Right Here, Right Now

by Matt Mattson

right-here-right-nowI had a fun experience last night teaching Social Excellence that I’m pretty sure teaches a cool lesson about recruitment and college students in general…

As I was preparing to deliver a typical speaking engagement about Social Excellence, I noticed that while we had a nice little crowd, the room was big enough for us to have a crowd twice the size.  It was meant to be a small program anyway, but I got to thinkin’… and that’s dangerous.  So, I made a last second decision.

“Could I have everyone’s attention?” I began. “I’d like to try an experiment.  Tonight, as you know, you’re all here to learn about Social Excellence.  I’m so glad you’re all here, but I notice that we have room for more people.  What if instead of talking about Social Excellence, we just started off by trying it.”

I’m paraphrasing, obviously… I was a lot funnier.  Anyway…  We continued by briefly discussing the definition of Social Excellence and imagining people in our lives that exemplified that definition.  Then, I said, “You have 30 minutes.  Let’s see how Socially Excellent you can be.  Go outside, go to the union, go to your dorms, go wherever you want… just make a friend, and invite them to come back to this room and learn about Social Excellence with you.  Let’s see what happens.  Ready, set, GO!”

30 minutes later we had doubled the crowd with a lot of strangers that eventually became friends.  Fun.

I guess my point is this.  RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW you could go build a new relationship.  RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW you could go out into that big scary world out there and connect with people.  It turns out if you just ask, people are willing to come to an educational program they know nothing about (of all things) and sit there and learn alongside you even though they just met you… Because most people have nothing better to do and are all secretly waiting for something new, exciting, interesting, fun to enter their life.  Be that something.

There is a recruitment opportunity staring you in the face… Right Here, Right Now (Inspired by Jesus Jones).

More People Are Interested Than You Think

by Matt Mattson

recruitment-mathOn several occasions lately I’ve had the opportunity to talk with lots of non-Greek students on college campuses.  I’ve learned one clear thing… MORE ARE INTERESTED IN BEING GREEK THAN YOU THINK.

We’ve always known this was true because of our math equation about your chapter’s recruitment potential (see below, or in Good Guys & I Heart Recruitment), but this fact that more students are open to the idea of Greek Life than we often think has been confirmed a lot lately through my conversations and interactions with students.  I don’t know if it is a revived interest in membership organizations by this year’s freshman class, or if they were really always there and we just never asked them.  But I KNOW the interest is real.

Go try it right now. I dare you to talk to 100 people on your campus this week and ask them if they’d be interested in Greek Life (if it was done how Greek Life is SUPPOSED to be done). [try the surveys found here or here... and add names to your Names List as a side benefit!] I think you’ll be  positively surprised by the amount of interest.  I have been.]

P.S. Have you done the math equation lately to determine your chapter’s recruitment potential?  Here’s how.

  • Total undergrads minus opposite gender.
  • From that total, subtract the individuals that are already Greek.
  • Next, subtract 15% from the non-Greek men/women (to eliminate the “never joiners”)
  • Finally, divide what’s left over in half (because at least 50% of the time when someone becomes your friend and a “friend of the fraternity/sorority” they typically end up joining).

There’s your chapter’s recruitment potential.  That’s how many students on your campus would be genuinely interested in your organization if you recruited them in the right way.

Rushing Into Things

by Matt Mattson

fraternity_rush_tshirt-p235500085997521594aic9i_210Found this picture online and thought it was funny.  Props to whoever created that little play on words.

It made me think of some questions regarding “formal recruitment” and “rush”. I don’t know the right answers to these questions. I simply offer them for consideration.

  • Did you rush into your fraternity experience?
  • Does your recruitment system encourage rushed decisions?
  • Do non-Greeks think it seems crazy to join an organization for life after your quick rush process?
  • Why is your rush process built the way it is built?  Who benefits?  Who loses?
  • Is there a difference between the most effective way to rush and the right way to rush?  From whose perspective?
  • Does your rush process impact your ability to retain members?
  • Who does rush attract?
  • Which of your organizational values does rush exemplify?

Do We Do Year Round Recruitment?

by Matt Mattson

365How do you know if your chapter is doing “year-round recruitment”?

Measure the behaviors of your members.

Focus on measuring daily, weekly, and monthly behaviors that are within your control?

Track these measurables in the patterns of behavior of your chapter’s horses to find out if you are doing year-round recruitment.

