Thursday, December 18, 2014

When does the six o'clock news start?

The other day, "Dad" Dave Berry, Executive Secretary of PA DeMolay, was waiting for a ride to an event. The ride was several minutes late and "Dad" Berry was becoming impatient. He remarked to me about how it seems that people are getting worse and worse at arriving to places on time or meeting deadlines.

It's a trend that I've personally witnessed in both my professional and Masonic careers. In general, people have become more lackadaisical about arriving to appointments on time or meeting deadlines assigned to them. No longer is "early the same as on time." Rather, you're lucky if people arrive when they say they will - and more often than not, you settle for people being up to fifteen minutes late. Deadlines are hardly that any more, as having materials turned in within a day or two of a due date has become acceptable. It's a sad state of affairs.When I worked at Games Workshop, I picked up a story that applies to this issue perfectly.

A college Broadcast Communications Class was having a final exam, wherein they had to produce a full, half hour television news program. The show was to begin at 6 PM, sharp, and include all of the items that a normal news show contains. The class did an amazing job - the news was timely, with sharp writing; the weather was clear and concise; the interest stories were moving and well planned. The class thought they had aced the final. Sadly, they were mistaken, as each and every one of them received a failing grade. Outraged, they went after the professor asking him why they failed and demanded an explanation. The professor asked them what time the program was supposed to start. One student responded 6 PM. The professor played back the recording of the program, pointing to the timer in the lower, right hand corner of the screen. He asked the class what time was shown. A student responded "6:03:25."

"... and that's why you failed. The six o'clock news doesn't start at 6:03. No matter how good your program is, if you can't start it on time, then no one will watch it."

Consistent, well regulated time management skills are the most important thing a young person can learn today. If you can master managing your own time, you'll already be leaps and bounds ahead of those around you.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Power of What If

Today's post comes from frequent contributor "Dad" Matt Blaisdell. Enjoy!

What if DeMolay had more public ceremonies to present in schools to cover a larger membership growth target? That's a question which is drawn from Human Centered Design & Research.

Human Centered design is a creative approach to problem solving which starts with people and ends with innovative solutions tailored to meet the needs of your target market. It is used a lot with interactive solutions such as a Kiosk in the mall or the ATM at the bank down the street, but have you ever considered the Human Centered Design for DeMolay? 

Everything from the phone you have in your pocket to the stores you go to first at the mall has been designed, based on needs, goals and target markets (who we want to gain interest from.) The same goes for DeMolay and our internal interactions, such as our International Congress, our DeMolay & More Store, our Chapters and even the functions and purpose of our meetings. When DeMolay was first being designed, "Dad" Land had a goal and need in mind for an intended target market. He asked questions (internally or through feedback) about what works and what doesn't and tried new things - because progress doesn't happen when you spin your wheels in the mud.

Over 95 years of idea incubation, creation, collaboration and visualization for DeMolay has brought us to where we are today - a revised edition to our Ritual, updated forms which adhere to the needs of our leaders, our DeMolay presentations, and have you seen the old DeMolay shirts and clothing that were for sale? Most wouldn't be caught wearing something like that today, right? That's a lot of successful progress, which would not have happened if somebody didn't ask why and try something new for the sake of innovation.

This is where Human Centered Design comes into play in regards to DeMolay and what we do as members, as advisors and as people who want to see it succeed...

The 15th edition of our ritual was created because...

Someone asked a question why we're doing something this way...

Some of the words used were dated.
The grammar wasn't consistent.
Our open ceremonies weren't as easy to access, as members, in comparison to our closed ceremonies.

Our submission forms have been updated because...

Someone asked a question why we're doing something this way...

Technology has allowed for a larger availability for internal access.
Changes in information requirements and content

Our membership presentations have been updated because...

Someone asked a question why we're doing something this way...

The target market has changed and updated their interests.
New technologies allow for new styles of presentations.
Interests are diverse and widely spread across a lot of areas.

Our apparel designs on the DeMolay & More Store updated because...

Someone asked a question why we're doing something this way...

Stock has run out of specific product, which is traditional.
New technologies emerge, allowing for new design styles.
Internal research happens, which shows which type of product sells and what doesn't.

I'm a huge proponent for innovation and questioning established mannerisms in any way of life. The key in Human Centered Design is to ask why we do things and how we can do it better when it comes to interactions.

On a local note, why do we do the things we do in our Chapters, State or International. Who's goals and needs are in mind? Like I mentioned above, a lot has happened in 95 years. Tons of changes, tons of adaptations (both good and bad), tons of rerouting directions based on needs and goals. 

DeMolay can go two ways in the next 95 years

1) Continue to build upon the established and accept what has been given to you. Do it because "it's the way it always should be."

2) Ask why, what the needs and goals are and where will DeMolay be in 95 years.

