Going From Asking How To Actually Doing

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Mark St. Cyr

I was nudged by a fellow Brother and contributor to the Midnight  Freemason’s site (Br. Randy Sanders) to write a few ideas on  “How” some of my assertions can be put into motion.  

Below is the first of just three that came off the top of my head.  They are all self-directional as well as actionable, meaning: if one has the wherewithal and fortitude to actually start - you can. All it takes (using Seth Godin’s mantra) is for you to “Go!” and actually begin.  

Here’s the first of three, all within a theme, and the reasoning why  they are so formidable versus the same old same old “Let’s do a  ____________!” (fill in the blank here. i.e., fish fry, pancakes, etc.) 

The primary issue: “We want to be seen in the community!”  

The primary problem: Most actually do more hiding trying to figure out how to be seen than actually being seen.  

Here’s a “How to” that’ll generate immediacy both to the issue,  as well as buy-in from your fellow brethren to pursue ever larger goals… 

First: Demand of yourself to stop attending the take-out meals,  “green beans,” hot dogs, mac and cheese, etc., etc., etc., on throw-away dinnerware in your Lodge cafeteria that looks like it’s furnished with hand-me-downs allotted from the local thrift store,  today!

The idea that doing the above under those conditions is somehow preserving the idea of “fellowship” over bread and table is an outright ludicrous construct.  

Yes, I just said that. So now, with the aforementioned now “on the table” pun intended. For your next meeting, or as soon as  humanly possible, do the following: 

Find the most high-profile restaurant (i.e., white table clothed) in your location that has the availability of reserving a table that is both separated from the other diners, yet, is also visible to them.  

In other words, not some separate room or walled-off area. But not so close as to be within elbows of other diners. There must be some form of noticeable separation whether by a railing or clearly noticeable area of distance such as a double-wide aisle et cetera.  

When it comes to what I’m insinuating using the “white table clothed” verbiage: A sit-down, table-clothed venue such as a  steak house e.g., Ruth’s Chris, Smith & Wollensky, or other fine dining styled restaurant. This means that Longhorn Steakhouse, Golden Corral, Applebee’s styled are a no.  

Ask for, or print out their menu. Also, ask for a bar menu if  possible, or just kindly ask the bartender for the price of a top-shelf drink served straight or “neat.” i.e., brandy, whiskey, scotch,  bourbon, etc. 

Caveat: Must be “top shelf” or name brand. e.g., Maker’s Mark,  Patron, Chivas, Remy Martin, et cetera. No “well liquor” as it’s commonly known. 

Pick no more than two of their top entrees that cost relatively the same i.e., Prime rib or Filet. Sirloin or Veal, etc., etc. (no chicken 

dinner type stuff, period.) Also, don’t forget a beverage such as a tonic and desert if applicable. 

Calculate for two bar drinks. 

Tally (i.e., dinner price, beverage, dessert, and bar), calculate the tax (if you don’t know just ask someone or look at your last dining out receipt for clues) then add 30% gratuity to the total (yes,  including the tax). 

Example: Steak dinner with a beverage and dessert $65.00, two  bar drinks $20.00, tax $8.50 (10% exp) sub total: $93.50. Gratuity  30% ($28.05) Grand total: $121.55 which now equals $120 or  $125 required per Brother.  

Now, with your figure in hand… 

Approach as many brethren as comfortable (you need a min of 5  to accept - 10 is better - 15 and up is outstanding) and state… “I’m looking for at least five brothers to start a new tradition.  Here’s what it is, here’s where we’ll go, here’s the choice for menu, it comes with two toasts and includes the tip. Attire is to be black suit (minimum: dark) and tie. No changes, this is what it is. Are you in?” 

That’s it. Wait for a yes or no. No more discussion, no entertaining this or that possibility or, can this or that be changed.  Nothing. All that one needs from that moment on is: Are you in?  Yes or no? Period, full stop. 

It should be evident without saying, but just in case, of course, you can keep selling your “why” you want to do this and why you think it's both needed and beneficial. What you can’t do is alter your proposition. That’s the no-no for further discussion points.

If they can’t give an answer or they want to think about it, that’s their prerogative. However, what you need to do is keep asking till you get the first five. Again, kindly just move on to the next till you do. 

When five say “Yes!” Make the reservation as immediately as possible and make it known. No, “OK I’ll make it in two weeks because we’re not going to even meet until three.”  No, do it then and there, tell the others the date, time, and place. 

Then, keep your word and make sure during the wait time you double-check the venue for any snags and remind the others of just how “Great!” this whole thing is going to be. 

If for any reason you can’t get five: wait and offer it up at every meeting (outside of closed) going forward. Yes, every single one until you do. 

Here’s what it accomplishes… 

First: In today’s fragile economy any restaurant will be more than glad to see you, but also, more than excited if they believe you’ll both make it a regular while also partaking of their higher-priced fare - and not asking for any discount. Please re-read that last line again and again if need be. Asking for any discount diminishes its impact.  

