How Woody Learned “Life is too short to drink cheap beer.”

[A Blog for Fraternity/Sorority Headquarters Professionals]

by Woody Woodcock

woody_profile_pic_2 I’ll never forget that breakfast.

All nine new Pi Kappa Phi staff paid very special attention to laying out our shirts, ties, suits and the shine on our shoes the night before breakfast, and we were like anxious little kids trying to sleep on Christmas eve. Visions were dancing through my head about one of my fellow new staffers winning a golden ticket from Willy Wonka, and he was taking me + 8 others with him to a breakfast with chocolate pancakes… ok maybe I just wanted chocolate pancakes for breakfast, and it wasn’t Willy Wonka, but that breakfast sure left an impression on me (and our breakfast host was truly a magical person).

In those first weeks of our fraternity staff training we were destined to dine with a legend.  His demeanor and style were classic southern gentlemen.  He imparted eternal wisdom on  "Why life was too short to drink cheap beer”, and he impressively offered a diverse mix of nearly 100 quotes from memory.  He shared and modeled the behavior for numerous world class attributes of high performing people during their career.

Taking notes was not optional — it was paramount.   My breakfast with Durward Owen (Pi Kappa Phi, CEO Emeritus) was one of the fond early memories of summer training.   He challenged me to think, he challenged me to be like those successful people he spoke of.  It left a deep impression on me I still carry today.

Question 1) What are the two most meaningful experiences or gestures you learned from when joining the fraternity/sorority staff?

Question 2) What are the small details you need to keep focused on in planning your summer training for new staff this month?

Let me offer another perspective from the creative world of Apple.  At Apple every new employee receive this inspirational note on their 1st day:

There’s work and there‘s your life’s work
The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it.
The kind of work that you’d never compromise on.  That you’d sacrifice a weekend for.
You can do that kind of work at Apple.

People don’t come here to play it safe.
They come here to swim in the deep end.
They want their work to add up to something.

Something big.  Something that couldn’t’ happen anywhere else.

Welcome to Apple.

From breakfast with a legend, to receiving a letter on your first day of work, what themes will your new staff members be able to associate with your organizational culture?

Thinking in the context of the Apple letter:
What will your note say to a new staff member in the coming days and weeks? (Personally I’d love to see some examples of a note or letter posted on our FB page or tweet us a picture)

For me that breakfast with Durward Owen taught me two things I could expect about working for Pi Kappa Phi.
1. A vision of how I should approach each day on staff with style, character and world class attributes.
2. It told me how other team members would conduct themselves and pursue excellence by a choice.

These small touches, like a breakfast or a note in the early days, make such a difference.

So let me ask you again… What are the small details you need to keep focused on in planning your summer training for new staff? Have you put your best effort into planning your summer training yet?

How we start often communicates who we really are.  Are you making the new staff experience better?

For summer training ideas and advice Woody can be reached here .