Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bar Etiquette

Loyal Readers,
I've decided to take a short intermission from talking about fraternal values and my experiences to bring you a short Public Service Announcement about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart.

For those of you who didn't know, I have spent a fair amount of time the past two years working in at bars. It amazes me how little people understand about bar etiquette. My philosophy has been that the US should have one year mandatory requirement to work in the service industry, like some other countries have mandatory military service.

Enough with that, onward to my Top 10 bar etiquette tips (in no particular order):

1. Do not ever snap your fingers at a member of the wait staff (coughZekecough).

2. Ask before moving tables and chairs - you may be taking a table away from a waiter's section. This also goes for pulling bar stools to a table.

3. Depending on the place - call and make a reservation if you plan on bringing more than 8 people. It makes life a lot easier for everyone.

4. If you leave your phone number on the receipt, you better tip more than 20% if you expect them to call you back.

5. Leave a note. It doesn't have to be anything special, but a simple "thank you" goes a long way. I've kept every note I've ever received. However, make sure it doesn't cross into the realm of creepy/ sexual harassment. I guarantee it will make the server's night.

6. When asking for silveware/ napkins/ another drink ext. if you include the phrase "...whenever you get a chance" more often then not I'll go get it for you right away.

7. If you learn a servers name, don't yell it across the bar. There are some exceptions to this rule depending on the bar and your relationship with the server. I knew if my regulars on the rugby team called my name and pointed to a pitcher, they needed another pitcher of Bud Heavy. They also tipped accordingly.

8. Beer doesn't taste the same out of the tap as it does out of the bottle. If you want to try a beer to make sure you like it, just ask. Saying that it "tastes funny" is not going to get you a free drink.

9. The less you ask for free drinks, the more likely you are to receive them.

10. If a member of the waitstaff or bartender take care of you, return the favor.

Friends in the service industry: feel free to comment and add your own.

High: Finally getting back to Oxford at 2:30am last night
Low: Blowing a tire 20 miles outside of Ann Arbor

Friday, July 23, 2010

FEA Field Staff

Earlier this week the other new consultants and I traveled to Indianapolis for the FEA Field Staff Conference. It brings together close to 200 consultants in an opportunity to meet each other and train for the difficult year(s) ahead. I had the chance to converse with other consultants, Executive Vice Presidents of ZBT and AGD, the Phired Up! staff as well as other Greek Life professionals.

One of the overall themes of the conference was the idea of Values, and the trouble that comes from when our values and actions are not congruent. So many Greek organizations are founded on principles like Scholarship, Friendship, Integrity, Purity...and the list goes on and on. However, many of the issues that occur in fraternities and sororities stem from the lack of living out the values that we all swore an oath to uphold. Without our values and mission, what makes fraternity any different from the anime club?

The conference ended with John Shertzer's inspirational message based around the idea of values. One question he asked really hit home he asked was:

"If you could start a Greek organization right now, what values would found it on?"

My Answer: Leadership, Accountability, Service, Integrity and Love

What would yours be?

High: Getting tackled by Indianapolis Indians mascot after carrying him up the stairs on my back
Low: A terribly facilitated hour and a half presentation about effective facilitation.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Leadership Philosophy

The other new consultants and I just got out of a meeting with Executive Vice President of Phi Delta Theta Bob Biggs. After a couple minutes of describing his extensive job description, he rhetorically asked us what our leadership philosophies were. At this point, my mind raced to the numerous leadership inventories I've done in my many years. I began to tip-of-the-pen my personal leadership philosophy (while actively paying attention of course):

Winning Attitude- First and foremost, I hate losing. Therefore, one of the first things I do when given a new project is to brainstorm and plan the best way to complete my objective. Think about a championship football team. At least a full week of preparation goes into every game. A coach must watch film of his own team and the opposing team, draft new strategies and plays along with making sure all players and coaches are on the same page. By the same token, a player practices all week to be ready for all situations that they might see come game time. The coaches and players both take pride and comfort in knowing that they are prepared for anything. In the end, the team that has the most talented players doesn't always win, but rather the team that has the winning attitude and is better prepared. In addition, attitude is contagious. A good leader will not only be confident in a win, but will be able to inspire those around them of the same. If you don't go into a situation with the positive outlook, failure is all but assured.

