by Josh Orendi
In the typical fraternity/sorority chapter there is no shortage of big ideas. We've all been part of the 2:00 AM think tank conversations in the President's room or the never ending chapter meetings turned brainstorm sessions. Our members overvalue ideas and constantly look for the next “big idea” to solve our alumni problems, elevate our social status, and double our recruitment. While I agree that ideas are important, ideas are a dime a dozen (probably cheaper).
On the other end of the spectrum from the barrage of ideas is a rare fraternal commodity that is precious and carries its weight in gold — ACTION. I mean the get off your ass and make something happen kind of ACTION. This appears to be uncharted territory for some of our members. Perhaps there is a mental block between thinking and doing. We all want to draw up the plans, but nobody wants to put on gloves and a hard hat. Personal responsibility appears to be fraternal kryptonite. As it turns out, ideas (even the really really good ones) don't mean much without a little follow through. In the words of Big Black, “Do work son!”
In recruitment, I’ll take one handshake/conversation with a stranger over 100 really good ideas. Literally! I would prefer one intelligent dialogue with a prospect that established a personal relationship over 1000 breakthrough concepts. Do me a favor … stuff 10,000 “we should totally's” into a bag and I’ll trade you for a one hour calling session to potential new members.
While I'm ranting, have you ever noticed that most big recruitment ideas are strategic plans to help us avoid doing real recruitment? Seriously. The ideas are always about using a big party, having a great t-shirt design, plastering campus with fliers, redesigning a website, making the IFC/Panhel/MGC do work, using mailers, hosting an all campus BBQ, changing the color/theme/skit of rush, etc. URG!!! Or, the big idea starts with, “if we could all just….” Noooooo! Call Susan Powter so we can “Stop the Insanity!” (I think I just dated myself with that reference) But this is nearly impossible because YOU can't get the whole chapter to do anything! Hell, you can't even get everyone to attend a chapter meeting. Much like Big Event, Big Ideas typically suck when it comes to recruitment!
My recommendation: The next time someone begins throwing out big ideas, politely stop them. Ask them to pull out their cell phone while you pull out your phone and a copy of the chapter's Names List. Say, “I’ll call 5 prospects right now if you’ll do the same.” When they look at you like you're crazy, just say,”I think you have great ideas. Let's DO RECRUITMENT for 20 minutes then we can keep talking about new ideas.”