Greg Linder was initiated into Pi Kappa Phi in 1974, and went on to serve his chapter in many ways, including house manager, which helped establish Omega as one of Pi Kappa Phi’s leading chapters for years to come. Following his graduation, Linder went on to serve on the Omega House Corporation board of directors for ten years, including multiple terms as vice president.
During Linder’s time on the board, the Omega Chapter suffered a devastating house fire in 1987. As his background and professional life are in contracting, Linder provided critical support and leadership during that difficult period, donating his time and expertise. After his time on his chapter’s housing corporation, Linder went on to join the Pi Kappa Phi Properties board of directors where he has continued to serve for 24 years in several roles. Linder’s time on the board ranks in the top echelon of longest serving members in fraternity history.
Since his own membership and volunteerism began, Linder’s connection to Pi Kapp has strengthened as his two sons, Nick and Greg, both joined Pi Kappa Phi.
When asked about his father’s commitment to Pi Kappa Phi, Nick, Psi (Cornell), remarked, “My dad has never sought any sort of acclaim for his dedication. The reason he stays involved is simply because he wants other kids to have the same formative experience that he’s had.” He continued, “To me, he embodies selfless service, and he’s the kind of guy you want in an organization. But to him, he’s always just maintained an attitude of ‘I’m just a guy helping out.'”
If you could start college again tomorrow, what would you do differently? Why?
If I had to start college all over again I would work harder in school, get my civil engineering degree and become president of my fraternity. When I was in school I didn’t understand how important it was to work hard. I’m tired of answering the question, “Are you an engineer?” and having to prove myself as otherwise qualified. I’ve always regretted not running for president of my fraternity. I had a sense that leadership was important to my future, but I had no idea how rewarding it could become in future years.
What have been your two or three most important/meaningful Pi Kappa Phi experiences?
My two most meaningful Pi Kappa Phi experiences were initiating my two sons. The oldest was at Cornell where we initiated an 82-year-old Catholic priest at the same time. And the youngest was at Indiana with Dr. Phil Summers on the initiation team. After initiating my sons, I felt an even greater mission to help the fraternity succeed. My oldest son is on the Pi Kappa Phi Properties Board with me and the younger perspective he has brought to the board has been invaluable. I must say this has given me a fresh breath to extend my commitment to do more to help others.
Can you explain what you’ve recently learned about leadership in your own life?
I’ve learned leadership can be as critical as making decisions in business and as minor as standing up for your beliefs even though they are unpopular. Leading others is simply training and motivation to perform. The satisfaction in helping others improve is a hidden benefit. When my dad died of a heart attack at age 36, I committed to myself that I would control my stress and never allow it to harm me. The drive to succeed that comes naturally with leadership can be stressful. Some men spend their life hiding from stress. I believe by the time we are 30 we must learn how to control it, or we spend the rest of our lives trying to avoid stress, which means missed opportunities to grow.
What qualities do you look for in the people with whom you surround yourself, personally or professionally?
The qualities in people with whom I surround myself are the same as I look for in employees, friends and even customers. I like someone who is straight forward and will tell it like it is. The people near me must be honest and dependable. These people must learn quickly and carry a smile. They must be loyal, quick witted and also humble.
What is a piece of advice you would give to current undergraduates or young alumni?
The advice I have for a young alumni or undergraduate today is to work hard, but don’t be afraid to take risks. Grab any opportunities at leadership and run with them. Recognize that people judge you on your follow up, so if you agreed to show up or call them or reply in some way, they are waiting to judge you by your swift action. If you said you were going to be there, do it. Have solid moral values behind every decision you make because you are building your reputation on these qualities. Smile, let people know by your teeth that you are happy to be around them. Keep a positive attitude about your personal life and especially your work because you spend so much time there it’s not worth being miserable. Finally, understand that your fraternity is simply your base camp in college. It is just a stepping stone to connect you with friendships and begin your career. From there, go out in the world and make something happen!