Name: Greg Pestinger
Alma mater: Kansas State ’86
Founder, Thomas Alan Properties LLC
President, FocalPoint Business Coaching and Training of Kentucky
Primary Volunteer Role: Chapter Counselor, Kentucky Beta
What inspired you to get involved with SigEp as an alumnus?
Getting involved as an alumnus was a matter of coming full circle in my SigEp story. Like many, short of writing a few checks, I used my busy life as an excuse to wander away from volunteering directly with undergraduates. Next thing you know, 30 years had passed, so much had changed and fear of irrelevance, rejection and other self-limiting beliefs got in the way of re-engaging at the chapter level.
But a series of events occurred that rekindled the fire inside. First, after more than 25 years away, I received a call from Brian Warren asking me to work on a branding task force. As a marketing and branding executive for some of America’s largest consumer packaged goods companies, I accepted and for the next year a team of talented alumni began to put some structure around the SigEp brand. After completing that project,followed by another two years passed before I was compelled to fully re-engage with the Fraternity.
First, Conclave in Nashville and the social media support from the Headquarters staff piqued an interest that was quickly squelched by the fear of irrelevance. After all, the last Conclave for me was San Antonio, 1985.
Then it happened — following Conclave, the Phil Cox story and the subsequent video was released on Facebook. I think I watched that video 20 times (still do to this day when I need a shot of inspiration), and through the tears, my SigEp heart began to beat again. While I had never met Phil and hadn’t heard of him before the video, I knew I wanted to be like him. I knew that the foundation SigEp provided for me so many years ago made it possible to do great things for SigEp, great things like Phil did. I took the leap and made the call to the district governor for Tennessee and Kentucky to put my name on the list for future volunteer opportunities.
The rest is history: I was asked to volunteer as a chapter counselor for the University of Louisville within three weeks.
The chapter’s AVC president and chapter president welcomed me with open arms. I soon met the men of Kentucky Beta at my first chapter meeting in over 30 years, an incredible homecoming that moved me at the deepest level.
All of this was quickly followed with my first Carlson Leadership Academy, along with all the great programming and my first and probably most emotional Ritual in over 30 years. I knew then that while I had left SigEp, SigEp had never left me. I knew then that I was home. I also knew that I had an awful lot of time to make up and it was time to get to work.
Why does SigEp need volunteers?
SigEp needs heroes. My experience over the past couple of years is that our undergraduate brothers are possibly the smartest, healthiest, most compassionate and most driven young men in the history of SigEp. They believe they can make the world a better place and have stepped up to take responsibility to do so.
That being said, the world is more complicated than it has ever been. The demands on our undergraduates are extreme and it is more difficult to compete in a quickly changing world. With that, they need leaders to help them navigate the world, to help them see promise in themselves and to hold them accountable for achieving their full potential. To have someone to talk to, bounce ideas off, to bring our values of Virtue, Diligence and Brotherly Love to life through our example.
What impact can volunteers make on an undergraduate or on a chapter?
Simply put, mentors, allow this incredible group of men to be themselves, to be vulnerable in a safe place and to have someone who believes in them and pushes them to their full potential. Someone who cheers them on when they do great things, someone to kick them in the backside when they need a push and when they fail, someone to pick them up, help them learn from the failure, dust them off and put them back in the game. Every undergraduate brother deserves the opportunity to have an alumni mentor to take really good young men and help them become really great men.
Every volunteer mentor needs to know that mentoring works both ways and while you may be teaching an undergraduate brother, he, too, is teaching you. Every SigEp deserves the opportunity to experience the happiness, the meaning and the brotherly love that can only come with a lifetime commitment to brotherhood.
How can AVCs recruit more alumni to volunteer?
The first and most important thing is simply “Invite Lost Alumni Back.” As I mentioned, people who have been away for a long time may fear being seen as irrelevant or rejected if they reach out. Simply reaching out and inviting them to an event, a happy hour, lunch, or a Ritual may be the very time that you show them the best kind of brotherly love, acceptance and value for their skills, and ability to shape the next generation of SigEps.
Second, make sure you have some way for them to participate. Make sure they understand that not all volunteer roles are overly time-consuming. Educate them that their fear of “not enough time” is not a reality with a majority of volunteer roles.
Lastly, create opportunities for alumni brothers to get together. Write and distribute a newsletter at least three times a year. Maintain an up-to-date mailing list. Hold socials, happy hours, golf tournaments, homecoming events, and fundraisers to invite alumni and their families back a couple of times a year. Ensure that every SigEp has an opportunity to attend a Ritual at least once a year. In the marketing world we say it takes at least five pieces of communication before someone will consider an action. Alumni are no different: communicate, communicate, communicate.
How has volunteering made an impact on your life?
Simply put, alongside my family, SigEp has been the single greatest influence in my life. I didn’t know then but definitely do now, that SigEp helped me find my “why” and live my purpose: to help people help themselves to achieve their full potential, and in so doing, achieve my own. Simply put, volunteering with SigEp gives life meaning and purpose.
The past two years have been incredible, first and foremost the awe and wonder I get to experience every day through the incredibly passionate, intelligent, caring and driven brothers of Kentucky Beta.
Second, the opportunity given to attend two Carlsons, a Conclave and a Phillip A. Cox Volunteer Institute, named after the very person who invited me home through his example. I have also had the privilege of serving on faculty for Life After College, Carlson, Conclave, transition retreats and the Kenneth S. Maddox Summer Development Program, all which allow me the opportunity to fulfill my purpose.
Finally, I had the opportunity to serve as a mentor for one of the most impactful, life-changing experiences I’ve had in my lifetime, the Tragos Quest to Greece.
How can alumni get involved?
In the very first place, SigEp needs volunteers at the chapter level to share their knowledge, their passions with undergraduates through educational talks, industry round tables, supporting internships and one-on-one mentoring of leaders.
Second, fill open spots on your AVC in executive or committee rolls. A strong AVC and alumni-volunteer base leads to strong chapters and, in turn, a strong SigEp community. Get involved, reach out to your AVC president. For chapters without AVCs, reach out to Headquarters and learn what it takes to get one up and running.
Third, get involved in fundraising and building scholarships for your chapter or give to the SigEp Educational Foundation and let them do the work for you. Volunteer to pull together lost or missing SigEps from your chapter and re-engage them and welcome them back. The need is growing exponentially for leadership and other programming to ensure that our undergraduates use the 90 percent of time they are out of the classroom to learn the skills necessary to compete in a quickly changing world.
If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering with SigEp, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.