Skip to content

…and so the story begins

A billion dollars in subscriptions, 1500 sites, two 800 pound gorillas, 20 million profiles all sounding exactly the same, 250 questions to complete the sign-up, and in the middle of it all is me (and you) looking for love.  How in the world is this online dating thing supposed to work?  There’s no training, no roadmap, and the online dating establishment isn’t helping either.    Why would they?  What’s their motivation?  When you’re making hundreds of millions of dollars by keeping people dating, why would you do anything to help your subscribers succeed?  Instead, they take our money and imply it’s not them, it’s us.

So, herein lay the story of how I killed Online Dating.  It’s a long ride filled with crazy twists and turns; born in Paris but stretching from Silicon Valley to Sydney, St. Lucia to Fiji.  It’s an industrial love-hate relationship, or maybe better, a love-hate relationship with an industry.  It is the story of how I decided to chuck their billion dollar algorithms and do it myself—to find Judy,  the love of my life, and write a book to help others do the same.   A chronicle of the last two years, the blog reveals the backstory of the book’s inspiration, what it took to write the book, the business behind books, and our lives leading up to the October 2012 unveiling of our project.

Whether you’re interested in relationships, finding love, writing, entrepreneurialism, publishing, marketing, or online dating, I guarantee there’s something in this tale for you!

Begin here! Click for Episode 1: Leavin’ on a Jet Plane…without you

Episode 48: My Kingdom For A Seat

With the book safely delivered, we shifted our focus to other items that hand long been on our list, but ignored due to the book deadline. On the short list was the need to obtain some market research, file a couple patents, and get to Fiji for our wedding.

The first two weren’t too bad. We created a survey to find out what online daters thought about the services they used and the experiences they had using them. We wanted to know what they loved and hated about online dating–their answers would help us define better how the Mirror relationship would fit into the existing market. The patents would then protect the unique methods the Mirror Effect would bring to creating a radically different online dating experience.

Neither of these tasks were that difficult to complete. Getting to Fiji for our wed-away turned out to be the real challenge.

The airline had planned maintenance work on part of its fleet in October. In preparation, the airline needed to move some reservations to accommodate the reduced capacity. In doing so, they accidently debooked EVERY itinerary they had in the computer for the entire month of October! To recover, they had to reenter each booking by hand. The resulting chaos meant they didn’t know how many seats would be available or when they might be available.

Being that Fiji is not a very large place (especially the island we had chosen for our nuptials), aligning airline and resort availability was a hair-pulling experience.

Would we ever get married?

For tomorrow: Black Thursday

Episode 47: Why It’s Called A Deadline

The end of September came and, too, our deadline for releasing our manuscript to the publisher. In those final days of editing, all hands were on deck. The entire book team camped out at our house. While Laura and I wrote, Judy and Stef read, corrected, asked questions, and drilled down. The laser printer never seemed to stop printing revision after revision. Sleep was not an option. We must have had three 20 hour days just hammering out the final cuts before the deadline. It was an adrenaline-fueled, book-junkie ride. By the end, we knew why they call it a deadline. We all felt dead.

We handed the book over to White Cloud just a few days long of the delivery date. Laura had succeeded in guiding our manuscript to a new level—and, in the process, gave us a beautiful addition to the title. The title went from The Mirror Effort to The Mirror Effect: More Than Soul Mates. The change was perfect…and so was Laura. She had so impressed us that we asked her to become a permanent member of Team MM.

She also warned us that the book would sit on the King’s shelf for 6 months. At the time, I didn’t believe her.

Click here for Episode 48: My Kingdom For A Seat

Episode 46: When It Rains, It Pours

If it wasn’t enough that Laura, Judy and I were working madly to beat the publishing deadline and Judy was planning our wed-away, the issue of the book contract suddenly re-emerged. We had started discussions with White Cloud in February, but hadn’t received their boilerplate book contract until July. As soon as I received the contract, I countered by offering shares in Magical Matches in exchange for retaining the book’s rights–a proposal that was definitely not normal procedure where publisher-author relations are concerned.

I hoped to create a new paradigm in which we would align and partner with the publisher towards mutual success. The agreement would provide White Cloud revenue streams from both the book and the online dating website, while simultaneously permitting me to leverage the book’s content without restriction to maximize profits. But my counter-offer had been sucked into the vortex of the Bookmuda Triangle. It was now September and I hadn’t heard a peep back from White Cloud. During much of that time I had been nearly begging to get the contract finished–I wanted to have at least one item completed from the action list that seemed to be growing daily.

