Robert Greene mentions in Mastery (one of our books of 2015), how apprenticeships have fallen out of practice in favor of quick, chaotic fixes.
Cue Woody Woodcock. I’ve known Woody for just over four years and have worked with him for just about four years. He coaches our New Chapter Development team, among many other expansion teams, which has basically been my apprenticeship into the world of fraternity growth and purpose.
Having worked for his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, and now for Phired Up Productions as a fraternity expansion coach, Woody’s relationship with our team is equal parts familial and professional.
He’ll certainly catch you off guard: ever stylish, smooth and socially excellent. He is contemplative, generous with his time and responds coolly in the face of chaos. His effect can be summed up by a very recent story:
Our staff was presenting at a university in Philadelphia; I hadn’t seen Woody in a couple months and this provided a rare opportunity for him to observe and advise our team and for he and I to have an in-person coaching conversation.
After the presentation and a quick follow-up dinner with the team, Woody and I retreated to a coffee shop to discuss some new ideas regarding the Fraternity’s initiatives in the growth realm.
It had gotten late and our hotels were a good 30-40 minute drive across town. We discussed taking a taxi, and so Woody, in the most natural, “I’ve known you for ten years”-way possible approached a woman at the counter to ask if she’d recommend a taxi service.
It is impossible to meet Woody and not want to introduce him to everyone you’re with, and he’s generous enough with his time to meet everyone you’re with.
We spoke with this woman and her husband for a solid ten minutes. We learned that he was an adjunct professor at the university, explained how we work on behalf of fraternities and exchanged contact information. The man then drove Woody and I to a nearby train station along with some simple directions to get back to the airport.
Most of us would search the interwebs on our phones in a lonely corner of a cafe for a taxi service. There is something taboo about bothering another person; this story proves that many are willing to be bothered.
That type of human love doesn’t happen when I am on my own. I consider myself a personable, though introverted, person, but Woody is the guy who builds bridges where others would see a stream not worth crossing. He understands that Fraternity is about connections, being an excellent person to others, sharing ideas, learning about a person’s interests and living a life committed to honest principles.
Woody is full of ideas. He’s the guy that records new voice mail messages regularly, including the date(s) and wishing listeners a happy day. He is the husband of a sorority woman, Mattye, an inspiring and fascinating person herself with a background in Fraternity & Sorority Life. (read her blog, a combination of life experiences and thoughtful/clever takeaways from those experiences)
Importantly, Woody understands that he is a brother to all fraternity men and sorority woman, regardless of their affiliation or background. Here are some of his thoughts on the ideal fraternity experience, fraternity expansion and our quest for significance:
Q: What’s your favorite flavor of gum/bubblegum?
A: Hubba Buba. I’m a big fan of Wrigley’s Hubba Bubba Hawaiian Punch or Watermelon flavors.
Q: Why do you do what you do?
A: I feel like I have been called to care for people in the fraternity and sorority community. I step into each year with renewed hope for all the people I will get to continue helping and the new ones I will get to meet.
Ultimately, I want to see people connected to their purpose and use it to make a difference in the world. This drives me to serve people as a coach and a teacher. I also believe that the best in fraternity and sorority is yet to come, and I want to be a part of that.
Q: How does [your work with fraternity expansion teams] impact fraternity & sorority in your mind? What are your hopes for fraternity expansion?
A: Most of the conversation around fraternity expansion deals with numbers and percentages. However; what I care about more than that is each individual life connected to those numbers. Every person we give the chance to connect with other quality people through fraternity or sorority means another life made better.
As a coach, this is what drives me to equip my teams to be the best expansion professionals in the field. In my mind, better people using a better process leads to better fraternities nationwide; that is my hope for fraternity expansion.
-Woody Woodcock [tweet this]
Q: My Hope is ____
A: I hope that we continue to see purposeful growth that is supported by solid processes and talented people. I believe it takes both things, hand-in-hand, to build the best groups possible, and I hope fraternities understand and embrace this model in order to build not just the most groups, but the best groups.
As we build these groups, I hope we continue to attract the best men and women on college campuses and bring them into our field.
Q: We’ve talked on Fraternity Man about the importance of discovering one’s vocation and Fraternity’s potential role in that process. What experiences or things have you seen enable a man or woman to identify their calling?
A: Identifying your calling happens through a process. One basic tool to get started is taking an assessment like DISC or StrengthsFinder. These both explain your “wiring” and natural gifts and abilities. Identifying how you are made helps you narrow down what you like to do, why you like to do it, and why you are good at it.
Following this path ultimately leads to discovering your calling. In addition, it’s helpful to discuss this with others and to spend personal time reflecting.
Q: What you do you consider to be the qualities of the ideal fraternity experience.
A: The fraternity experience is tied to the culture we create within our national organizations and local chapters. To me, the ideal culture is one where people are raised up into a new life that is better than the one they lived before.
It’s a culture where people are encouraged to be authentic and not pressured to be anyone else. Also, a culture of truly loving people and helping them discover their gifts and abilities, then helping them use those abilities to make the fraternity and people around them better.
We give our best to the world when we are authentically being who we were created to be, and I believe the ideal fraternity experience paves the way for this to happen.
Q: Is that culture something you already see within our communities?
A: All groups have a culture of some sort whether it’s a positive or negative culture. We all contribute to the culture and many of us become products of an already existing culture.
What I want to see happen is a shift in culture as we move away from the stereotypes and status quo of fraternity life and build better groups by attracting and enhancing quality people. This is a conversation that is happening in our community, and I believe an awakening to what fraternity and sorority really could be at its best is on the horizon.
– Woody Woodcock [tweet this]
Q: How close do you think we are to the point of more regularly seeing that culture? How do we get there?
A: In my opinion, I think we are closer than many might think. As for how we get there, I think that is a real meaningful question. My suggestion is to check back with me this fall and I’ll share my heart on this matter more.
Q: What is one thing you’d like fraternity/sorority professionals to spend more time doing?
A: I’d love to see the professional community spend more time helping Greek men and women discover their unique gifts and callings.
We are all put on this planet for a purpose, and are each given gifts and abilities that equip us to accomplish that purpose. When someone isn’t connected to their purpose, it can be challenging to positively contribute or impact their organization, leading to an epidemic of settling for the status quo.
On the contrary, connecting to this purpose raises the bar and allows individuals to bring the highest-level contributions to their organization in a way that impacts others and creates a better world.
Q: . . . less time doing?
A: I wish [fraternity & sorority] professionals would spend less time waiting in their offices for students to come meet with them and instead look for opportunities to meet the students where they already are.
I wish they would spend less time having committee meetings that result in little impact and instead find more productive ways to create change.
Q: What is your favorite color?
A: My favorite color is Orange. It is the color of optimism and positivity. It helps me think creatively when I see it around me. It makes me want to help lift others’ spirits when I get around them.
My wife gave me an orange watch for my birthday once. It was a truly remarkable gift.
“We give our best to the world when we are authentically being who we were created to be” [tweet this]
“Better people using a better process lead to better fraternities nationwide” [tweet this]
“I’d love to see FSL pros spend more time helping men & women discover their unique gifts & callings.” [tweet this]
[original emphasis included]