I’d love you all to meet my friend, brother, and mentor, Mr. Paul Carrick Brunson! Modern-day matchmaker and real-life Hitch, it was absolutely my pleasure to pick his brain. Enjoy this telling interview featuring his history, values, and what makes him tick! And be sure to visit his site, follow him on Twitter, and “like” him on Facebook! And don’t forget to RSVP to Monday’s live Captive No More Authors event featuring Paul!
DMM: When people think of matchmakers, they usually think of old, bent, Yente, the village matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof or in modern times, Hitch. So how does one go about becoming a matchmaker?
PCB: OK, great question! And what’s really interesting is that there are very few, actually, there are zero regulations around becoming a matchmaker. So you think about becoming a doctor. There are certain steps you have to go through, certain education, certain licensing. For a matchmaker, there is zero. And it’s fascinating to think about that because it’s a very old profession…. People consider it the oldest profession behind prostitution. But what’s happened over the last, maybe, five years is that I’ve seen the increase in the number of professional organizations in the matchmaking space. I’ve seen an increase in the number of certificate programs within the matchmaking space, and I’ve seen an increase in the number of, what I call… “police”: people who are somewhere in the love industry that qualify legitimate matchmakers.
So for example, there’s a site called “Your Tango”–very popular in the love and relationship space–they have a rolodex of people that they consider to be legitimate matchmakers, coaches, therapists, etc. And so landing on the last is kind of like going through police checks. So long story short is, [there are] no set regulations or set hurdles to become a matchmaker. But the process to becoming one is evolving–and I like it–because it really means that there’s an increase in the quality of matchmakers.
“But the process to becoming [ a matchmaker] is evolving–and I like it–because it really means that there’s an increase in the quality of matchmakers.”
DMM: That’s awesome! So how did you specifically become a matchmaker?
PCB: Well, I did a little bit of everything so the first thing that I did when I decided to become a matchmaker is I quit my full-time job and I spent one year in just self-study. I was reading every book I could whether it was on the anthropology of love to pick-up artistry and everything in between… I also attended every matchmaking conference.
So keep in mind when I started in 2009, there were really only two big matchmaking conferences so I attended both of those. I also did what was considered a quasi-certificate program through one of the matchmaking conferences. And then last but not least, I did a mentorship where I went to Denver and I was a mentee under a woman by the name of Rachel Greenwald. And she is just a veteran, super awesome, matchmaker and one of the most recognized matchmakers in the world. So I was able to do that. So I did all of those things and then it’s interesting, recently, I’ve pursued my interest in human interaction and even though I went to grad school for business, I’ve now entered a Ph.D program for social psychology. So what’s interesting about training to become something is that when you’re professional, the training never stops. You continue to train and continue to perfect your craft.
“…When you’re professional, the training never stops.”
DMM: Well congratulations on starting your Ph.D! That’s awesome.
PCB: Thank you very much.
DMM: You’re welcome. So what made you decide to enter the field of matchmaking?
PCB: There are multiple drivers, but the number one was just seeing the impact that single-parent households had vs. two-parent households on the development of children, socially and academically. So really looking at that, and thinking “Oh my God, I want to play a role in helping to increase the number of two-parent households.” That was number one.
Number two was probably the fact that I realised I had a unique voice and I could really play a role in the matchmaking space. Not just as a matchmaker, working with individual clients, but within the industry and helping to shift the industry because quite honestly, matchmakers–in my opinion–have a bad brand. If you go into an elite professional community and say you’re a matchmaker, there’s gonna be a lot of “What?!” “Really??” “You really do that?” “You really make money?” So it feels like it’s a little bit of a joke. Yet, one-third of all conversation on social media is relationship-based. And the top booked people on talk shows are all relationship experts. So it’s clear that we have a significant interest in the love space. But when it comes to the profession, there is a challenge so that was one of the reasons too. So I wanted to see if I could get in and help to shift the space.
