My good friend Bill Connolly recently launched a book called Funny Business: Build Your Soft Skills Through Comedy and I was a featured case study in the book. I’ve had a number of people do “write ups” on my own personal story, but Bill really seemed to nail it.
If you want to become a dating coach, professional speaker, or really just pursue your great passion, I’d love for you to be able to learn from both my successes and failures.
Case Study: Adam LoDolce. Written by Bill Connolly
I met Adam back when I was in college. He was a few years older than me, but was a member of my fraternity so I would see him at alumni events. Always a nice guy, there was nothing particularly awe-inspiring about him back then. He was working as a management consultant, a job typical of my friends after coming out of business school. Then, out of nowhere, I remember hanging out with a friend one day and he casually mentions, “You hear what Adam is doing?” “No,” I replied, having not seen or talked to him in a while. “He’s crazy, man; he quit his job and moved to LA to become a pick-up artist.” What?!
This was back when being a “pick-up artist” was the trendy thing to do. A show featuring the eccentric character known as “Mystery” had premiered on VH1, and a well-known writer named Neil Strauss had recently come out with a book about the underground pick-up scene called, The Game. Nobody thought that Adam was particularly sane when he made this snap life decision. As he says, “I had a buddy out there who knew a bunch of dating coaches. I wanted to see how legitimate they really were. A lot of these guys were part of the pick-up community, not something I really wanted to get involved in but I wanted to see, are these guys legit? You know, some of them are, some of them are complete hacks, but I was able to build my own confidence that I could build my own coaching program.”
Today, he is a very successful and well-known dating coach. He has produced a short online film entitled Go Talk to Her, and is currently in the process of creating a film for his female clients entitled Sexy Confidence. He is also shooting for MTV Made as a Ladies Man coach. Adam is a regular on the college speaking circuit and is very much awe-inspiring when he walks into the room. Although not involved directly in comedy, his transformation is aligned exactly with the concept of my book, so I was excited when he agreed to let me interview him.
“When I got out of college I had no plans of doing what I am doing now, public speaking and being a dating coach, it’s an insane thought in hindsight,” he says with a laugh. “My second job out of school was for a start-up software company where I had a ton of time on my hands and I was doing very well financially. So I decided to spend that time dedicated to learning how to approach and flirt with girls, something I had always struggled with. I know because my mom is a divorce lawyer that it is arguably the most important decision of your life, who it is that you end up with. I wanted to make sure that wasn’t something that I took lightly and so I invested time in it.”
During his first year, Adam really pushed himself outside of his comfort zone to go out and talk to as many people as he could and get over all social fears. I remember him during this time, there was a local bar near where I was living that my friends and I would frequent. Nearly every time I was there, I would see Adam, not drinking and looking for girls, but really working the room. He meticulously moved from group to group, speaking to both guys and girls, it was an impressive feat for sure. As he tells me, he needed that experience to be able to gain confidence; there weren’t any books that he found helpful.
“What I found through my progression is that most books out there are crap. Most of them are too complicated, they confuse guys, they confused me, and they are contradictory. They didn’t really help me to build my confidence, which was the most important thing for me when I was going out to meet women. That made such a difference, when I was confident and made my approach, it would usually go very well. Times when I wasn’t feeling the right vibe or was down on myself were times that they would go poorly.”
Eventually, Adam had learned so much that people started asking him for his help. He realized that he could turn this into a business. “So I did that, and I started to bring on clients, a lot of it was through blogging and YouTube videos I would make to get my name out there. Then I started speaking, and I got my first speaking gig at a Jewish high school (GAAN Academy) in Waltham, MA.”
Unfortunately, this first gig didn’t go too well for him. He was set to speak in front of 500 freshmen and in his words, “I completely bombed.”
“My topic was off; I was dressed horribly and not appropriately. I had never spoken in front of anyone on this topic and my first speech was in front of 500 people for one hour, and I bombed.”
But he decided he was going to keep with it and he had family ties to the industry that gave him hope. Adam’s dad had been a motivational speaker for a certain amount of time in his life and his brother was trying really hard to be a motivational speaker himself, so Adam continued working at it. He set a goal to do 33 speaking engagements around New England, anywhere he could, including the YMCA and youth groups.
