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Stand-Up Comedy and Recruitment: How Not to Bomb!

by Vince Fabra

I love being on stage. I have a the pleasure of spreading the messages of Dynamic Recruitment and Social Excellence. Also, as a hobby, I regularly perform stand-up comedy. Presenting for Phired Up makes me a better stand-up comedian, and performing stand-up comedy makes me a better presenter for Phired Up.

Recruitment and comedy are two huge parts of my life. I always thought it would be cool to write a recruitment blog with a lesson learned from stand-up comedy, but a strong connection has only recently revealed itself.

Before I begin, let me quickly share two pieces of comedy vernacular:

  1. Bombed – Having unsuccessfully performed stand up comedy. Ex. – Did you hear about Vince’s set? It was bad. He bombed.
  2. Crushed – Having successfully performed stand up comedy.Ex. – The crowd loved Vince’s set. He crushed.

Stand-Up comedy is full of highs and lows. When first starting out, the lows are more frequent. Then, after some growth, it is a “win some, lose some” type racket. Once a comedian finds his or her style, the highs become the norm, but no matter how seasoned or talented the comedian, there will always be those lows; those BOMBS.

Every comedian does the same thing after he or she bombs. We place blame on circumstance. – It was a late show and the audience was tired. The guy before me really brought the energy down. The TV’s at the bar were really distracting. The host was terrible. It was really hot in the room. It was a bad crowd. – We are always quick to place the blame of bombing on the circumstances we were given. Sometimes those complaints are valid. Sometimes a late show or a distracting TV or a terrible host can put us in a hole, but we have to go on stage, overcome and be undeniably funny. If we crush, we are willing to accept the praise, but if we bomb, we immediately list reasons why it was out of our control.

Having worked in the fraternal world for the last six years, I’ve heard a lot of chapters blame circumstances for “bombing” in recruitment. – The university doesn’t like fraternities/sororities. Greek Life has a bad reputation on campus. We’re a commuter school. The IFC/CPC/NPHC/MGC did a bad job promoting recruitment. Our cookout got rained out. Not a lot of people signed up for recruitment. – The comedian that just bombed and the chapter that just bombed are guilty of placing the blame elsewhere.

I am learning a lesson as a stand-up comedian that I feel is relevant to fraternity and sorority recruiters – A true professional accepts responsibility for crushing and bombing. A true professional doesn’t look outward at circumstances but rather looks inward to sharpen their own act. A true professional uses failure to improve instead of passing it off as “There was nothing I could do.”

How do you avoid bombing at comedy? Preparation, commitment to the material, repetition, and a complete ownership over your successes and failures.

How do you avoid bombing at recruitment? The same exact answers to the previous question.
Preparation – Create a recruitment plan.
Commitment to the material – Stick to the plan. Create benchmarks to track your progress.
Repetition – Avoid “recruitment week” and continuously make friends all year long.
Ownership over successes and failures – When there is no one to blame except yourself, you’ll work hard to avoid that pride swallowing moment.

Have I ever bombed? YES. Does it suck? YES. Do you sometimes question why you would subject yourself to attempting to make strangers laugh? YES. But I go back up, because nothing feels better than crushing.

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Chuck Norris and Wild Pumas Help With Recruitment

by Taylor Deer

How do I motivate my brothers/sisters to go out and recruit? I’m so sick of that question. So I came up with the answers you are all looking for.

Here they are:

  • Hypnosis
  • Let a wild puma loose in your house
  • Buy a taser
  • Every time someone says “I’m too busy”, you slap them. Hard.
  • Become a 9th level Red-belt of the Martial Art  Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Hire Chuck Norris to round-house kick each member in such a way that it alters their brain chemistry to make them all top-notch recruiters.

These are all things that I sincerely wished that I had thought of while I was recruitment chair as an undergraduate. Some of them I have tried. Chuck Norris never returned my emails.

Here’s the truth though, we ask that question because we sincerely believe that there is some magical system or model out there that will inspire our sisters and brothers to action. Something that will cause members to forget their crippling fear of meeting first year students. There are a million and two different motivational theories out there, ranging from incredibly complex to extremely philosophical to overly simplistic.

Let me make something very clear, you do not have the time or energy to implement most of these models. Frankly, its tough for some of your members to get up in the morning and go to a class that they are paying thousands of dollars for. How the heck are you supposed to convince them to use up their free time to go half way across campus, walk into an area they haven’t been in years, and start talking to people they have never met before.

The answer is… They wont do it. If you somehow pull out all the tricks in the book and get everyone out to an event on the other side of campus, congratulations, you’ve probably exhausted yourself to the point where the last thing you want to do is go out and recruit someone yourself. Also, as a bonus prize, they will lean on their attendance at that one event to get themselves out of every other event for the rest of the year.

There is only one answer to the question. The answer will save you exponential amount of time money and effort.

The answer is: Lead. By. Example.

Go out and recruit people by yourself. Take 3-4 brothers/sisters that have the time and passion to recruit the entire next pledge class. Let the chapter know exactly what you are doing and how they can help support you, but that’s it. Leave the door open for them, roll up your sleeves and do it by yourselves.

As one former recruitment chair to another, take these words of wisdom and run with it. You will thank yourself when you get the exact new member class you want, because you recruited all of them.

Yes, it’s hard work, but what would you rather work hard for? To spend all day yelling at members or going out and making a name for yourself and your chapter by building powerful relationships in your community.

The choice is yours.

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In Conversations, Give THE PRESENT

by Taylor Deer

The key to any conversation, regardless of what the chosen topic is giving someone “The Present.” This is an extremely powerful gift. The Present gives people an extreme sense of trust and a compelling urge to make any good conversation great. The interesting thing is that everyone has The Present. Some of us are afraid to commit to giving it to someone. Some people become so preoccupied that the person we are talking to hasn’t already given us The Present that we refuse to give it up.

For one reason or another we sometimes forget the power of The Present when we are talking to someone, yet when its not given between two people, it is blatantly noticeable and sometimes irritating.

What is The Present? It’s just that. It’s not the past, its not the future, it’s the present.

Being noticeably present in a conversation shows the person we are talking to that we care. That they are worth every second of that conversation no matter how important or insignificant the topic may be. It shows people that we are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Think of the person in your life that, every time you talk to them, they turn to face you, make eye contact, nod and smile when you are talking, asks on-target clarifying questions. They don’t ever check their watch, they don’t check their phones or are looking at Facebook when you are talking to them. This is all signaling to you that they are giving you the present and it feels great.

I have someone in my life that gives me the present every time we talk. They are by far my favorite person to talk to. I feel like I could talk to them all day about anything and everything, they make what I am saying to them feel welcomed and important. Because they give me the present every time we talk, I have an immense respect for them, when they are the ones speaking in our conversation I listen to every word they have to say. This is mostly due to the fact that they show me that they respect what I have to say. This mutual respect has made our relationship grow strong over the years and lead to some of the most powerful and meaningful conversations I could ever ask for.

Try this out. The next conversation you have with someone, give them The Present. Turn to face them, make frequent eye contact, ask on-point clarifying questions and don’t let anything distract you from that conversation… Facebook, cellphones, watches, shiny objects, nothing.

You’ll notice a significance difference in how people treat you, I promise. You’ll also notice a surprisingly increase amount of people that you talk to that end up being interested in what YOU’re interested in too (like your fraternity or sorority, for instance).