Many of my friends and colleagues, in recent days, have forwarded me the New York Times article entitled "Pledge Prep" by Abigail Sullivan Moore with little to no comment except, "Have you seen this!?!?" The answer to my friends and esteemed colleagues is "Yes, I’ve seen it. And yes, actually, I knew about the article before it came out." But, to be honest with you all, it didn’t turn out exactly the way that I had hoped. I spent two hours on the phone with Miss Sullivan Moore, over a month ago, speaking with her about this very topic…sorority recruitment and the experience of the Potential New Member.
Frankly, I am disappointed, appalled, and enraged after that long, intelligent, and sincere conversation with Abby Sullivan Moore, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. This topic and the spin she took in her article – put simply – is sexy…it sells newspapers – and that my friends, is exactly what the NY Times does… sells newspapers.
The grave reality of the situation is that nothing in her article is untrue. She tells the true story of women preparing to participate in sorority recruitment – I can’t fault Abby for shining an honest light on this ugly reality. We as fraternal organizations, all too often, get enraged by the mean things that people write about us in newspapers. We hide behind finger pointing and we shame people for being "mean" to us when we clearly add so much value to people lives. We can use this article as just another instance to be mad, throw a fit, and write angry rebuts to the NY Times, OR we can use this article for good — as a call to arms — as a call for change.
Winston Churchill was quoted as saying, "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
Perhaps it’s time for us to sit down and listen. We spend so much of our time as sororities and the people that support them focused on preparing undergraduate sorority chapters to be successful in a sorority process. We dump countless hours, endless dollars, and piles of stress to ensure their success. We pit much of that success on our ability to dress great, look great, put on great skits, serve great snacks, have great meaningless quick conversations to get women to like us, and altogether put on a great little show in a short amount of time. We measure our success within that process by a total or a quota and compare our successes to our competition’s. This process, sorority recruitment, has become 100% about us. We are 100% selfishly focused on ourselves.
When is the last time that we actually asked a potential new member about their experience within the recruitment process? When is the last time that we actually cared about their experience? Perhaps it is time to sit down and really listen – listen to the article that Abby Sullivan Moore wrote in the NY Times, listen to the published research about potential new members’ experience within sorority recruitment and the impact it has on them, and listen to the experience of the women who are preparing to join our communities. These experiences do not represent what it means to be a sorority woman. This is not what our founders would have wanted for us – this is not the legacy they have left us. Sorority is supposed to lift women up. Sorority is supposed to empower and inspire women to do great work in the world. I feel everything but inspired after reading that article. I feel everything but empowered after thinking about the experience of those potential new members.
This is exactly the battle that we are fighting at Phired Up. We’ve started listening. We’ve starting listening to the experience of PNM’s. We’ve started listening to the experience of people who’ve left our organizations. We’ve started to truly listen so that we can truly create change instead of continuing to perpetuate this environment. While we’ve been listening, we’ve been learning. We’ve learned that women join sororities because of the relationships and deep, meaningful conversations that they have with sorority women either before or during a recruitment process. We’ve learned that women stay in sororities because of the relationships and deep friendships that they build as a result of being a member. We’ve learned, through our research, that the primary reason women leave sororities is because she lacks those relationships and deep meaningful friendships within the organization. Shouldn’t then our process be about building deep, meaningful, authentic relationships? Shouldn’t this then be the emphasis for both sorority members and potential members alike?
Preparing to put your best foot forward in sorority recruitment is important – making a great first impression, looking and feeling your best, having great interaction skills, and all-in-all being prepared to make the lifelong decision of sorority are all important pieces of the sorority recruitment equation. But Lily Pulitzer? Black strappy sandals? Practicing you’re facial expressions in the mirror? Seriously? This, in the hundreds of years of our existence, is how far we’ve come? The sad truth is that we’ve created a system where potential members HAVE to focus on these things – where they have to prepare in this way. Shame on us.
My biggest contention with the way these potential members are being prepared for the process of sorority recruitment is that it is teaching them to hide – to hide who they are authentically – behind what they "perceive" will obtain them membership in the elite organizations. It encourages them to "mute" who they really are for the sake of being desirable to certain chapters or types of women. It teaches them not to be authentic, but to be fake. In fact, it sends the message to these young women that the authentic version of them just isn’t good enough. How’s that for a confidence boost? Being in a sorority shouldn’t require you to become someone different, it should just enhance who you already are – making you a better version, not a different one.
You see, we believe that in order to be fully prepared to put your best, most confident foot forward in sorority recruitment (as a sorority woman or potential member), it requires you to discover the authentic version of you – the good, the bad, the ugly – and then discover what the best version of it is. When you do that, that is where you find true confidence and there is nothing more beautiful and impressive than a confident woman. We’ve been taught as women that confidence means we have to love every part of ourselves. But confidence isn’t loving every part of you, it’s knowing every part of you.