To create innovation through DeMolay, you should rethink it from the users (members of tomorrow) point of view, setting aside established functionality for general idea generation (playing the what if game)

4  Step List of Human Centered Design Innovation

1) Determine the needs & goals of your targeted market and members of tomorrow.
2) Share ideas and collaborate. Nothing can be solved by a single person, so collaboration is key in innovative success to determine different idea perspectives.
3) Visualize your ideas. Visualizing helps to understanding problems, communicate new ideas and identify new opportunities. Think of lots of ideas. Some too crazy too work and some too crazy to try. Hold on to the good and toss out the bad, but the main concept is to      develop new ideas that haven't been thought of before.
4) Interact with your idea. Try your ideas and test them to see what works and what doesn't. That might mean get together with some Chapter members and mock up a new prospect party presentation style or get feedback from a new brochure design.

The purpose of this article isn't to call out what doesn't work in DeMolay Chapters and organization as a whole, but to encourage members to consider the needs and wants of the members of tomorrow, in order to progressively work towards the next 95 years of success in DeMolay. Think and share ideas with your brothers and advisors and play the "What If..." game. 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad, Double Letter Foul

The first time I encountered the term "double letter foul" was from "Dad" Brent Richards. He was explaining the proper wearing of DeMolay regalia when he told us not to "double letter." Confused, I asked him what he meant by this. He explained that in the collegiate Greek fraternity system, it was considered bad form to wear more than one garment or piece of jewelry proclaiming your fraternity allegiance at one in the same time. If you were wearing your fraternity hat, you didn't also need to wear a fraternity sweatshirt. It was a simple, unwritten rule to keep people from going over the top.

In DeMolay, there are several ways to commit a double letter foul. For instance, if you are wearing your Chevalier cords, then you shouldn't also be wearing a Chevalier pin. Likewise, if you are wearing a Blue Honor Key, you shouldn't also wear your Founder's Membership Award. By displaying former, we already know that you have earned the latter.

I often see this happen with the multiple wearing of lapel pins and honors. Remember the old rule - one of each! You should wear no more than one honor or award around your neck, on your lapel, on your pocket, and on your hand. Also, as much as possible, they should all be for different things.

As an example, the wearing of an RD Medallion, a PMC Jewel, a Number One pin, and a Chevalier Ring is a perfect way to show that you have earned many awards and honors in DeMolay without going overboard. However, wearing your RD Medallion, Chevalier Cords, PMC Jewel, PMC-MSA, RD Lapel Pin, Chevalier Tie Tack, and Chevalier Ring is extreme and very overboard.

Whenever you are representing DeMolay in public, remember to wear only one DeMolay piece of clothing at a time. If you are wearing that awesome new shirt your Chapter just had created, you don't also need DeMolay shorts and a DeMolay hat. People will notice your shirt and ask you about it. They won't be any more inclined to ask you if you wear three more additional versions of the same logo. If they are interested, they'll ask. If not, they won't.

This issue isn't just limited to DeMolay! I see members of the Masonic Fraternity double lettering all of the time! More people than you may realize notice choices such as these and make judgments about the wearer without even knowing. It's always better to be safe and wear your affiliation in moderation. Be proud of what you have earned, but don't overdo it!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony


Monday, December 8, 2014

Suit Up - but in what color?

Today's post comes from "Dad" Dan Loughin, Assistant Director of the KeyMan Conference. His post is in response to my post of last Thursday. Enjoy! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

In a recent blog post, “Dad” Anthony had mentioned that “most men only own one suit – a black one.”  At first, I simply chuckled.  The reason is that not only do I own more than one suit, since I have to wear one every day for work, not one of them is black.  I must not be like most men (and, honestly, if any of you have had the pleasure of meeting me, you’d agree wholeheartedly).

This also got me on this train of thought: why?  Why is it that men will stick with a black suit?  There are a few possibilities, but nothing stands out more than this answer: comfort and safety.  Most men stick with black because that’s what they are used to, and that’s what they believe most other men will do, so they stick with black because they know it’s safe.  I’m here to change your minds with two words: go Navy (and, no, I’m not talking about the college football team).

To understand why I’m suggesting Navy, you need to know what the colors actually mean.  Black is traditionally associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.  With black, if everyone is wearing it, you lose the power, negated by everyone wearing it.  Tuxedos are black because of the elegance and formality, but we’re talking about a normal suit here.  There’s also a reason why people wear black at funerals.  And with the psychological effect of black, why would you want to portray death, evil, and mystery to those outside of DeMolay?  Blue, which is where Navy falls, on the other hand, is traditionally associated with trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.  I can attest to this fact.  After I started wearing a Navy suit to work (I’m work in sales), I started producing at a higher rate for the simple fact that people trusted what I was saying.  I don’t sell anything that people don’t want or need, but I still have to convince them as to WHY it’s a good idea to purchase.  And blue goes a long way in building that initial trust. (Disclaimer, however: just because blue builds the initial trust, you can easily ruin it with your words and actions, so please be mindful about how you speak and act.)