Finally, I received the following email from Stephen, the gentleman who is responsible for the business-side of White Cloud. He wrote:

I also want to say that I am not comfortable relinquishing the rights without a clearer picture of what our agreement will be with regard to our participation in the overall project going forward….so, maybe we should talk after I get a look at the changes…

Fair enough. We were asking them to surrender the lifeblood of their profit stream, so we needed to work this facet just a bit more to get there. This paradigm was probably the first of its type. Their trepidation was understandable.

Stephen did go on to say:

And, I want to say that your dedication to making the best product you can in a reasonable time frame is very impressive–we are more excited about the prospects for your book and website now.

I was pretty certain that they would buy in. They were beginning to get a taste of our Silicon Valley tenacity. We just needed a little more time for them to get comfortable with the idea of releasing the rights to the book.

Click here for Episode 47: Why It’s Called A Deadline

Episode 45: Once More Unto the Breach…

There had been no respite, no recovery. It was back to the book and editing.

Laura had given our manuscript a quick read and decided to take on the task of helping us finishing the project.

And Laura didn’t just want to edit. She wanted to EDIT. Her idea of editing was to sit side by side in front of the screen and work together in real time.

Night and day, we delved deeply into the manuscript. Laura didn’t really so much write as she did direct, like Spielberg, or Lucas, or DeMille. Together we hacked, re-arranged, removed, and expanded. She was brilliant. Like an unfinished script under the command of a master filmmaker, the book started to take on a completely new feel. It grew tighter, more succinct, more direct. Rarely moving from the screens, we ate and drank whilst arguing over word selection and placement, as well as my writing style. Too many italics. No exclamation points! This doesn’t make any sense to me. You have to spell it out here…every word. Don’t be snarky. Don’t insult the reader. It was like being back in Ms. Barr’s High School AP English class. Yikes.

Crushed into a corner of the office, Laura and I reviewed every word of the manuscript…again and again. It was simultaneously tedious and immediately gratifying. And as the pages passed, the manuscript drastically, quickly started improving.

Two weeks to go until the deadline….

Click here for Episode 46: When It Rains, It Pours

Episode 44: The King Speaks…

Sept 8, 2011

Just a week after finishing the manuscript and sending it off, I received an email from Steve. He had already read the manuscript! I was stunned and impressed. He was too.

Steve wrote:

I also very much like the latest version of the ms (manuscript). It really is hitting the right notes and is a great read. The writing team has done a great, great job here. Excellent work!

But a couple of days later on the phone we heard a slightly different message. The manuscript was great…great to the point that the material was finished enough for them to polish it into completion.

For those of us from the Silicon Valley that was not a message to be taken lying down. It meant that we had more work to do. We wanted perfection…or at least as a close as newbies could get to it. With just two weeks to go before the due date, we wanted another crack at making it truly as perfect as it could be.

Once again, we reached out to local author and writing teacher, Laura Davis, whom we had contacted previously. At that time, she declined as she was taking the summer off. Now, however, Laura had just returned from her hiatus and we hoped to entice her to work with us for the two weeks remaining before the publisher’s deadline.

Click here for Episode 45: Once More Into the Breach

Episode 43: Four Wedding Dates and a Manuscript

It was the beginning of September and Judy and I were trying to pick a wedding date–again.

During the entire book writing and editing process, Judy and I had been searching for an opening to get married. It wasn’t as if we were waiting to see if we were right for each other. Our Mirror connection and relationship was incredibly strong—we were definitely more than soul mates. The problem was that the from the moment we met, we had both been working day jobs, writing a book, and building a Silicon Valley startup. There just wasn’t time to set a wedding date and chase down all of the requirements that a wedding entails–which is almost laughable as we weren’t intending a grand spectacle. We wanted a simple, small ceremony. I even attempted to circumvent the entire process and do it on the fly when we were in Sydney on Valentine’s Day. As we walked by several cruise ships that were in port, I said to Judy, “Let’s go find the Captain and have him marry us.” No Go, Houston, she wanted to be married in her own wedding dress.

After that attempt, we thought that we might make it to the altar in July. But July came and went in a blink without ceremony—literally and figuratively.

So we set our targets on October. Surely things would be calmer after the end-September deadline to get the book to the publisher. Judy started making inquiries about a destination wedding in Fiji and after having just sent the book to the publisher and in the middle of creating a company, she started shopping for a wedding dress.

