Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dating Is Your Job: An unromantic look at career-hunting and dating

Wouldn’t it be nice if real-life romance was like in the movies? The kind of films filled with moments where the man meets the woman for the first time, the lights dim, the music slows and everything seems perfect. There might be some back and forth drama, but you know it’ll work out in the end, and even if it doesn’t, at least the lovers went out with a passionate flourish.

However, romance in the modern world starts with dating, and rather than it be like a great work or art, it’s more like getting a job.

As much as that analogy sucks and is totally unromantic.

It’s true.

Take for example my buddy Donald and how he hunted downed his ideal job and met an amazing girl. The process of realizing both dreams were surprisingly similar.

1) Find Your Ideal Company

Donald decided that he wanted a career working in schools where he could inspire students to pursue their ambitions. His first task was to find the ideal place he would like to work. He had to figure out which schools appealed to him and why.

At the same time, Donald wanted a girlfriend, but he had to figure out what type of girl he was looking for. What qualities and values would she have? Did he want someone wild and fun or relaxed and domesticated? Different strokes for different folks, so it was important for him to figure out what he was after and where he could meet this type of girl.

2) Clean Up Your Résumé

Eyeing a respected private high school, Donald liked that school’s teaching philosophy, state-of-the-art facilities and well-paying employee salaries. He got to work revising his résumé and seeing what he should highlight about himself at a networking event. With a positive attitude, a well-fitted suit, he looked great and was ready to meet the right people.

After the event, Donald met up with his friend for a drink. At the bar, he saw two attractive brunettes enjoying themselves in conversation. In the same way he was prepped for that networking event, Donald walked toward them ready with a few interesting aspects of his character that would differentiate him from the crowd. He already looked sharp and with a smile, he introduced himself. His goal was not to show off, but instead to engage these women in a casual, conversational manner so they could learn about each other and see if there had any commonalities and, more importantly, chemistry.

3) The Interview

Things were looking good, Donald thought as he waited in a lobby at 10 a.m. in anticipation of his first interview. He greeted the interviewer with a firm handshake and prepared himself for an hour of information sharing and conversation.

Is a first date like an interview? I lean toward yes. I think everyone has put on a positive front and gone in ready to share great stories about their lives. On the flip side, sometimes people are too shy on first dates and are unsure what to say, or even what not to stay.

As Donald sits across from his date that evening, he knows that it’s important to ask questions and be curious, but that there’s a fine line between sharing information about each other and an intense, police-like inquisition. He decides to find out the basics about the brunette in front of him, like where she comes from, what she does for a living and what she’s passionate about.

4) Rejection

Donald follows up his first interview with a handwritten note, but he has a bad feeling that he tried too hard. He talked too much and didn’t ask enough questions. He feels under-qualified and not the ideal job candidate. A week goes by and he is informed that he did not get the job.

After that date, he knows that they had shared too much, too fast. Both of them were eager to impress the other and the conversation was too intense, lacking the ease one has with a good friend.

5) Many, Many More Interviews

Learning what he did wrong, Donald refines his pitch and is surprised that as he networks and goes to more interviews, the interview process becomes easier. He is more natural and less self-conscious. His nervousness begins to diminish as he confidently realizes that if one interview doesn’t work out, there will be more ahead.

In his dating life, Donald goes out more and more and discovers what works and what doesn’t on a date. He finds a dinner date is too static and costly, while a simple chat over tea or a drink is much more relaxing. The women he meets respond better to his more relaxed self and soon a first date turns into a second and a third.

6) You’re Hired

Finally, Donald’s hard work has paid off, as a prestigious school desires him as their new career counselor.

Excited, he hops into his car to meet a girl he has been seeing to catch a movie. The evening goes wonderfully and at the end, Donald asks her if she’s seeing other people. She doesn’t want too, and neither does he. They smile, and a relationships is formed.

Not many of us are lucky enough to get the dream girl and dream job at the same time like Donald, but you have to give him credit for working hard at obtaining what he wanted. Dating can be as challenging as finding a great job, but if you put in the hard work, romance is waiting for you at the end.

Written by Jason Burk

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to meet a Hot Ethiopian while Jogging

The overlook where our protagonists met.

What brings people together? Common interests, values and hobbies. It’s nearly impossible for people with radically different pursuits and lifestyles to become a couple. So how do you meet people that like a few of the things you do? You could stalk peoples’ profiles on Facebook, pay $60 a month to join or simply meet people while doing things that both of you like doing.