  • Handshakes per day.
  • Phone numbers per day.
  • Phone calls per day.
  • Coffee meetings per day.
  • 2-on-1′s per day.
  • Small activities per week.
  • Referrals/chunks per day.
  • Pre-closes per week.
  • Bids per week/month.

Add Inbound to Your Outbound

by Matt Mattson

two-way-trafficNext time you find yourself printing out fliers, handouts, handbills, postcards or the like, stop to consider if you might be able to collect information WHILE you distribute information.

Many organizations stand in public or walk through highly populated areas handing out fliers, little quarter-sheets of paper, or nicely printed postcards to tell everyone who cares to read these slivers of deceased trees about their event, their organization, or their cause.  Instead of just handing out information to strangers (outbound information) who will likely just ignore your message, turn your little fliers into “nomination forms,” “questionnaires,” “surveys,” or “registration sheets” (inbound information).

For instance, we recently provided some consultation on marketing materials for a national fraternity’s expansion project.  They had designed some amazing looking fliers, postcards, and posters that were meant to “get the word out” about the new fraternity on campus.  That is smart to do for a lot of reasons, but I wondered if we couldn’t kick it up a notch and accomplish 2 tasks in one effort.  Here’s some advice we offered to the organization [all identifiers and taglines of the organization have been changed for proprietary reasons]…

“What if we took your organization’s “Men of Excellence” tag line and built a campaign off of that that said something like, “SEEKING 50 MOST EXCELLENT MEN ON CAMPUS” or “Are you in the TOP 50 Men of Excellence?”  or “Men of Excellence Award – seeking the top 50 men on campus that exemplify what it means to be Men of Excellence”  and then later in the semester, buy a full page ad in the campus newspaper at the end of the year and put 50 names and head shots in it of the people we’ve identified as being “Men of Excellence” – this can actually help drive a names list, is a good way to get referrals, etc.  The posters can explain how to nominate people.  The postcards can be nomination cards. The fliers can explain the nomination process. The marketing materials could be built around that campaign and it becomes a “hook” for the recruiters to talk to people on campus about (SIMILAR TO A RECRUITMENT SCHOLARSHIP).”

This idea is admittedly inspired by/stolen from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Wyoming who thought of a similar “True Gentlemen” initiative.  Smart ideas are always the best ones to borrow.

While you get your organization’s “name out there,” you also get names on your names list.  This is the classic difference between “Mass Marketing” and  “Marketing For Names”.

Outbound marketing (essentially, SHOUTING ABOUT HOW AWESOME YOU ARE) is easy.  Inbound marketing takes a little creativity, but it is far more valuable to “get names on your list,” than it is to “get your name out there.”

Rush Shoes: The Next Big Thing

by Matt Mattson

phi-upsilon-pi-shoesThis upcoming spring, instead of buying rush t-shirts, what if you had your chapter members wear coordinating TOMS Shoes or clothes from World Clothes Line?

[Shoe in this picture is a bad photo-shop version of what you could do.  You can't buy them like this]

Both of these companies give donations to people in need for every purchase (“1 for 1″).

I don’t know.  Rush T-shirts with cutesy, funny, hilarious, creative slogans, pictures and themes have been done.  Why not try something new?  What if you were the chapter who all wore the customized TOMS?  What if you were the chapter that is responsible for 100 people in Peru having new clothes (and you’re also the ones with the mountains on your shirts).

Seriously. Ask yourself… Would that positively or negatively impact your chapter’s…

  • Reputation?
  • Name recognition?
  • Level of interestingness?
  • Brand?
  • Quality of conversations with strangers?
  • Likelihood of winning awards?
  • Likelihood of recruiting high quality individuals?
  • Connection to organizational values?

Maybe your letters don’t even have to be on your clothes for those clothes to be helpful with recruitment?

Yep, it’ll be more expensive. Better isn’t usually cheaper.

Target-Rich Environment

by Matt Mattson

large_kelly-mcgillis-sexy-top-gunOne of my heroes, Maverick from Top Gun, once noted to his friend, wingman, and fellow naval aviator, Goose, “This is what I call a target-rich environment.”

Mav and Goose were on to something.  If you want to have more success recruiting, put yourself in more target-rich environments.