And the last, but definitely not least, is it’s an area that I’m just passionate about. And it was really a good test of vulnerability for me because I always grew up with the moniker that was always looked at with high esteem. Like when I graduated from undergrad, I was an investment banker. It was like “Oooh, you’re an investment banker!” That means you’re legitimate. After I did that, I managed money for a wealthy family, “Oooh, you manage money for a billionaire!” Like “Oooooh…!” right? But the second that I became a matchmaker it was like “What?! Are you serious?!” And to me, it was stepping into a place of being able to be vulnerable, so it was a test for me. Really, entering the career was about me testing myself. Those are the reasons.
DMM: Excellent reasons. And you mentioned investment banking before you went to matchmaking. Tell us about all of that because I know you did a little bit more than banking before you went to matchmaking. But tell us about your pre-matchmaking career days.
PCB: Sure! Gosh, I mean, there’s a lot there…. It was always related to business or finances and entrepreneurship so I did investment banking. At one point I raised money and started an entrepreneurial venture that I sold. (But in actuality, it went bust because we sold it for a dollar.) I went to work for Kaplan Test Prep and I was the Director of the Washington, D.C. center which was their second largest center in the world. I was running their business which was about a six million dollar business so I was doing that. I then, obviously went to work for this Turkish family and I was managing their investments outside of Turkey, through that I was able to start a non-profit and it became a fairly large non-profit organization. We had over a million dollar budget and so I was leading that. So I’ve always been involved with business, entrepreneurship, there’s always been a tinge of finance in there. But what’s fascinating about becoming a matchmaker is I never would have thought that everything that I did, career-wise, prior to matchmaking has truly served to help me as a matchmaker.
DMM: It’s so funny that you say that because that was my next question! Somebody once told me that all of your jobs prepare you for your purpose. So how have all those jobs prepared you for matchmaking?
PCB: I think that was a very eloquent way of saying it. And to me, watching Steve Jobs’ commencement speech where he’s talking about putting the dots up and not necessarily worrying about them connecting, that comes to mind as well.
What’s interesting is that you could look at every experience–not just a job–every single experience you’ve had in life, and you can look at them as positive experiences or as “negative” experiences. And the positive experiences, those help, and we take those and share about those, and those are great. But what’s interesting about the “negative” experiences is that we either wear those experiences as a burden, or we wear them as a learning opportunity.
“…We either wear [negative] experiences as a burden, or we wear them as a learning opportunity.”
My son Kingston who’s almost three years old, knows how to wash his hands now. So he knows when he turns the hot knob up too high, the water’s too hot; he knows the water is going to burn him, so he pulls his hand away. So you could wear that as “Oh my God, my hand is burned! This is terrible! My hand is gonna be burned forever! I’m scarred for life!” Or you could look at that as “Wow! So that means when I turn this up too high, I can’t touch it. That means I should only turn it to a certain level.” You can look at it as a learning opportunity. So when I look at every experience, I truly try to look at it in the lense of learning opportunities. And having all of those careers, interacting with all of those people was just a ridiculous “Life MBA” that I was able to pick up. And so, every experience is helpful.
DMM: I like that: Life MBA. Awesome. So with everything–you’ve written a book, It’s Complicated (But Doesn’t Have to Be); you’ve co-starred on OWN’s Lovetown, USA show; you’re becoming a very frequent TV guest on other shows as well; [and] you’re a mentor. How do you find time to balance everything and maintain a healthy relationship with your wife and son?
PCB: I SUCK a time management which was why I was 17 minutes late for this call. I’m working on it! One of the things that’s helped [my team and me] is being able to communicate, to engage. I’ve always been able to engage a lot on Twitter, or emails that people send me, or messages on Facebook. But I’m at the point now where I’m really at a tipping point and I…can’t scale myself enough to be able to engage with everyone. And it hurts not to be able to do it, it hurts to miss an email, it hurts to see 100 comments on a Facebook post and know that I can’t get to them. So to be quite honest with you, it’s something that I am trying to figure out an answer to.
But one of the things I have learned is that you gotta prioritize. And this is going to sound very selfish, but I prioritize myself first, my relationship with God, the relationship that I have with my wife even before the relationship I have with my son, then my family, then my friends, and then everything else comes next. And that’s how I’m able to manage the day; I always look at it from that framework.
