Category Archives: goal setting

Serving on the Educational Foundation Board of Directors is the Ultimate Leadership Development Experience

By Garrett Oberst (Butler)

Like many other collegiate members my age, I had no idea what the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation was a year ago. I didn’t know about the purpose of the Foundation or that it would change my life and instill in me the value of commitment to the Fraternity throughout my entire life.

My experience with Sigma Nu Educational Foundation began with what seemed like an accident. I applied to be a Collegiate Grand Councilman in the fall of 2014 thinking it was the only opportunity I had to gain leadership experience at the national level. To my surprise, I received a call from Joe Gillman, past Regent and chairman of the Foundation at the time. He told me of a new position with the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation, a position that I and Mark Nelson from Northwestern would be the first to hold.

While I enthusiastically accepted the offer to serve on the Foundation board of directors, I was hesitant and a little unsure of what was to come next. I had essentially just accepted a position with an organization I knew little about.

As I would soon learn, the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation grants the General Fraternity the funds they need to pursue these endeavors and enhances our fraternal experience both as collegians and members of the alumni chapter. Your scholarship, your LEAD sessions, and in many cases your chapter home, are all a result of the Foundation’s core purpose. If you have seen the beautiful Headquarters shrine, it is also a result of the Foundation’s hard work.

As collegiate members of the board, Mark Nelson and I are both current members of the awareness committee tasked with spreading the message of the Foundation to both alumni and active members. While our board is full of past Regents, Collegiate Grand Councilmen, and Alpha Chapter Affiliates, my opinion is valued as much as anyone else’s, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

My growth throughout this experience has been tremendous. I have gained insight into the strategic planning process and have begun to understand how a board of directors develops a vision for an organization. I have also had the opportunity to network with many successful individuals that serve on the Foundation board. Most importantly, this experience has inspired me to continue to commit my time, my talent, and my treasures to the Foundation for years to come because I now realize its importance.

I encourage you to apply to be a collegiate member of the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation’s Board of Directors. While right now you may be unclear as to what you will be doing, I promise you can expect to grow from this experience more than you could ever imagine. More importantly than that, you will play a vital role in the development in the Foundation’s strategic planning in the years to come.

Garrett Oberst

Learning to Lead with the Educational Foundation Board of Directors

By Mark Nelson (Northwestern)

There are a small handful of things, I believe, that have been critical to my life’s development thus far. I think of my family, which has taught me respect and what it means to love. I think of my closest friends back home, who taught me humility. I think of my faith, which has shown me the importance of patience and trust. And I think of my fraternity, which has reinforced all these values while teaching me more than any college professor ever will. Until about a year ago, though, my definition of “my fraternity” was largely limited to my own chapter. This narrow definition changed completely when I joined the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation board of directors.

I was offered the opportunity to join the Foundation board well into my second term as Commander. Having already been to College of Chapters, I was hesitant to join. After all, I understood some of the work and prestige that came with the Collegiate Grand Councilman position. So why trade the chance to apply for a sought-after position for which I was well prepared, for a new position that I knew nothing about?

For me the answer was simple: the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation collegiate board member role gave me the opportunity to define a new position, support the long-term goals of Sigma Nu, all while working and learning alongside inspiring alumni who continue to give back to their Fraternity.

After over a year of service, I can confidently say that I made the right decision. The unforgettable experiences I have had on the board have been so many in number, they would require far more space to do their descriptions proper justice.

I could describe my time with Brad Hastings, the Foundation president, discussing World War II when outside the meeting room and planning ways to get collegians more involved when inside.

I could recall my time with Joe Gilman, a past Regent and past chairman of the Foundation, spending days at College of Chapters 2015 strategizing how to recruit other collegians to support the Foundation. I could also talk for hours about how I became teary-eyed when he bought a brick for the Pathway of Honor for everyone on the Foundation board.

Or I could write pages about my time with the current Foundation Chairman Al Wurster, driving with him to and from Lexington, talking about economics, favorite college experiences, families, visions of the collegians’ role on the Foundation board, and everything in between.

More important than my individual experiences is the broader characterization of the Educational Foundation. The Foundation board is a group of men who care deeply and passionately about Sigma Nu. It is a group that does more than donate their time; it donates their treasure. It is a group that selflessly spends free time finding ways to better the fraternity experience of collegiate members whom they have never met. It is a group that wishes you a happy birthday or networking opportunity when others forget. Above all, it is a group that exemplifies the true qualities of Sigma Nu.

