By Taylor Deer
In 2015, a census was conducted by a group called Common Sense Media. They surveyed 2,658 US children between the ages of 8 -18 years old about their media usage, or “screen time”, on a daily basis. Between TV, Online Videos, DVD’s, Music, Social Media, Gaming, Reading, and Mobile Media, teenagers (13 to 18 year olds) spend an average time of 8 hours and 56 minutes on entertainment media per day, which does not include time spent at school, or for homework.
To put that into perspective, that’s longer than most people sleep in a day.
That number is scary. Its not just because what they ARE doing; it’s what they’re NOT doing that worries me.
I have no doubt that today’s teenager is just as intelligent (if not more) than previous generations and has access to the most stored information (books, online databases, research studies, etc.) that the human race has ever seen. My worry is that we have lost the value and understanding that experience outweighs knowledge. It is what you do with your knowledge that makes you who you are. Information is useless, unless it is put into practice.
We are forgetting that there are things that cannot be learned online. Yes, we can Google it, but just by reading it, it won’t make us any closer to mastering that skill. Believe it or not, making friends and building relationships is a skill. It takes measured practice to become great at both. Today’s college student believes that you are born with those skills, like its somehow written in one’s genetic code. I hear it all the time, “he’s the recruitment chair, because he can talk to a wall” or, “I’m not a good recruiter because I’m not an outgoing person.”
The people that are excellent at making friends and building relationships with others have put time into being good at it. The subtleties of reading someone’s facial expressions and actively listening to someone are learned practices. They take time to learn. So, in a world where nine hours are being taken away from a person’s life with screen time, those are nine hours they are not putting into the practice of their social skills.
We have a whole generation of college students coming to school this Fall that haven’t put in the work to be excellent at making friends, being a good host, making people feel welcome, having deep conversations, being authentic, telling stories, actively listening, and the list goes on….
No wonder your brothers only want to eat wings and hang out with themselves at your recruitment events! It’s because they might not have the skills to hold an intelligent conversation that isn’t about beer or parties. Some people might have even joined your organization so that they would get an instant 50+ friends without having to go through the typical “friendship making process” that everyone else has to go through. All they had to do was look cool, dress how you dress, toss the football around, etc. and they might have gotten a bid from the guys who joined before you did.
The point is, our brothers, and potential new members coming into school need to be reminded of how to be social, how to treat people as a host, how to listen to someone, and how to get along with people with different interests. You can make conversations magical and avoid boring questions. You can develop better situational awareness and life hack your way into making more friends. When you are preparing your chapter for the fall recruitment season, be sure that it includes repeated, experiential, and very basic training, on how to be social. In doing so, all of your brothers will be a better help to you in making more friends and building more relationships.
By Tina VanSteenbergen
We were recently asked to write pieces of “reaction” for the Phired Up Blog. We were given many prompts to react to: our annual Growth Survey Data, recent visits to campuses we work with, the upcoming recruitment season. All worth thinking about, all worth reacting to—at some point. But not this week. This week, this month, this summer, I’ve had trouble reacting to anything other than the current state of our world. One of fear, isolation, and hate.
How could we think or feel about anything else these days? We turn on the news, open the internet, visit our favorite social media platforms, and are bombarded by terrifying stories of needless murders, of peaceful protests turned deadly, of various identified groups separating themselves from one other based on religion or race, to terrorist bombings killing hundreds of people at once.
(Well, everywhere that the Pokemon pictures aren’t. But that’s a whole other blog.)
The only real place I haven’t seen these stories of danger and despair is on a feed full of fraternities and sororities. Our headquarters are putting up beautiful photos from Conventions and Leadership Conferences. Recruitment Counselors are excitedly deactivating Facebook until after formal recruitment is complete. Fraternity Rush Chairmen are sending out invitations for events happening in the fall. Members are relaxing by the pool with some of their local bothers and sisters, counting down the days until they can be reunited with the rest.
Let me say this first: this is not necessarily a bad thing. In the middle of a bombardment of genuine terror, it’s nice to have fun photos and posts that bring a smile to my face.
But I think we’re missing an opportunity.