O.K., I was at Colorado State University a couple weeks back and I heard a fraternity guy talking about the reason they should go over to the dorms to eat dinner (instead of at the fraternity house).  He said, “It’s a target-rich environment.”  Smart dude.  Just like Mav and Goose.

Top Gun fans might be thinking… “You know, you’re right… many potential members walk past our house or recruitment party and when they think about going in, their smarter friends are probably like, ‘Negative Ghost Rider. The pattern is full.’” Non-Top Gun fans are wondering what the h*!! this blog post is even about.  Fair enough.  Let me draw it out a little further.

If you want to have success recruiting, spend time (as individuals and as an organization) where your potential members are.  Fraternities and sororities — if you want to recruit first-year students, the group that spends the most time near the dorms will win.  Simple.

If you want to recruit scholars, spend time at or around the library.

If you want to recruit athletes, do stuff over by the rec center or on the IM fields.

If you want to recruit anyone, go where they are comfortable instead of spending time where you are comfortable.

Just for fun, here’s a little dose of Highway to the Danger Zone.

Don’t Bore Members w/Bad Recruitment Training

by Matt Mattson

theaterboredTraining your members to recruit should not bore them.  Recruitment is best taught through experience, fun, challenges, emotional engagement, and excitement.  Recruitment is fun (when it is done right), so learning to do it should be fun too.


To become better recruiters, many of your fraternity/sorority members need  a) better social skills, b) more confidence,  c) to understand the idea of Social Excellence, and d) helpful critiques and constructive criticism on their ability to relate to people.

Here’s an idea (I got it from talking to Chi Psi men at the University of Colorado today).  Do a “mixer” with another fraternity or sorority (mixing genders creates an exciting dynamic) that is about Social Excellence (and I strongly recommend using our Social Excellence Dare Cards).  I’ve done a few things like this before that have been very successful.

For example, last spring I asked sorority women at Missouri S&T to come over to a fraternity house and let the guys give them tours of their beautiful facility.  Afterward the women were encouraged to provide feedback to the guys on their ability to “host” (a key demonstration of Social Excellence) guests, including potential members.  The feedback session was to be conducted over snacks and refreshments, and was meant to teach the women how to engage in more authentic conversations.  Cool.  Learning + fun.

Another time (several times, actually) I sent out male/female pairs of Greek leaders into town each with a Dare Card.  In one hour they knew each other better, had learned important social skills, and understood important lessons surrounding recruitment.  This is always a huge win, and it is something that you can easily repeat with our Dare Cards.

Learning how to recruit should be fun.  If you’re in charge of teaching your members this vital skill, make sure you think of creative ways to make it a blast for everyone.

Add in an etiquette dinner, conversation skills training, handshake training, tables full of interesting questions, mock speed dating (for friends… or whatever), etc.

Social Event + Recruitment Training = win/win for everyone.

Mark Zuckerberg and Social Excellence

by Doug Sweeney (Guest Blogger/Phired Up Associate/Amazing Fraternity Recruiter)

Watching “The Social Network” this Saturday had me really thinking about Mark Zuckerberg.  Like any movie that tries to depict real life events, “The Social Network”, is not 100% accurate.  But it does a fantastic job of humanizing the Harvard kid who invented a website that now has 500 million active users a day.

Check out an interview Zuckerberg had with BusinessWeek several years ago:

Mark is the youngest billionaire in the world.  Yet he could care less about it.  He’s dedicated to a product that he believes is making the world a better place “to connect and communicate more efficiently.”

Mark wants people who use facebook to have complete control over who they share their information with.  The more control they have, statistically, the more information they will share.  This is just like practicing Social Excellence with people in conversation.  What sticks out for me in the text book definition of  Social Excellence is that it takes a level of vulnerability.  Just like facebook, you control the information you are willing to share with others in conversation.  If you are vulnerable, candid and open about who you are, it will reciprocate back to you.  The more you give, the more you get (in conversation and on facebook).

By teaching college students how to engage in deep meaningful conversations and inspiring students to be the best version of themselves, Phired Up is helping the world  “connect and communicate more efficiently”  as well.  There is a deep level of satisfaction that comes from making progress that effects our new world society.

When someone says “I’m Phired Up!”, from the bottom of their heart, they are experiencing this satisfaction.  It’s this satisfaction, not ad revenue, which drives socially excellent men like Mark Zuckerberg to continue working.  So I must say, I like facebook.  It’s socially excellent.

