There is No Perfect Pickle

If you are reading this post, don’t worry, I haven’t gone crazy and converted my blog into a a resource for enthusiasts of brined vegetables. I recently revisited one of my favorite TED Talks in which Malcolm Gladwell recounts the various accomplishments of Howard Moskowitz. If you have 17 minutes to spare, I highly recommend watching this talk.

If you don’t have the time, let me give you a very brief synopsis. Howard Moskowitz is an experimental psychologist credited with introducing the world to variety in food products including spaghetti sauce, soft drinks, coffee, and pickles. Moskowitz’s true breakthrough was realizing that there is often no perfect product to suit every individual consumer’s taste. Before his work, companies would conduct endless focus group experiments in an effort to perfect their recipe. What they did not realize is that “perfect” is in the tongue of the consumer, and everyone has a different ideal of palatable perfection.

Take pickles for example. Pickles come in a variety of styles (kosher, zesty, sweet, sour, garlic, bread & butter) and shapes (whole, half, spears, baby, sandwich slices, and chips). There are dozens of possible combination to fit the individual consumer’s taste. For me, kosher dill spears are the only way to go, but you may hate kosher spears, and that’s just fine.

Moskowitz argues that there is no perfect pickle, only perfect pickles. It is by offering a diverse selection of pickles that nearly all consumers find an ideal product.

The point is this, one single fraternity or sorority chapter can’t be everything to everyone; it takes an entire fraternity or sorority community to suit the needs of a complex student body. There is no perfect chapter, only perfect chapters.

Often times as a fraternity and sorority community, our chapters strive to become the “perfect” chapter. These chapters tend to be in constant competition with one another to become the “best” chapter on campus. However, the reality is that they are entirely reliant on these other chapters for their own success. These competing chapters offer variety and diverse experiences to prospective members. Because of this variety, our community becomes a place where nearly everyone can feel welcome, and find a chapter to call their own.

Sure, there are some chapters that are seemingly identical (like kosher spears and kosher halves), but there is still enough of a difference for the consumer (potential member) to choose their preference. By recognizing the value of this diversity within our fraternity or sorority community, we can truly appreciate the positive influence our individual chapters have on the fraternal movement at our respective campuses.

Remember, regardless of the shape, size, texture or taste, some people just don’t like pickles. No matter how many different chapters are in your community and how diverse they may be, fraternity and sorority life might just not be right for them. But if all your campus has to offer is zesty sliced pickles, can you really expect to grow as a fraternity or sorority community?

So dare to be different, find your niche, appeal to the overlooked men and women on your campus. As Malcolm Gladwell closed his presentation, so too shall I end this post, “In embracing the diversity of human beings, we will find a sure way to true happiness.”

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Greek Tech – The Google Monster (Part One)

I am continually amazed by the services Google has to offer, and the fact that they are all free. Granted, it’s only a matter of time until Google takes over the world, but I, for one, welcome our Google overlords. If your chapter isn’t utilizing the Google monster to it’s full potential, perhaps I can help you comprehend the awesome power these services can provide for your chapter.

Here’s how old I am; I actually remember applying to be put on the waiting list for a “Google Mail” account, and sending out invites to my friends once I actually got my account. Clearly, Gmail has come a long way since then, and now anyone and everyone has the ability to use this service. So how can this help your chapter?

If you don’t already have e-mail established through your own domain, sign the chapter up for a Gmail account. Something like “” or “” should work. Use these e-mail addresses on recruitment publications, letters sent home to family members, and the contact page of your website. This will afford you a greater sense of professionalism than a hodgepodge of personal e-mail address. Assign one member of the chapter to read through the chapter e-mails everyday, and forward them to the appropriate individuals.

Members can then choose to respond to these e-mail through their personal e-mail account, or they can reply from your chapter account. To do the later, go to you Gmail settings, select “Accounts and Import”, then play around with the “Send mail as” option. Sometimes a personal reply is needed, but the option to remain anonymous is nice.

This method of a standard Gmail account can work for specific events as well. Does your chapter host a huge powderpuff football tournament every year? Then set up “”, and use this account to correspond with all the team captains.

Aside from making your chapter look a little more professional, a standard Gmail account can be passed on from year to year. Your alumni, advisors, College/University administrators, friends, families, and your interfraternal partners will always know how to get in contact with the chapter, regardless of who currently hods the leadership positions. Also, it helps to protect your leaders. Putting all of your personal e-mail addresses on your chapter website is a great way for the internet robots to harvest your e-mail address and spam away.

Is your chapter looking for an easy way to put a real-time calendar of chapter events on your website? Do you want to have a separate public calendar and members-only calendar? Then Google Calendar has you covered.

The beauty of Google Calendar, and many other Google Apps, is that you can control who has access to view, edit, and invite others to contribute. So all it will take is one chapter member to start the process, and you can pass on your calendar from year to year.

It’s my recommendation that you set up one calendar for public events, and another for chapter events. Then, on your chapter website, you can easily embed the public calendar. To keep your members-only calendar separate, you can either utilize the members-only section of your website, or grant every chapter member access to view the chapter calendar. Even if your chapter members do not have a Google account, they will still be able to see these calendars.

Once you’ve added all of your chapter’s events on your calendar(s), it’s time to share it with the world. Google Calendar will generate the HTML code you need to embed a beautiful, interactive calendar on your website. Once you embed the calendar on your website, it will automatically update anytime you add a new event. In addition, any visitor to your site can simply click the “copy to my calendar” button and directly import any event to their own personal Google Calendar.

Google Calendar gives your chapter the ability to improve communication both internally and externally. Think how great it would be to not to have to answer 30 texts, emails, and facebook messages before every meeting or event confirming time and location.

That’s all for part one of the Google monster. I started with the obvious ones this time. Look forward to the next part where I take on Google Docs; this service is so amazingly useful and expansive that it get’s it’s own post.

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