You’ll also be setting yourselves apart from the crowd to the wait staff where your table alone can change the monetary situation of an overworked, underpaid waiter or waitress, that will appreciate the opportunity to be assigned to your table or tables. 

To further elaborate why this point should not be glossed over is what you’ll also establish - is a presence in said establishment for which the servers will not only be glad to accommodate but might actually fight over as to who will be assigned. Why? 

Because the tip will be both worth it. i.e., “The Masons are eating here tonight, right? Can I be the one that takes care of that  table?” They will also make this type of comment to others. 

Or said differently, they’ll be a buzz both via the serving staff as well as others to be ready when “The Masons” show up. Again,  why?  

Because both the fare and staff attention to the table in full view  with properly attired men gathered will be both a sales signal for  the restaurant, as well as a calling card for Masons, because it  will be asked, “Who is that group over there?” And staff and  others will say “It’s the Masons, they’re here every _________  (month, week, bi-weekly, etc.) 

Here’s what it also does… 

It begins the process of the same for those partaking as separating themselves out from the mundane and lackluster aspects their Lodge has fallen into, and start the process of true camaraderie partaken in surroundings worthy of their investment into the Craft itself. i.e., you’re setting the table for excellence and showing others the way that they can join. And you need not ask anyone for permission. 

As a matter of fact: others will begin to ask for permission to join. Think about it. 

One final note when it comes to the above for calculating food,  drinks, and tips… 

If someone states, “Well, I don’t drink so I shouldn’t…” kindly state it’s non-negotiable. 

If you need an example to counter just say, “When you pay for a  ticket that includes an open bar, do you ask for a discount?” If  they say, “Yes!” Just laugh it off and move on. Seriously, move on! 

In regard to the amounts, they can and will vary wildly.  

In your area, you might have a fine dining establishment that comes in a bit less, or you may only have the option of one that costs more. Regardless of the input cost one thing does not change: the 30% tip. As a matter of principle, any and all  “change” over and above gets included.


If two of the attendees do not drink and/or toast with a cheaper substitute, the cost saved gets left to the servers.  

In other words, the calculation for the dinner was at $120.00  each. Everyone pays $120.00 for a total of $600.00 If the bill works out to be less for any reason, any and all extra goes to the server. Period, full stop. i.e., $600.00 was collected - $600.00 is what is given to the server. i.e., keep the change. 

Everyone pays in cash and has it ready, in full, before they sit down. No excuses, no exceptions. 

We’re all adults here, we all have bank accounts, we all have ATM  access. Everyone is to have at-the-ready their $120.00 (as an example) to be added with everyone else's. There is no change or “Hey, I only have $112.45, can I make it up later? I didn’t have a chance to get to the bank.” type of excuses or arguments.  (Side note: If anyone says “I think we’re leaving a bit too much  money left over to the servers.” State you understand their point,  but feel they’re also missing the larger one, and if need be gently ask them if they wish you don’t ask them to participate next time if they feel uncomfortable with the premise of the function. 

You’re not playing kid games here, you’re acting and participating in a venue that requires a certain “buy-in” for that participation.  Don’t allow the frugal or ‘cheap’ to sway you from the original premise - or you’ll be back to paper plates before you know it. 

The calculation as to do this either before Lodge, after Lodge or as a separate event is malleable. Personally, my preference would be after a meeting if not too late. Also, the two drinks should be set for one toast style before the meal, then one to conclude. This way the idea of “consuming too much” is negated. 

It must be done, at a minimum, once a month. Twice or bi-weekly is even better if circumstances (and/or pocketbooks) prevail. However, there must not be, nor should there be, any assertions to accommodate cheapening either the total (i.e., ticket price) or the venue. If someone says “Hey, why does it have to be white table-clothed type stuff?! What’s wrong with a fancy BBQ  house?”  Just kindly state that’s not what you’re looking to do and move on. Again - move on. They either just don’t get it, or worse, don’t want to. 

Do this and you will establish a presence in full view of the community that is both worthy, talked about, but more importantly, benefits the brothers and the Craft by setting an example of both excellence and buy-in that can be built upon. 

So, now with the above in hand, and since I’ve actually shared column space many times right alongside Mr. Godin, let me state in no uncertain terms his mantra…


There’s now no excuse unless you want to make one, which is precisely why the above is there - to prevent one. And here’s the  hidden little secret why this is the first step in three regarding  “Being seen in the community…” 

The first step that needs to be seen before anyone else, is you,  as to how you see and present yourself - to yourself, then live up to that image.  

That’s not a play on words - it’s a truism for life that’s also known  as a ritual for success. (See what I did there?) 

Again for emphasis: You first have to raise the self-image of how you see yourself along with the fortitude you’re determined to follow through with it, first.  

Then, you move to do the same in concert with your fellow  Brothers to project that cumulative image - before - you embark on trying to gain the attention of others.  

Skip this step at the beginning - and the ending is always the same: failure. 

We’ll move the example forward with one that actually involves the community in greater detail in the next edition. See you then. 

Mark St.Cyr 


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