Another reason I’m suggesting Navy is for coordination and matching.  Black is far more inflexible than Navy.  Navy is also a softer color than black.  Let me put it this way: “Dad” Anthony mentioned that black suits only work with black shoes.  Navy, on the other hand, can handle both brown and black.  And while you’re limited in the same fashion with shirt color, striped shirts look better with a Navy suit (in fact, I only wear striped shirts with my Navy suit, and no other).  Also, because of the strength of black, you have to be careful what color tie you wear with your black suit, because you could send the wrong message unintentionally.  And the Navy and yellow DeMolay bow tie that is so popular now isn’t as over the top with a navy suit.

Finally, and possibly most important, is that you stand out.  Remember the comments that most men buy a black suit?  If you don’t wear one, you immediately stand out.  Now, while you’re young, you may be shy and want to stick to the background.  Which is fine, but when you become an adult, you’re going to want to stick out in some fashion to get what you want.  Want to get the job?  You’ll be thought of the guy that didn’t wear black, and being thought of AT ALL in the interview process is positive.  Want to impress your crush?  Navy.  You’ll stand out and catch their eye.  Even better, when you’re on your date, no one will confuse you with the wait staff at dinner.

Wrapping up here, I’ll just leave you with some pearls of wisdom.  No matter what anyone says, a suit does not make the man.  A suit is not a costume to make you appear more of a gentleman; you need to act as such all the time.  Same stuff written above applies to charcoal.  Don’t eat yellow snow (I’m just seeing if you’re paying attention).  Only wear your suit when appropriate (i.e.: don’t wear it to the gym). 

Until next time, stay classy! ~ "Dad" Loughin

P.S. - If you are ASKED to wear a black suit by the host or director of an event, you better make sure you wear black.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Value of a Good Pair of Shoes

Shoes are an expensive accessory in the wardrobe of any professional (and any DeMolay.) While it may seem like a good idea to go out and buy a cheap pair of dress shoes at PayLess or a department store, odds are, in the long run, you'll end up spending more. Why? Because those cheap shoes will last a few months and you'll be buying another pair again quickly. However, if you had spent a little more at the beginning, you could have purchased a quality pair of leather shoes that will last much longer. Plus, when they need to be replaced, you can often get them repaired for a fraction of the cost.

First of all, if you're buying dress shoes, you'll want them in one of two colors - brown or black. Brown goes with nearly every color of suit (except black), but most men only own one suit - a black one. So, know what suits you most often wear before choosing a shoe color. Once you know what color to get, you start to browse for shoes themselves. There are a ton of different styles and options, but I always advise to go with the most traditional and modest option because you want to get the most use out of your purchase (and weird styles are hard to match.)

When looking at shoes, look the following things (thanks to for these tips.) -
  • Your shoes should be made of real leather and have leather soles as well. (If you buy quality leather shoes, they can be refurbished a number of times and will last forever, which is ultimately going to be less expensive than having to replace  poorly made shoes every few months.)
  • The soles of well-made shoes will be stitched, not glued, to the bottom of the shoes.
  • The lining in better shoes is made of high-quality calfskin or natural leather, not synthetic materials.
  • Finally, check out the stitching. It should be neat and should be barely noticeable.
Kinowear also offers the following tips when actually shopping for shoes -
  1. Shop after you have been out and about a bit, since feet do swell. This way you will get the most realistic measurement.
  2. Shop only at a store that uses a Brannock foot measuring device for determining your exact foot size.
  3. Almost everyone has one foot larger than the other, usually it is the right foot; fit the shoes to the larger right foot. Do not rely solely on the size you have always worn. Different makes can vary significantly from each other, even though the numeric size is the same. Always try them both on, walk around in them, and buy them by how they feel on your feet – not just by the size.
  4. Allow a half-inch between the tips of your toes and your shoes. If the toes of the shoes are pointed, be certain there is enough room for your toes to move comfortably. Shoes should never be tight over the instep of ball of the foot. You should be able to stick your index finger in the back for wiggle room.
  5. When considering an oxford-style shoe, you should not be able to tie the laces so tightly that the two edges of the shoe meet. If you can, then a narrower size is probably better for you.
  6. Buy leather shoes. Though more expensive, because it is porous, leather is the best for the health and comfort of your feet. In leather shoes the foot can breathe, discouraging the build-up of bacteria.
  7. Shoes should fit from the moment you try them on. Do not accept the salesperson’s, “Once you break them in they will be fine.” The man-made materials used today do not stretch significantly, but leather adapts to your foot shape quite well.
  8. When shopping, wear the same type of sock you will use with the dress or sports shoes. Too heavy or too thin socks will distort the fit.
As an aside, getting your shoes repaired is a great way to keep your favorite shoes going longer. Remember, leather forms to your foot, so a good pair of well-fitting leather shoes is worth way more to you once repaired than a new set of kicks. Check out this neat video which shoes how shoes are repaired.

While a good pair of shoes may be more expensive in the short run, in the long run you'll be happier, as they will last longer, fit better, and be more cost effective.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony