Silicon Valley men

Putting the CON in Confidence… Part III

March_4_10_Couple_LaughsIt’s great to have a toolkit for getting through a first date with a veneer of healthy self-esteem, but what happens after that? If you’re lucky, a first date leads to a second. And a second leads to a third. But if you aren’t feeling good about yourself, you probably won’t make it very far beyond a couple of dates. That’s fine if you never really had an initial spark, or it’s becoming clear that that two of you are very different people who might not easily connect, but it’s not so fine if the fire fizzles simply because you’re too trapped in your own head to focus on the person right in front of you.

In order to capitalize on early chemistry and attraction, it’s important that you a) actually believe that you deserve to be dating this particular person, and b) let your date see and appreciate that. Try to remember that in order for any healthy relationship to survive, both parties have to be invested, and both of you actually have to think that it’s a good idea. So let’s assume you really did feel sparks, and that the early interest in mutual… if you aren’t the world’s most confident person, what can you do to bolster your ego just a little bit? After all, there has to be more to successful dating than just asking a waiter for suggestions and walking a woman to her car, right?

Here are a few ways you can develop some dating confidence. And if you don’t think you need additional confidence when it comes to dating, try to keep in mind that having added confidence can be useful in almost every aspect of our lives.


Make a list, and check it twice…

I recently spoke with a client who was nervous about an upcoming first date. She was concerned that her date might not like her for a dozen different reasons, and had already started rationalizing a case for rejection from a man she hadn’t even met. While it’s healthy to be prepared for any possible outcome, she was really only focused on one. If you find yourself doing this – particularly when it comes to anticipating rejection, you need to slow down, and make a list of all of your positive qualities and attributes. Yes, all of them. Go ahead and start now; it might take awhile. Be as detailed as possible. Oh, you like your earlobes and pinky toes? Turns out you’re one of those rare people who never has morning breath? You rarely move while sleeping? You can make a gourmet meal out of almost anything? You’re incredibly good at your job, and your patients/clients/colleagues love you? You never forget a birthday? You actually have the time and desire to invest in a relationship? Your most recent ex said that you had “incredibly good hands”?

Take some time to really study this list. These are all of the things about you that are great. These are all of the reasons someone should want to date you. These are all of the reasons that would make someone LUCKY to be your significant other. Some of it, of course, is going to seem very silly. But the rest of this should feel very true and very real. Don’t focus on the possible perceived negatives. Don’t highlight your weaknesses; showcase your strengths. You may still not end up on a second date, but it will be because your date doesn’t appreciate your positive qualities, which is his or her loss. If you go into an evening expecting that your date is going to reject you based on your own insecurities, you’re creating a situation in which one of the worst possible outcomes simply lives up to your expectations. No one wants to experience that.

Dress the part…

I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing that you need to dress up for a date, but I really can’t stress this enough. What you wear and how you present yourself really does matter. After all, you wouldn’t wear a bathrobe to a job interview, and yet you’re probably not hoping that you and your next job are going to have a relationship that involves the phrase “’til death do us part.” We get confidence from our clothing choices; color tends to make us feel more youthful and alive, flattering cuts make us feel better about our bodies, and high quality garments are often an indicator that we see value in investing in ourselves.

You want to signal that you believe yourself to be desirable, attractive, and worthy of investment. And you want your date to agree. When you really dress for a date, you’re telling the man or woman across the table that he or she matters, that you respect their time and value their attention, and that you value yourself. Highly. If you’ve ever had the experience of overdressing on a day that you feel awful in the hope that you’ll get some sort of compliment, you already understand the role that attire can play in dictating your mood. Putting some effort into your wardrobe pays dividends at all times. It also gives you practice being comfortable attracting attention and accepting compliments. If you have one of “those jobs” where you’ll actually be frowned upon for wearing anything more than a t-shirt and jeans, start making an effort on just one day of every weekend. Your friends will tell you that you look great, and you’ll start to feel even better.

