You are always practicing something

by Matt Mattson

karate-kid-sensei-finish-him“You are always practicing something.  The question is: What are you practicing?” ~Martial Arts Sensei

I read that quote yesterday in Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott, and it has really been living in my head.  Maybe because I picture that intimidating Sensei from The Karate Kid (“Sweep the leg, Johnny.”)  It might also be because that quote has direct application to Dynamic Recruitment and Social Excellence.

Right now, you’re practicing some kind of recruitment.  What are you practicing?  Are you practicing waiting until “rush”/”formal recruitment”?  Are you practicing building a new relationship each day?  Are you practicing letting other people be in charge of your organization’s growth? Are you practicing being a “horse“?  Are you practicing year round recruitment? Are you practicing using your Names List everyday?  Are you practicing thinking up ideas for a great rush t-shirt?  Are you practicing only hanging out with non-members during officially sanctioned times?  Are you practicing being social or anti-social?

Whatever you practice, you’ll master.  Whatever you don’t practice, you’ll probably suck at.

Speaking of social… right now you’re practicing some level of social engagement.  What are you practicing? Are you practicing Social Excellence?  Are you practicing staying in your comfort zone?  Are you practicing not talking to that person over there?  Are you practicing shallow, surface-level conversations?  Are you practicing the deep zone/fun zone?  Are you practicing handshakes?  Are you practicing just making it through the day with the same amount of people in your life as yesterday?  Are you practicing curiosity, generosity, authenticity, and/or vulnerability?  Are you practicing mediocrity, averageness, boringness, and/or regularness?

Whatever you practice, you’ll master.  Whatever you don’t practice, you’ll probably suck at.

Leadership Conferences, Social Media, and Social Excellence

by Branden Stewart

friendship-textsThis past weekend marked the second weekend in a row that Phired Up staff members attended conferences for undergraduate fraternity and sorority leaders.  Thanks to all of the students who attended our sessions at AFLV Central, NGLA, and SEIFC!

In the coming weeks and months, almost every member of our staff will have the opportunity to connect with students at these conferences by engaging them in socially excellent conversations (AFLV West and SEPC are coming up!).  It is our goal to challenge students to live a life of Social Excellence through being curious, generous, authentic, and vulnerable.

While I was at the AFLV Central conference a couple of weekends ago in St. Louis, a professional sorority woman expressed her frustration to me about some of the students she saw at the conference being less than socially excellent.   She specifically was frustrated by the amount of students she saw on cell phones during educational sessions, and asked me what I thought about it.

Her question sparked a few thoughts.  Initially, I thought that there could be no better way to spread the messages you’re learning at a conference instantly than through using social media! Whipping out your smart phone to send the latest tweet about a topic you just discussed, or to skim Facebook status updates about which session your friends are going to seem like valuable ways to keep updated on what’s happening.  There is, however, a time and a place to use your social media.

Given the fact that there are still plenty of conferences, conventions, and leadership academies just around the corner this year, I thought I’d provide five tips on how to use the power of social media at a conference while remaining socially excellent.

1. Don’t Tweet While Others Are Talking.
This is simple.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in a small session with ten participants, or a giant session with thousands of students.  If you were talking passionately, working to educate and share important knowledge with others only to look down and see half of the people in your audience on their cell phones…how would you feel?  Most of the people you’ll run into presenting at a conference will be seasoned enough not to let this distract them, but remember that you’re there to learn.  Share your knowledge with the world later.

2. Be Polite. Be Thoughtful.
This goes two ways.  If you’re in a session that wasn’t so great, using social media to complain about it may not be the most polite thing to do.  Using the old advice, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is typically a good idea in general when posting on the internet.  Alternatively, I do encourage you to be generous and thoughtful with your praise once you’re finished with a session.  Let the speaker and other conference participants know when you’ve learned or liked something.  You never know, you could be the person to make their day.

3. They Still Make Pens and Paper.
A lot of times, my instant reaction to things I hear that make me laugh or think is to tweet it in the form of a quote.  Don’t forget that while you’re at a conference you should always be carrying around a notebook and a pen to jot down the quotes, ideas, speakers, and thoughts that can help to create motivation and positive changes for you back home.  You don’t need to update your status each time you hear something amazing, but I do encourage you to write it down.

4. Remember: You Represent Your School and Organization.
If you’re on your phone rather than paying attention to what’s happening, surrounded by other people from your school/fraternity/sorority doing the same thing, people are going to notice.  They probably wont say anything.  But they will take a mental note.  Remember that you’re always representing the values of your school and your organization while you’re at a conference.  Be on your best behavior.  This goes for the things you’re posting online, too.