Alone or Together? Social Excellence & Great Ideas

by Jessica Gendron Williams

I recently took a flight where I encountered something I have never encountered before.  I sat down that (very) early morning and prepared to take a nap – I was not going to be socially excellent.  However, my seat mate had other plans – he wanted to talk.  I proceeded to humor him.  He asked me about what I did, why I was going where I was going, and somehow we landed on the topic of Social Excellence.  He loved the idea of teaching social skills to college kids, especially since he had a 10 year old and a 14 year old.  I asked him more questions about him, learned more about who he was and why he was going where he was going.  What’s important for this story for you to know is he used to teach a hard science (think chemistry, biology, physics) at a university, was a government official, and now worked for a research company.

mad_scientistAs he asked more questions about Social Excellence, I told him about how we focused on teaching not only basic social skills, but also things like being open and curious about others.  On that cue, things when sour.  He launched in a 20 minute rant about how there were so many laws and rules in the workplace.  That being curious about the people you work with, asking them questions about them, could open the company up to litigation, blah, blah, blah.  He then proceeded to tell me that he thought being curious about people you work with is, in fact, strongly discouraged.

I rebutted with a story about teaching people to be authentic, being the best version of who they really are at their core – that it wasn’t really about being malicious or nosey, but being caring and kind.  Again, he disagreed.  He then proceeded to tell me that encouraging people to be the best version of themselves wasn’t going to help society or research.  Citing examples of major scientific discoveries, artists, writers, and the like, he indicated that every major discovery was made when someone was either heavily under the influence of drugs or on the verge of a psychotic break.  That all the good discoveries came when people were negatively deviating from the norms of society.

Just when I thought I heard all I could take – here came the last jab.  He then proceeded to inform me that many of those major discoveries happened when these people were alone.  That maybe it was better for people to be alone rather than be “distracted” by other people.  That there are some people who just like being alone: They don’t like interacting with other people – they like being by themselves.  He cited examples of scientists that he works with and researchers that he knows who spend the majority of their day, locked alone in their lab.  Then he said, forcing people to communicate with others that fundamentally don’t want to, was wrong.  Those people should be allowed to be alone.

I was in such shock by the words this man was saying.  He was the first person in my life that was actually disagreeing with values like curiosity, kindness, authenticity, and basic human interaction – that I just couldn’t believe it.  The only words that I could muster as the plane landed was, “Sir, I hear you, but I respectfully disagree.”

This conversation ate at me all day.  It irritated me.  How could someone disagree with the ideals of Social Excellence?  How could he disagree with making people better people?  How could he think that is was okay for people to live their lives – alone.  I just fundamentally disagree with all of his arguments but had little “data” to back up my beliefs – that is until Josh Orendi forwarded me a TED video later that afternoon.

This TED talk was by author, Steven Johnson and was about “Where Good Ideas Come From.” In his talk he cites a researcher who looked at a lab to see where their best ideas came from.  Johnson says about the researcher’s findings that, “Almost all the important breakthrough ideas did not happen alone in the lab, in front of the microscope.  They happened at the conference table, at the weekly lab meetings, when everyone got together and shared their latest data and findings…”  Johnson goes on to argue that the best ideas and innovation happen as a result of a bunch of people, ideas, conversations, interactions, and research that is cobbled together.  That innovation happens because we’re connecting with one-another.

You see, humans are supposed to connect with each other.  Our lives are about being together, community, and networks.  When we work together and connect with one-another we change lives – we save lives. Here’s an example:

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has increased the survivor rate of the most common form of childhood cancer, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), from a single digit percentage to somewhere between 98 and 99 percent – practically a cure.  This effort wasn’t a result of one researcher or doctor locking himself in a lab and miraculously find the cure one day, but a result of doctors, nurses, researchers, etc. working together to find a cure.  They save countless kids lives every year, by the work they did, together.

Social Excellence merely teaches people how to better and more effectively fulfill our basic human need and desire to be with other people… interacting, being curious, learning, sharing, and connecting.  Being someone who is Socially Excellent doesn’t hurt humanity – it helps it.  I think our problem is not that we have too many people who are Socially Excellent, but not enough.  I welcome you to take the challenge of Social Excellence everyday.  To be the person who connects.  To be the person who positively impacts humanity, by being a better person and connecting with others, everyday.