While I cannot possibly convey here all of the fantastic parts of serving on the Educational Foundation, I can certainly try in-person. So, if you find yourself in Roanoke this January or in the Chicagoland area, I would be happy to meet and discuss the experience further.

Mark Nelson-square

 

New Startup Aims to Provide Nutrition for Those on the Go

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MacroFuel founders set out with the goal to make consuming a balanced and nutritious diet simple and effortless.

Max Tave (Cornell) and his classmate, Gus, came up with the idea for MacroFuel last year after enduring the effects of missing meals and subsisting off energy drinks and cheap protein bars as a result of long nights studying in the school library.

They set out with the goal to make consuming a balanced and nutritious diet simple and effortless. They worked with some of Cornell’s top PhD food scientists to develop their initial product, a healthy, wholesome drink that aims to maximize physical and mental performance.

MacroFuel’s all-natural recipe and portable packaging are designed to satisfy all of the body’s macro- and micronutrient needs in 30 seconds or less. They worked with food scientists to make sure the product would blend well with water.

Max and his MacroFuel co-founders have witnessed early success so far, earning support from two venture accelerators and investment offers from other groups.

With an interest in pursuing the humanitarian aspect of the company, the MacroFuel founders are now exploring potential initiatives to improve nutrition developing nations. MacroFuel currently makes a nutritionally complete meal for under $1 (not including packaging) that requires only 16 ounces of cold water.

Max says his experience co-founding MacroFuel has boosted his leadership skills, particularly the importance of being a good teammate through active listening. “Leadership is all about creating a vision, aligning people, and motivating them to achieve that vision. Our team has achieved early success because we are all super motivated and believe in the vision our founders have created for the company.”

MacroFuel maintains a company culture that is open, fun, and competitive. Instead of micromanaging, the group has found success by focusing on robust discussions that lead to new ideas.

What advice would they offer to other startup founders? “Be scrappy,” Max recommends. Too many startups see early success and start splurging on offices with lavish amenities, only to see their initial success soon dry up. Max and the team at MacroFuel take a different approach by staying lean and investing every dollar back into the company.

Max also advises would-be startup founders to make sure they are prepared for the demanding lifestyle required to get a new company off the ground. “When you start a company you need to live and breathe your idea,” he cautions. “There is always room for improvement and things you can and should be doing to increase your chances for success.”

As for advice directed at fellow Sigma Nus, Max urges entrepreneurs to use alumni connections, both at the national and local level. “Sigma Nu has an amazing network, and the alumni want to help and share their experiences with you,” he counsels. “With our food startup, we were able to get in touch with experienced alumni who’ve been in our position running a young company.”

Sigma Nu’s Gamma Theta Chapter provided an environment that helped Max and his fellow brothers excel in the classroom and surrounding community. The brotherhood supported all the various endeavors, from the pursuit of competitive internships to campus-wide events that involved top Silicon Valley tech firms.

With leadership roles as Recruitment Chairman, Social Chairman, and Risk Reduction Chairman, Max says his Sigma Nu experience helped him develop the individual skills that would help him excel after college. The competitive but supportive chapter culture helped him further refine his entrepreneurial ideas.

Max and his team are looking to build off their early momentum by raising capital and opening up a second seed round. As with any startup, sustained success and eventual growth requires capital to build on the initial momentum.

Visit MacroFuel’s Kickstarter page to learn more about supporting their continued growth: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/macrofuel/macrofuel-fuel-your-life

Max Tave - MacroFuel

Co-counder Max Tave (Cornell) demonstrating MacroFuel’s ability to provide nutrition on the go.

20 New Year’s Resolutions for High Achieving Chapters

2014

1. Partner with a local non-profit (e.g. Boys and Girls Club, Habitat, food pantry) to create monthly opportunities for brothers to participate in community service together.

2. Have the humility to use the resources that are right in front of you. Schedule regular meetings with your school’s fraternity/sorority life advisor. Call the General Fraternity staff when you need help with something.

3. Have every member commit to meeting and recruiting at least one high-quality new member this semester.

4. Commit to following an agenda during all chapter meetings.

5. Periodically reeducate members on the Ritual with emphasis on the Five Objects of Sigma Nu as it applies to the chapter’s vision and goal setting.

6. Organize a LEAD session facilitated by an alumnus, staff, or faculty member. Tailor the content of the session around the goals and interests of the chapter.

