By Gracen Hansen
Between apps, setups, and friends of friends, modern dating has only become more and more confusing. We sat down with Jessica Baker, a professional Matchmaker to get her perspective on dating. Including great tips on how to foster a relationship during social distancing!
Nectar News: What inspired you to write “jumpstart your love life”?
Jessica Baker: Jumpstart Your Lovelife was actually co-created with two other matchmakers in Orange County. We met through Patti Stanger; she’s the one that did Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo for a while, and she did the training for matchmakers to get their official matchmaking certification. So when we were there, doing that, we were brainstorming. We thought it would be great to put together little pieces of advice that we’ve gathered over time into one spot.
NN: How did you become interested in matchmaking?
JB: Honestly, I’ve always had an interest in it but I was doing everything I was told I ‘should’ be doing, rather than running after my passions. Family and friends were like, ‘Oh, you have it all! You’re married, living in New York City, successful working in finance, you have got to be so happy!’ and I’m was like, ‘Am I? Am I really?’ It really made me think. I worked this hard to get here, and I don’t have the fulfillment I thought I would be having. I went to a therapist like ‘what is the deal here?’ all embarrassed. She asked me ‘what do you think is the common denominator?’ As much as I wanted to look elsewhere, I knew it was me.
That’s when I started doing some self-awareness and self-development work. You know, that section of the bookstore you gravitate to and secretly hope nobody is watching you. Everyone has an opinion. But I was seeking tools, a lot of which have been around for a long time. I started from there. That’s when I discovered the Myers Briggs personality assessment which is the basis for the calendar/ astrology and all that good stuff.
From that point on, I started looking at things differently. I started to understand how other people see the world versus how I see the world. How I take in information and how others might perceive me. How my strengths and weaknesses can be positive. I soon realized as the common denominator, things need to change.
I had a frank conversation with my husband to go together and file an uncontested divorce, quit my job, and moved across the country, all in a span of a couple of months. People were saying ‘you’re going through your mid-life crisis!?’ and I said, ‘no. I am finally seeing things more clearly now, and am doing what I Should have always done: learn to trust myself and follow my own path.’ So that has led me on this new adventure. It’s been uplifting, exhilarating, interesting, crazy, and scary all at the same time. It has awakened my soul.
NN: In the midst of dating apps, hookup culture, and introductions through friends, how does one become a professional matchmaker?
JB: Like anything else, you know? By gaining a lot of knowledge. When you sit down on a phone call with an “expert” and pay for their time, you’re not actually paying for the minutes you are sitting there with them. You’re really paying for their expertise. You are paying for those 10-20 years they put in to give you knowledgeable advice, given your specific situation. Like anyone with a passion, it is inherent that you naturally gravitate towards that passion and continue to consume information through every medium and experience you come across because it fascinates you. I have studied at The Matchmaking Institute, received several certifications, and been a speaker at iDate in Vegas all driven by my passion.
NN: What is the biggest challenge in your present professional life?
JB: Right now, it’s the technology keeping up with customer demand. As of the end of January, I’m taking everything down, the website, IOS and Android apps. It was a difficult decision because we have been getting 80 sign ups a day organically, without any marketing. The problem is that Google, Facebook, companies like these do different updates. To stay current, our code requires changes to incorporate their new requirements. Technology moves quickly and with updates by big players, it moves even faster. As such, we found that by integrating the new requirements it would cause other parts of the code to break. So we decided to just scratch it all and rebuild it with forward-looking technology. This way we can easily make required updates, stay competitive, incorporate our second patent utilizing artificial intelligence to assist customers communication, and other exciting new features. For the first time ever, I decided to raise capital, in hopes of finding some synergistic partnerships and dynamic minds to help propel the vision.
NN: What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career path?
JB: I would first say to make sure it’s something that you are truly passionate about. Like anything else, if you’re not passionate about it, you’re not going to have your heart and soul in it. I’m always either researching the topic, thinking about the industry or involved in something related to the subject. If you’re passionate about it and it intrigues you, then you’ll find success in it. You will find the journey and path that is most enjoyable for you to take. I think that’s the most important rule.
NN: How do you see your career as a matchmaker, changing and how it will stay the same in the next five years?
JB: In the next five years what I plan to do is use our technology as an API plugin for other matchmakers to use. Hopefully, it’ll change the industry so that instead of matchmakers interviewing people one on one or having to profile them, it will help them dive into the intrinsic characteristics of an individual. For example, if we sit down and I say ‘tell me about yourself!’ what you say might be very different than what your closest friends would say, or an ex-boyfriend would say about you. So we’re hoping that in the next five years we have this API that will go out to all the matchmakers and individuals in the industry or networking in general, so people have more of a basis to launch their preferences off of for people to have a more genuine connection.
NN: Do you have any upcoming projects you are excited about?
JB: One of our new features, that we’ve got a patent on, is for a programmatic coach. It integrates artificial intelligence and the database of psychometrics and astrology. In this next revamp we’re integrating that and it helps people have more seamless communication. Older generations tend to pick up the phone, hear your voice, and have a conversation with you. The younger generation wants to have a full dialogue over a text message. Sometimes however having a full conversation over text can come across awkward, or misunderstood in the correspondence. So individuals who might have really great chemistry and interaction in person might come across as awkward and weird via text message. Our artificial intelligence programmatic coach helps people who are matched to be able to communicate in a way that is easier and more seamless for breaking the ice, giving them ideas on how to continue a conversation, and uses the background of each of their personalities characteristics to carry a conversation from the beginning until the in-person meet up. So if you’re trying to meet in person, this programmatic coach makes it painless, the whole way through. I’m super excited about it!
NN: How do you navigate dating during these uncertain days of quarantine?
JB: Taking a moment to really get to know someone online and then moving it to phone calls and then Skype. This is a real opportunity to truly get to know somebody intimately without all the distractions of life. As well, you might see what a person is genuinely like just one on one when they have had the opportunity to reflect on their priorities during this time of solitude.