, and move straight to show. If you’re trying to get some more new members, and your fraternity is awesome at intramurals, invite them to come play with you. Does your sorority do community service every week? Invite friends along. Show them what you can do. As the old adage says, actions speak louder than words.

• Make your organization GREAT:  Not just good. GREAT. This section of the book basically has a step-by-step outline for how your members can begin to take pride in the group and make it something to remember. I won’t give away all of the details (where’s the fun in that?), but I will give you some hints: talk up your organization, behave how you would want your organization to be perceived (“like a winner”), and decide to be GREAT. Make the difference.

My intentions weren’t to write a book report about recruitment and social excellence, but I think that is where I have been led. Being socially excellent is a choice that we all have – it’s something we are, or we aren’t, simple as that. But that “simple” choice can have amazing results. So, I’ll leave you with this – how good do YOU want to be?

To contact Ring of Phire Members, E-mail

Dead Horses

[RING OF PHIRE: The Ring of Phire is a team of undergraduate fraternity and sorority members dedicated to delivering the messages of Phired Up Productions to their peers around the country.]

by Scott Woodfill (Ring of Phire Member)

[Editor's Note: You might want to at least read this blog, or read the stories about motivation in I HEART RECRUITMENT and GOOD GUYS to fully understand this post.]

Earlier this summer I received an email with a pointless joke involving “horses.” While at first I laughed and didn’t think anything of it I randomly came across it again the other day and couldn’t help but see the relationship with recruitment.

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Modern organizations (education, government, corporations, **FRATERNITIES and SORORITIES**) often employ a wide range of far more advanced strategies, such as:

  • Buying a stronger whip.
  • Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  • Lowering the standards so that the dead horses can be included.
  • Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.
  • Declaring that because the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than do some other horses.
  • Harnessing the dead horse in a six-horse team, thereby raising the dead horse’s average output to equal the other horses in the team.
  • Re-write the expected performance requirements for all horses.
  • Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

While some of these thoughts were pretty funny to me I couldn’t help but realize how pathetic it was too… Think back to last fall as you started your recruitment period. Did you find your organization using these strategies to recruit new members?  I imagine at some point you probably had to yell, complain, or encourage your members to get involved with recruitment (ie, buying a stronger whip.) Or did you discuss your goals for recruitment and then go back and lower them because the men you have doing your recruitment don’t know how to attract REAL LEADERS, because as “dead horses” they attract “dead horses (#3 and #7.)”

Now if we re-classify our dead horses as mules and think back to the ideas taught in Dynamic Recruitment I’m sure you’ll remember that “It takes a HORSE to recruit a HORSE. MULES tend to recruit MULES.” And we all know what happens when you push a mule… You’re bound to get kicked!

Over the course of 2 years, my own chapter has evolved from one Recruitment Director in charge of all activities pertaining to recruitment, to a large committee of 7 people. Each person is put in charge of two smaller events, yet we also have a small group of 3 guys that strictly deal with setting up lunches with various potential new members to orchestrate a Pre-Close.  Since we have taken this approach to our recruitment we have found that everything runs so much smoother and all we did was have our recruitment director sit down with our Chapter Advisor and President to pick out 7 “Horses” to make up our committee.

We gathered our true horses, and got to work.  Our chapter is successful because it rides its stallions.

Should your chapter just start riding its Horses?  Gather your horses, and get to work.

To contact Ring of Phire Members, E-mail

Wrangling Your Unicorn

[RING OF PHIRE: The Ring of Phire is a team of undergraduate fraternity and sorority members dedicated to delivering the messages of Phired Up Productions to their peers around the country.]

by Steve Pasdiora (Ring of Phire Member)

We have horses (read this to understand what that means).  Now we want Unicorns.

unicornEveryone has one “unicorn” throughout life.  A unicorn is the person that—given the right time, location, or relationship status—you would be with forever.  They are the significant other of your dreams who perfectly embodies what you want in a relationship and someone who you would never let slip away.

