by Jason Allen
In 2012, Phired Up won the AFA Award for Excellence in Educational Programming for our innovative Be The Person Program (BTP). That program partnered with Mike Dilbeck and the RESPONSE ABILITY Project, and it focused on bystander intervention, values alignment, Social Excellence, leading community change, and determining one’s connection and mattering to the world.
Let’s fast forward to 2017…
We had the tremendous opportunity to rewrite, rework, and re-hype the Social Excellence portion of the BTP curriculum for one of our long time “phriends” at Robert Morris University for their pre-freshman orientation this Fall. Taking the lead on this was exciting, terrifying, and invigorating at the same time. I was given the opportunity to rethink an award-winning program for students who would spend their first 4 days on campus with the Phired Up Team. The pressure was on.
With the help of our brilliant team, I wrote for days. I planned new sessions. I organized new activities that Phired Up had never done before. I was running wild with ideas.
The time came for the program to start, and with Josh Orendi as our lead facilitator, Tyler Blaker as our brilliant video and tech guru, and myself as our behind the scenes man, I knew we were about to crush this experience. What I wasn’t prepared for was how amazing the student mentors (facilitators) were going to be. I knew they would be great, but they exceeded all expectations.
During the program, we invited the students to get uncomfortable through engaging in powerful conversations with strangers. We asked them to explore Social Excellence and the way it impacts their view on the world. We brought them into the City of Pittsburgh to complete random acts of kindness. Ultimately, we asked them to define how they were going to “be the person” who changed the world.
Post program, through the feedback we received, we knew we provided a life-changing and transformational program for these incoming freshmen. We watched quiet students become more active and engaged with their fellow participants. We saw people cry because of the deep connection they made with a new friend (who just 30-minutes prior was a stranger).
Here’s a direct quote from one of the participants that let me know we had succeeded: “…being Socially Excellent has nothing to do with perfection. It’s all about learning to stay curious, stay generous, be vulnerable, and more importantly, being authentically you; and that’s a lesson I will never forget.”
Selfishly, this experience was just as impactful for me.
We’ve got an awesome opportunity to keep spreading the Social Excellence message to students across the country. We’ve been doing it for years with our blogs, resources, books, and keynotes. Now, we’ve redesigned the Social Excellence portion of the Be The Person experience to bring Social Excellence alive on college campuses. Whether over a weekend, a summer orientation, or as a special stand-alone event, I’m extremely excited for the possibilities awaiting the future of Be The Person on campuses across the country.
We are also excited to be exploring further conversations with Mike Dilbeck on a version of the program that includes a conversation on dignity. Want to learn more about how your school can host this incredible, life-changing experience? I’d love to connect with you, so give me a call or send me an email.
by Dr. Colleen Coffey-Melchiorre
The world will amaze you if you let it.
I consider myself somewhat of a social anthropologist. That’s a fancy way of saying I am a people watcher. I observe folks all around me – in airports, on campuses, at school pick-up, in the yoga studio, in line at Starbucks, or at the playground with my kids. I’ve been watching people and seeking connection with them since I was a very little girl.
One thing I know for certain, as the years go by, is that I see less and less human faces in spite of the fact that I am better equipped to observe people now more than I ever have been. This has a lot to do with the influx of smart phones and the constant connection we seek online. Our social media accounts are an extension of our socialization, and we use them to garner human connection in the form of likes and comments and shares. Entire businesses are now even run using email and text messaging, acquiring customers and sealing deals without ever meeting face-to-face.
We are taught at a very young age to avoid real human connection by being told to sit still and avoid strangers. When we are devoid of our smart phones and computers by choice or circumstance, we feel naked, awkward and lost. I lost my computer on a plane in August and had to fill out a loss report with Delta Airlines. As I was writing the description of my MacBook Air, I started to tear up. I felt like I had lost a good friend or pet. (By the way it’s still missing- small navy-blue case, photo of kids on the home screen – if you see it let me know, but I digress). That process and years of observation has me wondering- what are we missing when we stop looking up? When our faces are buried in a device, we miss out on beautiful sunsets, warm smiles, soccer goals, and other humans that may really need us.