“I think I ended up doing about 12 to 15 before I was picked up by the college speaking market, and was getting paid speaking offers. So I never hit my goal, but in a good way. I applied what I had learned in flirting with girls to being in front of an audience, I thought of it as flirting with an audience.” When you speak to Adam, he can usually tie anything back to approaching and flirting with women, but it’s easy to see why. Approaching women is about having confidence, being unique, and persevering in the face of failure. So is comedy, and so is life.
Before he knew it, his college gigs were picking up very quickly, people really enjoyed his message, which was that you can be socially confident anywhere. And for college students, the message was that you could do it without the need for alcohol. Today, Adam has built this concept from a personal flaw, to a strength, to a professional opportunity, to a successful career. He has achieved all of it through hard work, dedication, and creativity. I asked him about his greatest obstacles throughout this journey and how he was able to overcome them.
“I think the biggest obstacles that I found were the social consequences of what I was doing. That is to say, everyone around me was thinking to themselves, or I thought they were thinking to themselves, ‘what is this Adam kid doing? He’s crazy.’ When you are putting yourself out there, especially on the internet, and I have such a niche business, at first you feel like everyone is talking about you, pretty much making fun of you behind your back.”
He goes on to emphasize the importance of believing in yourself despite what others might be saying about you. “You know, everyone is a critic, who knows what your circle is saying behind your back when you are first starting. When you are just starting and you aren’t fully confident in yourself, you just keep thinking ‘is this really worth it, am I really going to do this?’” It wasn’t until he started booking speeches and coaching clients that he said to himself, “screw them, I’m going to be successful.”
“It wasn’t until the point when I started making money and bringing money to the business that I comfortably could say, ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks, this is going to work.’ It’s not even a money thing either, it’s just being confident that the idea is going to be successful for my career. That was the biggest thing. For someone like yourself who is doing a lot of writing and videos and putting yourself out there, everyone is going to have an opinion of what you aren’t doing right. And it’s bullshit because they aren’t doing it themselves. I can be a critic about anyone, but if I am not doing it myself and doing it better, then who the hell am I to critique someone else?”
I’ve believed in this idea for a long time. Even if I don’t believe in your concept, I will never hate on someone for putting it out there. I applaud risk-takers, they are who I want to emulate, not criticize. From a business perspective, the most difficult part for Adam was learning the technology.
“I knew nothing about social media, I knew nothing about blogging, WordPress, Google, and YouTube. All that stuff took me hours upon hours of sitting at home at night just trying to figure everything out. It’s such an overwhelming feeling when you first get started, but as my dad always told me, ‘a journey starts with one foot in front of the other.’ So you just kind of go one step at a time and fake it until you make it, and that’s been my mentality this whole time.”
We also talked about how people can pursue their dreams, when the universe seems to tell them that it just isn’t going to work. “The way to get to your dream is to continue to push through everything because there comes a time where you will get validation. I remember the first time that my friends gave me validation, not that I was really looking for validation but I think we all are in life.”
This is certainly true; validation is a basic human need, which is what makes taking these risks so difficult in the first place. The first time Adam’s friends told him that he was doing something semi-legitimate was when he was on local television. Is it really difficult to find your way onto local TV? Probably not, but “In people’s eyes it was, ‘wow he’s picked up by the media, he must be important. Then they kind of quiet down about it.” It’s just about plugging away until you get that break, because you will get that break.
As a national speaker on the college tour, an important piece of what Adam does is to be able to handle different types of audiences, or so I thought. “There are two ways to go about handling audiences. One is you will speak for anyone, anywhere, anytime. You will change your presentation depending on the audience. I have decided that I don’t want to be that type of speaker, I’d rather be really good with one presentation with one audience than be mediocre with a bunch of presentations and several audiences.” This is different than what I would likely hear from a comedian, because as a comedian, you don’t really have the ability to choose the audience in front of you.
