The WSJ Article About Fraternities

by Matt Mattson

wallstreetjournalI’m guessing you’ve read this article by now.  If not, take a few minutes and really read it.  Read it once for yourself, and then read it again with empathy – try to put yourself in the shoes of the author.

The Wall Street Journal published an article by Caitlin Flanagan that stated, “The Greek system is dedicated to quelling young men’s anxiety about submitting themselves to four years of sissy-pants book learning by providing them with a variety of he-man activities: drinking, drugging, ESPN watching and the sexual mistreatment of women,” and continued with the suggestion that “If you want to improve women’s lives on campus, if you want to give them a fair shot at living and learning as freely as men, the first thing you could do is close down the fraternities.”

There is a lot I have to say about this article.  This blog, however, is supposed to provide practical, helpful, and insightful advice about growing organizations — fraternities and sororities in particular.  So, here’s my advice for both fraternities and sororities.

Print out this article, and share it with your non-Greek friends.

Set up 1-on-1 meetings with non-Greek student leaders to review this article together.  Take the article into your Dean of Students and ask to discuss it with them.  Gather a panel of female non-Greek employees on campus and discuss this article with them, your members, and especially your new members.  Walk into the Women’s Center on campus and ask to sit down with someone who can help you understand the perspective of the author.  Host an informational session with prospective members and use this article as the central topic of conversation.

I’m not suggesting you should tell all those people how wrong you think the article is. On the contrary.  I think you should tell them how real it is, and how representative it is of fraternities on many college campuses (if you don’t think it is, you just haven’t had the pleasure of traveling as much as I have).  Please don’t misunderstand me… those readers that know me know that I believe that when fraternity is done right (or even done pretty good), it is the best educational, leadership and social development opportunity on campus, and it represents the best of what young men can do together when they put their mind to it.  This is my point.  If you want to do fraternity right, part of that means that you have to own up to being associated (as an interfraternal brother) with the people who created the situation that prompted this WSJ story.

So, share the article with as many non-Greek people as you can.  Have powerful conversations about… what it means to respect women in the 21st century, how to create safe environments for all students on campus, what it means to be a gentleman/woman of class, privilege, class, self-confidence, manhood, peer pressure, alcohol, sex, etc. I’m daring you to take this article, share it with non-Greek students, and then listen to them.  Let them tell you what they think of fraternities/sororities.  Let them tell you about their real-life experience as a non-member when they interact with Greeks.  Ask them questions like…

  • Do you know students who have had negative experiences with Greeks?
  • How much do you agree/disagree with this WSJ story?
  • Why do you, as an outsider, think some fraternities/sororities have this reputation?
  • If you were in charge of our Greek community, what are three things you’d change right away?
  • Why didn’t you join?
  • The only way to change our organizations is to get better people in them, do you know 5 high quality people that I could talk to about helping to change the fraternity/sorority culture?
  • Would you be interested in helping me revolutionize fraternity/sorority on this campus?

Are You Happy?

by Branden Stewart

I stumbled upon (using Stumbleupon) this picture and it got me thinking…

areyouhappy_a2_web_1024-600x848When you meet a member of the Phired Up staff, you’re probably hoping for the chance to find out the best way to fix your recruitment process.  While I haven’t traveled the country as extensively as my colleagues, I do know that many fraternity men and sorority women walk into a Phired Up presentation hoping to learn how they can find a quick fix their recruitment problems.  What they may not be ready to accept is that if they really want to be happy, they’re going to need more than a quick fix.  You’re going to need change.

Yes. I said change.

For some, this is a dirty word.  But just because you’ve “always done it this way” doesn’t mean that it is the right way.  In fact, it could be the reason you’re not happy.

Think for a minute.  Are you happy with your recruitment process? Sure you may have gotten the most people, you may have the highest grades, or you just had the largest recruitment in history.  But is that enough to be truly happy?

I know that I wouldn’t be happy unless I knew that I’ve reached my ultimate potential.

So if you’re completely happy then that’s great.  Keep doing whatever you’re doing. And if you don’t want to be happy, then by all means please continue being miserable (or mediocre).

But let’s be real. You want to be happy.  And the only way you can do that permanently isn’t with a quick fix.  We can help you get started with a few quick fixes by visiting resources here, here, and here.  But what you’ve got to do is change something.

Real change.

Are you happy? Do you want to be?  Then change something.

