by Matt Mattson
I often am asked, “How did you come up with the idea of starting Phired Up?”
I tell a couple different versions of the story. There’s lots to tell. It’s a story about seeing a problem (recruitment under-performance), and wanting to fix it. It’s a story about the support we received from the early adopters, and our friends and family. It’s a story about how the company really started to flourish once we found our first employee, Jessica (now CEO), (and all of the great people who have been along for the ride). It’s a story about bootstrapping. It’s a story about passion and purpose.
But the real root of the story is simple. It’s a story of fraternity.
Josh and I worked together at Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity National Headquarters doing chapter consulting and then expansion work. And while there were a few key moments that we talk about related to the origin of the company, the real origin lies in late night conversations between me and Josh about… our ritual. No kidding.
I know that sounds cheesy to some readers, but man… it’s true. We would debate, dig in, discuss, and drill down into the ancient text that has inspired not only our collegiate experience, but our careers and our lives.
Josh and I are going to Alpha Sig’s big national convention this weekend. Not for work. Just for brotherhood. We’re roommates for the conference, just like the old days. We’ll probably talk about business a little bit, but mostly we’ll talk about Alpha Sigma Phi, how to make it better, what our founders really wanted, and how to live a life that represents the values we both took an oath to nearly two decades ago.
So, why am I sharing these thoughts in a blog? Here are three lessons I want to convey:
1. It’s o.k. to be a fraternity/sorority nerd. Josh and I are total Greek Life nerds. We have always loved what fraternity/sorority is supposed to be about. We love the idealism. The challenge to live a better life. The expectation to be a better man or woman. We still stay up late at night and talk about our ritual, values, and founders. I know modern culture sets the expectation that it’s not cool to do that, but we do. If you’re like us, you’re not alone. Tell potential members how passionate you are about the life guidance your fraternity ritual provides.
2. Fraternity & Sorority can create cool stuff. I know Phired Up isn’t Apple or Google or even, I don’t know… Spanx. But it’s pretty cool. It’s a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens who want to change the world. It’s a unique and successful business. It’s the manifestation of our personal and fraternal values. I’m so glad the guy who recruited me (Tom Coy) gave me the gift of fraternity so that I could be a part of this cool thing — the interfraternal world. Give more people the chance to be a part of this weird world of ours called “Greek Life.” It is the birthplace of a lot of cool ideas, and the launching pad for a lot of successful fulfilling lives.
3. Recruit people into the inter/national experience, not just your chapter. If you’ve gone to an inter/national event of your fraternity or sorority, you know the magic of the bigger picture. Share your stories of nationwide… worldwide fraternal connections. My first national conference was in Norfolk, Virginia back in 1998. I remember it so clearly. I remember when a couple of alumni brothers took me under their wing and mentored me. I remember learning about the diversity of our organization, the shared values of brothers across the nation, and the network of support I had simply from sharing a ritual commitment with all those men. I have as many stories from our fraternity’s national conventions, as I do from our undergraduate years. Fraternity is for life. Share your stories of inter/national experience with prospective members.
I hope you read and passionately discuss your ritual book with a brother or sister. I hope you go to your inter/national events. I hope you’re lucky enough to find a great friend… a brother or a sister, maybe… to work with throughout your life. I hope you realize what your late night conversations about cheesy stuff could turn into. If you ever say to a brother or sister during one of those deeply intense, super nerdy talk sessions, “The world would be better if…” Who knows? That could be the start of a new company. That could be the start of a life of working to change the world.