So I know if I am in need of spiritual inspiration and motivation, I will literally stop. I could have a call that appears to be super important (and I didn’t do this to you, Desiree), but I’ll say, “You know what? I need 15 minutes. I’m sorry, I’m going to be late.” And I will just sit and watch TD Jakes’ sermon. I will do that; I do that. And a lot of people probably don’t actually know when I do that, but I will do it. If I need it, and I know I need it at that moment, I will do it.
Yesterday is a great example. Over the previous days, I only had, accumulative, about six and a half hours of sleep over two days. I felt so drained…. I got off with a session with my last client around 7:15. At that time, I normally would have worked a little bit more, [but] I just shut down, grabbed my son, we sat on the couch, and–I don’t like for him to watch a lot of TV–but we watched a show together, and after that, we ate dinner. And I went to bed with him–at his bedtime, at 9:30. And I did it because [of] prioritizing, balance. I had an endless number of emails I had to return, an endless number of things I had to do, but I didn’t do it last night. So that’s how I do it. And I’m not professing to have the perfect way of doing it, but that’s what’s gotten me by so far.
DMM: [Changing gears a bit…] How do you feel being a Christian in your industry affects you?
PCB: It definitely [does]. I would say there was an effect and an affect early on for me. Because I came right out the gate and I had a strong mentor at that time who [said] “Paul, don’t talk about your Christianity…” I had several people that told me that, especially engaging with TV… They we’re saying “Don’t do that!” And quite honestly, I realised that to me, being a Christian is not hiding [my faith]. So I embraced that and I went the entire other direction. And I see the yield.
Has there been an impact? Sure. I’m a geek about tracking all kinds of metrics. And I know, for example, that whenever I tweet and talk about religion or God, I know for a fact that I’m going to have follower drop when I do that. It happens like clockwork. People will unfollow me. And I know, for example, that on Facebook right now, the same thing will happen. So it’s funny because part of you could be thinking “Then don’t do it; don’t talk about it” because you don’t want to lose followers. But then the other half is saying not doing that is not being authentic to who…I am.
PCB: And the worse way to live is to not live in your truth. That is the worst way to live in life. So I’ve learned over the last couple of years to embrace it.
DMM: Awesome. Now, I’ve noticed you have a pretty large Christian following though, especially at #MentorMondays.
PCB: Yes! That’s actually the positive! You know, I believe that by talking about it, by embracing it, we’re able to recognize each other. It’s a commonality that we have, so we’re able to bond together. And [it’s] something that I’m super jazzed about! And at one point I realised, “Oh my goodness! This is like a ministry, you know? This is my personal ministry.” But you’re absolutely right. I’ve noticed it as of late too.
DMM: And this kind of segues into my next question, but especially with our younger demographic, you don’t see that many young, black, successful people who are also, at least professing, Christians. So when we do see somebody like that we almost kind of latch on because we want to know about them, we want to read, we want to follow, we want to know what they’re doing, and let them mentor us, if only from a distance.
PCB: Good point, really good point. That’s actually how I gravitated and eventually became friends with a great, awesome guy [named] DeVon Franklin. His book, Produced by Faith, is a super example of that. This guy is a Hollywood executive, and he’s able to really stay strong within his Christianity. So I 100% agree with you.
DMM: And How do you feel being a black man in your industry affects you?
PCB: *deep breath* Wow. I have to think about that one! Well, it would be incredibly naive and ignorant for me to say that there is no effect or affect of being a black male, actually, in any profession to be honest with you. In [matchmaking], it’s unique because I’m considered the first, which I still have a hard time believing.
DMM: *sings* It’s true…!
PCB: Yeah! It’s crazy I’m the first, full-time, African-American, male, matchmaker. And when that came about, it was fascinating. I was at a conference when I was talking about ‘09 when I went to those two conferences. One was called the iDate Conference, and there was a gentleman there who runs a huge matchmaking company. He’s been in the matchmaking business since the 70s, but his family’s been in [it] for decades. And he walked up to me and said, “In my history of doing this…” (keep in mind he’s probably [been] familiar with the industry since the 60s) “In the history of doing this, [I have] never seen a full-time, black, male, matchmaker. And it blew me away. And what’s interesting to me is that now that I am one, I have seen a countless number of black males come to me, wanting to become a matchmaker. And I’ve seen several start matchmaking and that’s something that I’m super proud of.