In recruitment, we have unicorns too.  They are the guys who already live our values and out ritual without changing.  They are the guys who will get good grades, pay their bills on time, be leaders, philanthropists, and good brothers without having to be pushed or tempted with the incentive of a free formal or a monetary reward.

But we rarely find these men as we push through the monotony of recruitment.  They’re mythical beasts, they’re rare—they are that holographic Pokemon card that you always wanted but could never get your hands on.

So how do we wrangle the beast?  We stay honest to our creed and to our ritual.

The recruitment unicorn doesn’t want the smoke and mirrors of, “we have the sickest parties,” or, “we get with the best girls.”

The recruitment unicorn is drawn towards the leaders of your group.  They want to talk about philanthropy, scholarship, and opportunity.  Mostly, he wants to hear about how your members live their creed and earn their badges daily.

To recruit unicorns, recruit with unicorns and lead with your values.

To contact Ring of Phire Members, E-mail

Your Pledge Program Might Be Killing Recruitment

by Josh Orendi

pledgingYour 40 and 50-something alumni might recall a fraternity environment where 10-14 week pledge programs were the norm.  It wasn’t unheard of to initiate fall recruits in late spring.  Times sure have changed! 

Today, there are at least 3 national organizations that have literally abolished “pledging” and “pledge periods” all together (SigEp, ZBT, AGR).  Many have moved to standardized programs of 3-6 weeks.  I’m not aware of any national programs that are more than 8 weeks long.  The NIC Standards — agreements by nearly every men’s fraternity in the country — state that new member periods may never extend beyond 12 weeks.  The National Panhellenic Conference policy is even more defined.

Though shortened pledge periods are clearly an effort to control risky behavior (read: alcohol, hazing, general stupidity).  There is a very positive side benefit that not enough people are talking about.  It is no longer uncommon for chapters to take more than one or two pledge classes per year.  In fact, the Phired Up staff is regularly meeting chapters that take 3, 4, 5, and even 6+ new member groups in an academic year!!

Moving to a shortened and flexible pledge program allows a group to fit in multiple classes per semester/quarter.  Or, to overlap classes.  Or, to include recruitment education as part of the new member period and mentor the first class to recruit and pledge the second class of the semester.  Or, to offer rolling admission (similar to the model of many universities).  Or, again, to eliminate pledging all together in favor of a full brotherhood development program. 

Times sure have changed.  In several cases, chapters are telling us that they’re abandoning the goal of “pledge class unity” in favor of focusing on a full brotherhood/sisterhood experience that focuses on bonding the entire membership and teaching lifelong commitment.  One guy actually told me, “We used to focus so much on pledge class unity … when all that really meant is that we were teaching the youngest members to hate our seniors.  Instead of a cohesive chapter, we were more like factions of friends living in the same house.” 

Speaking personally to the work that Phired Up does with many chapters and campus communities, I’m continually frustrated by the number of organizations that boast “year-round, 365 recruitment” then put a pledge program in place that forces prospects to sit on the sidelines for 3-12 months until “we take the next pledge class.”  How many potential new members are we losing?!?!  The extensive pledging model is literally blocking new members from joining.  More so, we are encouraging our members to take long breaks from recruiting which creates a binge and purge recruitment culture contributing to the “recruitment roller coaster” that we see in chapter membership numbers. 

I don’t think pledging is bad or wrong.  I can’t tell you how long your organization’s orientation period should last.  I can, however, tell you that chapters taking one or two pledge classes per year with long pledge periods are highly unlikely to implement a year-round recruitment model (especially if they lean on a structured formal recruitment). 

Let’s just call it like it is.

A Social Excellence Love Connection

by Vince Fabra

love-connectionI just finished up spending the last two weeks with Matt Geik recruiting at the University of Montana.  Darby Swanson, a freshman at UM, is a student who made a choice to be Socially Excellent. We introduced him to Social Excellence on Wednesday evening and he signed a bid on Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon, I walked out of the University Center and I saw Darby exchanging phone numbers with a young lady. I asked him to tell me about his new friend, and he explained a situation where he displayed Social Excellence. I was proud. I wanted to hear more, so I asked him to blog about his experience. This is what he had to say.

