In the upcoming Hustle Space, we have a section called Teach or Take where we focus on a stagnant status quo and provide information to teach the status quo how to improve or show someone else how to take over from the status quo and do it all up on them. In this preview episode, we are going to talk about Black Greek Letter Organizations or BGLOs which are the black fraternities and sororities on college campuses and grad chapters. BGLOs have to accept the 21st century landscape they are in a competitive market and can no longer hold an artificial sense of elitism among the black college educated. We are in a multi-cultural world with an extremely diverse African Diaspora emerging as middle class and affluence that cannot be ignored. Education is now moving online and classrooms are becoming virtual meaning the student body is becoming virtual. The landscape has change meaning the operational model of a social organization has to change. And as a result of this article, BGLOs are going to have to recognize they will not be the only social organization game in town and can lose their coveted status if BGLOs do not remain competitive. Let’s get into this. Black Greek Letter Organizations The National Pan-Hellenic Council is a governing body of nine BGLO fraternities and sororities that been around from 50 to 100 years on college campus. These social organizations main operation model is recruiting a select group of people for intake into their fraternity and sorority and once these individuals become members, they are a permanent member of their social organizations and receive some benefits. These organizations reside mostly on college campuses as a registered student organization and operate on the non-profit model. Some of the BGLOs have alumni chapters residing outside of the college/university environment and perform duties more liking to a traditional non-profit social organization. BGLOs are considered a staple in the Black cultural foundation, meaning you going to see a lot of flaws black people want to shun any conversation/discussion instead of move towards betterment. Well, I guess me and my crew going to discuss the challenges so let’s get into the BGLO issues. Pledging. This is an intake ritual that is masked in physical and emotional torment under the guise of building tolerance and to take nothing from nobody except your social organization brothers or sisters. No one in the black community can justify the practice of pledging without sounding like a moron due to the level of violence and death associated with BGLOs hazing over the years. Also, there is no correlation that a person who “pledged hard” will contribute more to a social organization long-term. In fact, chapters that engaged in hazing/pledging contributed little or next to nothing to the overall social organization. Cannibalization. BGLO members are hit up hard for money such as paying dues, charging hundreds of dollars to attend a regional or national gathering. Members are spending serious money just to hand flash their BGLO sign and have that feeling of association. Members are also responsible for funding their own chapter operations with little down flow from headquarters. Now, this is the thing – most BGLOs would only seek uppity/Boule members to get at their money to lend to “brothers/sisters” or pay for local BGLO functions with the promise of getting their money back. So in case you wondering why BGLOs seeking out certain people looking/acting stuck up, well now you know. Non-Profit. By focusing on a non-profit model, BGLOs have demonstrated no incentive to grow, innovate and instead focus more on funding just enough so they can maintain their status. This leads to stagnation and the same events, same activities and same “traditions” year after year. Things like step show competitions go on year after year or some picnic or school hosted party where BGLOs can prance around in a line dance while onlookers watch drinking liquor and one BGLO fight another BGLO and you see a YouTube video of BGLOs fighting with black women screaming “Stop! Stop!” as they swinging chairs at each other. Elitist. The Divine 9 – you mean to tell me 100 years later, we only have 9 BGLOs? Seriously? And none of yall saw a problem with that? We supposed to have only 9 organizations in the Black cultural ecosphere and yall went right along with that, didn’t yall? And if you look at the news of any BGLO organization, the content is about some person who pledge their BGLO accomplished this or that in a bragging fashion when the accomplishment was due to the individual. Then we talking about a select few blacks on a campus chosen to be part of the elite clique and they walk around members of the elite clique that supposed to have all eyes on them. Intellectual Property. There are a lot of fake people pretending to part of a BGLO and there are a lot of cats who don’t pay dues still prancing around claiming they old school frat/soror and have no incentive to pay dues either. Then you got other cats printing up BGLO garments and selling them for personal profit and those selling are not even part of any BGLO. This is probably the biggest loss and if we add up the loss money to intellectual property theft and profiteering over the years, the numbers are staggering. And most of these BGLOs do not have a lot of money in the bank either. The Solution Traditional staples in the black community are the easiest to disrupt because of the stubborn prideful willingness to stick