Click here for Episode 44: The King Speaks…

Episode 42: The Manuscript is Finished! … or so I thought…

On August 29, 2011, after a solid non-stop month of writing, editing, and integration, I declared the book finished. Yes, there was a little mop-up to be done, but the bulk of the work was complete. I sent the manuscript to Steve at White Cloud, to the other team members, as well as a couple of people who were already under NDA, and awaited their editorial comments. (We had successfully hit our target to finish the book four weeks before the deadline to permit feedback before the final copy went to print)

I had been writing since July 2010 when I started the manuscript sitting at a Paris sidewalk café. During that entire time I had felt like a blind man trying to find his way through a unfamiliar maze. I’d started the project being largely ignorant about the art of writing…and had pretty much finished the same way. For me writing was difficult, frustrating, and highly stressful. I hadn’t slept well in months, and had pushed my mind and body to the breaking point.

Even with this momentous milestone, we were a long way from the finish line—a sentiment I included in my message to the team:

Team MM! One big thing complete! Please remember that we’ve yet to file patents and we’re still deep in stealth mode.

What a relief it was for the writing to be completed. Finally, I could take a breath and get some sleep…

Click here for Episode 43: Four Wedding Dates and a Manuscript

Episode 41: It Seemed So Innocuous…

A couple of days before, the Publishing King had attended his first Team MM meeting and returned back home. No sooner than he had landed, he emailed a document to Judy and me. The email arrived marked urgent; he explained that the form needed to be completed and returned before the end of the day in order to make the book distributor’s deadline. (In reality, he had sent it previously and I dropped the ball in returning it to him.)

The document was to be used to feed our book’s information into the distributor’s catalog system. It required the information that one might anticipate for a catalog entry: Book title and summary, author’s name and bios, release date, etc. Steve explained that the information would be used to make a catalog. The distributor’s sales people would use the catalog to sell our book to book stores and various other outlets.

It seemed simple enough…

Little did we realize how this one little form would threaten the entire project. Within six weeks, things would get ugly.

Click here for Episode 42: The Manuscript Is FINISHED! or so I thought…

Episode 40: A Visit From The King

Late in August, the Publishing King made a visit to Santa Cruz. The team had been meeting in our backyard twice a month over the summer. These meetings had become quite the fun thing. Wine, food, and great ideas abounded. It would be first first time Steve had come to a Team meeting.

I wanted him to feel part of the team. Part of offering WC equity in MM was to create synergy towards our single goal of radically changing the way we view relationships and dating. Secretly, I hoped the win-win of exchanging book rights for shares would actually become a win-win-win; the last win being a shift away from the subject-sovereign relationship towards one where WC would bring their brilliance to fulfill just one of the many necessary team disciplines.

So on August 25, 2011, Steve sat down in the backyard for his first Team MM meeting. It was only the second time for Judy and me to meet Steve, and the first time for the rest of the team. It was an important meeting. I wanted Steve to feel like he was part of the team that we had been building over the year…and I wanted him to understand the brilliant marketing, engineering and book writing elements that were present on the Team.

We had a chance to discuss concepts for the book cover, the ideals of Mirroring, timelines, and explain the new concepts MM would bring to online dating.

By the end of the day I believe that Steve could see WC’s part in the larger team. From this point forward there was a noticeable shift in our relationship. WC began to look to us more for the lead in marketing direction and branding. They began to collaborate more about dates and timing. We still didn’t have an answer on our contract proposal, but I got the feeling it was looking good.

Once again, the philosophy of putting players on the team rather than hiring out was producing synergy and alignment towards our goal of changing the world.

Click here for Episode 41: It Seemed So Innocuous…

Episode 39: Out Of The Shadows…

In August, Judy and I attended a class on understanding your internal judgments and preconception of others. This, in itself, was enlightening, but what happened at the end of one class was truly fascinating.

The trainers had known Judy for some time. They had worked with and had become accustomed to the Judy that was strong and powerful; the woman who used an outer armor to protect her softer side.

At the end of one of the evenings (at a session I hadn’t been able to attend), the instructor unexpectedly lit into Judy. She complained that Judy was living in a fantasy world. In witnessing the fun, joy, and tenderness between me and Judy, she had come to the opinion that our love wasn’t real.She accused Judy of living a lie–insisting that she had changed her core so that she might fit better into our relationship. Because Judy had softened, the instructor stated, Judy had become a shadow of herself.

This overt challenge was jarring for Judy to receive…and was way off the mark. Judy was not a shadow of herself. Instead, she had discarded the shadow and in its place was the real, true Judy. Soft, tender, unprotected. Judy was still very powerful, but the power came from a different, more organic place. The tender, loving, sensitive, unprotected woman with a giving heart had completely emerged from behind her wall…and, boy, was she beautiful.

That’s the power of the Mirror relationship.

Click here for Episode 40: A Visit From the King

%d bloggers like this: