Enough With The Frills

By Jessica Gendron Williams

Hello sorority women.  I’d like to talk with you about being a great hostess.

I like to host guests. I want my guests to feel welcome in my home when they visit.  I want them to feel comfortable.  I want them to see the pride I have in my home and the respect I have for them by how I prepare for their visit.  So yes, I clean before they come over.  Yes, I might pick up, set new pictures of my family and friends out, buy some fresh flowers and light a few candles.  I will likely shower, get ready, and dress nicely, but appropriately for the occasion.  When they arrive, I meet them at the door with a warm smile and a hug, welcome them in, offer them a seat and something to drink.  Then we might sit and catch up, chat about what’s new in our lives, laugh, discuss news, politics, religion, our significant others, great shopping deals, and perhaps plan our next gathering. We then might eat or play a game or watch a movie.  And when my friends leave, I walk them to the door, give them a big hug, tell them it was so great to see them, and watch them get into their cars and pull out of the drive.

Now, let’s imagine that I am hosting an event where there are likely to be people that I don’t know attending. There will likely be a lot of similarities – perhaps I won’t hug them – but I may, I’m a hugger.  I would likely offer them a tour of my home, show them where the restroom was, perhaps point out some pictures of my family or friends.  But the gathering would likely be similar in atmosphere, tone, and energy.

sorority-poseLet’s now look through the sorority recruitment lens.  Much of the things I discussed above we do.  Clean and decorate?  Check.   Prepare food and drink?  Check.  Get ready and dressed?  Check.  Greet guests at the door?  Check.  Offer a tour or something to drink, show them the restroom?  Check.  Have conversation?  Check.  Walk them to the door?  Check.  We do all of the same things that  normal person hosting a dinner party, a shower, or girls night would do – however – we as sorority women take it up a notch… actually about 1000 notches into the crazy zone.

Matching costumes? Check.  Lame skit prepared?  Check. Bizarre door chant/stack practiced?  Check.  Bump groups arranged? Check.  Video created?  Check.  Multiple songs practiced and choreographed?  Check.  Enough of these things all crammed into a single week to scare away the best women on campus from ever even visiting our neighborhood?  Check, Check, and Double Check.

And when we go overboard – it doesn’t necessarily make our guests feel more welcome.  It’s actually about us.  It’s about doing things we enjoy, entertaining ourselves, and competing with the houses downt the street. It usually just makes the potential members more intimidated.  The question I ask, “Is that the environment you want to create?”

We do not need the frills.  We don’t need the skits, the singing, the dancing, the Perrier water instead of regular filtered ice water, the matching outfits, the matching nail polish, the bumping, the slide shows, the videos, the over elaborate house decorations for house tours – I could go on forever – but I will stop.  We don’t need this stuff shoved into recruitment to make a great first impression, to make people feel welcome, to be great hostesses.  We need to remember the reason we do these things in the first place (FOR OUR GUESTS) and recognize that we take it too far into the extreme.

My request to all you – get rid of the frills.  People join sororities because of the relationships they build with us in the comfortable and welcoming environments we create or them – not because of the frills.  As you look at changing your recruitment rules for next year or the coming semester – challenge yourselves and your community to ask these questions:

  • Does this create a warm and welcoming environment for the PNM?
  • Does this actually have an effect on if women will join?
  • Would I do this if I were just having a party at my house?
  • Did I join for this?
  • Has there been any other instance in my life besides sorority recruitment where I have seen this or experienced this?

If you answered “No.” to any or all of those questions, I beg you to please consider changing or altering the rule.

We’re here to help.  We’re here to provide some recommendations.  Just ask any of us:  Jessica Gendron Williams, KJ McNamara, Shira Tober, or Colleen Coffey-Melchiorre

What’s really the best way to prevent hazing?

by Matt Mattson

This week is National Hazing Prevention Week.  That got me thinking.  What’s really the best way to prevent hazing?  Here are my best ideas.

1. Recruit better, kinder, more thoughtful, more compassionate, higher performing people who have respect for the basic dignity of others.

2. …that’s all I got.

hpo_weekWe’ve written about hazing related topics before — of course with our own organizational growth twist on the topic.  Check out some of our past blogs related to hazing.

“What HURTS Recruitment Results?”

“Your Pledge Program Might Be Killing Recruitment”

“Becoming a Man/Woman Through Social Excellence”

“National Hazing Prevention Week 2009″

Social Lies

by Josh Orendi

“When we socialize we see the world through social eyes that are sometimes clouded by social lies.”

social-liesIt sucks admitting this, but I have sometimes felt (and still sometimes feel) this way…

Like an optical illusion the lens I see the world through can be clouded or distorted by the lies I have been told and the ones that I tell myself.  Feelings of anxiety, fear, and insecurity begin to swell in new social settings — the first day in class, calling strangers on the phone, working an information table.  The bubbling intensifies when the voice inside my head reinforces the fear with messages of worst case scenarios and thoughts of rejection.  Doubt and excuses not only creep in, they take over.  Like a caterpillar I form a cocoon of isolation around me with my words and actions — I sit alone, barely smile, drop my eyes and shoulders, pull out my cell phone, try to look busy, lose myself in the lonely silence despite the noise of the room.  Those thoughts in my mind manifest into an extremely real, frightening, and often painful reality.  Gut wrenching emotional paralysis, drowning in the poison that is filling that moment, my only rational thoughts focus on one idea: escape, retreat, run, avoidance.  There is no beautiful butterfly about to emerge.  I am just trying to survive each painful second while maintaining a half smile so nobody asks me if I’m okay.  I recognize that I am socially disabled, but I can’t do anything about it.  This is just who I am.  I deal with it.

