Sadly, this episode is about to expire from Hulu in five hours, but I thought I’d share it while I could. I’ve become a huge fan of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and this episode from Season 5 is hilarious and eerily close to what some seduction gurus would teach. Hell, even I teach the part about getting her in your room, without the trickery.
I feel like a tease about this, after the impressive response you gave when Rob and I mentioned the e-book on logistics he had written during our Charisma Arts days. We wanted to share it with you, but it turns out the book was lost to the ether of Rob’s computer. And that’s a major logistical problem.
But I will see if I can pick Rob’s brain over the coming weeks and get him to rewrite the book, or make some guest posts here. So stay tuned.
Some things take a while to come back to us. Halley’s Comet visits us every 75 years, Punxsutawney Phil climbs out of his hole every Groundhog Day and the World Cup is back after a four-year absence. Eminem is trying to come back right now, but I’m not sure we want him.
As for my old Charisma Arts mentor, Rob Overman, who has been hiding out in parts unknown, it took him almost two years to reveal himself to the blogosphere again. And once he started talking again, I found it tough to make him stop.
Alas, it’s a one-time-only revival, but we had a most-productive podcast. At over one hour long, I wasn’t able to cut it down because I liked it too much.
Here’s what you’ll hear from Rob:
Why he was so scary to me when I was an apprentice, and how he trained people to become effective instructors.
Why we had to teach more than just “people skills.”
Rob’s bullet-proof phone game.
His perspective on the coaching industry after being away from it for 1 1/2 years.
Why the player lifestyle is overrated yet seductive to guys.
An explanation of the Big Four, and why he taught it.
His perspective on game now that he’s about to get married, and how life changes in a relationship.
I’m not sure when the stars will align again for Rob, but for now I hope you enjoy.
Sometimes I look to you, my dear readers, for inspiration on blog topics. Especially when I’m swamped with work, my social life and the Celtics in the NBA Finals. (I really, really hope they win Game 6 on Tuesday so my life can return to normal and I’m no longer an anxious mess.) So with three of you writing me for advice in the past week, here’s a little mailbag coming your way:
Question One: “Hey Greg, just a quick question. Now that you are no longer with CA, has your method that you do and teach others changed at all or is it still basically the big 4?”
Answer: If you’ve taken instruction with me or read much of this blog, you know I ♥ the Big Four when it comes to meeting women. I adopted it from Rob Overman, my former mentor with Charisma Arts, soon after I was hired, and it played a big role in simplifying what we were teaching at the time. Rather than force-feed a smorgasbord of techniques and abstract theory, we stuck to the basics, ’cause the basics are all a growing boy needs.
And even now, I consider it a big piece of the puzzle, though it isn’t the entire thing. For instance, eye contact and vibe matter a lot too. Also, I emphasize the big picture more these days. A guy who has a life, passions and enthusiasm but inferior game can do much better than a guy with slick game but no life or self-awareness. And I really emphasize the “shut up and lead” theme. Conversation means nothing if you’re not a closer.
Speaking of the Big Four and Rob, I’ll be doing a long-overdue podcast with him this week. So prepare for a treat.
Question Two: “Hi GK, many thanks for such crystal clear advice. It cuts much of the complicated PUA lingo out and its frankness is a breath of fresh air. I wanted to discuss with you the possibility of giving do’s and don’ts pointers on sarging men for friendship or even to open a young lady they may be escorting. I find “mixed sets” as some may say to be daunting and wouldn’t know really how to handle aggression from the start.”
Answer: I like this question because it shows how “approach anxiety” is about a lot more than picking up girls. I find guys are just as nervous about approaching other guys in social settings, if not more so because the pretenses are more ambiguous and there’s the fear of aggression. And here in San Francisco, we can’t always trust our Gaydar.
But I have in fact “picked up” guys, and a few of them became good friends of mine. It’s an essential skill for men looking to expand their social circles, and I think it’s what separates the truly social from the horndogs. I provided an example of meeting a girl after approaching a guy in my post on gatekeepers.
