Q&A: Ryan Lugabihl – Founder of The Catalyst Agency

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There’s little to chat about when it comes to those who have made professions out of speaking to fraternity men and sorority women. We have a slew of fantastic speakers, don’t get me wrong, but most new speaking companies focus on a narrow market or are spin offs of already existing groups.

Within a day or two of hearing about The Catalyst Agency, I was introduced to an all-star lineup including speakers I’ve listened to and read from for years. This sounded like something that may finally shake things up!

Fraternity Man is about invigorating fraternities through entrepreneurial spirit and a healthy dash of boldness. I wanted to ask Ryan a few questions about The Catalyst Agency, starting a business, and the needs of fraternity men and sorority women. He was kind enough to answer.

Q: What’s your favorite flavor of bubblegum

A: I honestly don’t chew gum very often. I used to work in a Doctor’s office where we were not allowed to. But when I do, I love the Ice Breakers Ice Cubes!

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Ryan Lugabihl

Q: Tell us about your history. What is your relation to the Fraternity/Sorority profession?

A: I graduated from Miami University in December 2010. I remember my last fall semester that a speaker was coming to campus that I had heard of before; her name was Dr. Lori Hart and she worked for my fraternity’s Headquarters.

I had been thinking about applying to be a consultant and wanted to talk to Lori about it. We met up for dinner before her keynote and I instantly knew that being a Leadership Consultant needed to be at the top of my list. I brought Lori a dozen roses to her speech and she said that she had already made a call to the HQ about giving me a great review. I was hired on to staff a few weeks later and that started my journey in Fraternity/Sorority Life.

I worked my way up to a Director role at Pi Kapp playing roles from chapter development to recruiting, hiring and training among other duties. In what seems like a quick 4.5 years, I did three expansions, 14 charterings initiating 721 men, visited 96 campuses and flew on 346 flights (all Delta!).

I am convinced that every single person I’ve met, chapter I’ve visited and experience I’ve had helped me get to where I am today and I’m extremely blessed for it all.

  “There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.”

– Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote.

Q: What compelled you to start The Catalyst Agency? What did you see a need for in our field?

A: I have known speakers like T.J. Sullivan and Dr. Lori Hart ever since I was an undergrad. I have always admired what they do and value them as friends and mentors.

I knew that I was not going to be at Pi Kappa Phi Headquarters forever and saw this as an incredible opportunity to start something different. My speakers are not just three Pi Kapps and one Pi Kapp Sweetheart, they are the pioneers in the field with decades of experience.

The Catalyst Agency offers a very individualized service to our partners where we can help develop a program, discussion, training or whatever is needed for their community/staff/council/team/whomever it is needed for.


Q: What are 2 things that you think will set The Catalyst Agency apart from other options?

A: First, we are a smaller company that is able to offer a sort of “boutique-style” service catering to whatever specific needs there may be. We are intentional about finding a powerful and catalytic fit.

Second, the speaker roster is made up of individuals viewed as experts in their field and have been speaking for decades. These are the people that you will want to work with to inspire action and create change.


Q: What has been the most challenging part of starting a new company?

A: It honestly was not as hard as I thought it would be. All of the information about forming an LLC is online and simple to complete and submit to the state. I would say the most challenging part for me has been switching gears to manage myself.

I get up early and work out, shower, get dressed, make breakfast, and sit down at my desk to begin my work day by 8:30am every morning, Monday-Friday. I’m a very structured individual that values having continuity each day.

” … the speaker roster is made up of individuals viewed as experts in their field and have been speaking for decades.”

Q: If there was one thing you wish our fraternity and sorority advisers spent more time doing, what would it be?

A: The most valuable lesson that I learned in my 4.5 years working as a fraternity/sorority professional is to be patient. We need to understand that while this may be our full-time job, it probably isn’t that way for the students.

Today’s college student takes on so much and has so many competing priorities. Their fraternity or sorority may just be an extra curricular for them and that has to be O.K. That is in no way an excuse to let actions take place outside of our purpose and core values. We need to be working toward creating a better student experience than there was yesterday.


Q: Who are the talent of The Catalyst Agency and what will they be doing for the company?

A: All of the individuals on the roster at The Catalyst Agency come with many, many years of experience and are viewed as the best of the best when it comes to speaking in front of groups of students. (Click to learn more!)

As I continue to develop and learn how to operate The Catalyst Agency, I will look to add talent that fits what we do: making change that matters. I can’t wait to see what is ahead!


Q: What is your favorite color?

A: Pi Kapp Blue, of course.

Read more about The Catalyst Agency Here. Then follow them:


Lazy Tweets

“The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my 4.5 years as an FSL professional is to be patient” [tweet this]

“These are the people that you will want to work with to inspire action and create change.” [tweet this]

“We need to be working toward creating a better student experience than there was yesterday.” [tweet this]

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