When we know who we truly are – the authentic version of us – it allows us to know which sorority is going to be the right fit for us. When you are the best version of your authentic self, it gives other people permission to be their authentic self as well – and when two people, in conversation, are being authentic – it allows them to connect in a meaningful way. Meaningful, authentic conversations within the recruitment process allow for potential members to make the right decision, for them, about sorority membership – but it also allows for chapters to do the same. It allows the sororities to equally make better decisions about which women are right for their organization based on values, character, and individuality (not outfits, hair color, hometown and a mutual love for Harry Potter).
A sorority recruitment environment like that – focused on authenticity and meaningful conversations – that’s uplifting, empowering, and inspiring.
I don’t blame Abby for writing the article and actually, I will likely thank her. It’s just the call we need to push us to the edge of doing something. We can let this moment define us or we can let this be our defining moment. We can choose to let this article define us or we can choose to let this article be a defining moment in sorority where we had a choice to make – and we took the hard and uncomfortable route, not the easy one, for the sake of a better, more meaningful sorority experience for the future.
*Phired Up has created programming specifically geared toward changing the sorority recruitment environment for both potential members and sorority women. To learn more, visit here .
by Josh Orendi
I often say that the most commitment-averse group of people on the planet are 19 year old men … just ask 19 year old women. It’s perfectly normal that great prospects might be gun shy about making a lifelong commitment to join your fraternity.
During year-round recruitment (especially summer recruitment) it’s often a challenge to get a potential member to commit to joining the chapter. Here’s a simple "word package" you can use to help a potential new member make his decision.
"We don’t have to make a decision today, but let’s make a decision to make a decision. Is that okay? I’ll help you get all the information you need together to make an educated choice. What day can we get back together to make the best decision for you?"
The goal is to lock in a firm day/time to come to a firm decision. You might recall a similar lesson in the blogs about bracketing and time constraints. Sometimes having the right question or word package ready makes all the difference.
by Matt Mattson
Still not sure what your fall recruitment plan looks like? Want to make sure you’ve thought of everything? There are a lot of considerations that go into a great plan, but you can simplify the whole process by answering (in as much detail as possible), these 5 questions.
Boy oh boy do I have a lot more detail to add under and around each one of those questions. But if you focus on answering those five questions with as much creativity, detail, and effectiveness as possible, you’ll be on the right track. Hint: The right answers might not be the answers your group has come up with in the past.
Want to know the answers that GET RESULTS? Learn more about Dynamic Recruitment . Phired Up has availability throughout the rest of this summer and fall to help you build your recruitment strategy. Contact us today.
by Shira Tober
Let’s think of recruitment as the Food Pyramid. The foods at the bottom are the ones that should be most frequently consumed and the top are the consumed sporadically. Meeting more people and making more friends is at the bottom of the Recruitment Pyramid, or otherwise known as the foundation. And for women, the cherry on top is Formal Recruitment.
Here’s why the cherry is on top: it only happens in small amounts (once a year), its great at getting women who are interested in sororities into sororities, and the success of Formal Recruitment is reliant on the mastery of the bottom tiers, i.e. RELATIONSHIPS & VALUES.
Still, it can be delicious if done right.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Later this summer the Women’s Division of Phired Up Productions will be releasing a new Formal Recruitment resource to help chapters prepare for formalized recruitment. The Formal Recruitment Prep Pack will include books, Dare Cards, activities, challenges, and step-by-step instructions to make sure chapters having a solid recruitment foundation and work their way up the Recruitment Pyramid to the cherry on top, a successful Formal Recruitment.
If you want more information about the Formal Recruitment Prep Pack or how you can purchase it for your chapters, E-mail Shira@PhiredUp.com .
by Josh Orendi
I just met with Michael Donahue at a Panera Bread in Carmel, Indiana. He’s a well respected Executive Coach for top businesses and entrepreneurs in the Indianapolis area (he’s also a Delta Upsilon from Northern Illinois). Mike told me his job requires him to recruit top talent, coach for performance, and facilitate a small group of talented people to form a "fraternity-like bond" of trust and support. He said, "there are a few choices I have made that have most certainly changed my life for the better … pledging DU was one of them. The lessons I learned back in the DU house have served me all through life."