to old traditions instead of remain competitive with change. One of Dream and Hustle earlier articles was about Koreans selling fried catfish and shrimp fried rice in the hood while black-owned fried food joints still just want to offer fries or coleslaw and not change up their menu to compete with fried chicken and fried rice plates offered by the Koreans. Same story with BGLOs, you probably will not see BGLOs change anything but try to act like “they good” as black people always like to revert to like the Chicago House Music DJs when EDM is blowing up all over the place. So with that said, let’s talk the take strategy on how a smart brotha or sista on a college campus or a graduate can create their own social organizations. Believe it or not, there are a whole bunch of social organizations cropping up that are black women-orientated competing with sororities for dues and will eventually eclipse BGLO sororities in membership and influence. Also, the landscape is changing with online schools such as University of Phoenix and other online courses where the students are not on campus and cannot pledge – BGLOs have not developed the answer to this. But all of this is plenty of take opportunity for brothas and sistas with a $5/month GoDaddy account and let’s talk about how to do this. What you want to do if you looking to take the game from the BGLOs is first look at the BGLO metrics. The BGLOs have around 1,000 chapters and if you assume 12 members per chapter, that is about 12,000 active members and that is a high estimate. Your takeover target should be 20,000 active members and instead of chapters, focus on a hub-and-spoke strategy in metropolitan cities and college campuses. You are not going to have a Greek name, you are going to change up to something swaggy but long term effectiveness. But first here is what I want you brothas and sistas to do and that is create your founder story. Everybody need to have a good ass story how the organization was founded. Don’t say you founded the organization while on a Carnival Cruise ship waiting in line on those burgers they cook on the main deck. Say you founded the group from a vision you had where the spirits spoke to you and don’t admit you really was on that MDMA. Make up your story of how your organization was founded and take a self-portrait that can be hung on the wall for the next 100-200 years of yourself as the founder to worship. Make sure all your founders are black and that is all you need to say about being black with your organization, because everything else is going to be about that empire building, homey. Let’s talk solutions. Replace Pledging with Certification. Perform creative destruction on the whole concept of pledging where someone local is picking and choosing who join the organization. This also eliminate the whole hazing problem, cannot haze if there is no local pledging. Instead, intake have to study and take an online certification test on the organization, values, scenarios and concepts and have to buy the study material as intake from you. With certification, everybody knows that a person had to study and pass a test to get in. Even if one person buy the study material and share it with others, that is creating social interaction and good thing which is the point of collaboration. Encourage an atmosphere where people take a test to certify the same way they take the GMAT or LSAT. Once they are certified, they become members. Membership Management. Create a web site where intakes sign up online and members register themselves. This allow you to manage all active members and prevent cats from faking their membership with your organization. What you want to do is replace the secret handshake with a PVC card with an official hologram similar to your driver license and these can be bought off Alibaba and customized. Remove the concept of people pledging in college then be a non-due paying member for life by sending out a new membership card with an expiration date every year like they do with your medical insurance card. So when there are events and cats bragging they a member, they have to produce their card that has their photo id showing they are an active member. Centralized Account. All money that goes in and out of the organization goes only to HQ and not under the table. Intakes pay online for their dues and members pay online for their dues. If there is a social event by a chapter, the tickets are paid online and administered by HQ and approved by HQ. This prevent cats from taking money under the organization name and keep it to themselves. When cats need funds, the funds has to be line-itemed from HQ and HQ cut a check or wire to the local chapter bank account. A web site even on GoDaddy can manage all of this. Chapter in a Box. Make it easy to launch chapters as if you want to take the game from the BGLOs, you need to get 15,000 members and 1,000 chapters. Here is a hint – try to find out where the BGLOs have a list of chapters and record this locations as your targets – think like Wal-Mart in your location planning. To create a chapter, there need to be at least five certified members and they have to hold executive positions of the chapter. There has to be chapter related activities and the chapter kit tells the members what they have to do such as recruitment and marketing the chapter founding. When it is time to launch, make sure the chapter have a big launch party. Remember that a new chapter is an investment for new members paying dues