Talk to Strangers…

One of the hardest things about building dating confidence can be overcoming stranger anxiety… you know, the stuff that sets in when we’re about 18 months old, and (for most of us) never really goes away? There is a lot of inherent risk in approaching someone you don’t know, and we spend the first part of our lives being told to never do it. As we age, involvements with strangers tend to be managed through classroom, professional, or social environments where an instructor/boss/friend provides a framework and context for initial interactions. Relationships of all forms tend to blossom from these meetings, but early expectations (and hopes) are typically low. This, of course, doesn’t provide much of a foundation for creating a relationship with someone you meet online or through Linx; we might say that the two of you should meet each other, but it’s still up to you to do the heavy lifting.

There is a way to get better at managing stranger anxiety, and that’s to actually approach strangers. Yes, do exactly what your parents told you to never do. Your goal should only be to have small, simple interactions… asking for the time, making chitchat while waiting in a grocery store line, etc. Do this initially with people you simply don’t find attractive. Start with people of the same sex, or with men and women who are significantly older or younger. Once you get comfortable striking up conversations with strangers you don’t find attractive, then start doing it with people you DO find attractive, but who aren’t available. In other words, look for wedding rings. This allows you to get over the anxiety of approaching someone you find desirable while keeping the stakes very low. And finally, when that becomes easy, you can start talking to strangers who appear to be attractive AND available. It will give you the confidence you need to approach people when dating in the wild. It will also provide a nice boast to your self-esteem when you meet someone exceptional through Linx.

Find a Coach…

Increasingly, people are more and more willing to turn to coaches to help them gain or develop missing and weak skills; we do it with fitness and nutrition, with sports, with job interviews, with grad school applications, and even with childbirth. So it shouldn’t seem odd to think that when it comes to dating and confidence, it might be a good idea to have a coach. Much like you might with a gym routine, see if one of your close friends can help you develop some skills and confidence. Give each other positive feedback, encourage more outgoing behavior, and remind each other of your positive qualities. Sharing your goals with other people in your life is usually a great first step to making them happen.

If you’re doing this on your own, consider using a book like Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David Burns. The noted Stanford psychiatrist walks you through several steps that help in gaining confidence, improving your sense of self-worth, and developing a positive outlook. The skills are applied broadly, but can definitely have romantic benefits. If your goal is really to just focus on skills that are dating specific, however, and to do so in person, you may want to consider working with Linx. We provide private, customized coaching sessions for clients on a regular basis, and would be happy to work with you in whatever way you might need.

Regardless of how you choose to do it, your entire life can benefit when you decide to work on your confidence and self-esteem. Even if you think you’re “doing fine” on issues of self worth, there isn’t much of a downside to developing more confidence, and learning that it’s ok to feel truly good about yourself. We all have things about our bodies, our lives, and our personalities that we’d probably like to change, but we want the people in our lives to accept us for the qualities and attributes that won’t. You can’t have what you don’t ask for, and you’ll never convincingly ask for a great relationship if it’s not something you believe you deserve. So learn to like yourself just as you are; learning to appreciate all that you have to offer is a key first step in finding a relationship that is real, deep, and everlasting.

New Year Q & A with CEO of Linx Dating

New Years is right around the corner. Make 2014 YOUR Year to find the love of your life. I spend a lot of my days talking with prospects about Linx and answering questions about the business. Since there are so many inquiries coming in with 2014 on the horizon, I thought it would be helpful to post a basic Q & A about the Linx network.

Q: It sounds like you work mostly with men who need help dating, true? Can you generalize about your clientele and what they are looking for—long-term relationship, or something more casual?

A: Linx is an offline dating and social network created for the commitment-minded… professionals looking for a hookup or a quick fix are not our target and we have an extensive screening process for all candidates that weeds out those who are not “in it for the long haul.”

Though we do a lot of date coaching work with some of our clients to help them be successful in the early stages of dating (getting past date one, to date two, three, and so on), we are doing this to nurture budding relationships that, projecting ahead, could be perfect matches and ultimately marriage.

