by Matt Farrell
Zach Scott is a native of Tampa, brother of Tau Kappa Epsilon, and currently serves as the Director of Growth at TKE HQ. As Tau Kappa Epsilon has shifted to a major focus on internal chapter growth, Zach has assumed the challenge of building and executing this position.
Personally I have enjoyed Zach’s growth mindset, focus on action, and ability to energize undergraduates on a topic that can be as exciting as it is urgent.
Whether you are a TKE or any individual passionate about growth, you will learn from Zach’s story. Here is an excerpt of our recent conversation, with my prompts in bold and Zach’s story as told in his own words.
My Joining Story
It starts back in high school for me. I went to an all male Jesuit high school in Tampa, the same city I went to college. Because of that I initially had zero interest in fraternity – my mom even tried to get me to join but I felt I already had everything I needed. My intention was all cross country and track. So I was very involved with sports and school, and it took an injury for me to open my eyes a little more.
I remember hanging with a couple friends in another fraternity, and saw their flag up on the wall. It meant nothing to me.
Then a guy came up, looked me in the eye and said “I’m Jay, nice to meet you.” The kind of first impression you’ll always remember. Turns out he was a Tau Kappa Epsilon member, and the flag was a different fraternity.
I kind of got a little hoodwinked and bamboozled from there. TKE was smaller than I thought and there were only 22 members. So those doubts creeped in during the next few weeks.
Why do I want to do this? Is it worth the effort?
We took it upon ourselves to build upwards, and began recruiting some of my best friends who are still my best friends to this day.
We recruited the type of people to build it even better than what we imagined. The chapter is now 90 men strong. Whether I knew it or not, growth has been a big piece of my life. And it started with that handshake with Jay.
Starting on Staff
I definitely thought I knew everything at the beginning. After a few visits, I realized the world is a lot different than my undergrad bubble. After a few more, I picked up that chapters are different but they tend to rhyme.
Each year you gain a little bit more experience, more knowledge, more relationships. That all comes back to create more stories to connect with people. That doesn’t just go for membership growth. That is the growth of what we can do for St. Jude, helping people across the nation, anything positive we do is growth.
We’ve started to realize we can’t solve our problem just by expanding as fast as possible. We want to focus on growing the groups we have and I love getting to do that every day.
A Memorable Recruitment Moment
One that comes to mind was myself, Nick Kimble and Victor Casanova going into the University of Texas last summer. If anyone has been, they know there’s a ton of potential with the student body size but it’s not always easy to recruit.
I wanna say our group had about 25 men, and we went during the summer tabling season. I loved showing that headquarters is here to help, and showing how we could do better.
We got to the event and all the chapters were at tables, set up, looking good. There’s pizza so everyone’s happy, but nothing was really happening in terms of PNMs walking in. Typical IFC event.
So we took the guys outside and started going up to random people walking on campus. The energy changed right away. Another fraternity noticed and it ramped up the competition in a good way. Before we knew it we were all funneling men into the main room, not just to talk to TKE but to be able to see all of their options for lifelong brothers.
It was fun to embrace the tension in the moment, but then to realize everyone was thankful for the friendly competition to be created.
The ChapterBuilder Difference
The referral form is “major key”. Being able to go into any presentation type setting, having an interest form is the only way we can measure results. It also lets us focus on crushing the actual presentation, and we can resend the form before and after. It’s worth its weight in gold when it comes to that.
Sure you could find other ways to do it, but we love it integrated into the system. There are plenty of situations where people are going to complain about disadvantages, school won’t let me do this, others won’t let me do that. So I try to emphasize, let’s just collect hundreds of names and meet new people. ChapterBuilder even merges the overlaps for you. There’s so many ways you can use that to drive leads and start a conversation.
It should pain you when you lose that blue chip recruit you love, it should grind your gears to no end because you didn’t work as hard as possible to create the relationship.
If you target the best possible people at the right time, you’ll create something that all the best people are attracted to.
What I Want Current Fraternity Undergraduates to Know
As an undergraduate, I was very anti-Headquarters. I didn’t think there was a lot going on. Hearing stories of staff coming to help and then not a lot of follow-up. Cory Martin came down and changed that view for me. It just takes one person. Cory spent the time, he would even hang with us while he did work – catching some sun with his laptop out. That’s something we remembered long after he left. Cory has been a great mentor for me.
I don’t think there is a single staff member in this industry that actually cares about their members as dollar signs or pieces to manage. In my opinion it’s about creating a better experience for the active members now than it was when I was an undergraduate. We can make all the resources we want, but it won’t mean every question is asked and answered. We want to listen.
Tips for Recruiting in a Pandemic
Recruit the members you already have. We’re all going to face bigger retention issues. Even for people that may take a semester off, find ways to stay connected and keep tabs.
And have a fun opener for when you make new friends. I’ve been using one that is guaranteed to light up the conversation. Feel free to steal it:
“Do you have enough toilet paper right now?”