“I met this girl in my chemistry class which was being held in a huge lecture hall. I walked in and I was already feeling pretty confident from just having an all around good day. I sat next to her and gave her a smile and introduced myself and got to know her a little bit. As our conversation began, I thought about the day before, talking to Matt and Vince about social excellence. This seemed like a great way to get to know someone, learn about them, and practice social excellence. I choose not to ask the same BS questions like “Where are you from?”, “What’s your major?” Those questions get the same BS responses. My new friend and I were able to get into a really deep conversation about her. She really opened up to me and our conversation was authentic and meaningful.

Class ended, we walked together for a bit and parted ways. Before I got too far, she runs up and gives me her number, and I gave her mine as well. Not thirty minutes pass before she calls me wanting to go on a date in the near future. Social Excellence is an awesome way to get to know someone, but I felt it was also a definite improvement on my game. I felt our conversation blew her away because it was not the typical “small talk”.  She opened up to me because I genuinely cared about what she was talking about. I gave her my time and let her share about herself and be vulnerable.

Being a freshman in college is a nerve racking experience. I am meeting all these new people and it would be easy for me to stay comfortable with the same “Where are you from?” conversation.  However, I found that opening up and really getting to know someone was actually easier and far more enjoyable. Thank you, Vince and Matt.”

Thank you, Darby, for choosing to be Socially Excellent. Enjoy your date in the near future.  Social Excellence is the key to life, business, and relationships… not to mention organizational growth. Choose this lifestyle for yourself.  Experience how it transforms you into the best version of… you.

Quality Control

by Matt Mattson

qualityAbout this time of year a lot of fraternity/sorority members are getting concerned about not only getting a high quantity of members, but more importantly… high QUALITY members.  Of course we at Phired Up believe that you don’t have to choose one or the other.  There are a LOT of students on your campus that are both very high quality and that would be interested in your organization if your recruited them in the right way.  But let’s focus on quality for a moment.

There are three factors in recruitment that directly impact the quality of your new member class.

1. Quantity Drives Quality.  Fraternities and sororities are membership organizations.  Membership organizations are made of… MEMBERS.  Therefore the quality of your organization is directly correlated to the quality of its members.  The best way to determine the quality of an organization is to look at how selective they are.  Harvard rejects over 93% of its applicants.  The community college down the road accepts 100% of its applicants.  Both are valuable institutions, but it isn’t hard to argue that Harvard, the more selective of the two, provides a higher QUALITY educational experience. 

The first factor impacting the QUALITY of your members has to do with how selective you can be.  If you choose 20 new members out of 40 relationships, not bad.  If you choose 20 new members out of 400 relationships, you’re measurably 10 times higher quality.  The more people you have to choose from, the more selective you can be.  Quantity Drives Quality.

2. To attract high quality people, do high quality things.  This seems obvious, but is often ignored.  This time of year sees many Greek organizations hosting events… many of those events look just like the events every other group on campus is hosting.  And hardly any of those events are surprising, impressive, outstanding, remarkable, or even slightly interesting.  Josh Orendi always says that if all you do for recruitment is barbecues and poker nights, you’ll only recruit fat gamblers.  He’s got it right…  If you want to attract high quality people, do high quality things.  Need some ideas?  Try a diverse mix of small activities (fraternity ideassorority ideas) to recruit a diverse mix of high performers.  Consider leaving the big top at home all together.

3. Values Based Selection Process.  The third way to impact the quality of your membership this semester is to be certain to choose your members based on more than a gut feeling.  Selecting members based on measurable, objective, pre-determined criteria is the most powerful way to ensure that you’re choosing only the best of the best for your group.  Here is a blog about a Values-Based Selection Process.  Here is another blog about the concept.  Here is another blog, this one is about a research project we’re conducting in an attempt to refine membership selection processes even further.

So, be bold… choose only the highest quality members.  These three focus areas will help guide you to ensuring only high quality people get invited to be your brothers or sisters this semester.  Look for more than just “Good Guys” and “Nice Girls.”  Push your chapter to only accept the highest caliber men and women to wear your letters.