That’s my best shot at vulnerably sharing how I felt (and still sometimes feel) in social situations.  Gradually, I discovered inspiration, techniques, and new habits that have helped me realize a new social identity.  I no longer have to “deal with it.”  Perhaps my most profound discovery has been this:

My social eyes are a social lens looking outward at the world.  When I allow myself to focus my social eyes externally on others, I feel liberated.  It’s fun to be curious and generous.  It’s fulfilling to help others.  When the phone call is about the other guy, the new room is full of people I can make smile, and the information table is my excuse to share an opportunity that might change someone’s life — when it becomes about them and not me — the social lies go away.  I’m not the most important person in the room anymore.  It’s not about me!  I honestly feel empowered to know that I’m a catalyst to something great when I invest in conversation with others.  When I socialize, it’s about the other person.  For me, that was the lesson that freed me from my social cocoon (so to speak).

For the linear thinkers who read this, consider this:  It’s mathematically impossible to feel the inner emotion of fear at the same time that I am being 100% generous — focused entirely on others.

Now, when I get that old familiar rumbling of fear in my belly, it’s a healthy reminder that I’m focused on the wrong person.  “My social eyes, no longer listen to social lies, so I’ve come to love the opportunity to socialize.”

Are you Phired Up To be or Not To be?

[Editor's Note: Woody Woodcock is one of the most creative, unique-thinking, Socially Excellent, people we've ever met. That always comes through in his off-the-wall, sometimes wacky writing style. This is the second of two posts that go together written recently by Woody]

by Woody Woodcock

ww1One afternoon recently I met a really neat guy who volunteers and serves at my place of worship. He wrote a neat blog that afternoon and I read it after our coffee and cinnamon roll meeting. A quote that stood out and spoke to me as an artist is this “The poem in your heart is not art until it is shared” ~ @RamseyDuck

So thank you friends from the Porch Lights, thank you RamseyDuck for the conversation, and thank you God for my creativity here in the most authentic and artistic frame of mind.

Are you Phired Up To be or Not To be? That is the question.

I am Phired Up To #BethePerson who gathers together with different flocks of people who wear different socks.

To be or not to #BethePerson who breathes in the September air and thinks hey wait maybe I’ll paint my hair and shouts and screams to cheer for your own college football team

To be or not to #BethePerson who chooses to shout “I’m Phired Up” and I’m gonna live it out, not for myself but for others who need to know the gift of life is in people

To be or not to #BethePerson who is part of the story of changing the world through engaging people in deep meaningful conversations

To be or not to #BethePerson who perspires in the pursuit of happiness

PERSPIRE

INSPIRE

Perspire some more and gather together your different flocks with different socks of a feather

Gather together those who believe what you believe so you can feel the relief and the place where you truly belong.

The place where people listen to your song. Yes, the story of your life, of curiosity, generosity, authenticity, vulnerability and the story of what if you met your future wife.

To be, or Not To #BeThePerson who is the best version of who I AM

To be, or Not to be the person who can carry on a meaningful conversation

To be a creator and connector to the kind of people who I wish to surround myself with

To be or not to be

My friend Lori says “The answer to the question is 90% of the solution”

So what is the solution…?

To #Bethe Person or not to be

So I choose to #BethePerson who shared this artistic take from a famous Shake. Shakespeare that is. In the hope that you turn your porch lights on and consider how you will #BeThePerson today, To Be, Do Be the person you are called to be. #BethePerson share your story with me @Woody_Woodcock or on #FB.

The Porch Light is On

[Editor's Note:  Woody Woodcock is one of the most creative, unique-thinking, Socially Excellent, people we've ever met.  That always comes through in his off-the-wall, sometimes wacky writing style. This is the first of two posts that go together written recently by Woody]

by Woody Woodcock
ww-light-bulbHave you ever met a Butcher that, as it turns out, is actually a vegan and was vegan well before they began their job?  Me neither until a couple of weekends ago.

That weekend was transformational in so many ways for me.  I found myself in a number of conversations with people that started to tell me about themselves and then in mid conversation “what they do” (aka their job) comes up and you’re like…..What?  That don’t match up?

I make it a practice never to ask people what they do for a living.  My personal approach is to ask people how they spend their time, or what they’re really passionate about.  Often they wind up telling you “what they do” anyway, and my real hope is that the answer and what they do match up with their life.