7. Create senior-specific programs in conjunction with alumni events (e.g. A Phase IV networking session during alumni weekend or homecoming).

8. Commit to hosting chapter meetings in formal business attire.

9. Prepare for and make the most of the leadership consultant visit.

10. Send five officers to a Sigma Nu Institute in your area.

11. Develop a set of chapter goals and assess your progress at each meeting.

14. Apply for an award (Sigma Nu or campus).

15. Make a pilgrimage to Lexington.

16. Send more than two members to Grand Chapter.

17. Improve the chapter’s PEP rating in at least one area.

18. Co-host LEAD session with another campus organization that’s open to the entire campus.

19. Develop an academic assistance program that goes beyond study hours and cash rewards.

20. Ask “Why not us?” more often.

2014 College of Chapters Day 3 Recap

1. Some catch a snooze while others converse on the bus ride to Lexington. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

2. Commanders compare notes on the pilgrimage to Lexington. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

3. Visitors take smartphone pictures outside the Headquarters Shrine. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

4. College of Chapters participants endure a cold rain to photograph the Rock that sits in front of the Headquarters Shrine. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

5. Visitors photograph a clay rendering of the badge on display in the Headquarters’ foyer, Smith Hall. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

6. Commanders descend stairs leading to the Alpha Room. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

7. Staff member Bill Morosco talks Sigma Nu history with collegians gathered around a scale model of VMI in the Headquarters museum. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

8. A visitor snaps a photo of the original painting of The Quest. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

9. A Commander has his photo taken with his chapter’s burgee in the Alpha Room. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

10. Staff member Drew Logsdon gives a tour of the Founders’ Room, which includes the encyclopedia set Founder Hopkins used as a VMI cadet. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

11. A topographic map in the Hall of Fame gives Headquarters visitors a spatial view of Sigma Nu’s wide geographic reach across the U.S. and Canada. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

12. Visitors explore the Hall of Fame in the South Wing of the Headquarters Shrine. The lectern in the foreground contains a photo and bio for every Hall of Fame inductee. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

13. A College of Chapters participant browses titles by Sigma Nu authors in the Richard Fletcher Honor Memorial Library. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

14. Commanders tour the Hall of Honor in the North Wing of the Headquarters Shrine. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

15. Busloads of Sigma Nus unload at VMI just a few hundred feet from the Legion of Honor’s founding site. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

16. Sigma Nus get a special tour of the VMI museum. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

17. The pilgrimage will be Instagrammed. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

18. Back in Roanoke, Regent-Elect Joe Francis knights the 2013 Alpha Affiliate inductees. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

19. 2012 Man of the Year Wells Ellenberg returns to deliver the evening keynote address. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

20. In the final chapter session, Commanders finalize their goals for the year based on the vision they developed during College of Chapters.  Sigma Nu Leadership conference

21. Commanders write their goals on a poster that will be taken back to the chapter home. Sigma Nu Leadership conference

Photos by David Hungate/Dominion Images.

Wells Ellenberg 2014 College of Chapters Keynote Address

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I can’t believe it’s been two years since I was standing in your shoes as the newly elected Commander of my chapter. At the time, I thought I had all the answers.  In retrospect, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

As you will soon discover, this year is going to be one of the most difficult and challenging of your lives. The responsibility is great; the liability, even more so.

But when the stakes are high, so too are the rewards. Tonight, I want to share some advice and perspective that will hopefully help you make the most of your term as Commander.

I want to begin by asking three simple questions. Your answer to each of these questions will be a good indicator as to how successful your term will be.

First:  Are you in this for the right reasons?

There are two types of leaders in this world: those who seek to add value to every endeavor, and those who seek to extract it.

As Commander, you should be focused on creating value for your organization by leveraging your strengths and the strengths of your members to solve problems.

If you are in this for yourself, for a line on your resume or a letter of recommendation, you will almost certainly fail.  How can you govern each act by a high sense of honor if your decision to run for office was based on dishonorable motives?  You will lose the respect of your members and ultimately yourself.

Second:  Will you be an ethical leader?

Much of your curriculum these past few days has focused on the concept of ethical leadership.  In my opinion, ethical leaders are those who lead with vision and courage.  They have a vision of a better future for their organization and are willing to make the courageous decisions along the way to turn that vision into reality.

I cannot think of a more appropriate venue that the Virginia Military Institute to share this message with you.  One of the Institute’s Latin mottoes, when translated, reads: “By vision and courage.”