Adam, however, has been able to carve out a specific audience of college students that he has perfected his approach towards. “I have a very specific presentation that can be used with pretty much all students. When I first started speaking at colleges I had five presentations I would use. Now I have one, it’s got two names to it, ‘Sexy Confidence’ and ‘Be the Life of the Party… ALCOHOL Free.’” I tried to pry a little assuming that he must have to present differently in different situations, and he offered perhaps the most interesting concept of the interview.
“You know what; honestly, I will more calibrate my body language than I will my actual presentation. If I have a presentation in front of 20 people, then I won’t go into crazy presenter mode. I have had presentations where only 4 kids show up and I’ll literally sit next to them, maybe I will use the PowerPoint, maybe I will just talk to them. If I am speaking to 1,500 students, than I will get into a crazy presenter social state where I am using every iota of energy that I have in my body to give a powerful presentation to that group, because you can.”
In comedy, the cliché for a bad performance is, “hey, rough crowd out here!” What’s remarkable is that Adam has been able to essentially get rid of tough crowds through his approach.
“I could have a tough crowd too, but I usually know what I am walking into. If I’m speaking to 2,400 freshmen at orientation, I know how to work that crowd. I’m not going to bomb in that crowd.”
So what crowd would he bomb in front of? “The crowd I will probably bomb in front of would be 300 fraternity brothers when I’m talking to them about alcohol. But the thing is, it’s better than any other alcohol speaker they will ever see, and I’m not saying I’m better. But I won’t tell them not to drink; I don’t care if they drink. I’m just telling them, if they get blackout wasted every night they aren’t going to connect with women. Some audiences it works, some audiences it doesn’t.” He didn’t say this to me, but as a speaker, he gets paid either way, so screw those tough audiences!
As a speaker, as it is with a comic, delivery is everything. It determines how a message is received, and how it resonates with an audience. As the Greek hero Will Smith says, “60% of all human communication is nonverbal, it’s body language, and 30% is your tone. So that means 90% of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth.”
As I mentioned, everything in Adam’s professional career he is able to relate back to talking to women. Delivery had an obvious correlation. “Because it’s like if you approach a women in a park or in a Whole Foods, what you’re saying might be the same as what you are saying in a crowded bar, but the way you are saying it will be very different. It will be very casual and out of nowhere, where in a bar you might have a lot more intensity, a lot more excitement. It’s all about delivery.”
Realizing that like comedy, not everyone is going to be willing to sign up for a session with a dating coach, though it is a valuable tool for some, I wanted Adam to provide the most important lesson for people who might be shy approaching women, or presenting, or doing anything.
“I would say the number one thing I would say is to stop focusing on the end goal in mind, and just start getting socially warmed up. It sounds counterintuitive, but most people when they want to get better at public speaking, they focus on trying to get in front of 100 people and nailing it right away. Or if they are working with me, they will say, ‘I can’t wait to pick up the perfect 10 walking in the park.’ It’s great to have that idea in mind, but anytime you are going out at night, stop focusing on your end goals, just focus on getting to a heightened social state and getting warmed up.”
“At the beginning of the night, if I am working with a client, I’m not going to send him in to talk to the most attractive girl there right away, absolutely not. What I will do is warm him up to it very slowly. It might be something as simple as going up to the doorman and asking him if this place gets a little crazy at night. Or we might work it all the way up to chatting up a group of guys and having him ask them, ‘where are all the girls tonight?’ It will continuously warm up. Maybe you are giving a high five to the bartender just to get into a fun state and the same goes with public speaking. If you have a big presentation coming up, what I would be doing is going to Toastmasters, presenting in front of 4 or 5 people to warm yourself up to it, then do 20 people, 30 people, work your way up.”
“On the day of a big presentation I am going to get warmed up that very day. I will talk to at least 5 to 10 students right before I get to the stage, just to get going. What I have found in my coaching is that once someone is in that really fun mindset it is a lot easier for them to overcome any of their social fears. So when you get into that flow, things aren’t hard. Always get socially warmed up any time you are in a situation that makes you nervous, you’d be amazed at how much easier anything will become for you.”
If you want to read the book, you can buy it here: Funny Business: Build Your Soft Skills Through Comedy
If you’d like to learn my six week program on how to meet women in every day situations, please watch Go Talk To Her