That’s what this story is about.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I was plugging away at writing the outline of my first novel, and after a grueling three hours, I needed to exercise and shake off the monotony of sitting in a chair. I’ve always liked running -- not on a treadmill, but outside where you can feel the sunshine, notice the world around you, eyeball a target destination and get there and back.

Heading out of my home in Culver City with an iPod, keys and a black hoodie, I set my sights on the Baldwin Hills Scenic Lookout, a hill that presents a great view of the city, from Santa Monica to Downtown. It has a gradual ½ mile uphill trail or 282 steep concrete steps to climb.

Heading up the trail, I noticed a girl at the top. She was Caucasian with brown hair pulled back in a pony tail and she was very focused on doing her leg exercises. She wore a gray sweater and blue tights, revealing a fit, body. She was pretty in a casual way, a girl-next-door type that would probably look stunning dolled up.

My mind froze and I couldn’t think of anything to say, not even a simple question to ask, like what time it was or what was the name of the hill. As I stalled, she finished her workout and jogged the hill.

Letting an opportunity like that slip away left a tinge of disappointment on my mind as I headed home. I resolved that the next day if I saw a girl I wanted to talk to, I would ask her a simple question. My goal was to train myself, one small step at a time, to become better able to meet and chat with strangers, both men and women.

Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m., I finished my writing and excitedly headed out the door on my run. Arriving at the bottom of the hill, I stashed my hoodie behind a bush because it was hot in Los Angeles during the late fall, and I’d also be able to show off my guns in a sleeveless nylon shirt.

Nearing the top, I looked up to see a girl with dark brown skin, gazing nonchalantly at the view ahead. Her blue sweater and gray tights showcased a lean figure, which she paired, rather oddly, with black aviator sunglasses and a checkered black and gray cap. She looked fairly stylish for a girl on a run.

Adrenaline and nervousness raced through my body. What to say? What to do? “Eye of the Tiger” had been playing on my iPod, so I pumped my hands in the air, shouting “Yeah!” while enjoying my Rocky moment.

I leaned on the railing overlooking the city and, to no one in particular, asked if anyone knew the area of town a cluster of buildings were stationed at between Century City and the Downtown skyline

The dark-skinned girl turned to me and was unsure of where I was referring to. We were 20 feet apart, and I commented how I was aware of the other sites that the view offered, the Santa Monica Beach, Sony Pictures in Culver City and Griffith Park but that particular cluster of buildings was a mystery, perhaps it was Sunset Blvd. While neither of us knew the answer, we inched closer and closer, maintaining a casual chat.

“Why aren’t you sweaty?” I asked with a grin, observing her dry clothing. “Didn’t you just go for a run?”

She chuckled and told me about her routine, walking up and down the steps two times, and pausing at the top.

I find when you’re talking with someone you don’t know, it is up to you to further the conversation. The two of you know nothing about each other, so I find it best to reveal a bit of something about you, such as your job, passion or hobby. Make it brief, and if the other person is curious to know more, they’ll let you know.

“I really like to run,” I said. “And it’s a great way to release all that extra energy after I’ve been writing all day.”

We chatted about writing, my business and then I learned about her. She is an exchange student from Ethiopia studying physical therapy at a local community college, but her real passion is in fashion. She works for a popular jeans company, and in her free time she likes to run and go out to nightclubs.

As we talked, I told her that I think each day is maximized when you do five things: work, exercise, socialize, relax and create/learn. With a smile, I noted how we were doing two out of five in the same activity.

Soon I felt that slight moment that told me it was time to go, akin to a prompter signaling a speaker to wrap it up and finish, leaving the audience wanting more.

I suggested we go running again sometime. But there was a problem, how would I contact her? I had no pen, paper or cellphone and neither did she. I asked her to tell me her email address and I would remember it by the time I got home.

As we jogged down the hill, I found my hoodie and we happily parted ways.

It was a fun and unexpected encounter for both of us. I was excited to have met someone, let alone an attractive dark-skinned beauty, in a moment when I was doing something that I liked to do. I bet if we had met at a nightclub, the conversation would have not been so easygoing, because people bring a lot of barriers and personal shields when they meet someone in that environment.

But not while going for a run. Not when you’re enjoying the sun, exhausting the body and feeling that surge of adrenaline. Those are the best times to connect with someone, and if something more should come of it, you can always plan to meet another day.

Just make sure you bring a pen and paper at all times, just in case.

Written by Jason Burk