DMM: That’s awesome. OK, now this might be a little bit awkward, but another wise man once told me that God made me a certain way, appearance-wise, for a specific reason. So with you, nobody’s blind, and I’m sure most women would agree that you’re an attractive man…
PCB: Uh oh…! *laughs*
DMM: How do you think that has played into your growing success as a matchmaker and TV personality?
PCB: Uh oh! So…to keep it 100 with you, I honestly, honestly, don’t look at myself as a super attractive dude. I don’t. But I will say this: I do look at myself, and I do try to be put together. And what I mean by “put together” is when I’m out in public, my hair is trimmed, my goatee is trimmed, I have a suit that’s tailored, I am working out and keeping up with [my] physique, and all those things. But…because of the industry that I’m in…I’m seeing hundreds of photos each day and super attractive people…I never put myself square in that category.
“…Confidence is truly sexy and appealing.”
But what I do think is that confidence is truly sexy and appealing. And I believe, I feel, especially since ‘09 when I started matchmaking, I didn’t quite feel confident and comfortable in the space. But maybe since ‘11, just a couple years ago, I [did]. I do think that when people see my brand, or they come out to one of the shows that we do, or they see me on the television program, that they feel like I feel confident in what I’m saying and what I’m doing. And that confidence is compelling.
DMM: OK. Well I’m gonna argue with you a little bit. *laughs* I totally agree with everything you’ve said. But I have a girlfriend, and she has a business called Wedding Night Bliss and she actually deals with prepping virgin and celibate brides [for their honeymoon]…and she even does abstinence counselling for youth. But she likes to do webinars and wants people to see her face–not because she’s hung up on herself–but because she wants people to know she’s not some old, dried up, woman…It almost opens up the trust, I think, to certain people because they think “Oh, she knows what she’s talking about.”
DMM: So do you think there may be some of that as well? And I also wondered if that was one of the reasons you put yourself on your book cover.
PCB: Ahh, you know what? This is a great topic! This really is. So the book is interesting. I argued against my photo being on the cover of the book. I argued to my manager… And I argued to my publisher, Penguin… I wanted the text, the content, to stand alone. And, on top of it, I wasn’t thinking that my mug was going to sell a ton of books.
They said, “Paul, we want you on the cover because we do feel that you can sell more books if your face is on the cover. And also, you are getting a lot of visual impressions on television through the OWN Network, through talk shows, that kind of thing, and people will recognize you and, therefore, be more prone to pick up the book. Also, the book date was moved up so we had to get the book out immediately, therefore…a photo landed on the book.
As it relates to your friend, this is what I believe: at the end of the day is attractiveness sells. I’m in that business where I’m matching clients together all day and the clients that are the most attractive, always have the most options. They always do. BUT going back to the confidence factor and with the example [of] your friend–and this is something that I feel passionately about–that within the first few seconds, I know as it relates to social psychology, that we form a lot of opinion on someone. So the promise effect takes place, friend or foe takes place, a lot of things happen within the first few seconds. And we typically aspire or are more prone to follow people that we find to be attractive. Which is why we see, for example, a lot of CEOs: they’re fit, tall, athletic, it makes sense. But at the same time, after that first 7-10 seconds, whatever it may be, words need to come out.
You hear tone of voice. You see body language. You hear about inflections…you see all of these other elements that end up being more important. Which we argue, we look at the science, virtually 80%–if not more–of effective communication are non-verbal cues. But all of those things add up to confidence. so I would argue that someone who’s just projecting confidence in whatever way, they could be…unnattractive, but they’re projecting confidence. And then you take someone who is attractive, but not projecting confidence, and I guarantee that the masses will move toward the unattractive person projecting confidence.
DMM: What safeguards do you have in place to prevent the indiscretions so common to successful men (and women)?