When I tell people what I enjoy most about working with members of fraternities and sororities, I tell them about the impressive amount of leadership we possess in our members. Our leaders are powerful. We’re motivated, capable, passionate, committed, and intentional. And in this moment, this week, this month, this summer, we’re missing an opportunity. To share our power. To direct our passion. To use our privilege.
We have a voice, and a loud one at that. And in regards to the current state of our world, we’re not using it. We’re not talking (loudly enough) about the fear and terror. We’re not sharing the messages of love and kindness our organizations were founded upon. We’re not vocally opening our doors to people in our communities who may feel lost, scared, or unsupported, offering the brotherhood and sisterhood we hold so dear. Our company co-founder Matt recently shared his reaction to the current state of the world and put out a call to action for us to use and amplify our voice.
Some of us are using it. Some of us desperately want to, but don’t know how. Some of us feel the pull, but are afraid—afraid to use that voice too loudly, afraid to use it in a way that hurts others, or afraid to use it in the wrong ways. That fear or concern is natural.
But when you feel it, I want you to remind yourself of this: your founders were probably afraid too. Afraid to step up. To be different. To advocate for others. To use their voice.
I love Convention photos. Seeing Recruitment Counselors give up social media to help PNMs find their homes makes me smile. Hearing Rush Chairs planning for their newest members gets me excited. I’m not asking that we stop celebrating, planning, or growing. But in a space of “reaction,” here’s mine:
Our organizations were created to build communities. Many of them were built as reactions—to experiences of dissonance on their campus, to moments of injustice, to feeling isolated or different. Now, hundreds of years later, it’s our turn to REACT. To stand up. To open our doors. To choose love. To be kind. To be brothers and sisters to everyone. To use our power, our passion, our privilege for good. To lead.
By Matt Mattson
We all know the Top 10 Reasons why potential members turn down our bids. If you don’t, they’re listed below and here are some free resources to help you familiarize yourself.
But when a prospective member says “no” or “not yet” and they follow it up with “I can’t afford it,” “My parents won’t let me,” “I’m going to wait a semester,” or “I’ll think about it,” did you know that they probably don’t really mean any of those things?
It’s true. Most of those concerns or excuses are really just a veiled way of communicating something much simpler. Much more important.
Here it is. Those excuses communicate one of these two things..
1. You all don’t seem to LOVE me yet.
2. I don’t really LOVE you all yet.
Now, they’ll never admit this. And I know it sounds kind of hokey. But, I’m telling you… after years of teaching, researching, and watching fraternity and sorority recruitment, I’m 100% convinced that LOVE is the main ingredient. And 99% of the time, when someone is hesitating to join, it isn’t for any real logical reason — it’s a lack of human connection, a lack of emotional charge, a lack of love.
Back in the old days, we couldn’t talk about stuff like this with fraternity men, we’d get boo’d out of the room. But I know we’re working with a more enlightened crop of fraternal leaders, and the sorority women have been tuned into this for a while now. Fraternities and sororities sell one thing — we peddle LOVE. We call it brotherhood, sisterhood, purpose, values, etc., but all of those things are just a manifestation of a young woman or man feeling LOVED.
We teach an old recruitment skill called a “Pre-Close.” That’s when, after you’ve gotten to know a prospect really well, and they’ve gotten to know you and your organization really well, you ask, “If we were to ask you to join, what would you say?” It’s at this point when they’ll respond with either a YES, NO, or MAYBE. “No’s” and “Maybe’s” get a follow up question: “What’s one thing holding you back?” At which point they’ll give you one of the Top 10 reasons listed below. Here’s a fun old video to walk you through the Pre-Close process.
But, understand that what the Pre-Close process is really about is an opportunity for each party to have a real emotional check in. To find out if the prospective member feels at HOME yet. If they feel like they’re part of your group, if they feel like they can matter within your organization… if they feel loved.
When you find out their concerns or excuses for not yet wanting to join, you’ll also find that you probably won’t be able to convince them to join with logic, information, data, or bullet-points. They’ll need more connection, more friendship, more emotional exchange — factual info will be helpful too, but the real “convincing” is an act of the heart not the brain.
When I teach recruiters how to Pre-Close, I always emphasize the first step of the three step process.