If you’re meeting guys at a bar or party who are without girls, common interests are an easy way to bond. Two topics work for me almost every time: girls and sports. If you just walk up to the guy with a warm vibe, say cheers, and ask a simple “How do the girls look here tonight?”, it will usually alleviate any sexuality questions and get the guy talking. Even the Type A guys will often be friendly with you if you’re friendly with them. From there, just share a couple of good-natured wisecracks and you’re instant buddies.
Just as with women, you need to be a closer. If you know what kind of guy friends you’re looking for, it’ll be easy to suggest hanging out with them again, whether it’s as wingmen, basketball buddies or otherwise.
You know Sergio (Garcia)? It can pay off if you do.
If the guy is with attractive girls, the same principles apply, but just be tactful and learn the right information before or soon after you flirt with anyone. I’ve made statements like, “I don’t want to step on your toes, man, so could you tell me which of these girls are taken?” If he’s cool, he’ll tell you and even offer to help you meet the single ones. Never ignore the guy (unless he’s earned it), or you’ll risk getting c-blocked or worse. Also, it’s bad manners.
If you’re ever met with hostility or a-hole behavior, which has rarely happened to me, just don’t panic or return the hostility. Kill him with kindness, and he’ll have no choice but to leave you alone. I once made a guy look like a fool in front of his girlfriend that way.
Question Three: “I would be interested in hearing your insight on how to handle the ‘brush-off.’ Assuming that I manned-up, led, showed interest and hit the logistics, I’m wondering on how to approach these situations– the last-minute text about the ‘family emergency but I want to really meet up later’ or ‘can we move this to tomorrow?’ In some cases, I’m not sure I’m getting brushed off entirely or they just got a better offer for that evening or whatever it may be. Really, this may be a self-answering question because if someone really is attracted to you, they will move mountains– or is that not always the case? But how do you handle that? Do you inquire for more info or just say ‘I’m free on ####, let me know if you can make it’ or something else entirely?”
Answer: Every guy gets flaked on. That’s just an occupational hazard of dating. And the only “right” answer on how to handle it depends on your tolerance for it.
Personally, I would be more tolerant if she made it clear that she does want to see me and even suggested another night. This is real life, and people do get sick, face emergencies or get stuck with work, even though they are interested in you. So feel free to suggest alternate plans. She’ll make time for you if she likes you and the logistics are right.
What I have less tolerance for is when the girl cancels more than once or gives a vague, “maybe some other time” remark without apologizing. I have a busy social calendar and my time is precious, so I’m going to put the ball in her court and see how serious she is. I’ve made texts to the effect of, “I’d like to see you another time if you’re actually interested in hanging out. It doesn’t help if you’re flaky! Tell me what night works for you.” Sometimes this has led to dates, and other times I’ve never heard from them again. Either way, I win.
But other guys don’t mind keeping 30 phone numbers and trying the same girls over and over again — this can work too. Just go with what feels right to you.
People have asked me whether I miss being an instructor ever since I did my last bootcamp in March. My answer has remained a steadfast no — I rather like having my weekends to myself. Plus, I’m still getting phone-coaching requests and I have this blog, so I’m not going totally cold turkey.
You're making me offers I can't refuse.
But I can’t exactly pat myself on the back for showing steely-eyed practicality and leaving all this behind. Not when I’ve accepted a couple of live-coaching students, my first one having flown here from the East Coast to work with me in SF last weekend. As I promised in my Spider-Man farewell, I wouldn’t refuse anyone, for coaching over the phone or in person, as long as I thought we’d work well together. I just wasn’t counting on a bunch of you taking me up on that promise.
And so I put the Spidey suit back on last weekend, as I will in New York next month. Not to mix movie metaphors, but every time I think I’m out … they pull me back in. So ask me again, do I miss being an instructor? It seems I do, but only when I’m actually instructing.