That weekend my girlfriend and I got invited to a gathering of artists — women and men in a charming southern setting.  The gathering was called “Porch Lights.”  Picture a group of 20-30 year old sexy, stylish, unique, and colorful people all around.  Indeed there were soft lit porch lights around this charming gathering in Birmingham, AL.

During the course of the night I met the Butcher who turned out was a vegan, an English Lit professor from the University of Alabama, a hair dresser with very interesting hair, a film production guy, and a guy who left his pliers with the hair dresser the last time he got his haircut. Yeah that sounds odd I know, but it is all part of the fun conversations that took place among this group that gathered together.  The list of characters is endless.  We sat in blue suede retro recliners on a brick top courtyard in the shade of a great southern home and the glow of the porch lights.  There was something in the air. It was a brewing of creativity, new relationships, and a story that had yet to be crafted by a set of strangers.

I took away some valuable lessons from those conversations.  Some of which I already knew to be true.  In this case it was about the power of a conversation, a story, and creative writing.

Earlier this summer I learned a great lesson by reading Jon Acuff’s new book called “Quitter” Jon shared that “when it comes to writing, 90% imperfect and shared is better than 100% and stuck in your head.”  That statement is so true, but for the longest time I had a hard time getting over my imperfection.  I’m going be honest and vulnerable with you.  I write stuff every week, my mind is filled with ideas. Finally this weekend was a breakthrough.  To keep those ideas in my head and not share them is selfish.  My writing style ain’t perfect , and I often write like I talk.  But who cares. If it helps ignite your mind into action this week, or inspires you to be creative and share your own stories then it was all worth it.

Are you not 100% Socially Excellent yet?  That’s o.k., share yourself with others anyway.  Engage in conversation, share your stories, turn your porch light on and connect.

See, I want my Phired Up experience to be more than a company.  I want it to be a compelling cry, a way of life, and a mindset for those who believe what we believe.

Saying “I’m Phired Up” means you believe you can change the world one conversation and one new relationship at a time.  It certainly helps to issue the battle cry aloud or to yourself before you embark on making new friends or engaging in a powerful conversation.  Try it out this week.  I dare you.  Just look in the mirror, or find a friend nearby and holler, “I’m PHIRED UP!”  Feels good, doesn’t it?

The movement has started and I’d love to hear your story about how you’re connecting with others.  When you choose to affirm that you are Phired Up  you choose to help add to the story that is equipping and growing membership organizations and changing the world one person and one conversation at a time.  I’d love to hear your story about what happened when you chose to embrace this Phired Up mantra.

Hit me up on #FB or follow me on the Twitter @Woody_Woodcock.  Lets choose to #BethePerson who has our Porch Lights on.  Keep an eye out for another post from me coming up soon…  It might not be perfect, but it is authentically me.

People for Good

[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 Kate Peer (Undergraduate Ring of Phire Member)

web-ad-good08rb_1295748cl-8Almost every week I am disappointed somehow with humanity, it might be the atrocities happening in a far away land, the injustices which are committed against people I know or maybe it is just the lack of courtesy and Social Excellence people want to give to others. However, something made me smile this week (and think of Social Excellence), People for Good.

People for Good states, “our goal is to make the world a better place, one good deed at a time.”
People for Good gives you 73 pages of good deeds, a wall of people who have done good deeds, and a whole bunch of inspirational videos. Want to get inspired? Want to be socially excellent? Why not look up their website and try these or add your own?

Have you ever done a good deed? Ever wanted to share it? Well your ideas are heard on the website www.peopleforgood.ca Go ahead and check it out! You might just want to make the world a better place too!

Paper Airplanes

by Matt Mattson

paper-airplane-iconI’ve been working with engineering fraternities and Greeks from engineering schools a lot lately — so that explains the origin of this idea.  In fact, one group of Theta Tau members dreamed this one up.

Want a creative way to a) Drive names onto your names list, b) Spice up your organization’s on-campus promotional tables, and c) Offer some entertainment to passersby so that you might have an opportunity to strike up conversation?

Paper airplanes are the answer.  We’ve offered similar suggestions before about RPS, High 5′s, SurveysListening, etc.  Here’s another spin on the concept.

Set up a table on campus.  Put a ream or two of plain white paper on said table.  Put a piece of tape marking the launching line on the ground. Challenge everyone who walks past to see if they can create a paper airplane that flies further than yours.  Only rules are…

1) Only one piece of paper.

2) Your piece of paper must have your name and contact information on it so we can let you know if you won (and to tell you about other fun stuff we do).

3) If you win, you get a high five and a piece of candy.  If you lose, we get to tell you our 30-second pitch.

Enjoy.

Rainy Day Recruitment

umbrellaby Josh Orendi

Just got this text from Mark Mixon, former IFC President at Penn State:

Sharing an umbrella on rainy days is an interesting way to meet new people–ever try that for recruitment?

Good idea, Mark. What a great way to demonstrate Social Excellence, make a positive impact on your community during a gloomy day, and add names to your Names List.