At Phired Up we know that handshakes lead to conversation, conversation leads to relationships, relationships lead to organizations, and organizations can change the world.
My message today is very simple. You can’t shake a hand if you are liking a page, searching the internet, checking your email, or texting about schedules. I want to invite you and encourage you to look up. Look in the eyes of the people around you, observe the world in mindful stillness.
I was recently on a morning drive to Starbucks after a long night of a very awake #babyjune. I normally drive to get my latte with mindless intention. Our local Starbucks is right down the road (thank goodness) and I am guilty of just going through the motions on my way there. I flirt with danger as I check email at a red light or look down at the radio to surf for my morning show of choice. I sit in that line and check Facebook and respond to work requests and go through my list of items to do that day. I worry on that drive, I plan on that drive, I put myself in danger by using my phone on that drive.
On this particular morning, I left my device at home by accident. I chose to look up. I saw the 6 am sunrise over the hills of Nolensville, Tennessee. I watched as one of our citizens without a home went about their morning routine. I saw birds flying and noticed a new building that has just grown in our bustling city without my knowledge.
As I pulled up to get my latte, I looked in the eyes of my barista – a beautiful woman with uniquely dark skin whose gentle voice provided solace to me in my state of exhaustion. “Here you go,” she said. “Almond milk. I know you’re allergic to regular.”
Wait what? How did she know that? She has some sort of psychic super power!
Maybe or (more likely) she looks up every day as a function of her job. She pays attention and connects. I thanked her and told her that her warm voice and attention to detail was much appreciated, and she smiled a smile that I would never be able appreciate without looking at her face.
The world will amaze you if you let it.
It’s incredible what we see when we interact with others and our surroundings in mindful ways. Look up. It’s totally worth it and more fulfilling than anything your tiny devices can provide.
by Tyler Blaker
I’d like to share a story with you…
It’s the beginning of my sophomore year and classes start tomorrow. I’d like to hang out with some brothers on syllabus eve, and maybe go get a bite to eat. I go through the list of brothers I would want to hang out with and the ones I feel comfortable enough talking to. Twenty minutes pass and it dawns on me. Since last year’s seniors graduated, I don’t feel like I really know anyone. What kind of brotherhood is this? Where are these lifelong connections I’m supposed to be making? I wish more of the guys would just invite me to stuff. Well, I guess it’s another night with Brother Ramen and Brother Netflix.
A lot of our brothers have similar stories, albeit more realistic and less dramatic than this. The end result is the same. A brother who loves his fraternity, a brother who loves his values, and a brother who doesn’t feel connected to his fraternity and his brothers. He feels isolated and alone amongst a sea of close strangers. So what does he do? He leaves. He renounces the fraternity, and leaves bitter and hurt.
So, what’s up with that? If we swear by this lifelong brotherhood that fraternity gives us, then why are our brothers leaving? It’s because they didn’t make enough meaningful connections to stay. Just because you’ve joined a fraternity, you’re not automatically going to receive the gift of brotherhood. It’s not something that is guaranteed the moment you adorn your mystical letters. Brotherhood, like all of the relationships we want in life, takes a special combination of time and effort.
What a crappy fact to come to terms with. Like bro, if you want a better brotherhood, like, just try harder. Happily, that is not exactly what I mean, but it’s a start. I also don’t mean we should throw three to four “brotherhood events” where we just eat wings and watch special sporting events. That junk doesn’t work to recruit our members, so why would we think it would keep members in our organizations and foster deep, meaningful relationships?
I think what we need are continuous little interactions over a long period of time. Everyone starts as strangers. It’s only through brief moments of continuous interactions that we move from strangers to friends, and friends to brothers. Fraternity provides us an incubator to grow those friendships and brotherhoods through value and passion focused continuous moments. Now let me be clear. These interactions should at least be somewhat positive and voluntary. I say this because the mandatory study hours and mandatory chapter meetings and mandatory philanthropy hours are not what I mean by continuous little interactions over a period of time. These gatherings could be opportunities to build brotherhood, but often are not.