1. VALIDATE their concern.
2. ISOLATE each concern to deal with them separately.
3. TIMELINE the conversation – set a date for next steps and a decision.
To “validate” someone means to truly listen to them. To let them know that their concern about joining is not only valid, it is completely normal. “So you’re concerned about the cost. That makes total sense. It isn’t free. It isn’t even cheap. It’s a lot of money for most people to make this kind of investment. I had the same concern when I was in your shoes – I didn’t come from money. I didn’t have a full-time job. I was texting Mom and Dad for rent money all the time my first year. That is a completely valid concern.”
Notice that the first thing you should do is just let them have their concern. It’s real to them. Even if it is based on inaccurate information. Just let it be. Love them. Hear them. Validate them. There is no “right” or “wrong” here. There is only loved enough or not.
Next we ask, “If money wasn’t a concern, is there anything else holding you back?” If there is, validate it and add it to the list. If not, then move on.
Finally, the Pre-Close process ends with a TIMELINE. The last thing you want is to leave an uncertain prospective member uncertain about his or her uncertainty. Set a timeline for resolution. “Listen, I don’t know if you’ll think differently or not, but I want to make sure we give this a chance. Could we have some more conversations and share some more experiences for the next 7 days, and then one week from now I’ll ask you this same question again?” Don’t let things drag on.
TOP 10 REASONS WHY PEOPLE DON’T JOIN FRATERNITIES/SORORITIES (and what they really probably mean)
1. I can’t afford it. (You don’t seem to love me enough yet for me to make this investment.”
2. My mom/dad/boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t want me to join. (You haven’t shown the people important to me that I will be loved here.)
3. I have to focus on my studies. (I don’t feel loved here.)
4. Upperclassmen don’t join fraternities/sororities. (I feel like because I’m older, I won’t be loved here.)
5. I don’t want to live in the house. (I don’t feel loved here.)
6. I don’t want to be a stereotypical frat guy/sorority girl. (You all haven’t shown that you’re capable of more than caring about someone at a surface level.)
7. I don’t have time. (I don’t feel loved here.)
8. I don’t want to buy my friends. (It doesn’t seem like you love each other.)
9. I don’t want to be hazed. (You all don’t seem to love me enough for me to trust that you won’t hurt me.)
10. I don’t drink. (I don’t feel like you all love people like me.)
By Taylor Deer
When recruitment comes along, do you feel overwhelmed? Tired? Exhausted? Counting down the seconds until it ends? Feeling like you will never want to talk to another dude ever again?
You’re stressed out, man.
To me this is an indicator that you are doing it wrong. Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you feel stressed, your body releases certain hormones which activate you to prepare for emergency action. Only certain things provoke our bodies to respond in this way. Sometimes stress can come from external sources like a long day in class or an upcoming exam. Other times stress comes from within. The main causes of internal stress according to WebMD are: fear, uncertainty , attitudes and perceptions of others, unrealistic expectations, and change. I laughed out loud as soon as I read through these because each one of them is absolutely present in our current recruitment processes. Frankly, it all stems from our mindset about recruitment. Right now we say things like:
Negative stress comes from something forcing us to do things we don’t want to do. For fraternity men that “something” is mostly self perpetuated. Its was a theory that the previous generation of men before you created. You may feel bound out of obligation to uphold those traditions no matter how ridiculous they are.
Ideally we should all create a system that our current membership believes in. A system where we move away from causing stress, and begin to invoke eustress.
What is eustress?
Have you ever stayed up all night to finish a book that was so good you just couldn’t put it down? Have you ever pushed yourself beyond your limit to run farther than you’ve ever gone? Have you ever spent hours hunched over a piano playing the same part over and over so you could master the song? That is eustress.
Simply put, the prefix “eu” in Greek means “good”. Therefore the simple definition of eustress is: good stress.
When we perceive a stressor as positive and beneficial, it is considered eustress. Its easy to think what induces eustress in our lives because its usually one of our favorite things to do on a daily basis. In fact, we probably make time, even in a busy schedule, to do the things that produce eustress.
