T.J. Sullivan Photo

Funny. Blunt. Challenging. Entrepreneurial.  T.J. has encouraged more than 2-million college student leaders to take risks, try new approaches, confront apathy and ignite passion in their organizations.


I am very very pleased with the entire program and setting the program up. Everyone that I was in contact with at CAMPUSPEAK was professional and lovely! T.J. was hilarious and connected really well with the audience. Both the IFC and Panhellenic Councils had a blast with him at dinner. And I have already heard people mention ways of implementing all the cool ideas that T.J. suggested! I can't wait for him to come back to campus again. We absolutely loved him!

Katerina Tsybouleva, University of Washington

T.J. was well informed, realistic and made a presentation that was applicable. For the first time, I left with fresh ideas that might work. As an exec member of Phi Tau, we already have plans to make changes by tonights meeting.

Steven Motschwiller, Phi Kappa Tau

I was walking down the hallway of our student union directly after T.J.'s keynote, "confronting the idiot in your chapter." I saw one fraternity man, the president of a chapter that had long been struggling, looking deep in thought. I asked him if everything was alright, to which he replied, "yeah. I guess I just have a lot of people that I need to confront in my chapter." Since that time, I have seen his chapter grow leaps and bounds.

Tracy Machtan, Indiana State University

I think that T.J. gave the leaders of our organizations a lot of great, concrete ideas to use in the future. I truly think that he sparked a change in our community and I know that my chapter has already begun brainstorming ways to put his ideas into practice to better our sisterhood.

Alyssa Caffi, Northeastern University

Motivating the Middle: The Keynote

Your student organization has thirds.  Top-third leaders wrap their personal identity in your group, exert the most influence on its actions, and make your group their top priority.  Middle-third members care about your organization and the relationships they have there, but it’s one of several competing priorities.  Bottom-third members are disengaged, potentially causing drama, or checked out.  Unfortunately, most top-third leaders spend the majority of their time fighting the bottom-third – trying to make them attend events, care more deeply, and contribute more.

In 2012, T.J. published “Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations” which has quickly become one of the top selling books on student leadership in the nation.  In his book and his campus keynote, T.J. urges student leaders to start motivating and leading their members based on those members’ chosen level of engagement.  You can’t make a bottom-third member care as much as a top-third leader!  But, you can motivate and lead everyone if you adopt appropriate strategies specific to your members’ level of engagement.  And, T.J. says, student leaders need to focus less energy on the disengaged bottom-third and start spending more time “Motivating the Middle.”

Leadership classes, fraternities and sororities, student governments and more are using this quick, easy read as inspiration to reshape their student leaders’ approach to motivating and engaging members.  T.J.‘s “Motivating the Middle” keynote has been extremely popular with campus leadership conferences.  It’s an easily digested leadership model with immense practical application value.  Your student leaders will emerge with a whole new perspective about how to get things done in their organizations and on your campus.

Schools who are looking to do a large group “book club” type event – buy the books in bulk, then have T.J. come in to reinforce the lessons learned there – should ask about bulk book orders when you speak to a CAMPUSPEAK staff member. 

• Help leaders understand different levels of “engagement” in their members or constituents
• Identify motivating factors for those at different levels of engagement
• Discuss how certain events, practices or habits negatively impact motivation and engagement
• Change expectation of student leaders that they can force members to a certain level of engagement
• Change student leader strategy toward one of engaging members “where they are”
• Reduce student leader burnout through establishment of more realistic expectations of member involvement

The Apathy Myth: Real Answers to Unmotivated Members

While T.J.‘s “Motivating the Middle” keynote is about a direct leadership engagement strategy, “The Apathy Myth” is more of a general program about how student organizations need to better engage and excite their members. This keynote challenges your students to make some big changes to make their organizations more relevant to all members.  T.J. gives real actionable steps to move things in the right direction. How can they get your fellow students engaged? How can you get your officers motivated and feeling appreciated? How can you get people to give a damn?  How can we get people to events?  Unfortunately, too many student leaders get frustrated by the apathy they perceive in their fellow members. They then respond to the supposed apathy challenge with fines, mandatory attendance requirements and negativity. Ultimately, these student leaders hit a wall, alienate their members and suffer from frustration and burnout. There is a better way.