Achieving “Tha Carter Status” through Dynamic Recruitment

by Keith Collier [Guest Blogger]

Keith Collier, a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University immediately joined the Delta Sigma Phi HQ staff as a New Chapter Development Coordinator. Since joining the staff, he has worked on various colonization projects this semester-mainly focusing on the University of California-Berkeley & Boise State University.

lil-wayne-tha-carter-4-cover-small“I was recordin’…”

This is a direct quote from Lil Wayne’s documentary in 2008 when he got word that his third installment of Tha Carter sold over one million copies in a single week. That’s him. Always recordin’.  And believe it or not, this has something to do with what Phired Up teaches.

Obviously there was a lot of hard work put into this album to make it as great as it is,  and of course, a lot of trial and error. Everything Lil Wayne puts out is not worthy of Tha Carter status, in fact, I’d even venture to say about 40% of what he puts out isn’t that great at all but he continues to record and record (Side note: I can’t wait for the release of Tha Cater IV). Since he began rapping at the age of eight, he has released and/or been featured in an estimated 2,600 + songs as of 2011. “It’s just music, music, music, and money for me, literally”. That’s all Lil Wayne does — record. He does not stop and in his words, “I am music”.

Being the humongous Lil Wayne fan that I am (obviously), and as a recent college graduate now working for my fraternity on a national level, I work to bring people with a passion and purpose together to create an environment to grow and ultimately become legendary. Walking onto a campus and recruiting the best of the best is not an easy task, it takes work. While watching one of Lil Wayne’s many interviews, seen here, I had an “aha” moment.  As I said before, his work ethic is unmatchable and it’s in this characteristic that I strive to emulate him, daily. While on campus at the University of California, Berkeley, It suddenly occurred to me that recruitment and Lil Wayne are very similar in nature. See the resemblance yet?

No? Okay, if you’re like me and believe in the Phired Up Productions model of Dynamic Recruitment — Quantity drives Quality, then you’ll understand right away. For those that don’t, please visit the link provided and research a little further.

Dynamic recruitment requires you to build a names list of potential members and work off of it. Most of the people on the list will not be the right fit for your specific organization (just like most of Lil Wayne’s songs aren’t the right fit/will never make it to mainstream radio). Continually add names and utilize the quantity of your potential members to help drive the quality of membership but remember, it takes HARD WORK.  The more hands you shake, the more people you meet, the more phone calls you make, the more small activities you have, the more chances you’ll have to get the right members for your organization.

Therefore, you must embrace what you do on a daily basis. In a similar fashion to Lil Wayne as he proclaims, “I am music”, at all times you must embrace social excellence, be a dynamic recruiter night/day, and let it become you in order to produce results and change lives.

Don’t Skip Part One

by Matt Mattson

I was reminded recently of a common habit of human interaction… skipping part 1 of a conversation/relationship. “The Introduction.”

This happens to me on planes a lot.  It happened to me at the Phillies vs. Braves game I went to in Atlanta the other day.  It happens to many people in typical social situations (in line at the coffee shop, in class, at the DMV, at the bar, etc.)

I’m talking about when you engage in a conversation with someone new, but you skipped the part where you reach out your hand and introduce yourself.  You just go straight from stranger to conversation-partner without coming back to the, “My name is ______.  Nice to meet you.”

This blog is just a simple reminder to come back to part one a.s.a.p.  “By the way, I’m ______. Sorry I didn’t introduce myself.”

If you don’t do that (and many times we fail to), you’ll leave the conversation with a smile on your face but a network that isn’t any larger.

It’s probably also a smart idea to say, “I’d love to connect again sometime.  Here’s my contact info. Do you mind if we trade E-mail addresses?”

If you accidentally skip that first part, just go back to it before you leave.

In the bottom of the 8th inning at Turner Field last Friday, I finally turned to my incredibly baseball-smart conversation partner and said, “By the way, I’m Matt.”  His name is Al.  He’s a part of my social network now.  Great ballgame too.

Smack Talk

[RING OF PHIRE: The Ring of Phire is a team of undergraduate fraternity and sorority members dedicated to delivering the messages of Phired Up Productions to their peers around the country.]

by Amelia Mieth (Phired Up Intern and Ring of Phire member)

smacktalkAs a disaffiliated member of my sorority for the past two recruitment seasons, I get to see a lot of the mechanics of sorority recruitment from a Panhellenic standpoint. It’s wonderful to get to know the potential new members, answer any questions they may have, see their excitement build through the week, and help them make what I think to be one of the most important decisions in their college career.