So, what would it look like if our recruitment processes revolved around re-creating the things we enjoy the most in our lives? What if we picked things that we like to do, things that changes our language from “have to” to “get to”? It might look something like this:
There is no real reason for recruitment to stress you out. If you move to a model of building relationships through activities you “get to” do rather than “have to” do, you’ll find that recruitment slowly moves away from causing stress and anxiety and begins to reflect what you and your brothers naturally love doing. This helps not only get more brothers involved (because they’re doing things that they already love doing), but it also gives those PNM’s that you are bringing in an accurate picture of what your chapter is actually like, rather than the absurd falsity that our normal flashy rush week events represent.
Less bad stress, more good stress will equal a happier chapter and better results. Looking for ideas on how to get these amazing results as you prepare for recruitment this fall? Check out our free resources here!
By Matt Mattson
I’ve always been mystified by machines like dehumidifiers. They seem magic. They suck moisture out of the air without you ever noticing what’s really going on or how it’s really happening. Flick a switch, listen as the machine makes a dull whirr, and after a while there you are just enjoying a delightfully less humid local atmosphere — living in a new sense of dehumidified comfort.
It seems as if a similarly subtle process is occurring in society. It seems as if someone turned on a dehumanifier that is quietly, invisibly, and unnoticeably sucking all the humanity out of our air. Someone flicked a switch a couple decades ago, we haven’t noticed the dull whirr, and here we are living a less human sense of discomfort.
The evidence of this is all around us.
Some of it is too close to home for me. I live in Littleton, Colorado. Home of Columbine High School, about 30 miles from a certain movie theater in Aurora, and just down the street from some less infamous but equally as frightening public shooting arenas (Deer Creek Middle School and Arapahoe High School). This is where I send my two daughters to school everyday, and this is where they went to watch Finding Dory this week.
When Columbine happened in 1999, a mass shooting like that seemed utterly unimaginable. Today, it’s the norm. Dallas, Newtown, Pulse, Virginia Tech, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and the horrible list goes on.
There’s another list of inhuman acts, of course. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and this horrible list goes on.
People are being shot down as though they aren’t even human.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by this dehumanification. There have been signs of it for years.
We fight wars with drones. Years ago we redefined the word “friend” to be a digital classification instead of an emotional connection. Two of our most popular TV shows (Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead) feature weekly killings — sometimes by the dozens — of both human and subhuman characters. Politics has placed us on “red” and “blue” teams with no room for the nuance of the human condition. We talk about “aliens” invading our borders. We’re literally in a national argument on social media at the moment about Whose Lives Matter!?!?
The world is begging to be rehumanified. Our society is suffering through an arid period in which all the humanity seems to have been dried up.
We could point blame of course. It would be easy to point at technology, Hollywood, the media, the republicans, the democrats, the politicians, big banks, or religious zealots, and lay the blame at their feet to make ourselves feel better. Most people will do that. And they’ll do it through social media memes that reinforce their own point of view — like a machine regurgitating the simple data it’s been fed. Or we could realize that rehumanification begins with the acts of everyday humans.
We get to choose whether we will rehumanify our schools, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, and our world. Rehumanification begins with the acts of everyday humans, and those humans are us. They are you. They are me. Rehumanification begins by reminding ourselves and the people around us that we are all human. That can’t be done unless we connect. We must spread human connection like a healing ointment over the wounds of the past several decades. Our scars are deep. 9/11, the housing crash, mass shootings, brash racism, constant war, continual fear. But the medicine we need is right in our hands. Human connection has to be the remedy. It is healer. It is the rehumanifier.
Handshakes, conversations, authentic curiosity, vulnerable discourse, compassionate listening, a search for understanding, compromise, collaboration, organization, generosity. We know the choices that have to be made in every day life. With strangers, with family, with colleagues, with students, with neighbors, with children, with police, with leaders, with followers. We must find the gumption and the discipline to make those choices more often. We must, as a society, become better at practicing Social Excellence.
We’ve been defining Social Excellence like this: A state of perpetual generosity, curiosity, positivity, and openness to limitless possibility. A desire to intentionally connect with others. The ability to engage in deep, meaningful conversation. Acting in a responsible and respectable manner with high expectations of others. Being authentic and living everyday with integrity as the best version of oneself. Being confident and vulnerable. Being fun and compassionate. Being open, kind, and bold. The highest level of societal participation and contribution.