Ethical leadership often involves saying “no,” and choosing the harder right over the easier wrong.  This is no easy task.  But make no mistake – your members elected you to lead; to make the difficult decisions they themselves are not willing to make.

Third:  Will you leave a lasting legacy?

Twelve months from now, at the end of your term, will your members be willing and able to fill the void you leave behind?

I am not suggesting you handpick a successor; quite the contrary. Identify those individuals who are capable of following in your footsteps. Give them opportunities to prove themselves, and provide them with support and guidance along the way. Then, let them compete for the hearts and minds of their would-be constituents. Let them prove they have the vision and courage to take your place.

One of your most important responsibilities as Commander will be to cultivate a sense of ownership amongst your members.  You may be their leader, but this is their chapter, and they are stakeholders in both its successes and its failures.

Remember:  Your obligation to excellence, at its heart, is an obligation to others.

Having considered these three questions, and their implications, you may feel a little overwhelmed or apprehensive.  Allow me to offer some words of comfort: you are not in this alone.

College of Chapters has provided you with a roadmap for success; a guidebook for achieving excellence. And, as you have seen over the past few days, the Fraternity offers a wealth of resources to help you along the way (if, of course, you choose to take advantage of them).

You will undoubtedly face adversity. And you will undoubtedly make mistakes. I did. But if you commit yourselves to leading with vision and courage, your alumni and this Fraternity will stand beside you every step of the way.

But you, and only you can make this commitment, and the time to make it is now.

Last year, your predecessors were asked to make this same commitment. Some of them chose to lead with vision and courage; others chose to maintain the status quo; to accept mediocrity; to shirk their obligation to excellence.

In particular, two Commanders from last year come to mind: one from North Carolina, the other from Ohio. Each had inherited a once-strong chapter facing serious operational deficiencies.  Each left College of Chapters with a vision, and a framework for achieving that vision, knowing that the survival of his chapter was on the line. But only one had the courage to govern his chapter with the high ideals and noble purposes of this fraternity – Love, Honor, and Truth.  The other saw his chapter’s charter suspended and its doors closed, on his watch.

Tonight, though he is not in attendance, please join me in thanking Brother Josh Cherok from the Zeta Gamma Chapter at Kent State University for his hard work and dedication to excellence.

Sigma Nu Leadership conference

The question remains:  Will you follow Brother Cherok’s example and lead your chapter with vision and courage?

I want to share with you three pieces of advice that served me well during my term as Commander.

First:  Be kind.

Kindness inspires results. People enjoy working for those they enjoy working with. Whenever possible, let your members know that you respect them and appreciate their contributions. No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot run a successful chapter on your own.

In their book Remarkable!, Randy Ross and David Salyers draw an important distinction between leadership and power. Leadership is about influencing others.  Power is about dominating them.  And nothing of enduring, positive value ever happens by force.

Second:  Be humble.

The position of Commander is a thankless one. Your best will never be good enough. Your achievements will be minimized and your mistakes blown out of proportion.  But, at the end of the day, if you can look back on your term confident that you left everything on the field, you can hold your head high and be proud that you did your level best.  What more could anyone ask?

In times of trial, I often look to a passage entitled “The Penalty of Leadership.” The passage comes from a 1915 Cadillac advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post. Cadillac had just introduced the first mass-produced V8 engine automobiles. The company’s competitors said they were destined to fail.  Cadillac responded:

“If the leader truly leads, he remains – the leader.  Master poet, master painter, master workman; each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live – lives.”

Third:  Have fun.

Your experience as Commander will serve you well in the real world. And though you have taken on some real world responsibility in this new role, you are not in the real world just yet. Take advantage of every opportunity to enjoy yourselves and spend time with your friends. You will look back on college as four of the best (but also four of the shortest) years of your lives.

Take a moment and look at the person seated to your left and to your right.  Collectively, we are a diverse group of individuals representing a diverse group of chapters.  For example:

Garrett Oberst from the Epsilon Mu Chapter represents 103 members.  Tony Lee from Eta Omicron represents 49.

Jon Paul is the Delta Gamma Chapter’s 106th Commander.  Brendan Hall is Mu Psi’s 9th.

Glenn Walls leads the Iota Delta Chapter from Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Cody Wagner leads Delta Iota from Pullman, Washington.

And yet, despite these differences, each of these chapters is on pace to achieve Rock Chapter status.

The metrics we use to judge success from one campus to another vary.  But ethical leadership is the constant; vision and courage will always be the keys to success.