5. Consider Face-to-Face Conversation.
I believe that you can have some pretty powerful and impactful conversations over social media.  The great thing about social media at a conference is that you can see what conversation is happening and jump in no matter where you are.  Instead of carrying on your entire conversation through typing 140 character messages, suggest that you meet up in person.  Conferences provide a rare opportunity to get hundreds of people in the same place at the same time…use this to your advantage to meet new friends and have powerful face-to-face conversations.

You can Tweet Branden Stewart here (and Phired Up here).

Magic Recruitment Potion

by Matt Mattson

starbucks-cupThe best recruiters in the world… the individuals who are the best in the world at influencing others to become a part of their cause…  these people know that there is a magic recruitment potion that works like no other.  This mystical elixir can bring people together in powerful ways.  The supernatural sauce of which I speak is, of course…


The recruitment benefits of coffee are numerous… It makes you more alert and cheerful.  It warms you up and brings comfort and confidence.  It gives your hands something to hold so they’re not all awkward and dangly.  It makes people happy when you buy them one.  It gives you something to invite acquaintances to share with you so that you can get to know them better.  It is served in coffee shops which are built for small conversations.  It provides a topic of conversation (“You like a triple venti half-caf extra-hot soy caramel macchiato too?!?”)  You can drink it all day long (with a new friend every 20 minutes).  It makes you funnier, but not too funny like vodka.  The scent of coffee is aromatherapy for friendships.

So invite someone to coffee today.  In fact, invite 10 people to coffee today.  Can you have 5 coffee-related 1-on-1 meetings this week?  Can you buy a stranger in line at the coffee shop their drink of choice and engage them in a powerful conversation?  Can you perk yourself up with a quad espresso right now and then go shake the hands of 43 strangers?  Drink up!

[I'm on cup #5.  This may be a sign of a mild addiction.  COFFEE IS THE SWEET NECTAR OF HEAVEN! ]

Sorority Poetry

by Colleen Coffey & Mary Koch

This powerful poem and story were submitted to us by a wonderful sorority woman named Mary.  She is a member of a chapter we work closely with.  We share it as a way to offer an inside-the-mind view of how many non-Greek women view sororities and sorority recruitment.  Keep in mind that it is written by a proud sorority woman who has some sharp critical thinking skills.  Ask yourself…

What part of sorority creates this perception?  Why do we recruit the way we do? (really, spend some time with that one) How does this apply to Phired Up’s messages of “People join People,” and “Be More Normal”?



Sororities by Mary Koch

White like pale ghosts except
for the overdone fake spray tan with
the perfect manicure
Like your body curves are going to make me say,
“I want to be you”.

Shrieking chants and cheers
when I walk in the door.
Like your rehearsed shouting
and your plastered smile
Is going to make me say,
“I want to be you”

Ask me all these questions
Like I don’t know, that my answer
depends upon my acceptance as your friend.
Like that makes me want to say,
“I want to be you”

Primped up with your pearls and curls
wearing these symbols upon
your puffed up chest.
Like I look at your fake Barbie style and say,
“I want to be you”

Dressed like robots ready for a battle
Like I look at you and your stuck up attitude and say,
“I want to be you”

THE STORY by Mary Koch

I came to college as a never joiner. I hated the idea of sororities and thought it was nothing but a bunch of rich, snobby girls who needed to feel better about themselves. I had no interest in paying money for friends and being told what to wear and how to fix my hair every day. I am an adult; I think I can make my own decisions. I did not need some girl who is insecure about her looks and her daddy pays for her every wish to tell me I am not pretty enough or good enough to be around her. I came to college as a girl who was determined to pave my own way and make my own friends.

Somehow, I met this girl, Sierra, in one of the clubs I joined that first month of classes. She came up to me and offered me a ride back to the dorm. Sure, why not, it would save me a fifteen minute walk.  She asked if I minded stopping at an intramural football game. Her best guy friend was playing and she wanted to say hello without staying for the whole game. We stopped at the football field, where I managed to meet at least twenty AOPIs and a whole fraternity without realizing it. Then the next weekend Sierra took me to a fraternity party. The next week we had lunch and I met more AOPIs. By October and I was having dinner at the AOPI house. When prompted about being a CR girl [a member who joins during continuous recruitment/non-formal recruitment], I responded, “no thanks, I can’t afford it.” Sierra and I kept in touch for the next year. She managed to take me to parties and events without me even knowing that I was with AOPIs. The next August I was presented with a bid. I turned it down! No way was I going to join a sorority. The whole semester Sierra spent recruiting me. She was able to find out what I needed and wanted and told me about how AOPI can provide that. I fell for it. I finally accepted my bid, after two years of being recruited. How did I go from being a never joiner to being one?!