Appreciation: There is nothing worse than going out of your way for a person or an organization and not receiving any credit of thanks for it. I will go great lengths out of my way for a friend or acquaintance as long as I am thanked for my effort. Its even worse when someone ELSE receives the credit for your hard work. I always try to go out of my way to thank the people that help me out, even its for a small menial tasks. When chairing a committee that receives high praise try hard to deflect some of it back onto the committee members. Those people will be more willing to help out on another project if they are publicly recognized.

Partnerships: While we joke about how the word "partnerships" is a current buzz word in higher education, the premise behind it still holds true. Too often we think of our organizations as solitary units. There is a wealth of resources and experience just waiting to be utilized outside the confines of the organization. This holds true in everything from the business world to the fraternity world. Once you can create a relationship with an individual or organization, these mutual aid partnerships happen very quickly. In the fraternity world there is probably a Greek advisor, leadership office, student government or even other fraternity men. Do you have a problem with senior retention? So has every other chapter since the mid-1800's. It doesn't hurt to talk to your fellow Greek leaders, or any leaders, and see how other people and organizations have dealt with the same problem.

What is YOUR Leadership Philosophy?

High: Finding out that Positive Mental Attitude as followed me from the Summer Camp world to the professional world.
Low: Being told to take my Michigan banner down

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It's Official - I'll be spending this semester at the University of Arkansas.

I'm really excited about the opportunity. Very rarely does a consultant get to spend more than three days or eight weeks at any particular campus (chapter services and expansion respectively). I like to think of it as the best of both worlds: I get to recruit just like I would on Expansion, and I get to work on chapter programing like Chapter Services. Additionally, I get to help implement and watch different programs develop and grow. My hope is that I can continue my work on The Accolade and possibly bring it to Arkansas.

The tentative plan is for me to move to Fayetteville at the end of August. With my supreme knowledge of US Geography, I guessed that the drive from Oxford would be around six hours. WRONG - turns out its closer to 12. The Aztec and I are going to be best friends after that journey.

We were talking today about Fayetteville today and the impression I got is that the campus has a very midwestern feel with a southern twist. This makes me feel really comfortable going into the whole situation. I'm even more excited about being on a big football campus. Go Razorbacks?

High: Getting 105% on my Chapter Designations Test
Low: Getting kicked out of the racquet ball court

Friday, July 9, 2010


The 11 of us just got back from Nashville, IN where we held our staf retreat. We had gorgeous accommodations thanks to Jon Collier complete with hot tub, ping pong table and fire pit. As far as retreats go it was pretty standard in terms of term building, self - assessment and goal setting. For the first time I felt less like a pledge and more like a member of the team, and I think most of the other new guys felt the same way.

The entire car trip there and back we worked on our flash cards to memorize our chapter designations before our test on Wednesday. I'm feeling pretty confident, but thought it would be a much longer time before taking another test after I left Ann Arbor.

We have really great group assembled who are able to be serious when need be, and loose most of the other times. I'm excited to get back to training on Tuesday after we volunteer at a Golf event on Monday. Only a couple more days before I find out where I'll be for the beginning of the school year.

Biggest Change After 1 Week: Coffee Drinking
High: Sitting around the camp fire getting to know people on a more personal level
Low: Goal Setting - brought back too many memories of RBC

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 1:
So last night I finally got into Ox-Vegas (Oxford, OH) around midnight after a four hour drive from Cleveland. Some of the guys were still awake and showed me up to my room. The plus side was that my roommate Greg and I have double the closet space, however the downside is that we have to use the downstairs bathroom to shower in the morning.

Today was a whirlwind. We went over orientation, a GHQ tour, a computer tutorial (for our new laptops), filled out tax forms and opened new bank accounts.

Tomorrow we leave for a retreat in (insert name of small town), Indiana. Not really sure what to expect.

High: Finally getting to Oxford
Low: Waking up at 7am