Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Great Myth of Fraternities

We have all heard the great myth of college fraternities: when you graduate all you have to do is waltz into the office of "Mr. Bigbux Alumni", slip him the secret handshake, and immediately you are on the fast track to fame and fortune. That may happen in some more perfect world than this, but to the best of my experience and observation you have to actually put forth effort to get ahead. "Mr Bigbux" didn't get to the top of his game with a handshake and a chorus of the Anthem, and neither will you.

One of the really great benefits of belonging to a large national fraternity is the opportunity to get to know people that otherwise you would never meet. In the 30-odd years I have been associated with SigEp I have had the chance to meet many alumni who have made a name for themselves in their professions. These men who have not only risen in their carers, but also stayed active in the fraternity all seem to have one trait in common. They are always looking for the spark of excellence in the people they meet. When they see it they will nurture and reward it. If they don't see it they will keep looking.

Earlier we had a post about a mentor-mentee pair that is a great success story. Although I do not claim to be best friends with either of them I do know them well enough to remember when the young man was an undergraduate and interning for his boss. Matt worked extremely hard and did an outstanding job. Jim expected no less and would not have given Matt the opportunities he got had it been any other way. What part did Sig Ep play in that story? It simply gave them a place to meet each other. Jim Clayton had already made his fortune. Matt Daniels would probably have become successful anyway. But when Jim chose to become active in the alumni association and Matt decided to join SigEp when he started college their paths were due to cross and we see what has come of it... so far.

With Conclave coming up we all, undergraduates and alumni, have an opportunity to meet others who have that spark of excellence. Who knows what opportunities may come of a chance conversation over dinner, or a shared elevator ride? You may meet your next rising star, or your next mentor. In any event, you probably will not find this many examples of excellence in one place very often. We'll see you there.