Wes Johnson, Pi Kappa Phi Chapter Adviser: Feb 2011 – Jan 2016

This post has been some time coming to this space.  As I think back about my time as the advisor to my own same undergraduate social fraternity group (although on a different college campus), I can actually appreciate why this post did not get published long back. Having to post something like this on the public web is something I just can’t help but resist it personally, especially to want to call out all the successes. My advisees knew they were doing well towards the tail end of my advising time, yet I did need to maintain an edge as the advisor to push them for achieving more. Even later, there wasn’t to be any immediate victory dance just on my own account of retiring as their adviser, and this position was so far from any simple resume fodder of mine. 

My volunteer experience of those five years, did prove to be some substantial work, but in the end, it’s something that I am proud of for myself to be able to keep up with and also that it provided me a front row seat to the accomplishments of my advisees. The success did not come quickly or easily for them, but over the years the mindset of the men had changed, their prominence on their campus and among fellow Greek life members had improved substantially, and, most apparently, their own membership numbers had increased. As mostly out of character for myself, I did choose to promote myself for the nationwide Advisor of the Year Award for the 2013-2014 academic year.  I ended up taking home the award, and had some nice recognition at the biannual conference among all universities’ chapters.  I’ll never forget the kind words that came out for my candidacy at that time and also via social media when I eventually gave notice of stepping down as the advisor.  Later on, after my Pi Kappa Phi national award, I was further recognized by the George Mason University Student Life Organization as the top Fraternity Advisor on campus for the 2015 calendar year.

Through more reflection, I see that the five years with the GMU Pikapps is even more time than I spent with my own fellow classmates at my George Washington University chapter. Somehow…weirdly(?)… in these recent years, I was able to transition from the advisor into actually a role of teammate and friend when I jumped into the mens rec league hockey team founded by some of the older undergrads I oversaw. My advising days are well behind me, but I’m beyond pleased that I took the position, and appreciative of what it still brings me to this day with fun, sport, friendly competition, and ongoing connections!

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Some Giving to Wrap 2013

pushamerica-logo

Of all the charities that make requests to me to finish out the year, I wish I could contribute to more of them.  To wind down 2013, I made my highest donation priority to help the way for my advisees’ pledges to Push America, which three of them will be riding a bicycle cross-country this summer promoting its mission.

The cross-country trip is called The Journey of Hope, and aside from the physical test of the bike trip, it involves making visits to local facilities along the way that care for people with disabilities.  The fraternity members who participate in the ride must meet a minimum fundraising requirement towards the organization, and most members have a goal greater than that minimum.  The fundraising campaign runs the sensible model of benefiting both the organization and the person who would be getting credit for the funds on behalf of their goal.  Push America provides an easy way for a rider to market themselves and accept donations over the web.  As a result, I took advantage of the service and my very late December charitable givings is well summarized by the below

Dylan Reed  joh-dreed
Jeffrey Gorenshtein  joh-jGorenshtein
Brian Bott  joh-bbott

(  Great video recap of a past ride–   http://sloandickey.com/journeyofhope/?p=468  )

I’m especially proud of the efforts of these young men in their fundraising and commitment to the trip.  There had not been a member of the George Mason University Pi Kappa Phi chapter to ride as part of the Journey of Hope in many years.  Hopefully, they can start a trend for years to come.

MBA Frontier: Student Org Recruitment Prep

July 15th is probably as good of a spot as any to declare that a college summer vacation is half over. My Pikapp chapter adviseeshave been working and planning for the fall recruitment period that starts up at just the third week of classes. By then, most freshman probably haven’t even been forced to perform their own laundry duties yet, but on campus they will be confronted by people wearing shirts with Greek letters and then asked to decide about joining such and such organization. As much as it requires a share of sales people to try to entice these next ranks, the groups will also need the simple manpower and show of solidarity to reveal their character and culture as well as answer questions about themselves to have hopes of potential members. The internal process may sound simple, but motivation for a group’s own recruitment activities is often times lackluster.

While as an adviser, I won’t be doing any actual sales pitching or activity planning, but I’ve been trying to think of ways to both keep the leaders on track for getting things done on their vacation and also ways they can transfer motivation onto the other members. On this 15th of the month midway point, we have our second, and final, summer check-in meeting to see that the leaders will everything planned for when school starts. Regarding group motivation, one thought I’ve had and need to introduce is to emphasize that the members keep tabs on their competitors. No matter where they fall in the membership size rankings, there’s always going to be that other group who seems just ahead of you in size, or involvement, or sports team record, etc. There is that next-closest competitor who you can act as your measuring stick and who will give the troops a sense of victory if they were matched or exceeded in recruitment intake. For my own undergrad experience, this competitve vibe was always in the forefront for me and my brothers as we went through planning, publicizing, and then execution of our recruitment/rush week. I hope relaying my experience can raise engagement in this new time and place, and give the current leaders some fodder for improving their odds at definitely their biggest priority of the fall.

(photo credit by scazon)