By Nick Loree, Ohio #668ALA 2013 Secretary
This year marks the 10th biennial Darold W. Larson Acacia Leadership Academy, and I have been given the honor of helping to report all the progress and brotherhood going on in Bloomington, Indiana during this beautiful August weekend. On Wednesday morning, close to 100 of the top leaders in their respective chapters came together under one roof for ALA, and with that many Acacians in one place it's bound to be a good time. But not too much fun -- most of our time is dedicated to advancing our skills as leaders and strengthening the ties of our brotherhood on an international level. In this installment in my blog series, I’ll be recapping our arrival on Wednesday as well as the first two days of activities.
An Acacia event of this magnitude requires executive officers to maintain order, even if the term of office is only four days. So, the first business of the event was to elect ALA officers. Brave men had to stand before a whole room of Venerable Deans and other chapter leaders and tell them what makes them the best candidate for the position. Following elections, we met a pledge of the Michigan Colony who has the tremendous honor of being initiated at ALA in a room full of renowned alumni and active Acacians from across the country.
Speaking of renowned Acacians, on our first night we heard from International Council President Robert Roberson who gave us several insights about our fraternity on an international scale. An upswing in membership and financial strength highlighted his report, and Brother Roberson helped to convey how the fraternity operates on an international scale to the many young members unfamiliar with fraternity operations outside the confines of their local chapters. Then it was off to bed. If you’ve never been to the Indiana Chapter house, you have to visit and see the sleeping arrangement -- there’s about 100 beds in one huge room, so there's no avoiding all the darn snorers.
7:30 am came bright and early, and after scarfing down some bagels it was right back to ALA activities. The day was full of presentations and was led off by a guest speaker Tom Healy, an expert on fraternity operations and recruitment processes and an alum of Ohio University. As an OU man myself, I have to pause for a moment to say “Go Cats!” Tom spoke about how to get high quality men into our fraternity. Sitting in the chapter house of the inactive Indiana Chapter, high quality membership has never been a more important topic. He taught us about cost/benefit analysis, great members, values, and the importance of having a sense of purpose. If you stop the knuckleheads at the door, you don’t have to deal with them when they start trying to tear down all we stand for. Thus the main goal should be trying to get guys who are going to help take us higher, not bring us down.
In addition to Tom Healy, we heard from many other esteemed Acacians whose accolades could take up my entire blog post. Assistant Executive Director Patrick McGovern talked to us about risk management in the light of the disciplinary issues in his home Indiana Chapter. Also many of the guys here were introduced to the Cornerstones membership development program by Director of Communications Michael Pastko, an alumnus of the Purdue Chapter. The Cornerstones program is an innovative way to instill Acacia values and help current members reach their goals and aspirations. Leadership Consultant Nick Montanari, a re-founding father of the Washington State Chapter then discussed methods of recruiting new guys and being comfortable discussing recruitment with potential members. His techniques will hopefully help our chapters bring in productive guys ready to make the 4-year and lifetime commitment of fraternity life.
Later in the evening, International Council Second Vice President Jeremy Davis of the Iowa State Chapter and First Vice President Scott Meyer of the St. Cloud State Chapter instructed us in the art of networking. They described the importance of confidence and understanding when communicating with others. Brothers Davis and Meyer also gave each ALA attendee a copy of Dale Carnegie's classic book, How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Thursday also marked the start of the Acacia Olympics which pits four teams of Acacians against each other in sport. The Acacian Nation (my team) whooped some butt in basketball and darts, so we’ll see how the week goes, but I don’t plan on losing. Finally, we thank the cook staff here for some delicious meals and just a little bit of indigestion. Gotta take the bad with the good, though. We are all really excited about this week, especially with paintball wars coming in the morning. In the Acacia Spirit, we plan on having a darn good time.