Of course, not all Linx clients are on exactly the same timeline, but all of them are seeking, and comfortable with, commitment.

Linx is one of the few matchmaking networks that represents BOTH men and women as clients and, depending on the type of membership, either or both will pay fees.

For example, we represent many females who are struggling as they try to locate a match for marriage. This typical female client is healthy inside and out, feminine, very well-educated (often Ivy League caliber), over-achieving, and has an impressive career. The dating background on such a candidate is usually binary – either (1) she has dated too many eligible, yet emotionally unavailable men, who cannot commit to her and has been repeatedly burned, so now it’s GAME ON, like RIGHT NOW; or (2) on the other extreme, she has not dated that much at all, is not really sure where to turn as she refuses to do online dating (or is highly skeptical of it), has zero interest in dating colleagues from work, and has severe time constraints. We work with all ages of women and represent many women who have been married before and have children (often children in their teens and even out of the house).

And, just like the women, my male clients also have it all going on! When people think Silicon Valley, they think all the men are like young Bill Gates clones running around with “coke bottle glasses” and pocket protectors….sort of like out of Revenge of the Nerds. My clients are anything but socially inept. Like any other guys out there, they have dated in varying degrees.

My typical male client has a graduate degree, a great job, exudes confidence, and now it’s all about finding the right woman. It’s like a light goes off in his head and there is no stopping him. This type of guy settles down and game playing is simply not in his DNA. Even if I gave him a guide to be a player like the schools for PUA (pick up artist), he wouldn’t know how to do it. Many of our male clients are very presentable, polished, and are perfectly social. We represent a lot of male clients at companies such as: GOOG, CSCO, FB, ORCL, Palantir, Box, AAPL, LNKD, eBAY (including lots of hot smaller VC backed start-ups) in the tech space and countless VCs on Sand Hill Road and savvy angel investors who remain pretty off the grid and are pretty private sorts of guys.

One common thread I see, from both my male and female clients, is that they have extraordinarily high standards in what they seek, and they absolutely should, when they come to a service such as Linx. No one is telling them to “settle.” But there is a difference between being discriminating and being picky – the latter connotes an attitude of being unproductively critical and not ever quite being satisfied.

More often than not, when clients first approach me, it is a “needle in a haystack” match that they want in terms of endless objective characteristics. I really work hard to determine what is MOST important to them and to go after those characteristics. For example, what if a woman says she won’t date a guy shorter than 6 feet tall and I manage to locate a man with every other important quality she wants and he is 5’ 10”? She is likely eliminating a huge portion of the population by not being flexible with that…

Not surprisingly, in Silicon Valley, my highly educated and analytical clientele often apply the same methodology to their dating that made them successful in their careers, and that does not always work because here we are dealing with matters of the heart.

Q: A lot of employers like Google strive to give their employees everything they need—food, entertainment, even massages—mostly so they’ll be happy working all the time and never leave. Does that make it more difficult for some to go out with a stranger and work for something—a kiss (or more) and maybe a second date? Since people work all the time, office romances are not unheard of. This happens in other businesses too, obviously, from Washington to Wall Street, but are there particular dangers, or advantages to the office romance here in Silicon Valley?

A: Well, with the kinds of perks that Google or Facebook or Palantir, for example, offer to employees, it is easy to see why an employee, on the margin, might stay at work rather than venture out. Google really started this trend a decade ago as the first startup company that tried to preserve a startup culture – like a fun, innovation playground – as the company grew, and that has become more of an expectation now amongst typical young talent qualified to work at these companies.

If you think about it, the culture at these companies for 20 and even early 30-somethings is not unalike the dorm experience at a top university – project teams bond over what they do all day… it’s more about living to work than it is about working to live, and so you do everything together. The movie “The Internship” might have been fiction and was probably a bit exaggerated but it was pretty much on target. With that in mind, it is not surprising that this culture (like college dorms) would lead to inter-office dating. When you have lots of smart, eligible people around that can empathize on each other’s current life mission, it is very attractive, casual, and convenient. At Facebook, for example, it is known to be very common.

