Monday, May 24, 2010

Hitting the Panic Button Sooner

I recently attended a meeting for an organization. Later that evening over dinner, I was talking to one of the board members about his involvement with developing leaders, specifically MBA students. He said to me in a conversation, "Leaders need to hit the panic button sooner."

The problem is that leaders often hit the panic button to late, or not at all. At that point, the end result is inevitable. There's very little you or anyone else can do to alter or shape the outcome.

Think about that.

What happens when you hit the panic button early? While some might argue that it's like "crying wolf", as I reflect on my own experiences, hitting the panic button sooner got me in to action to have an impact and revise the final version of events.

It gave me time to critically think. It allowed me to phone a friend. To get advice.

Worst case: it often feels like things weren't as big of a deal as I thought.
Best case: I can step in and help influence the outcome.

It's sage advice - as leaders - we need to hit the panic button sooner.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wear Sunscreen

May has rolled around again, and it is time for the Class of 2010 to head out into the world and tackle the next adventure in life. This past weekend, I attended my youngest brother's commencement ceremonies with all of my family (alumni of six Inter/National organizations are represented in this picture!). As the baby of family, this was a day my parents have been anticipating for years. Congratulations on your big raise Mom and Dad!

This particular ceremony was a bit on the longer side, so between the games of Brick-Breaker and Words with Friends, and of course a little bit of obligatory FBing, my other siblings and I had some time to chat and catch up on life. One of the questions posed was "If you were giving the commencement speech, what would you say?". Good question! We joked about wearing sunscreen (does that date me?) and a few other ideas, and then went back to paying attention to the never-ending parade of graduates crossing the stage.

Over the course of the past few days, I've reflected a bit more on the pomp and circumstance of graduation weekend, the words and challenges shared with the graduates in the commencement addresses (perhaps just one would make the ceremony shorter?), and the opportunity that lies in front of us as fraternity men and sorority women. How many young alumni are we turning out into the world this year? What impact will their undergraduate involvement have on their future life experiences? How will they help to shape the future of our fraternal organizations and the potential we have to make change in our world? How have our institutions and organizations aided in preparing them for this day? What tools have we provided? If I may, I have a few pieces of advice for our new graduates:

* Stay connected! These days, it is easier than ever to be in touch with your undergraduate chapter, local alumni chapters, and your broader organization. Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and sign up for any listservs or electronic communication that are available. Keep your address up to date to receive information about local events and opportunities.

* Volunteer! Did your organzation support a cause that spoke to you in a particular way? Get involved! Financial resources might be tight at this point in your life, but you can probably scrounge up an extra hour or two to dedicate to a good cause.

* Mentor others! Have you landed a great job as a result of connections or networks you were a part of? Now it is time for you to return the favor. Assist undergraduate brothers or sisters with internship opportunities, opportunities for networking, and career-related events.

* Meet new friends! If you are moving to a new city, find out if there is a local alumni group already established. If there isn't, work with your organization to reach out to those in the area. Don't be afraid to interact with other generations - there will be value in the interaction! Sometimes we forget that our organization exists beyond our campus - I promise there are lots of other great individuals out there to meet.

* Live your values! Make us proud of you, your accomplishments, and all you will go on to achieve in life. Remember that you are "always wearing your letters" even though you are no longer an active member of an undergraduate chapter.

* Don't be that guy (or girl)! You all know who I am talking about here. Don't go back to visit your chapter and buy booze for the freshman. It might seem cool at the time, but it isn't. Certainly do not participate in any activities that are harmful or hazardous to health (and challenge/report those that are!). Don't attend every single social event next year. Don't use the words "we always did it this way" or "that will never work". Let others lead. You might even learn something.

In addition to always wearing your suncreen, go out into the world and celebrate your achievements. Remember that your journey has only just begun. Take advantage of opportunities to engage with your organization at various stages in your life, and share your involvement with others. We look forward to seeing what the class of 2010 can accomplish as you pick up that diploma, pack up your bags, and set out to embody the values of your organization and show them to the world. Congratulations!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm Anti FML

A friend of mine and I were recently discussing a growing trend on Facebook and Twitter.

It's the use of FML.

For those of you who don't know about FML, you can learn more here.

So I have to say, "Really?"

Let me just make this point. If you are using a computer or a cell phone to update your Facebook or Twitter status to include FML, then you have no business even saying or using FML.

All the individuals, people, and situations that deserve to be able to say FML don't have access to these.

Are you really going to say FML in the face of others who are experiencing tragedy like families and businesses in Nashville with flooding or families and business near the Gulf with the major oil spill?

P.S. You're a college student which = privilege. We expect more of you. Get it together.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What to wear?

As the semester wraps up, end of year banquets take place, students take finals and our attention begins to turn to the summer months. Summertime brings inter/national organization conventions and leadership schools, as well as regional and national events geared towards fraternity and sorority student leaders and emerging leaders. Young men and women across the country also work hard to prepare for fall recruitment periods.

About this time of year, materials start to appear that have puzzled me since my freshman year of college as a new member: the list (usually with pictures, or now links!) of what to wear! This list might be for a sorority convention, or it might be for Panhellenic recruitment. I have to give the men some credit here, I've yet to see a guide to clothing for men for one of these events (although I am sure it exists somewhere).

Now, I might be a bit off base here, but I'm pretty sure I've been able to dress myself appropriately since about the age of two. I might not always be sporting the latest off -the-runway style, but for the most part, I think I manage to do ok. Yet our chapters, councils, and national organizations still spend time putting together a lovely list of things for us to wear to these events. Why? I could think of a million other productive, positive things that could be done with that time instead. How about just a simple note about the attire - i.e. business casual, formal, ritual - and call it done? I don't need pictures. Or descriptions. Think about it: Did anyone get a packet from their institution the summer before their freshman year with pictures of what was appropriate to wear?

I am 100% percent certain that I did not make my Panhellenic formal recruitment decision based on whether or not every woman in the chapter was wearing the exact same pair of black pants with matching silver jewelry. In fact, I ran far and fast from those chapters. Why? Because I think that is just a little bit scary. As our friends at PhiredUp would say, "BE MORE NORMAL". I wonder what would happen if we all just wore nice, non-matchy-matchy clothes to formal recruitment. Would our numbers drop? Or would they increase? What if we never had to have another "dress check" again? What could we do with that time?

Now I'm not saying we need to stop wearing our letters, and color coordinated t-shirts, and all that jazz - I get that some of that is an important part of your chapter or council's identity, especially during recruitment. And it helps to showcase our membership to the entire campus. I am saying that sending out detailed documents with pictures to college educated women to help them determine what to pack/wear/buy for recruitment or an organization event is just a bit silly. Let's leave the fashion advice to reality TV and focus our efforts on more substantive subjects.