Success Story: Sig Tau Purdue Recruits 62; Phired Up Coaches Expansion Team

Dynamic Recruitment Profile by Josh Orendi

On March 8, 2012 I sat down for lunch in the Student Union at University of Illinois with Sigma Tau Gamma’s national fraternity expansion staff members Paul Manly and Derek Kaimann.  This was day two of recruiting Founding Fathers to re-charter the Alpha Chi Provisional Chapter of Sig Tau.  The two men were coming off a huge win the week prior at Purdue University.  Paul and Derek appear to have broken a Sig Tau national fraternity record at Purdue University by inducting 62 new members after a seven week expansion effort.  Go Tau!  

I wanted to learn a little more about the men behind the Purdue success story, discover their secrets, and find out what they have in store for their next two projects -- University of Illinois and University of Alabama.  Here’s a peek into our conversation:

Phired Up: Tell the truth, how hard was it to recruit 62 guys in less than 2 months at Purdue?
Sig Tau: (laughing) I can tell you this, the 62nd guy was the hardest!  Literally.  [Paul] worked on recruiting him for the entire 7 weeks.  

Phired Up: Ok, I know it wasn’t easy but what was the one thing you can point to that absolutely made the difference – the thing that drove results?
Sig Tau: Routine.  We built routines in every part of our day.  We chose an area of campus and owned it with our presence, we had a single table in the Union where people could always find us, we established spaces and expectations that we’d be there.  We used the same room for information sessions and even had the same parking spot!  We built habits and expectations early and stuck to them.

Phired Up: That strategy is a little different from what I usually hear.  Most established chapters try to get people to their houses and most expansion teams move around campus a lot.  When you say routine, what did your daily routine look like?
Sig Tau: Here’s a typical day…

6:30am wake up (everyday, no exceptions)
2 hours of gym time (this was critical to keep our bodies and minds right)
9:30/10:00 arrive on campus (never later)
10am – 5:30pm one-on-one meetings (in the same area of campus)
5:30pm – 8pm interest sessions and follow up
8pm – 9pm dinner
9pm – 11pm phone calls and planning for the next day

Phired Up: What about weekends?
Sig Tau: We took a few meetings on Saturdays but mostly used that day to do our laundry and catch up on personal stuff.  Sunday’s we didn’t usually get back to work until after 4pm, then we would do meetings or make calls.  

Phired Up: It feels like an understatement to use the word “intense.”  That’s nearly an 80 hour work week.
Sig Tau: We have a saying – only half joking – that we do it like Hulk Hogan.  “Train Hard, Say Your Prayers, and Eat Your Vitamins” … except we replaced say your prayers with “live your ritual.”  (laughing)  Our Director of Expansion, Michael Smoll, sends us “Motivational Monday” videos on Facebook every week.  There’s a video that we’d watch over and over that asks “How bad do you want it.”  It showcases professional athletes training to near exhaustion.  We think of ourselves as the fraternity equivalent of professional athletes, so we train hard with the intention of winning.  Besides, this is fun.  This job is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I’m a different person … a better person than I was a year ago.

Phired Up: What’s the key to this new era of Sig Tau expansion success?
Sig Tau: The good things we’re experiencing now are happening because we learned from our mistakes.   Like our coach, Woody Woodcock, reminds us, “you have to fail better every day … fail forward.”

Phired Up: Why are so many men choosing to join Sig Tau’s expansion efforts?  
Sig Tau: (reflective pause) If you help men feel that they can make a difference, they’ll join.  We’re not asking guys to join a fraternity.  We’re asking guys to join a movement of men committed to manhood, brotherhood, and citizenship.  That’s what all Sig Tau men pledge their lives to.  

Phired Up: Do you have a favorite recruitment technique?
Sig Tau: We’re trying new stuff all the time, but one thing that we love doing is talking to groups of guys during an information meeting.  We love to frame fraternity in a way that they can understand it.  We ask them to think about it like a gym buddy.  It’s hard to stay committed and give 100% everyday by yourself.  But, if you choose a brotherhood of men committed to making each other better everyday then it’s a lot easier to live right.

Phired Up: I know it’s only day two of this project, but how’s recruitment going here at Illinois?
Sig Tau: We’re off to a strong start thanks to time invested into good campus partnerships.  We’ve cultivated over 250 quality leads that we’re building on.  Early meetings look promising.  You know, it was hard to leave the 62 guys at Purdue, show up this week, and realize we’re starting from zero again.  Those guys at Purdue are some of the highest quality men we’ve ever met.  The new guys here at Illinois will have their work cut out for them.  They are going to have to bust their butts if they want to top that effort.  

Phired Up: We love watching the success your organization is enjoying.  Best of luck at University of Illinois and Alabama.  Those are big campuses with big fraternity communities.  
Sig Tau: Thanks!  There’s a lot of pressure to perform … and we love it.  It’s an honor to represent Sigma Tau Gamma and have the opportunity to change men’s lives through the fraternity.

Following the conversation, I reached out to Woody Woodcock who has been providing intensive coaching services from Phired Up to the expansion team at Sigma Tau Gamma.  I asked him to give me his thoughts on the results this team has been producing.

"As a coach I expect these men to perform at a high level.  I am amazingly proud of the work ethic, positive belief system, and personal growth I have seen in Paul and Derek.  These men joined staff in May and began their first training with us at the HQ Co-op in June.  They are hungry and open to coaching and always are looking for feedback on their techniques and habits.

"Together we have helped build a culture of staff who believe in being significant, talented, and generous with giving the gift of fraternity.  I believe they belong in top three fraternities who do expansion at this time.  Paul and Derek definitely are some of the top men I get to coach and I feel blessed they out performed even the goals they set for themselves.  Within our HQ coaching service we are helping fraternities achieve a higher level of performance with results.  Their staff executes and should get credit for the hard work.  We get to start with off with the right habits then coach, teach and inspire them to focus on the right things.  I'm really proud to have a chance to work with this team."

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