You might define it differently. But this is what we believe will rehumanify our society. This is the switch we need to flick in all of us to reverse the drying up of our human spirit and our recognition of humanity all around us. As fraternity and sorority members, we have the privilege and power to begin rehumanifying the world around us.
This is why fraternity and sorority matters in today’s world. We are fully human organizations. We have our complicated, ugly, and embarrassing sides, but we are human. We peddle brotherhood, sisterhood… LOVE… as our product. Our architecture is built entirely out of the pillars of human connection. Students — humans — need what we have to offer now more than ever. We are are manifestation of Social Excellence. This is what we have to offer. We are the healers. We are the rehumanifiers.
By Erin Chatten
I am beyond excited to be starting a new adventure as the Research Director for Phired Up Productions. Now, I know what we all think when we think of the word “research”… nerdy. Well guess what? I am a nerd!
I nerd out on the daily, whether due to my overly detailed, color coded Google Calendar, or my refusal to listen to the radio because I would rather discover new music on my own. I’ve been this way practically my whole life. I love to ask deep questions, talk to strangers, and I’m totally guilty of people watching in public places. At home, I make up songs to sing to my cat and I know an unhealthy amount of information about Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars. This is what makes me make me a straight up nerd. Some of you may be a little nerdy, too.
Maybe you’re a nerd because you get excited over organized excel spreadsheets and Google Drive folders. You may be a nerd because you’ve collected figurines since you were a child. Or maybe you are a nerd because you can speak elvish or quote the entire Pitch Perfect movie. You may not even consider yourself a nerd, but I guarantee we all have a little nerd in us.
I see so much of myself in you, and I believe that you and your authentic inner-nerd can make a real difference in your chapter, in your council, and within yourself. I wasn’t always proud to let my nerd flag fly. I don’t know why, but I just wasn’t.
When I was a recruitment counselor for my sorority, I met a seemingly shy individual in between parties. She seemed sweet, but taken back by the daunting recruitment process. I sat down next to her and we began to talk about Harry Potter. In five minutes, I revealed one of my deepest secrets to this woman: I use to write Harry Potter fan fiction. Some of my own sisters didn’t even know that about me and here I was having a nerdfest with a practical stranger over a side of me that I had tried to hide. Ultimately, she joined my sorority and we got to geek it out on a regular basis.
I started realizing that this whole weird side of me was an enormous asset. So, I raised my freak flag a little higher and embraced these aspects of me that were not weird, but were instead unique passions. I know you can do the same thing. When the going gets tough, get passionate. Get nerdy.
Here are some things I’ve learned about how you can play in to your authentic nerd to make a real difference in your fraternity or sorority:
1) Be up front about your passions. There is a match out there for everyone who is looking for the fraternity or sorority that will accept them for who they truly are. Be authentic, vulnerable, and transparent about your passions with whomever you choose to engage in conversation with, you never know where it could lead you!
2) Embrace that organizational side of you. Whether you color code, electronically organize, or keep things clean and tidy, spread that love to your chapter or council. You can make a choice help organize your names list, match individuals with potential members, keep copious notes during membership selection, or keep track of recruitment assignments and deadlines.
3) Evaluate, analyze, and dig deeper! There is so much value in learning from ourselves. Be the individual who evaluates what makes your chapter or council different. Consider hosting an evaluation for your organization by asking:
4) Be curious! The nerd in us loves to ask questions, and good ones! Ask the deep and insightful questions that expose the best side of your brothers and sisters and teach others how to ask these questions to learn more about potential members. Try out a few at your next chapter get together such as:
Having an interest in a particular area doesn’t just make you a nerd; it makes you a passionate individual. Embrace that!
I’m so excited to see how you embrace your inner-nerd and uncover those passions. I know that you have the potential to do big things, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Give me a call, tweet, tag, smoke signal, carrier pigeon, anything! Let me know how you embraced your nerd and how it benefited you! May the force be with you.
Find me on twitter or instagram @Chit_Chatten
Call or text me at 248-895-9082