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Posted on 08. Jul, 2009 by .

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I knew we had won when they announced Kansas State as first runner-up.

Me and my 15 fraternity brothers, dressed in suits and ties, were nervously sitting around a banquet table at the national awards ceremony for our fraternity. We were surrounded by hundreds of fraternity brothers from across the nation. I had a cell phone pressed to my ear as we sat in the huge conference room at a sweet hotel in downtown Indianapolis. On the other end of the phone were 50 fraternity brothers crammed into our fraternity house in Florence, Alabama. They, like us, quietly waited for the announcement.

Which group of men would be crowned Top Chapter, the best among 130 ATO fraternity chapters?

K State’s chapter had won it 4 out of the last 5 years. They were the big dog—twice as many members, a million dollar endowment, and a glorious chapter house that slept 50 (ours slept 4). Their bulky annual report was legendary. It read like a how-to manual on building a powerhouse fraternity that schooled other chapters in academics, bulldozed rivals in intramurals, shunned hazing, dazzled the community with social service, and embarrassed other chapters with the best parties. But now, the room was buzzing that Kansas State was announced as the SECOND place chapter.

Then it came…

“The ATO Top Chapter for 2003 is…”

I stretched my cell phone towards the stage.

“Theta Eta, the University of North Alabama.”

The room exploded. I shot out of my chair like a bottle rocket, arms raised. I hugged a couple of randoms and made my way to the stage. As chapter president, I got to receive the shiny golden cup on behalf of my chapter.

…….

That night was a turning point for me—the mountaintop after three years of climbing. The chapter I was initiated into in 2000 was hardly tops in any category. Our recruitment sucked, we were smoked in intramurals, our GPA was mediocre, and we threw lame parties in our lame garage that smelled like sticky floors and body odor. We couldn’t be dominant at our own university, much less nationally.

But there were rumblings amongst the brothers…..

Rumblings of a desire to be better. Rumblings of a desire to be the best. And so we set out to build an organization that was number one. We set crazy goals. We had loud debates til 3 in the morning. We challenged each other to dump the frat-guy lifestyle and be men—men who stood for something, men who conquered, men who wanted to be different. I was hooked–hooked on dreaming big, hooked on teams, hooked on chasing after something bigger than myself.

We were all hooked. After being named ATO’s best chapter, we were given the Award of Distinction from the North American Inter-fraternity Conference. This placed us as one of the top 6 chapters among thousands of fraternity chapters nationwide.

……

This was miles away from where I started. My dad was the pastor of a large Southern Baptist church in Alabama. I was the preachers’ kid and the youngest of three sons. I got fired up about God in high school and felt sure God wanted me in the ministry. I even walked to the front of the church to “surrender” to church work. They patted me on the back and said I’d be great at it.

But that all changed in college. Gospel-driven discipleship found me, and I learned in my fraternity that you could set an organization on fire with good leadership while still having a ministry. Impact could happen outside the church…hmmm.

I graduated in 2005 and had the opportunity to link up with the founders of a new startup in Atlanta. It was a couple of guys with a remarkable idea. Their enthusiasm was electric. Their vision was volcanic. I had to get on board. I worked out in the field for four years until I took over as Lead Innovator in 2009. I now get to sit around all day and think of better ways to tell our story. I work with people who are so much more talented than me it’s not even funny! I am unbelievably blessed.

To watch a video of Brett receiving the Thomas Arkle Clark award in 2005, see below

Brett Trapp – TAC Award Winner, Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity (ATO) from Brett Trapp on Vimeo.

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About TRAPPSTR.com

Posted on 08. Jul, 2009 by .

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TRAPPSTR.com is the homebase for writer Brett Trapp. Brett blogs from the frontlines of a fast-growing, for-profit company that merges business and world-change with an obsession to turn our clients into raving fans. Brett focuses his writing on Capitalism (business, leadership, marketing, etc) and Grace (Christianity, Gospel, God, etc.). He grew up in Alabama, lived in Nashville and has recently made his home in Atlanta. Brett loves having a foot in two worlds as a student of fine business and a clumsy follower of Christ. By day, Brett serves as a Vice President for a world-changing, Atlanta-based company that raises money and produces character education content for schools.

I am a child of Oregon Trail, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Saved by the Bell. When I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist. I was the 1994 Lauderdale County, Ala. Spelling Bee champion.  I have a mild obsession with college football. I still eat Lucky Charms, am a slow reader, and I procrastinate…badly.

I don’t believe in ghosts or making your bed. I’ve seen three people and a dog die (my dad died when I was 19). I believe Spiderman is better than Batman and Superman. I don’t mind eating by myself in restaurants. When I go to Target, I don’t push the buggy, I drag it. I like movies where something is attacking earth, and earth has to ban together to fight it off. I believe all trilogies pale in comparison to LOTR. One time, when I was in high school, I put gasoline into a styrofoam cup…really dumb.

I believe in the Bible and Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great.” I believe that if you could only listen to one song every day for the rest of your life it should be Chris Rice’s “Life Means so Much.” I believe that if you do nothing more than smile a lot and ask others questions about themselves, you will go far in life.

The perfect day for me would be rounding up all the cheesy church signs and dropping them in the ocean. I think God loved us so he sent Jesus. But to show he likes us, he sent Mexican food.

And with everything in me, I want to know that my life counted for something.

Thanks for reading my blog. :)

To watch a video of Brett receiving the 2005 Thomas Arkle Clark Award, click here

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