So what then do these interactions look like? It all has to do with raccoons and shower lines. So my actual sophomore year I was concerned about making friends and if this thing called brotherhood could be attained. My fraternity was temporarily not living in the chapter house and was living in a much smaller house on campus. Morale was uncertain and I was living in a single. Without the luxuries of a roommate and really knowing most of my brothers well, the path to brotherhood seemed a daunting one. The house situation really didn’t help things, or so I thought. There were colonies of raccoons living in the ceiling tiles and only two showers for all of us to share. People often had to wait in line or shuffle about the house waiting to use the bathroom.
My room was on the path to the bathroom, and as time progressed people would stop by and talk to me while they passed through or waited to use the facilities. This soon became the norm in the house and brothers would make the loop around to each room to make small talk.
At the same time there was only one entrance to the house that forced you to pass by the lobby. A similar phenomenon occurred, and people felt compelled to stop in the lobby and see what people were doing. Through sheer circumstance (or the omniscience of the house itself), the foundation for a brotherhood was forming. I talked to brothers from all walks of life and found connections and commonalities I never would have known to look for. Who knew that a fraternity that drew us all together over common values and passions would draw its members toward each other as well? Little by little, a brotherhood was born.
A year and a half later we returned to the chapter house proper. Though we went on to more showers and left our raccoon neighbors behind, I was sad to leave the temporary house. This place taught us a valuable lesson on how to start and build relationships and develop a brotherhood through continuous little interactions.
Will these interactions help your brotherhood? Will they stop members from leaving? I cannot say for sure, but I think it helped us and has proven true for all of the relationships in my life. So the next time you, Brother Ramen, and Brother Netflix hang out – maybe walk around the house and see if your brothers want to start a chain of continuous little interactions.
by Austin Netherton
For many undergraduate fraternity men, the overwhelming and hurried occasion we call “Rush” is in wrapping up on campuses across North-America. I often hear from chapter leaders that this time period is recognized as the time when the most (and potentially only) effort is made by a chapter to recruit potential new members (PNMs).
We as fraternity men (and yes, I have been guilty of this as well) spend weeks and hundreds of dollars planning out elaborate rush events, perfecting the designs for this year’s rush t-shirt (where we copy and paste our letters into either the Patagonia or PBR logo), and then open our doors expecting PNMs whom we have never met to flock into our organizations.
Who knows? Maybe this process is successful for you. However, in my experience, it results in a year after year cycle of attempting to justify the countless hours and dollars spent planning for one week while still wondering, “Why we can never quite reach our chapter’s recruitment goals?” If this story sounds familiar to you, then you have to recognize that this happens because we never actually give ourselves the chance to truly meet the PNMs we are recruiting, let alone an opportunity to build a relationship worthy of calling someone “brother”.
There are countless ways we can discuss on how to be more successful in recruitment, but one idea stands out to me ahead of anything else at this point in the year. All you have to do is simply change the way you look at recruitment. Yes, it is that easy!
Think about it. We all know that recruitment is a relationship business, right? So why is it that we hold firm to the idea that these relationships can only come about during rush week? If we want to reach our membership goals, then we need to expand the way we look at recruitment. Rush is just a single portion within a much larger picture. It is most often a single week within a process that can in reality be carried out over the course of an entire year. So instead of investing all of our time and money betting on this one chance, let’s take it day by day from here on out and work smarter to be more successful!
There are four small weekly activities that you can implement into your chapter’s recruitment efforts this Fall that, when accomplished as a whole each week, will increase the actual recruiting you are doing, and in turn increase your success.
Try this regimen out for a few weeks and see what happens!
1 Names driving initiative. You can’t recruit who you don’t know. Everyone knows that right? There are countless qualified men on every campus that go every year without being recruited. Why? Because no one ever took the chance to meet them. Get out of your seat, introduce yourself, and prepare to grow the list of men you know on campus.
1 Call session. Grab a group of your brothers, order some pizza, and make some calls to introduce yourself! This is your chance to make a first connection with your newest PNMs.