All of that said, most companies, of course, frown upon their employees dating one another. And many of my women clients (and some men, too) tell me that they do not want to do this primarily because it could jeopardize how hard they have worked to get to where they have gotten at such young ages and thus harm their reputations – it often is not worth it. Others have even said “you have one shot” if you do this and it had better be “the one.” This statement is very akin to the clients we have at Stanford University GSB. Otherwise, you could get a reputation that sticks with you.

Reputation is everything and only you can control this. Once you start dipping the pen in the ink at work, the problem can be that people talk, gossip, and the spotlight can be on the person you’re dating and not what you are really meant to be focused on – which is work. So it can be a calculated risk.

Business Lessons | Indulge in your passion

This was a huge last week for Linx – a ton of simultaneous media coverage . All super crazy exciting!  Linx was featured in Fortune, CNN Money, CNN TV, and a venture capital/private equity news rag called peHUB.  I was slammed with hundreds upon hundreds of prospects emailing me about joining Linx from this fabulous outpouring of press. Now I have managed finally to come up for some air.  Ahhh… to breathe again.

Many people always ask me which publicist I use…I don’t have one. Let me share my secret with you. I’ve worked my tail off 7 days a week for the last ten years to build my business. I have bunkered down, completely focused on my mission, and maintained my same work ethic, principles, and mantra from the very beginning days of when I first started Linx.

When you remain anchored to your passions and don’t get worn down by the little hiccups along the way or distractions that are inevitable, people are attracted to that. Journalists are intrigued, they want to hear “the story” and learn all about of these high caliber and dynamic professionals that flock to Linx.  “How’d you come up with that?”

Sir Richard Branson (of Virgin fame) has a long list of important business and life lessons – here are two that I like and maybe you can relate, especially if you run your own company.richard_branson

#1: Entrepreneurship is not about getting one over on the customer. It’s not about working on your own. It’s not about looking out for number one. It’s not necessarily about making a lot of money. On the contrary, it’s about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward.

#2: When you’re first thinking through an idea it’s important not to get bogged down in complexity. Any fool can make something complex. It’s hard to make something simple.

I especially like point #2. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that” scenarios. A concept turned into actual product or service that is, at it’s core, a simple one. This point can be absolutely correlated to dating. Don’t get so strung out about how to act, look, what to say, etc on your first date. Slow down. Prepare. Stay true to yourself. Show up. Be gracious, be kind. Remember that your date is taking time out of his/her day to get to know you. It’s pretty simple when you think about it.

If you’ve gotten past the early stages of dating and are stressed about your relationship’s ups and downs, don’t loose sight of the end goal (if the end goal is marriage for you.) Although human behavior and relationships are, by definition, complex, you don’t have to make it so. In my coaching, I always use the visual of a horse with horse blinders on when dating. Don’t let the little stuff bring you down, get you distracted, or worry you. Stay level-headed. Pour your passion into your dating journey. That will create the foundation for a strong and healthy relationship. Lead your life with integrity. Never let anyone jeopardize your core values or extinguish your dreams, goals, and passions.

When I was a young entrepreneur originally living in the Silicon Valley and in a serious relationship at the time, I developed the concept for Linx. I was so in love but unaware that I was in a possessive and very controlling relationship. My boyfriend told me in so many words that I was “not allowed to start Linx” back then. My hopes and dreams felt shattered. I felt like a puppet on marionette strings and he was orchestrating how my life should be. I knew something wasn’t right.entrepreneurship

It’s so hard when you love someone yet it feels like he/she is sticking a dagger through you. After he broke up with me it felt like tear gas had completely engulfed my life. I couldn’t see what my new future would hold. I couldn’t really feel anything either. Maybe you can relate after a tragic breakup that flips you upside down. At the time, I felt like an inch worm scooting around with very low energy and so small in the big world from being made to feel like crap for a long time.