Mike has a few decades of wisdom that I was hungry to tap into. I listened. I learned. I took notes. One note in particular was too important for me to keep to myself. He shared a lesson with me about his business that applies directly to building successful chapters/teams/groups. He said, "There are three things that must be present to have a successful group. Only three! These three are critical, non-negotiable …"
1. Shared Purpose
2. Investment Back into the Group
3. Demand Performance with Accountability
"My CEO groups remind me of my fraternity experience … there is deep trust and respect. We come together because we share a commitment to helping every member reach his/her goals and become a better person." Mike went on to tell me, "The magic of what I do is in the group itself, not in me. A great group is more powerful than any individual relationship … the group has wisdom and holds each other accountable. It takes courage to tell someone that they’re full of BS or that they aren’t living up to their potential as a leader. You have to be willing to experience a little stomach acid. That’s what the members of high performing groups do. They hold each other accountable to high standards."
Those three bullet points are perfect conversation nuggets when you talk to a potential member about the commitment of joining your organization. As for me, I have a meeting on the calendar to meet his CEO group. It’s a cool feeling to be back on this side of the experience being recruited as a potential member. Wish me luck.
by Matt Geik
Recently Phired Up partnered with the Response Ability Project to put on an educational experience like none other. BE THE PERSON . It wasn’t a conference, but rather a true immersion experience that made the streets of Chicago the classroom. You can read more about it here .
During the event participants worked through curriculum that was geared towards helping them identify the thing(s) in life that they had a passion for. You could say that the experience and curriculum even helped them identify their purpose. With that, we worked to help participants understand how to activate on that purpose/passion once they knew what it was. This is where the participants learned to put the steps of handshakes leading to conversations, conversations leading to relationships, relationships leading to collaboration, collaboration leading to organizations and organizations changiing the world into effect — Social Excellence.
It was incredible to see what transpired in individuals during this event. To see so many people leave ready to make a difference. To change, maybe not THE world, but at least go and change their world. The world that mattered to them. That was something incredibly special to be a part of. After all of the participants had left, I went and ate lunch with Vince Fabra before leaving town. As Vince and I walked to and from lunch (yes, for those of you who know me, it was at Chipotle) past this building site that was being torn down I remembered when we first arrived in Chicago seeing the building WHOLE. It was complete. It had been someone’s business. In a matter of 4 days, what was once someone’s passion, purpose, love, life had been relegated to dust. An empty lot ready for someone else’s dreams to become a reality.
All of us, as individuals and as our organizations have a purpose. A reason for being. Too often, many of us have great ideas, passions, and purposes that we choose to pursue and further, but sadly, oftentimes, over a course of a few days, weeks, months, years, we lose that idea, passion or purpose. We get sidetrack by all of the other “stuff” that goes on from day to day in our worlds. We lose our focus due to tasks that we think matter and must be completed instead of completing the bold actions that will continue to breathe life into our true passions. THE world, gets in our way.
Maybe it was the emotional high of coming off such a great experience, or maybe it was just having the “fat happys” after scarfing down that carnitas burrito, but I had to pause as we walked past the building the second time. It made me think of all of the participants who were headed back home to change their world. I thought about how one’s passion can fade away from focus and how quickly change can be made, often by one person choosing to shake someone else’s hand. Mostly though, I hoped that the participants would be the ones making change and not allowing change to happen to them.
I hope for them that they have continued to pursue what matters to them. I hope that they are shaking hands and creating relationships to further their cause. I hope that they aren’t waiting to activate. I hope that they haven’t been sidetracked by THE world. I hope their daily to-do list hasn’t gotten in the way of their life’s to-do list. I hope for them — and for you — that you see NOW as the time to be making the change you wish to see in your world and your organization.
Are they, are you, bringing people together now around your passion, your cause, your organization? Because if there’s anything I know about our fans, friends, and followers it is that they are high quality people doing high quality things. I know that what you have to offer other through your passion, purpose, cause or organization is something that would be appealing to others and that others would want to join you. I hope that your building isn’t currently being torn down due to inactivity, but instead you are working to construct your own building, the place that will house your passion and purpose. The place that will be the headquarters for changing your world and maybe even changing THE world.
by Matt Mattson
"I really hope we get to total this year," said way too many sorority women.
"Recruit at least one person to replace yourself," said some alumnus when I was an undergraduate fraternity man.
"Let’s try to get at least the same size new member class as we got last year," said far too many Greek members.
These quotes are all small-minded. They’re based in a mentality of "addition" as opposed to the real potential that recruitment has — "multiplication."
If you see recruitment as "adding enough people to make up for the ones we lost," or "getting enough new members to keep us as good as we are," then you’re destined for mediocrity.
If you see recruitment as an opportunity to multiply the impact you have on the world by strategically seeking out high quality people (new members who are even better than you) to dramatically advance your organization’s cause… then you have a chance for exponential results.
Multiply with your recruitment strategy this fall. Don’t simply add.