Members disengage and cause drama because they don’t feel connected to their organizations. Would you open your mind to the possibility that there are ways to motivate your group’s members that don’t require making every event mandatory? T.J. offers student leaders a keynote that focuses on practical ideas—evaluating their events, changing their approach to meetings and redirecting their management of their people—attacking apathy head on. It’s about shaking things up, with an eye to re-igniting a sense of “connection” within organizations. Student leaders have the power to eliminate apathy if they take specific steps to make their organizations more responsive to the realities of their members.  Sometimes, that means small changes, and other times it means a whole new approach to their student organization. Why do you meet when you do?  Are you expecting every member to be engaged at the same level?  What about making events more meaningful.

T.J. has been working with student organizations for more than two decades, and he uses his trademark humor and problem-solving style to energize student leaders who feel overwhelmed. This keynote is perfect for student activities leadership events, presidents’ retreats, fraternity/sorority life, or any other programming opportunity where students are searching for practical answers.  They will walk away with ideas they can implement immediately.

• Increase member involvement in student organizations through best practices regarding events, meetings, and management of members
• Leaders will learn what type of opportunities most appeal to their peers, then compare with their organization’s current activities
• Empower non-officer members to demand activities and events that better appeal to their interests and goals
• Empower students to break out of old habits and try new strategies to increase member involvement

Note from the speaker:

Many groups will have T.J. do "The Apathy Myth" as a larger keynote for a general audience, then do "Motivating the Middle" immediately after for student organization officers.

Confronting the Idiot in Your Chapter

Every fraternity and sorority chapter has at least one member whose behavior causes tensions and problems for everyone. The out of control roommate. The brother who gets in fights. The sister who won’t pay her dues. Bad grades. Hazing. Abusive drinking. Promiscuity. Drugs. Embezzlement. Bad eating habits. Violent relationships. Damage to chapter property.

Wouldn’t our chapters be much happier and healthier if we could confront the members whose bad behavior is bringing everyone else down? Don’t we have the responsibility to confront the “idiots” in our chapters? We often allow our friends to risk their own health, safety, relationships or grades with idiot behavior. We are afraid to confront because we fear losing a friend, losing respect or being judged.

In this hysterical, upbeat keynote, T.J. challenges all fraternities and sororities to step to the plate and find the courage to confront negative actions and attitudes from their fellow members. He offers practical strategies for increasing the effectiveness of constructive confrontations.

By encouraging members to confront each other, T.J. gives students a powerful opportunity to put the values of their fraternity or sorority into action. Regardless of the issues facing your Greek system, this keynote will challenge everyone to take responsibility for building a better, more responsible community.

• Acknowledgement of common circumstances college students feel deserve confrontation
• Discuss and acknowledge the most common reasons students are afraid to confront their peers
• Identify at least six specific confrontation strategies to increase chances of positive progress with those we confront
• Clarify that confrontation doesn’t always yield positive results, but that confrontation, done correctly, is a caring act with intrinsic value

Note from the speaker:

This keynote is big for Greek Weeks and other large convocations. It's very much like a comedy show, and I love when I get to do it in a nice auditorium with good lighting and a fun, casual audience. Your students will laugh a lot during this program, but the message has a big punch, too. This program is truly designed for Greek audiences, although I have done versions for other groups.

T.J.'s Bio

T.J. has spoken to more than 2-million students since 1989 on critical issues of sexual health, confrontation and dynamic student leadership. He has received top national awards from the North-American Interfraternity Conference and the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors for his contributions to the health and wellness of America’s college students. He is the co-founder and CEO of CAMPUSPEAK, the nation’s premier agency providing educational speakers and interactive workshops to colleges and universities.

T.J. is a well-known blogger on student leadership, and his articles have appeared in countless higher ed publications. In addition to running CAMPUSPEAK on a daily basis, T.J. speaks at approximately 50 campuses and leadership events annually. His book, Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations, was published by Wheatmark in 2012 and has already become a go-to publication for student leadership classes and organizations nationwide.  His blog at has been named one of the top blogs on student leadership in the nation.

T.J. is an active volunteer with his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi. T.J., his family and their beagles live in the Denver area.


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