to the organization and other value-add. Lease Office Space versus Fraternity House. There is absolutely no use for a BGLO house other than people to be accused of sexual assault and the house shut down and lawsuits. Instead, get a commercial office and establish the chapter as a place of business there members open up during the morning and lock up and they plan strategies and meetings. In addition, this is the place where the chapter can host civic events like an art auction and raise money or a wine sip with the civic members. If you didn’t realize, your organization will have more class and status than a BGLO so you can raise more money than them and take sponsor money from them. You don’t have to guess the outcome if a sponsor have to choose if their money go to a BGLO chapter in fraternity house versus your chapter in a commercial office space, do you? Operate For-Profit Events for Non-Profit. Do not do step shows – let the BGLOs have their step show competitions and trophies and prizes. You have your members setup EDM festivals and instead of step show, have a dance competition with renowned competition dance teams, do x-games events with skateboards and bikes and soapbox derby with sponsors and do all the things that brings in a big revenue haul. At the HQ, gather intelligence on what events to have at a local chapter and strategize such as having the soap box derby at a big college town or the EDM at a big college town for profit maximization. Establish or Support Benefit Organizations. Have your members help create a fit club on the local college campus and be the leaders to teach others how to manage their own fit club. Have your members go out and raise money for the 3-day walk. Here is the trick and thing – the HQ have a list of these accomplishments that they make a virtual resume on the member web site profile. So someone look up a member profile and see they started a fit club, they participated in Junior Achievement and this profile can be printed out and brought to a professional job interview. Yeah, your organization is developing leaders with a social benefit resume they can print and reference – none of the BGLOs got that feature, do they? Merchandising. Make sure you control 100% of your merchandising like a sports team or Disney. You can create hologram labels and you license only a few manufacturers to print logo items. Members need to know that money goes back into the organization and do not buy bootlegs and help the HQ sue anybody trying to bootleg and clamp down on your intellectual property. Besides, don’t you think that would be tight if all your members wore only licensed products of your organization with the hologram tag? Teach or Take BGLOs are focused on being elitists and talking about themselves and how special they are towards other black people and who is an alumni of their organization. BGLOs goals are to try to seek out potential elite blacks to make part of their organization to give them the support to be a member of a traditional organization. However, we live in the zero-sum 21st century and nothing is safe from the taking and that includes BGLOs. Brothas and sistas should probably take advantage of the changing educational landscape to take the game from BGLOs if BGLOs are not willing to change their operation model. For example, more and more black students are choosing online education options like University of Phoenix and they may want to belong to an organization. By having a certification option, this allow a new source of members who can join that are not attending traditional schooling to engage in civic activities and a hub to meet with others. Also instead of cannibalizing members like BGLOs due with convention fees, your organization focus on enterprise activities and social activities to create social capital where members are rewarded with invites to special events and they get funding to host parties and events. Now after all that you read let me ask some questions. What will your organization teach students when they take certification instead of pledging? You teach these students they are accepted based on their merits and not who they know or who likes/approve of them. What will your organization teach students when they open up and close down the commercial office space they operate in? It teaches them how to operate their own business and shop or organization. What will your organization teach students who organize EDM festivals, film festivals, dance competitions? It teaches them non-traditional ways to generate income versus having a steady job. And what will your organization teach students who establish a fit club, volunteer in Junior Achievement or launch a toy drive for children in the hospital? You teach these students how to develop social capital and doing good in this world. So, you can let the BGLOs keep prancing around at the student dance party before they eventually start swinging and punching each other and swinging chairs and fighting and black women screaming “Stop! Stop!” and it’s all on YouTube and nothing change if the BGLO refuse to change keep saying who famous is a member of their BGLO or you can take the game and transform the whole setup using technology to recruit members, get them paying dues and staying active and raise money that can be used for social good and become a cash-rich organization that keep expanding globally. This is the 21st century, it shouldn’t be hard to create an alternative to BGLOs if there need to be one.