Kevin Durant, one of the top 5 players in the National Basketball Association, made the decision to leave the only team he had played for in his 9-year career (Oklahoma City Thunder) to join a team coming off the greatest regular season in NBA history (Golden State Warriors). It was a shocking move that changed the entire landscape of professional basketball and generated plenty of hatred and emotionally charged comments across social media, like many things do these days. The bottom line is that Golden State out-recruited Oklahoma City for this prized free agent – here is what fraternities and sororities can learn from how Durant was recruited better by Golden State than all of his other suitors:
- History Doesn’t Matter: one of the mistakes chapters often make in recruitment is talking up the history of their chapter/organization too much. It isn’t that these facts and stories aren’t important, it is that it won’t be a primary reason why someone joins your organization. If organizational history was critical, then the teams with the most storied histories would recruit the best players. In the case of Kevin Durant, he refused a meeting with one of the two most storied franchises in league history (Los Angeles Lakers) and decided not to join the other one (Boston Celtics) after meeting with them. Both of those organizations have struggled to attract top talent in recent years because organization history isn’t as appealing to young talent as it was in previous years.
- People Join People: along with history, chapters often talk about their house, their social standing, their performance in Homecoming and Greek Week, their prominent alumni and other items that certainly matter but far less than the actual people in your organization. Ultimately, the vast majority of people going through recruitment choose the organization with the people they want to surround themselves with, not the largest facility or top performer in the past Greek Week. Kevin Durant wanted to play with the guys on Golden State because they are winners and play a style of basketball that is not selfish, which appealed to him.
- They Solved His Biggest Problems: I’ve said many times that a key goal during recruitment should be solving the potential members biggest problems, such as looking to build their resume, form deep friendships, network with successful professionals, make the community around them better or anything else that they are looking to accomplish. Too often chapters go into “used car salesman” mode and just spout off a bunch of things they believe they do well rather than simply asking the PNM what they are looking for and discussing how the chapter can help them accomplish this. In the case of Kevin Durant, his biggest problems last season were that he didn’t win a championship and he was constantly double teamed while trying to shoot the ball. What were the keys of the Golden State sales pitch? We will win a championship with you and because of how many talented shooters we have on our roster you will not get doubled teamed. Did they solve his biggest problems? Sure did.
- Immediate Leadership Opportunities Are Appealing: One of the key moments in Kevin Durant being recruited by Golden State came when their star player, Steph Curry, sent a text message to Durant saying he had zero issue not being the face of the team and that they are a selfless group of guys that want to win a championship instead of just trying to improve their individual statistics. Fraternities and sororities need to do a better job of creating immediate leadership opportunities for all members (for instance, adding them to a committee immediately) as opposed to making them wait a year or two. Do you think an ambitious student leader wants to wait around to help the organization improve? Leaders want to be involved, make decisions and find ways to make the organization they are involved with better from day one. In the case of Durant, Golden State players made it clear that just because they had been there longer didn’t mean Durant couldn’t jump into a leadership role from day one. I look back at my chapter and laugh at how many decisions were made strictly on seniority, which meant that technically the most important opinion in the chapter came from a guy on his third senior year. That makes a lot of sense.