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Fraternities Should Hire More Students.

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Students run fraternities. They recruit the members, put the work into our good statistics, and ultimately own our future. That ownership is not represented in fraternity leadership. Most fraternity governing boards consist of... READ MORE

Q&A: Adam Taylor Co-Founder of Veital Designs

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Utility is one’s friend in the wild, whether hiking in a nearby park or just camping with friends. The Veital Lid, the first product from Veital Designs, can fit on any wide mouth water bottle and incorporates some vital (pun!) functions which can aid both in survival and leisure.

The following Q&A is with Adam Taylor, co-founder of Veital Designs and a Zeta Beta Tau member (and founding father) initiated at Purdue University.

Q: What led you to joining Zeta Beta Tau?

A: I was a bit overwhelmed with school as a freshman and engineering student. A group of roommates had joined a new fraternity (Zeta Beta Tau) on campus and the thought of subjecting myself to a long and arduous pledgeship was unappealing at the time.

ZBT appealed to me for several reasons when I rushed in the fall of my sophomore year. First were the men that were already in the fraternity – a motley crew of down to Earth guys, many of which I connect with in my first year at Purdue.

Second was the opportunity to help mold a young organization; I saw it as a project that we all certainly took a lot of pride in. Finally was the lack of “pledgeship;” I felt a genuine bond with my brothers immediately after being quickly initiated into ZBT.

 

Q: What are some of the highlights of your fraternity experience?

A: one of my favorite things that we did were what we termed “Work Weekends.” These were designated weekends over the summer to execute house improvement projects.

Typically the house improvement took a back seat and the weekends were used as time to reconnect with the brothers I hadn’t seen all summer. We also invited our parents to help with the weekend, so we were also able to build relationships with the families of our brothers.

Another highlight was when I studied abroad in Shanghai with three other ZBTs. That semester we knocked out some tough coursework, saw a lot of China, and started on the Shanghai Jao Tong American Football Team.

 

 

Q: How did you and Matthew (Matty K) come together to make Veital Designs?

A: Matt and I were both placed in the same development program in Southeast Wisconsin, directly out of school. We were sort of “pot-luck” roommates, both being new to the area and being connected through work.

We became unenthused with the monotony of cubicle life pretty soon after starting our jobs. We created a brand to bridge the gap between work and the outdoor activities we were passionate about and would rather be doing.

 

“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.”

-Teddy Roosevelt

 

Q: What inspired the Veital Lid?

A: The Veital Lid was the byproduct of one too many dull meetings. Inspired by the trend in the bicycle industry to incorporate more traditional materials, such as steel and titanium, we wanted to bring a craftsman’s touch to the thing we always carried with us: our water bottles.

 

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Q: What makes a Veital Lid unique?

A: The Veital Lid provides a different look to the standard wide mouth water bottle with a stainless steel finish topped with a brass cap. The metal lid retains less bacteria than a standard plastic lid and is dishwasher safe or easily cleaned by hand (if that’s your M.O.).

The braided paracord lanyard will catch the eye of an outdoor enthusiast. Aside from the appealing aesthetic the braided lanyard contains over 7′ of United States-sourced, 550-pound capacity paracord for use in survival situations.

The brass top cap can be removed from the lid, revealing a 5mm port to mount an action camera (such as a GoPro). On the inside of the lid is a 10mm access point which can be used to open bottles or for other attachments currently in development.

 

“… we wanted to bring a craftsman’s touch to the thing we always carried with us: our water bottles”

 

Q: Has your fraternity experience played into your work with Veital?

A: My experience with ZBT has directly related to starting and running a small business. One of the things that drew me to ZBT as a new fraternity at Purdue was the ability to help steer the ship as it was established. That same desire to lead has carried over into Veital Designs.

 

 

Q: What do you think makes fraternity membership valuable?

A: I think that young men are able to accelerate their personal growth, by becoming involved philanthropically, finding new hobbies or passions, or simply expanding one’s network of lasting friendships.

Professionally members are, or should be, pushed to excel in their chosen fields of study, gain leadership experience and can expand their network of professional contacts through fraternity membership.

Check out Veital’s website for more information on the Veital Lid or to get in touch with Adam and Matthew.

Veital on Facebook

Veital on Instagram

 

 

What I learned After Working For a Fraternity Headquarters for 5+ Years

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I am convinced that there is no line of work that can quite compare to that of working at a fraternity headquarters. I spent five-plus years with one.

Add those five-plus years to my time as an undergraduate member (and office-holder) and my fraternity experience is closing in on a decade!

In my time on Delta Sigma Phi’s staff I worked as a recruiter to establish new chapters, I consulted for several chapters, and managed our growth and chapter services operations.

In that same amount of time I learned to make bow ties, started two fraternity-related blogs (Hey! That’s where you are now!), moved to Charleston, SC and back, and read a bunch of Ron Paul stuff. . . what a whirlwind!

My opinions or advice may not be worth your dollar, but here are some things I’ve learned working for my fraternity’s HQ.

 

Staff. Year 1. 2011. Gosh.

 

Leadership Is A Skill Set Requiring Practice

There are habits and practices utilized to help people become great leaders, and it pays to make those a more regular part of your own actions. That is what the majority of leadership programming teaches.

Real world practice is required to make any use of your skills. The saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” is true. Many of us think that attending dozens of programs has turned us into experts of leadership, but expertise requires practical application.

If that were not true, Hermione would be a better witch than Harry a wizard. . . For those of you who aren’t Harry Potter nerds: Would you rather a learned and practiced surgeon perform your facelift or one who has read all the books on facelifts with minimal practice?

We have many “experts” with little to no practical application in our field. Recall – the average age of a person working with fraternities/sororities is 28. Many leadership programs focus on individualizing which practices or values best suit a person, but don’t set basic standards for what it takes to be considered a great, ethical leader. To “model the way,” as they say, we set an expectation of what is required of a great leader and the common ethical standards a great leader should exemplify.

 

The Fraternity/Sorority World Lacks Real Competition

The coordinated efforts of fraternities and sororities to improve their position in society, to improve the fact that they are some of the most expensive things to insure next to nuclear power plants, and to improve their ability to “benefit their communities” have either failed or flatlined.

After years of experiencing “The Fraternal Values Movement,” as a student and several more years as a professional fraternity staff member, I can say that very little of what we teach, spend money on or require seems to make additional headway in addressing our greatest challenges. The people who choose what’s acceptable have agreed that service, philanthropy, leadership and values education are the way to make the Rolling Stone not hate us anymore. . . We we are still waiting for that to be the case.

People I’ve known through work put an intense focus on communities at the expense of individual organizations. College campuses establish “common values” that all fraternities and sororities share, effectively smudging the individuality of their community members. National organizations band together and speak in unison and talk up those same, self-depreciating publicity ploys to negate bad news.

Real competition would mean that fraternities compare themselves to others based on the output and quality of their memberships. To compete, we’d have to better support our network of members in their professional lives and students would need to stop recruiting fools. . . problems largely solved. Continued