Photo: Rosanne Wang
Thomas Edwards is a professional wingman. That’s right, he does exactly what Will Smith does in “Hitch.”He launched his company, The Professional Wingman, three years ago, and he’s been doing it full-time ever since (via WSJ).
So you might wonder, what does this guy do all day, if his primary job is to go out to bars at night with guys who need a bit of confidence?
Turns out his job is a lot more than just helping guys approach girls. We caught up with Edwards briefly over the phone, and here’s what he had to say:
Why did you decide to launch this company?
I was at South by Southwest in 2009, and someone asked me to walk over to a girl and make an introduction. If I got the guy a date, he’d buy all my drinks for the rest of week. Well, I did, and I had an open bar for three days. The idea of being a wingman stuck in my head. I thought, what’s the difference between me and LeBron? He’s paid to do his job, which makes him a professional.
What makes you qualified to be a professional wingman?
When I was a sophomore in college, I thought I had found the one I wanted to marry. I asked her parents for their blessing to marry their daughter, and a week later the girl dumped me. So I read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which changed my perspective on what I should expect in myself.
I leveraged who I thought I was to date the hottest person at school. I wanted to be very popular and successful, live a lifestyle that people envied. This led me to be lost and complacent. So I was back at square one, in a quarterlife crisis and with borderline depression.
I was starting life over from scratch, and needed to find way to hold myself accountable. Writing a blog about my life, including a social and dating journal, was a way to do that. For some reason, people were really interested and started asking me questions. People would say, “You really helped me and I’d pay money for that advice.”
What do you do as a wingman?
Real-time coaching. Our clients have to apply for coaching before we meet with them. We have a 95% filter [for who we accept as clients]. We won’t work with anyone who just wants to get laid. If you want that kind of service, there are other places you can go. I want to help people improve their lives.
When we meet, I’ll get an idea of the person’s dating past: Are they making effort to meet people, or are they in a relationship and they just want to recover? We call this the “Wingman Analysis.”
Then I’ll survey how the person acts in a typical social environment, and give them feedback. I’ll have them push themselves outside of their comfort zone. To the naked eye we’re just two friends hanging out. At the end of two hours, we’ll see if they want to move onto the next stage.
What do you charge?
Clients pay $125 per hour. On-demand services range from $65 to $250 every month. We also have other high-level programs, including style consulting and online dating assistance. If the person isn’t local, we’ll offer on-demand coaching and Facebook consulting. We also have live events like “Confidence Unchained,” which will launch next week in New York City.
Where do you take your clients?
Bars or social events. Both are the highest of social pressure — so it challenges people right away. After that, when they’re better and more effective, I’ll soften it and help them meet people day to day — on the train, in the mall, on the food court, down the street. You can meet people anywhere.
How many clients have you worked with?
About 300. Closer to 1,000 if you include the live events.
What’s one of your biggest success stories?
One of my first clients emailed me to say he got engaged. He was very artistic and worldly, just nervous around women. Great at conversation. I noticed one single thing: he wasn’t flirting with anyone. That one piece of advice changed his life. It’s easy to get someone, the hard part is keeping the relationship going strong.
Early in working with him, one of the women he was dating dumped him. We discovered that there were a few childhood issues that remained, impairing his ability to strengthen and maintain his relationships with women.
I once took him to a fashion show, he was so overwhelmed by how attractive the women really were — he didn’t think he’d find that many in one place. I was trying to calm him down, and there was a whole paper bag scene and everything. He’s had his struggling moments.
So you’re not only a counselor, but a psychologist?
It’s a love therapy kind of thing. [What’s hindering people] is usually something they’re doing and don’t realise.
How do you advertise?
Word of mouth. Some Facebook advertising. I’ve worked with several college students. They’re not necessarily looking for long-term love, but lots of guys want to maximise their social experience in life. They’ve heard horror stories about not being able to meet people outside college.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for single people?
The biggest thing people do wrong is they don’t make a move. Fear of rejection keeps people from making a move. This also applies to someone who’s trying to get a job. Fear prevents you from taking a risk, asking for a date, asking for a sale. We always come across different hurdles. Don’t let fear dictate your life.
Are you single?
I’m engaged, actually. I proposed to my fiancé on Christmas Eve. We met through Twitter. It started with a retweet. We said we should collaborate on something, and over time we started hanging out more. She’s also a dating expert; her website is eflirtexpert.com. She helps singles date online.
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