by Matt Mattson
I often am asked, “How did you come up with the idea of starting Phired Up?”
I tell a couple different versions of the story. There’s lots to tell. It’s a story about seeing a problem (recruitment under-performance), and wanting to fix it. It’s a story about the support we received from the early adopters, and our friends and family. It’s a story about how the company really started to flourish once we found our first employee, Jessica (now CEO), (and all of the great people who have been along for the ride). It’s a story about bootstrapping. It’s a story about passion and purpose.
But the real root of the story is simple. It’s a story of fraternity.
Josh and I worked together at Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity National Headquarters doing chapter consulting and then expansion work. And while there were a few key moments that we talk about related to the origin of the company, the real origin lies in late night conversations between me and Josh about… our ritual. No kidding.
I know that sounds cheesy to some readers, but man… it’s true. We would debate, dig in, discuss, and drill down into the ancient text that has inspired not only our collegiate experience, but our careers and our lives.
Josh and I are going to Alpha Sig’s big national convention this weekend. Not for work. Just for brotherhood. We’re roommates for the conference, just like the old days. We’ll probably talk about business a little bit, but mostly we’ll talk about Alpha Sigma Phi, how to make it better, what our founders really wanted, and how to live a life that represents the values we both took an oath to nearly two decades ago.
So, why am I sharing these thoughts in a blog? Here are three lessons I want to convey:
1. It’s o.k. to be a fraternity/sorority nerd. Josh and I are total Greek Life nerds. We have always loved what fraternity/sorority is supposed to be about. We love the idealism. The challenge to live a better life. The expectation to be a better man or woman. We still stay up late at night and talk about our ritual, values, and founders. I know modern culture sets the expectation that it’s not cool to do that, but we do. If you’re like us, you’re not alone. Tell potential members how passionate you are about the life guidance your fraternity ritual provides.
2. Fraternity & Sorority can create cool stuff. I know Phired Up isn’t Apple or Google or even, I don’t know… Spanx. But it’s pretty cool. It’s a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens who want to change the world. It’s a unique and successful business. It’s the manifestation of our personal and fraternal values. I’m so glad the guy who recruited me (Tom Coy) gave me the gift of fraternity so that I could be a part of this cool thing — the interfraternal world. Give more people the chance to be a part of this weird world of ours called “Greek Life.” It is the birthplace of a lot of cool ideas, and the launching pad for a lot of successful fulfilling lives.
3. Recruit people into the inter/national experience, not just your chapter. If you’ve gone to an inter/national event of your fraternity or sorority, you know the magic of the bigger picture. Share your stories of nationwide… worldwide fraternal connections. My first national conference was in Norfolk, Virginia back in 1998. I remember it so clearly. I remember when a couple of alumni brothers took me under their wing and mentored me. I remember learning about the diversity of our organization, the shared values of brothers across the nation, and the network of support I had simply from sharing a ritual commitment with all those men. I have as many stories from our fraternity’s national conventions, as I do from our undergraduate years. Fraternity is for life. Share your stories of inter/national experience with prospective members.
I hope you read and passionately discuss your ritual book with a brother or sister. I hope you go to your inter/national events. I hope you’re lucky enough to find a great friend… a brother or a sister, maybe… to work with throughout your life. I hope you realize what your late night conversations about cheesy stuff could turn into. If you ever say to a brother or sister during one of those deeply intense, super nerdy talk sessions, “The world would be better if…” Who knows? That could be the start of a new company. That could be the start of a life of working to change the world.
This past Spring, something remarkable happened in Nebraska. Here’s the story.
A local 61-year-old fraternity, Alpha Gamma Nu (AgMen), that was founded in 1953 at the University of Nebraska reached out to Phired Up to help re-establish its legacy of excellence. They weren’t looking for a massive chapter — they wanted a core group of select gentlemen to bring their historic chapter back.
Phired Up’s Paul Manly, assisted by 2 other’s on our team, spent 3 and a half weeks on campus. During those few weeks, Paul and the team put over 600 names on a Names List. They met personally one-on-one with over 250 Nebraska men. Eventually they hand-selected 26 core gentlemen that represented the organization’s values and aspirations (with an average GPA of 3.18). All 26 of those men accepted an invitation to membership, and soon after recruited an additional 10 men on their own.
Brad Broeker, the Alumni Committee President tells the story “In 2013 our Alumni committee had made the determination that our 60 years of organizational history was near an end. After trying a number of different things and nearly dissolving our fraternity we approached Phired Up about their recruiting services in 2014. After having them on our campus we proudly initiated our re-founding fathers. The one-on-one approach is effective and we are extremely excited to be using their training service to ensure that our organization continues to grow and thrive. We are very appreciative for the work that Paul Manly and his team brought to our campus.”
“Partnering with Phired Up was a game changer for our fraternity!” said Tim Brhel, the Alumni Committee Operations Advisor. “Paul Manly and the Phired Up team were excellent to work with. They took the time to understand our needs from day one and followed through. Not only is our fraternity back on a viable path again but our re-founding fathers are some of the best men on campus. Follow-up consulting by Paul continues to empower our new members to grow. This is a culture that will impact our campus for years to come!”
The new AgMen chapter is engaaged in a long-term coaching partnership with Phired Up, led by Paul Manly. 100% of the chapters coached by Paul last year set broke their own recruitment records.
Adam Britten, the new Alpha Gamma Nu chapter president said, “After two and a half years in college, I was not currently in a fraternity and thought I never would be. After going through some of the recruitment process during my freshman year, I had decided the fraternity life was not for me. February 2014 came around and I got a call from Paul Manly, a recruiter from Phired Up Productions. That call wound up being one of the most important calls I’ve received as I am now a part of something that very few people get to be a part of. Not only am I now a part of a brotherhood of gentlemen, I am a part of a re-founding of a fraternity. Finally being initiated, with friends that I now call brothers and truly close friends, was a remarkable experience. The initiation ceremony itself is something that is unique to the brothers of Alpha Gamma Nu and it is something that I will always cherish. Ending the evening with friends and family for dinner and getting to show them the house, along with the organization itself and past alumni, was a great experience.”
Jacob Denniston, the new recruitment chairman, said “After being involved with numerous other groups at the University, I found that ‘Frat’ life wasn’t for me. When the opportunity presented itself for me to help create something that the University has never seen, I decided to take the leap of faith. The day of initiation is a day that I will remember for the entirety of my life. It was an amazing experience to be brought into a group with some of the most fantastic men I have ever met. The public ceremony afterwards was great for our parents and alumni to come and see what we are all about and share the moment with. The best part I would say is after everyone left, and it was just me and my new brothers. We played volleyball until midnight, sat around and laughed, played pool, and really just embraced that we are now all brothers of Alpha Gamma Nu. I find it hard to put the experience into words that everyone can understand, it was a moment that I know will forever be thankful for and treasure. That was only the start.”
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