In 2008 Malcolm Gladwell released a book called ‘Outliers’ in which he sought to uncover the hidden truths about success. He explored the stories of Bill Gates, The Beatles, and professional hockey players to reveal that achievement is a product of timing, unseen advantages, and a little luck. In the end, the reader is left to think that no great success story happens overnight but, rather, that every moment, experience, and relationship is a single rain drop in the perfect storm of life.
In honor of the 2011 Thanksgiving blog series, I’d like to recount my Chi Psi story and give thanks to the Brothers and experiences that led me to being here today. If any of the following details plays-out differently, there’s a good chance that I’m not here with you today. This is the perfect storm of my life. Grab your umbrellas, and lets go.
On May 9, 2009 I graduated from Miami University, signalling the end of my undergraduate years as a Chi Psi. Who would have thought that the first step on my Chi Psi path could have started nearly a decade earlier in the summer of 1999.
The first time I met Brad Bachman (Rho Delta `08) was in August of 1999. We were both on the Dublin Grizzell Middle School golf team together, me as a 7th grader and Brad as an 8th grader. In the previous few seasons under coach Jim Hull, the golf team had amassed a record of 200+ wins and less than 10 losses. The 1999 squad inherited those dynasty-like expectations but were quickly humbled with an early season loss. Or was it? Due to a scoring error, we had been defeated by one stroke. This was inconceivable to Brad, and he took to reviewing every scorecard. He found that one of our players had added his card wrong, and in reality we should have tied. Brad talked to our coach and our opponents’ coach and tried to convince them that it should have been a tie. To this day, I’m still not sure if that match went in the books as a win, tie, or loss. I did learn two things, though. 1) Brad can be pretty persuasive when he wants to be. 2) Brad doesn’t take well to losing. In the 12+ years I have known him, those themes continue to hold true.
Fast forward to the fall of 2003. I am playing a lot of golf with high school buddies Colin Wilkerson and Keith Botti. One weekend I end up hanging out with them and a third person that they know from the baseball team. His name is Mike Kula (Rho Delta `09). From that point on, Mike and I become increasingly good friends.
In the Fall of 2004, I am trying to decide where I want to go to college. On a suggestion from Brad I visit Miami University and spend a weekend with him. Miami moves to the top of my list.
In the spring of 2005 I get accepted to and decide to attend Miami University. In order to pursue further baseball endeavors, Mike enrolls at Georgetown College in Lexington, KY, which is about 3 hours south of Oxford, OH.
In November of 2005 I get a call from Brad Bachman. He is involved with this upstart fraternity on Miami’s campus. It is called Chi Psi. He promises me that it was different. I attend a recruitment event.
In December of 2005, I get a call from Mike Kula. He is transferring to Miami.
In January of 2006, on a tip from a friends’ mom, Mike decides he is going to rush a couple fraternities. He asks me if I want to join him. I never thought I would be in a fraternity, but sure, I’ll humor him. We both get bids to Chi Psi. Brad spoke up on our behalf at a bid meeting. He went to high school with us and persuaded the group to give us a chance. After a week of deliberation, we accept.
Spring 2006- I meet Alpha Visitor Kyle Moen. I take a liking to him.
24 March 2006- I am initiated into the Bonds of Chi Psi with Mike Kula, Chris Heiden, and Nick Grimm.
Fall 2006- With Brad as recruitment chairman, I get involved as a ‘recruitment team leader’. Although I am elected #3, recruitment is where I devote most of my time.
Spring 2007- At a PSD, I tell the group “After I graduate I want to be an Alpha Visitor for Chi Psi. I want to travel the country and work with Chi Psis, just like Kyle Moen.”
Fall 2007- I am elected recruitment chairman. This means I get to go to Convention. I read the Good Guys book by Josh Orendi and Matt Mattson.
January 2008- I realize that we are good at recruitment when we talk about recruitment. I make it a point to spend 10 minutes at every weekly meeting talking about recruitment. Everyone hates my guts and wants those 10 minutes of their life back.
August 2008- I drive to convention in Ithaca, NY with Brad. Alpha Rho Delta wins the Founders’ Trophy. I learn about this thing called ‘Stuff the Bus’. I meet Josh Orendi, go insane over recruitment, and ask him approximately 792 questions in the following hours, weeks, and months.
Fall 2008- I return to Oxford on a rampage. The Rho Delta names list grew to 200+ men. The owner of Oxford Lanes bowling alley offers to let us use his bus for ‘Stuff the Bus.’ Brad, Tommy Jeffcott, and I lobby for this event to occur. The rest of the EC is skeptical. We plan it anyway and threaten to do it without Chi Psi. “Jon, Brad, and Tommy present Stuff the Bus”. The EC gives in. STB works.
January 2009- Rho Delta secures a 17-man pledge class, exceeding our previous high of 9. Chris Heiden, then #1, gives me a knowing handshake and admits that my oft-doubted plan actually worked.
April 2009- I interview to become an Alpha Visitor and am offered the job.
Juny 1, 2009- I move to Nashville.
August 16, 2009- I leave Nashville with my car packed. I embark on a 14-week, three thousand mile journey.
The rest, as they say, is history. And to think, if I never met Brad Bachman in 7th grade… and if Mike Kula never transferred to Miami… and if Kyle Moen decided to take less of an interest…. maybe none of this would have ever happened. I guess it’s been a perfect storm. And I’m just dancing in the rain.
(Happy early birthday to Brad, who turns 26 on November 24th- Thanksgiving Day)