And it helped that this was one of my funnest experiences doing this, even though it lasted a full day and a half with little rest. It didn’t even feel like a bootcamp at times, especially since I’m no longer working for anyone and because my student was a great guy with lots of potential.
No offense to the many good students I’ve worked with, but it’s rare I coach a guy whom I’d immediately take as my wingman, where we’re not only Obi-Wan and Luke together, but also Sonny and Crockett. This was one of those times. I had to push him only occasionally as he racked up four numbers in two nights, and all the numbers were solid. They weren’t easy approaches, either — they were either sitting in tough locations or she was with a guy, or she was waiting for her date to show up. Thankfully, he didn’t show up until we’d left, because I don’t provide medical insurance for students.
It was also fun because I got to dance for once while teaching, when I’m truly in my element. That was my first such chance in about 1 1/2 years. I’ve had fun teaching in wine bars, where the students are more comfortable. But keeping me off a dance floor is like telling Beyonce she has to give up singing for acting. And that’s an analogy I never thought I’d make.
I still wasn’t able to dance for long, and we did spend most of our time in wine bars Saturday, but I made the most of it. It was 80s night, and I wouldn’t call it a demonstration because I was into the girl, but I pretty much gave a clinic on how to take over a dance floor by myself and close with the best-looking girl there. I’m not always that good or lucky, but almost everyone there was watching me with her. Except for my friend, who had left for the night, and my student, who never saw it beacuse he was too busy socializing. And I have no Zapruder film to prove it. But I swear, it really happened.
Sometimes in my instructor days, when my student was doing well and talking to the same girl for a long time near the end of the night, I would sit alone, watch them and savor my pinot noir. It was my victory glass, and for one night, I got to break it out again.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not getting back into regular coaching or starting my own company. It’s always more enjoyable if I’m only doing it once every few months or doing the occasional phone coaching. But the experience did remind me why I got into all this years ago, and why it’s hard to turn down anyone who needs the help now. (I’m not that pious, of course. I am getting paid, too.)
For all the talk of a bad economy, I haven’t searched for any of the students or potential students I’ve had since leaving CA — they sought me out. And that tells me something: the need for these skills — not just generic “people skills,” but also how to get the girl — isn’t going away anytime soon. It makes me that much more wistful about CA eliminating live instruction and now even dropping its forum. I know there are still pickup instructors galore, but I’m not sure where guys can turn to for the kind of overall help we were giving. And any semblance of a “community” where normal guys help each other seems long gone.
I don’t follow the industry much, so maybe there’s a new and better company or instructor I don’t know about. I’m just saying. And for now, it looks like my work isn’t done. More good karma for me.
Last month, I watched a tour documentary on the White Stripes called “Under Great White Northern Lights.” What stood out to me, other than some blistering live sets and the weird chemistry between Jack and Meg White, is the part where Jack elaborates on the band’s philosophy on imperfection, and on “constriction to force ourselves to create.” I thought it tied in pretty well with all this social-skills stuff.
If you’ve heard the Stripes, you know their garage/blues-rock style is anything but polished. They are spare, spontaneous and cacophonous — they can hurt your ears one moment and delight them the next. Kind of like when I’m making the rounds at a party.
But the Stripes and many other great bands — as radio-friendly as the Rolling Stones and as indie as Modest Mouse — don’t merely survive their flaws; they succeed in part because of them. (I love those bands’ lead singers, but personality got them further than their vocal skills.) Music is perhaps the most subjective taste, but I have a word for a band that sounds designed to get every little detail right and appeal to everyone: Nickelback. And Nickelback sucks.
If I coached a student who saw a girl or a group of people he wanted to talk to, I might have given him an opening line if he asked for one. But it’ll never be as genuine as what he can come up with if he just goes up there and forces himself to say something. My favorite example was when I pushed a nervous guy to approach a cute girl at the magazine stand with his mind blank, and he blurted out to her, “Have you seen Cat Fancy around here?” She was receptive and they talked for like 15 minutes.