Somehow I managed to become an AOPI sister without being formally recruited. I slipped in and instantly had a home. I found myself still questioning the sorority life style though. A few months after initiation, it was formal recruitment time. I was shocked. I had no idea about the amount of time spent preparing for the new girls on campus. I did not understand why we couldn’t just dress cute and talk to girls, yes talk, to girls when they came our way.  I seriously could not handle the yelling, cheering, shouting and plastered smiling. The skits were overwhelming and the constant “I love AOPi” got to me. I could not handle the judging girls based on their looks and thought that it was very wrong to do so. There was way too much stress and way too much drama for me. The thoughts that ran through my mind every day during recruitment were, “What am I doing here?” and “My mother was right, these girls are nuts!”

That is what prompted this poem. It represents my thoughts of being a never joiner mixed in with a little sorority lifestyle from an outside view. What girl in her right mind would look at a sorority depicted in the poem and want to be in one?

Through Phired Up I learned what is meant to be a sorority woman. I learned that this formal recruitment that I was thrown into was not what it should be. Cheers, songs, skits and judging on looks is outdated and somewhat barbarian. Recruitment should be more like how I was recruited and less like what this poem depicts. Phired Up stressed the importance of having quinine conversations with girls and truly making a new friend, just like what Sierra did to me. Thank you Phired Up, for putting an end to the barbaric recruitment that I never wanted to be a part of in the first place and the recruitment style described in the poem. I know that our chapter will utilize your lessons and reach our goals.

“Calling” All Party People

by Doug Sweeney

put-your-hands-up-party-people-psd26426It’s  that time.  We have like 200 leads with phone numbers on our Names List!  We have a recruitment plan in motion, and our recruitment committee is ready to roll, son!  Now we have to call them…  AND… Everyone is looking to you, the recruitment chair, to make those calls.  Well, you probably could call them by yourself in your room, or you could go somewhere private, or you could do it with your recruitment team next meeting.  But none of that sounds fun.  Isn’t fraternity supposed to be fun?

Why not just throw a party?

That’s right… but this isn’t your typical party.  No, this party is called: The Call Session.  It is a time-efficient and fun way to make 200 plus calls in no time. Here’s what you need:

  • 4+ Party People. That’s right, your entourage. The crew assembled of horses who want to see your organization grow with better people.
  • Party Food. Light snacks are great.  Don’t make it a big dinner or something that will leave half your membership asleep in an hour.
  • Party Game. Get a markerboard, two markers, and split into two teams!  Give your teams cool names. And challenge the other team to see who can call more people, get to 100 calls the fastest, book 25 meetings first, ext.  You get the idea!  Everyone loves a little friendly competition.
  • Party Atmosphere. This is key.  It’s game time so make the place fun and spacious so people can walk around and make calls.  Create a fun playlist of tunes and keep the volume on the low side so people can hear their own voice.

Now you are ready, Party People. Tag Team in full effect.  Roll in deep with your recruitment crew, kick on the one’s and two’s, blow up some phones, and make time fly because you are having fun!

Here is another blog to help with calling sessions.

[Note from Doug: I was helping a group of stellar fraternity men at the University of Vermont do this just yesterday, and it worked great!  Phired Up loves to encourage organizations to do these short call sessions -- sometimes a challenge of "Everyone call 3 people over the next 5 minutes to set up small activities to take place within the next 72 hours.  GO!" can work great.  If you can gather your horses together for 20-90 minutes, you can make an even bigger impact.  Have fun!]

Snow Day = Recruitment Day

by Josh Orendi

021507072033_school20snow20day11As I type, half the country is covered in snow and ice with more on the way. That got me thinking. What a GREAT opportunity for recruitment…

When it’s cold outside you have two obvious opportunities, bring people together for indoor activities. Or, exploit the weather. Either way, “be the person” that creates social opportunities that bring new friends together. It might be time to get creative. People can only sit in their rooms and re-watch episodes of Skins so many times, right?

Snow ball fights, ice skating (in parking lot?), snow fort competition, creative sled riding, cold pranks, bon fire, hot tub, winter campus Olympics, warm beverages. Ever wonder how many Greek t-shirts one person can fit into? Is human bowling possible? What is the world record for launching a snowball? Why do we stop caroling in December?

For those that are more relationship-minded, remember that your snow day is an unexpected gift for faculty and administrators, too. How many points would you score by taking an assortment of hot chocolates to your professor, Greek Advisor, another fraternity/sorority, or the university president’s wife?

For those that are service-minded, this ice storm has elderly folks and single mom’s stuck in their houses. Making a trip to the grocery store or de-icing a sidewalk could make you someone’s hero. Why not showcase your chivalry with a couple new recruits? Try asking someone, “would you like to change someone’s life today?” or “could you spare an hour to be someone’s hero this afternoon?”

For those that are academically-minded, you just got an extra day to prepare for that mid-term or first big exam. Bring folks together to study.

Shouldn’t there be a sleepover tonight? How is there not a FIFA tournament going on right now … in the freshmen lobby … using your gaming system? Why am I reading this blog when I can be on the phone calling prospects and organizing fun social opportunities?

Happy recruiting. Stay warm