What If…???

Mischief.  Mayhem.  Soap.

Almost every awesome, stupid, amazing, unbelievable, unforgettable, or ______ idea that has ever been created started with these two words:


What if I decided to fly a kite in the middle of a thunderstorm?

What if I sailed west to get to India?

What if we drafted Jamarcus Russell with the #1 pick?

What if we could put a man on the moon?

Ok, so maybe these moments of what-if-wonder don’t always turn out to be a success.  But as one of my favorite sayings goes “Fail. Fail again. Fail better.”  Greatness then can be seen as a progression that might look something like this:

1) A huge ‘what if’ dream

2) A nearly equally huge failure

3) A refined, more educated dream

4) A more measurable failure

and on the cycle goes…

I’m here today to offer you some WHAT IFs for the future of Chi Psi.  In the comments below I ask that you respond by listing one idea you love and one I idea you hate.  And, hey, if you’ve got a big ‘what if’ idea of your own then feel free to list that too!!


We founded 12 new Alphas before the 2020 Convention?  That’s a rate of about one new Alpha every semester starting in the fall of 2014 allowing for some lead time & prep.  Since 1925 Chi Psi has founded 12 new Alphas TOTAL.  That’s a rate of one every seven years.  In order for the fraternity to remain a prosperous and dynamic organization, I believe that we need to constantly introduce new Alphas.  This will create competition and increase pressure on under-performing Alphas.


We had a Chi Psi Cruise Convention?  That’s right!!  What could be a better tribute to our nautical roots than to host a convention on a cruise ship?  Think about it.  We could have the entire boat to ourselves.  During the day we could host the Spencer Institute sessions in the various theaters/comedy clubs on board and then at night we could use the fine dining facilities.  Not to mention the other added features like the karaoke bar, the casino, and the pools.


there was a Chi Psi BCS formula?  Well, maybe not a BCS formula (because who likes that stupid system anyway) but what if there was a more objective way to evaluate our Alphas?  Better yet, what if there was a completely transparent set of expectations for our Alphas?  In theory, they could be given a set of standards at the beginning of each school year and then know exactly what they need to do to achieve at Chi Psi’s highest level.  Every year at Convention a ‘standards committee’ could tweak the standards to make sure they’re reflecting the realities of collegiate life.  The award system would be revolutionized.


We started preparing for Chi Psi to be a society of extraordinary men, rather than a collegiate fraternity?  Hang in there for a second, I’ll explain.

As of now, there is a very limited window through which a person may enter our Brotherhood.  If we don’t catch someone as an undergraduate collegian, the probability that they will NEVER join Chi Psi is extremely high.  What if we stopped thinking about Chi Psi as an organization with college/university ties and instead focused on recruiting the most elite leaders of the business, political, arts, sports, culinary, and science worlds.  As soon as someone is recognized as an individual with high potential they can be recruited.  Who cares if their the 7-year-old son of a powerful political family or the 63-year-old founder of a revolutionary technological business; if they’re exceptional then we pursue them for our society.


there was an alumni Alpha Visitor?  In the long run, the key to successful Alphas is a strong alumni advising structure.  Considering that Alphas have an undergraduate turnover rate of less than 5 years, there is a high probability that your Alpha is bleeding organizational knowledge.  What if we ramped up our alumni advising with the thought that great alumni advisors can facilitate 10+ years of high Alpha achievement.  That sounds much better than flash-in-the-pan Alphas that ride a roller coaster of ups and downs.  Oh, and did I mention, (whisper voice)  the alumni are the ones with the money to make big things happen for Chi Psi.

Call me crazy.  Just don’t call me late for dinner.  These are just some of my big ‘what if’ ideas.  I’d love to hear yours.  Better yet, I’d love to discuss your ideas in person next week at Convention.


3 responses to “What If…???

  1. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to aggressively expand our number of Alphas, if for this reason alone: “Wait, you’re in which fraternity? Hmm…haven’t heard of it.”
    Every single American in college has heard of KA, Sigma Chi, SAE, Sig Ep. Almost everyone has heard of DKE, TKE, ATO, DTD, Phi Psi, Phi Delt, Phi Kap, Kappa Sig, Sigma Nu, Lambda Chi, Pike, FIJI – get the point? We’re not on that list. Why? Unlike those other fraternities, we don’t have a large number of Alphas. Our brand just isn’t out there.
    Now, I should be clear that I don’t think we should become like some fraternities and have chapters at every little old college, community college, and beauty school. We need to be present only at quality schools.
    But imagine if we had twice as many Alphas; imagine if twice as many (or many times more, actually) people had an older brother at college who pledged Chi Psi, or an older sister who dated one and thought he was a pretty good guy. Imagine if we had twice as many alumni out there serving as valuble connections or business leaders (the grip would get us a lot further). Imagine if twice as many freshmen men talking to their parents about rush mentioned Chi Psi and heard “oh, your uncle Mort was a Chi Psi!” Or, imagine if we absolutely saturated a market? By which I mean: what if we had strong Alphas at every single good school in, say, Virginia? Our reputation in that area would be great – recruitment would be easier for every Alpha in the area based on word of mouth alone.
    Great idea and post, Jon! I’d love to see the day when we have strong Alphas at, say, Davidson, Dartmouth, William & Mary, U of Richmond, JMU, Vanderbilt, UK, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Texas, Rhodes College, Arkansas, Florida, TCU, Case Western, and Gettsyburg (for a start).

  2. What if I leveraged this thought provoking article and subsequent serendipitous glance of a fellow Chi Psi who happened to read the attached comments, in hopes of recruiting a brother or two who may have a particular skill set that would allow us to further pursue this idea, which has been in play for a while, but has yet to hit its full stride among the throng? The idea is cementing the practice of ride sharing, cab sharing and “socially driven commuter systems” into the fabric of every day life. Cabcorner.com was founded a few years ago by two Chi Psis (Alpha Alpha ’00, ’02) and we are seemingly at an impasse with regards to generating the critical mass necessary to make this thing a self perpetuating practice. If you are that brother or know a brother who might be interested in learning more about our BIG IDEA, I encourage you to get in touch with me (jon@cabcorner.com). Here’s to making What Ifs, What’s Next.


    Jonathan McKinney

  3. If you ever want an alumni visitor, I’m interested. If you ever put the convention on a cruise, I’m interested. If you ever take Chi Psi to that next level, I’m interested. This What If sounds like a Five Year Plan that needs to have the ball rolling. What If we recolonized the Alphas that went dormant in the past 5 years all by 2014?


    Michael Zubick

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