I want to leave you with the words of General George Patton, best known for his command of the Seventh and later the Third United States Army in the European Theater of World War II.  Patton, an alumnus of the Virginia Military Institute, is remembered for his fierce determination, capable leadership, and ability to inspire men on the battlefield.  He said, “Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way.”

Gentlemen – I hope you choose to lead; to lead with vision and courage; to meet and exceed your obligation to excellence. Your chapter needs you. This Fraternity needs you. And this country needs you, desperately.

I am honored to call each of you “Brother.” Good luck, God’s speed, and remember: there is no honor in mediocrity.  Honor can only be obtained through excellence.

Wells Ellenberg (Georgia) is a past Collegiate Grand Councilman and the 2012 Sigma Nu Man of the Year.

Stand Up for Sigma Nu in 2014

By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)

Dear Brothers,

It is with my most sincere feelings that this message finds you in good health, good spirits, and good cheer. For many, this time of year holds a special place in our hearts as a time of celebration, recognition, and reflection. We celebrate the ending of a year and the coming of another. We celebrate all that we have to be grateful for. Many of us celebrate the great moments of our faith, while a good number of others take part in other cherished cultural traditions. Perhaps most of all we celebrate the thought and firm belief that man is not forsaken and that we have only grazed the edge of our true potential in this great world. We celebrate our achievements, reflect on our losses and failures, and recognize that the start of a new year marks the start to a world of possibilities for us to reach what past Regent Joe Gilman described as Semper Ad Altum – Ever Higher.

With the year now behind us, it is also appropriate that we celebrate our great Legion of Honor. This great brotherhood has stretched across generations and continents and has not only lived another year but has thrived to push us into the start of another.

But we should always recognize that much is still to be done and accomplished.

As we celebrate 145 years of our great fraternity, we remain confronted with those who tear down the foundations of human decency and respect to replace them with malice. The cultural ill of hazing that plagues our society’s organizations and teams exists under the false premise that one should be subjugated to another. It is a premise that has been debated many times and defended out of ignorance. As members of an organization built upon the principle that men should no longer be beholden to the whims of children (for the perpetrators are far from anything else) it is our duty to lift the veil of ignorance and shine a light as bright as our beloved White Star on the damage and destruction that hazing causes.

Founders At The Rock_crop

Let us reflect on Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, specifically the foreboding warning that the Ghost of Christmas Present extends. He reveals a boy described as ignorance and a girl described as want. “Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Brothers, ignorance is our greatest foe in this new year. It is from ignorance in which the resolve of those who would disingenuously call themselves Knights of the Legion of Honor is fostered. They are our true traitor knights. They take our solemn oath to stand for our values of Love, Honor, and Truth but they do not embrace either in their hearts or minds. They speak of Love as they watch their candidates suffer torments and juvenile pranks in their distorted version of “pledging.” They speak of Honor as they disgrace the good name of gentleman by embodying their twisted and perverted idea of what manhood is. They become so focused on gaining fleeting recognition from humor websites that they forget why fraternity exists in the first place.  They speak of Truth as they dishonestly wear the letters that so many before them have given soul and spirit to preserve.

It is also in ignorance that we find our doubters and nay-sayers who demean the fraternal movement and view only the weaknesses of a few and cast a blind eye to the strengths of so many. They view a world without fraternities and sororities as one free from all the social ills they see, but they do not see how fraternities and sororities are the furnaces in which the steel of values, citizenship, leadership, ethics, and the lifelong ties of lasting and loving friendship are forged. But we have not washed our hands in this struggle, for those who have wronged our values have given the critics the stones to cast from their glass houses.

I challenge each and every member of our great and distinguished brotherhood to reflect this season and then stand.

Stand for Honor and live up to the worthiness of the oath you took upon your initiation and never cease to remind yourself of them.

Stand for Love in a world that has far too few examples of it and volunteer at a local community service organization to assist in erasing want. Stand for Truth and challenge those who would dishonestly wear the letters of Sigma Nu while they exemplify all that we do not stand for.

These actions do not require a great deal of effort. They only require that you do something.

So this holiday season, as we spend time with those who mean the most to us and indulge in those most precious of human emotions – happiness –let us not forget to be grateful for what we have. Let us cherish it and then work to preserve it.

It is unlikely we will ever reach a utopia, but if that remains our end destination then every year we shall come closer and closer. And a world closer to that destination today is better than yesterday.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season and I look forward to standing with you in 2014.