PCB: There are lots of big answers for this, but I’ll go with the quick answer: being secure in what your values are. That’s ultimately where it’s at. And for someone like me, my top values are around spirituality, family, legacy…a lot of those things are what I value most in life. So if you have values along those lines, it helps to prevent, or should I say safeguard as you were saying, against indiscretions.
Then at the same time, what you want to do is always be operating in a smart way. And when I [say] “smart way,” you want to surround yourself with great people and you want to prevent yourself from being in situations.
I’ll give you a super quick example. This is an interesting one (or maybe it’s not). I speak a lot. And you would imagine when I speak, I’m talking about love and relationships, there’s lots of women that come out to it. And a lot of my events are at evening, and there’s drinking and that kind of thing…. And even though I will talk about my wife, I will show photos of my wife at the presentation, even with that, there will still be “attempts” from women afterwards to see if maybe Paul wants company at his hotel. And I remember after this one talk in San Francisco, there was a group of girls who were obviously drunk. And they were trying to lobby as to why they should be able [to] drive me to my hotel.
PCB: Now…maybe some folks would say that’s cool. But thinking in a half-intelligent way, [that’s a] terrible look, right? TERRIBLE! Like, there’s no positive whatsoever. The other thing is the second that I realise this is what they’re trying to do, that’s the second when the conversation shifts, I pull one of the staff members that was with me into the conversation…that’s when you have to kind of act. Long story short is, being secure in the values, but also being really careful about your actual, physical positioning with people.
DMM: Excellent. OK, switching gears a bit, I heard a minister, Tudor Bismark say, time and time again, that one should have a 100 year life plan in place that will extend to, at least, their grandchildren. Have you ever considered anything of that nature for your own children? And if so, what does that entail?
PCB: WOW. I love that! I’ve never heard of that, but I love it! Would I consider it? Yeah! That’s my first time hearing it. I will definitely consider it. You know, I’m a complete newbie with regard to parenthood, and my wife and I are taking it one day at a time. But it’s interesting that we talk about, and I just mentioned this too–one of my values is legacy, and one of my wife’s values is legacy, and that’s obviously something that extends beyond us or our time here on earth. And so that kind of futuristic talk, that long-term discussion of “Who are we? As a Brunson?” We talk about that as a family unit. “What does [being a Brunson] mean?” Those are all topics [of conversation] that we continue to have and we have already with our son who’s not yet three. And so I would totally consider that. I think that’s a really interesting concept.
DMM: What is that legacy you want to leave for little Kingston and his brother who’s on the way?
PCB: We’re working through that every day. What’s interesting is that I look back at my family’s history, and especially for African-Americans, it’s not a leap to see just a few generations [ago] where your family was exiting out of slavery.
I’ve got heritage in Jamaica and also in the States and we’ve done the genealogy and can see where we came out of slavery. And what’s fascinating to me is I’ve seen each generation in my family basically take a step up and be able to leave their children in a better position than they entered the world in. And we can discuss what “better” means. Better isn’t just economically, but healthier, all of those things leave you in a stronger position. And so ultimately, it’s high level. My parents…brought me into this world in an incredibly strong position. In the strongest position of any of my ancestors. And that’s something that I am ridiculously proud of. And that’s instilled in me, to desire to do that for my children.
DMM: Wonderful! OK, last question. What is the best piece of advice you’d give to a new entrepreneur or one who’s transitioning to a new career field?
PCB: Lot’s of good stuff for entrepreneurs, but just do it. “Fail fast to succeed faster” (Jim Rohn), and the only way you’ll do it is you gotta get out there, get your hands dirty…do it and then you pivot, and then you do it again. And you pivot and you do it again. Entrepreneurship is really advanced. And if you don’t have the grit to get out there and do it, and be able to sustain the pivot–which is really like a blow to the face in a shift–then you just can’t be an entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.”
And entrepreneurship is not for everyone. And maybe that’s the last point I could make. We live in this society where entrepreneurs are praised and so everyone wants to be a business owner or an entrepreneur (which isn’t necessarily a business owner). But everyone wants to be one. But quite honestly, it’s not for everyone. And knowing that early on can save you a lot of blows to the face.
DMM: Wonderful advice!