With the help of family and dear friends, I rebuilt my strength and began to see the silver lining in all of it. I remembered what had excited me so much before the big bad breakup had happened. I had witnessed an interesting and rather odd disparity in the ratio of eligible men to women in the Silicon Valley (lots of guys!!) and saw all of my female friends in San Francisco struggling to make sense of the dating scene.

I left the pain of the breakup in the past but remembered three things back then: 1) I knew there was something there with my dating concept and I had a burning desire to figure out how I could capitalize on it;  2) I now knew what I didn’t want to find in a future husband – i.e. controlling personality; and 3) never let anyone jeopardize your core values, or extinguish your dreams, goals, and passions.liberated_health1

The partner you choose should make you feel the best you can be, not the opposite. Being together should feel like a miracle not a nightmarish situation. Everyone has a fire somewhere in their belly. I encourage you to look within today and focus inward about what your burning desire is in life. Journal your thoughts, create an action place, and go after your dreams. After all, you’re the only one who can hold your own self accountable and know what your true passion(s) are. Now go indulge in that wondrous experience. P395683-2-1_richard-branson-2

Spending the Holidays in Your Skinny Jeans

Guest blogger, Jae Berman, a registered dietitian in San Francisco, has written for all your readers about keeping fit and in those skinny jeans for the holidays.

Right now is when our social calendar fills up with fun parties, great opportunities to celebrate with family and friends and the weather makes it so easy to get cozy at home. This is also the time of year when our routine gets off track and our healthy eating habits tend to go to the wayside.

It is very easy to just go crazy this month and tell ourselves we will get back “on the program” January 1st but consider how phenomenal it would feel if you could manage your nutrition, prevent holiday weight gain and start 2013 feeling fantastic.  23224

 Some tips from Jae to help you through the next few weeks…

#1 Exercise

Do not stop working out. Even if it means walking around the block or doing some extra stairs at your house/office/relative’s house. Try to get at least 30 minutes of a workout most days of the week. Walking is always great or consider using DVD at home or in a hotel room, a workout app on your phone or go to a class or gym where you can power out an hour sweat session. Bring your relatives with you! Not only will you burn calories but exercise if a great stress reliever as well as important for your immune system and digestion.

#2 Eat every 3-4 hours

This is key! No matter the schedule or how many parties you have in a day still eat within an hour of waking and every 3-4 hours thereafter. Ideally there would be protein and carbohydrate present so you can give your body everything it needs and you will feel satiated. The ideal scenario is you never walk into a party starving. If you save your calories for the day and start your evening hungry, you are destined to overeat! How to prevent this? I strongly suggest eating right before a party. Say grab a mini-meal at 4 or 5pm before a 6.30pm event. It works! Set yourself up for success and eat every 3-4 hours to prevent getting into a sticky situation

#3 Watch your alcohol consumption

If you drink too much this month you are going to gain weight. It is that simple. Set yourself either a number of drinks per week or a number of drinks per event so you don’t over do it. Drink water in between cocktails to keep yourself hydrated. Lastly, avoid the sweet stuff. Stick to simple cocktails over ice or mixed with soda water or go for wine or beer rather than drinks filled with juice, sugar or cream. Spiked egg nog is so yummy but your hips and butt don’t agree!

#4  Limit your sweets

If you eat every sweet that is presented to you this month you will pack on the pounds. Do you really need every cookie or every piece of chocolate? Just say no sometimes! When you really want a sweet – go for it! But often we eat just to eat or because we feel we should or because someone made homemade cookies or….there are so many excuses! Also, when you have that sweet tooth you may just be hungry! Check in on how long it has been since you last ate and consider getting a snack with protein and carbohydrate and then see if you still need that sugar fix. martinis-636

While this may sound a bit strict, I am confident if you are a bit more mindful in your decisions this time of year you will find even more to celebrate. Enjoy the holidays! Cheers to a wonderful year ahead!!!

For more information about Jae, please go to: www.jaebermannutrition.com