One of the biggest problems that I have noticed with formal sorority recruitment across many campuses is the incessant wonder of talking about other chapters during recruitment parties. Now, I can assure you that these conversations aren’t going like this:

Member: We are definitely a Panhellenic sisterhood!
Potential Member: Oh, that’s so wonderful to hear!
Member: Oh gosh, we absolutely love the philanthropy work that ABC sorority does and the girls at XYZ are always studying at the library! It’s so great!

Laugh if you must, but you know it’s true! Many chapters spend their time during recruitment parties talking to the potential members about what’s wrong or bad about other chapters. WHY? The parties are already short as it is, you don’t have much time to form a lasting relationship (but still try!)- why would you want to spend your valuable time and one shot opportunity talking down on another chapter?

There is a quote that says, “Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, small people talk about other people.”

[NOTE: SEE A RELATED POST ABOUT FRATERNITY TRASH TALK HERE.]

You want to be known as great. We want you to be great. You have the ability and the resources to do so. Spend the precious time that you have with these potential members- potential lifelong sisters- sharing your values, the benefits of being in your organization, and the friendships you’ve made that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Wearing Their Cause

by Matt Mattson

arm-bands-crI’ve been wearing one of these Peace Cords for a few months now.  I love it!  People ask me about it all the time, and it always leads to great conversations (about women’s empowerment, the war in Afghanistan, loved ones serving in the military, survival tools, and more).

I feel like 65% or more of the people I bump into are wearing something that represents something they care about.  They’re wearing it SO THAT YOU’LL ASK ABOUT IT.  So, ask.  “Tell me about that bracelet.”  “You’re a fan of TOMS too?”  “What does that necklace represent?”  “What’s that hat/t-shirt/bag all about?” “Did someone give you that ring?”

People are begging you to start a conversation with them (and about the stuff that’s important to them) through their choice of clothing and jewelry.  Take their invitation for conversation. Ask.  You’ll probably learn something, and most importantly you’ll get to connect with them on an important (non-surface) level.  This helps with Social Excellence and Dynamic Recruitment.  So, ask.

High Quality People

by Matt Mattson

ppt-workWe teach that membership organizations are made of members — therefore the quality of an organization is directly correlated to the quality of its members.  You want a high quality organization?  Get high quality members.  Plain and simple.

Let me provide a personal example.  The Phired Up team that I have the honor of working with are some of the most phenomenal individuals I’ve ever had the chance to meet.  It is hard to explain how lucky I am to be able to work with these rock stars.

Take Megan Moffett for example. Combine amazing work ethic with incomparable caring and you’ll end up with the ultimate Operations Coordinator.  We’ll catch Megan working late into the night, saying ‘yes’ to every possible job, and doing extra vital work that is absolutely creating from scratch the infrastructure of our company.  High quality people make high quality organizations.

Or consider Doug Sweeney.  An amazingly talented, driven, focused, workhorse with a flair for the dramatic.  This guy is on the road constantly doing secret-agent-style recruitment work and becoming legendary school by school.  He is writing the script to the epic saga of re-creating fraternity one man by one man through record-breaking numbers of handshakes, phone calls, interviews, presentations, and life-changing invitations for membership. High quality people make high quality organizations.

How about Jessica Gendron Williams.  Are you kidding me?  I get the privilege of working alongside the most sought-after sorority speaker in the world, and a woman who exemplifies our company’s mission?  She has almost single-handedly created and led the revolution of relationship-based, Dynamic sorority recruitment.  And she’s done so through being hilarious, bold, Socially Excellent, and most importantly… a breathtaking example for young women of self-confidence, humility, and strength.  High quality people make high quality organizations.

I’ll come back to this blog at another time, and let you in on how lucky I am to work with Matt Geik, Woody Woodcock, Colleen Coffey Melchiorre, Vince Fabra, Branden Stewart, Amelia Mieth, and of course my true friend and business partner, Josh…  They are equally phenomenal people who deserve to have their excellence celebrated just as much (I just couldn’t do it all in one blog).

For now, let me just say that our company is successful and I’m deeply proud of the work that we do — all that is because of the people that make up our company. I’m blessed to have a team of people I trust, I believe in, I’m proud to be associated with, and that I learn from everyday.  People better than me.

High quality people make high quality organizations.