10 Small activities. Now don’t worry! This is not like planning events for rush. Think of these events as small everyday things that can even happen any place at any time. Think outside of the box! Even doing something as simple as laundry with friends can be used as a small activity!
1 Chapter activity. This time you can think a little bigger, but don’t over-do it! This can be as simple as going to dinner as a group and inviting PNMs to join in on the conversations, thus giving yourself and others the chance to get to know them better.
There are countless examples of these four activities and more that can be found within our free recruitment resources page.
Remember, work smarter not harder! Let’s start looking at recruitment beyond rush week and let the success follow.
by KJ McNamara
Fall is in the air! School is still fresh, you’re not sick of Pumpkin Spice Lattes yet, and your fall clothes still have tags on them. For many people this Fall, they’re ready to step it up when it comes to building friendships and enhancing their chapter involvement. Maybe this year is the time you can become the person you know you have potential to be!
Maybe you can finally make that new group of friends this year! Maybe you can run for that leadership position you really want! Maybe you can find your go-to person that you text when you have a good day or a bad day! If you’re ready to take your college and fraternity or sorority experience to the next level, here are a few things to keep in mind:
#1 It is never too late to make friends.
Seriously! We are afraid to kick it with a group in the chapter because we are afraid they don’t want to hang out with us. Or, we are afraid that there is a wall up around them that we cannot get through. That wall is something we made in our own heads.
The best way to make friends is to be a friend first. Start inviting people to do stuff with you. If you are going to the gym, ask three people if they want to go with you before you go alone. If you are walking to class, text a person in your class and ask them if they want to meet for coffee first. If you are going to study at the library after chapter, announce it and see if anyone wants to go with you.
There are people in the chapter who want more friends too. You can be that person for them… just be bold. You’ve got this.
#2 Happiness. Is. Contagious.
Having a great attitude is contagious. People want to be around happy people. If you are feeling awesome, people around you will feel awesome. If you are feeling icky, go talk to someone about it…. It will help.
Character is defined by your attitude. People vote for someone who inspires them. People invite others to hang out who make them laugh and feel good. People say “yes” to a person who makes them feel happy. Your attitude this year will define your ability to make an impact.
Find a hobby that makes you happy… besides Netflix. It could be yoga, it could be sitting in your room and writing short stories. The joy you find in that little thing will give others joy. You are interesting, and you deserve to invest in yourself. Your hobby will help you bring a new perspective to your chapter and your friends. And it will make you happy. People want to be around happy people.
The best way for you to make an impact is to listen. Listen to people when they talk to you. Look them in the eye when you are in line for food. When you are walking to class and you see someone you ‘kinda’ know walking 100 feet behind you, wait. Pause, take out your ear buds, and talk to them.
When you are sitting waiting for a meeting, go up to a member in your chapter who does not have a well-defined friend group and chat with them. Ask questions. Ask more questions about them, and actively try to talk about yourself less. Listen when they respond. Everyone is looking for someone to listen to them. Everyone is looking for someone to care about them.
Here are a few phrases that will change your relationships with your current friends and the people in your chapter who need friends:
Here are some examples:
Friend says: I am having a busy week… it is so frustrating.
Old You: I know right! Do you have exams? When are they done? Well Stay Strong! We will celebrate and get crazy when it is over!
New You: I hear you! Tell me about your week…. Why is it frustrating?
Friend says: I don’t know what I am going to do tonight… I guess watch Netflix and try to study.
Old You: Yeah… me too.
New You: How about we study together a little and then go do something! Why are we not enjoying college a little more?
Friend says: I hated that test…
Old You: Yeah… Me too…. It sucked. I am glad it is over.
New You: It was hard… talk to me about why you hated it?
New You: Isn’t this your major? Explain to me how you picked this/are you enjoying it still?
New You: We should study together next time! I struggled too! Tell me about how you study and what you need in class to be successful and we can help each other out.
Taking those three concepts and applying them in the next few weeks will work wonders for your college experience! I believe in you, and I’m so excited for you as you continue growing and leading as part of your chapter.