I’ll let Jack take it away:
“Not every day of your life are you going to wake up and the clouds are going to part and the rays from heaven are going to come down and you’re going to write a song from it. Sometimes you just get in there and force yourself to work and maybe something good will come out of it. … Deadlines and things make you creative.”
As I once was, a lot of guys who are into this stuff are looking to be Mr. Cool from start to finish when they meet someone, they want everything to be easy, and they want to know exactly what to say and do in advance. It’s understandable after a lifetime of frustration and all the marketing that promises to make them a 24-7 ladies’ man. I’d rather be too cool than too shy.
But there’s a great danger to this mentality. An eye opener for me came days after I took my bootcamp with Charisma Arts, while I was still a chronic perfectionist. I’d been talking to a girl at a club for about 15 minutes, and I didn’t think I was doing very well. She wasn’t laughing much at my jokes, and I’d forgotten to give her a Statement of Intent as the method had taught me to say. So I did what so many guys do when they hit a road bump: I bailed.
Moments later, my wingman went up to the girl and sang my praises to her. Her response? “Then why didn’t he ask for my number?” So I went back to her, and we had a date after that.
Since then, I’ve cared much less about having perfect game and I’ve embraced my occasional awkwardness. I’ve knocked over drinks, told bad jokes and stuttered through sentences. I dropped one girl while dancing, causing her tooth to fall out. I accidentally head-butted another girl so hard that her mouth bled. But I kept my cool, and I still closed with them.
My former CA mentor, Rob, has said many things that stuck with me, and I’ll paraphrase one of them here: “When you’re too smooth, it tells the girl that you’re working. And that’s not sexy.”
White also talks about intentionally keeping spare guitar picks away from him during a show or using an out-of-tune guitar to make him perform better and build tension. Likewise, I think constraints can bring the best out of us when socializing.
I can’t think of a satisfying encounter I’ve had where everything came easily to me. And if the girl or crowd is eating up everything I say without challenging me, I tend to lose interest. Maybe I’m weird that way, but I like adversity — whether it’s the girl who accuses me of being gay (I get a lot of those) or having no wingman at a party and having to make friends from scratch.
I don’t listen to my favorite bands, such as the Stripes, because of their spotless technique. I listen to them because of the energy and personality they bring, and I’ll defend their flaws to anyone. If you can make dates and friends that way, I’d say you’ll be making some sweet music of your own.
The only thing I don’t like about being in a big city is the small living space. And the thing I hate most about a small space is having to make painful decisions on my wardrobe. I’ve made Goodwill and my friends a lot more fashionable from the donations I’ve made to squeeze all my clothes into a 3 1/2-foot-wide closet.
(Oh, don’t even think about knocking the puffy shirts I gave up. My mother said I looked great in them.)
But economy has made me a lot wiser than in my suburban days. My wardrobe is leaner but meaner, and even with a small closet I’m still the one who gets teased by my friends and dates as a fancy boy. I thought I’d offer a little primer for guys who want to dress well but don’t have lots of cash or room. By picking quality over quantity, you need less of each.
Get the right equipment: My closet may be slim, but it is tall, so I took advantage of that with a couple of canvas drawers that hang from the rack. I’m able to store all my sweaters and ties there, along with some shirts and shoes. I also have two hooks for my multitude of hats — I wear one almost constantly during the day.
I don’t have one, but another great tool is a space bag to vacuum-seal your suits and sports jackets. It’ll save space and keep your stuff fresh.
Versatility is everything: I can not only mix and match most of my clothes, but also dress them up and down. This is essential for me because I have two distinct looks: Daytime Greg and Nighttime Greg. The second Greg is much dressier than the first.
Here’s an example of my typical outfit progression. The first picture is of me wearing a checked-pattern shirt I picked up from H&M for about $60. I’m wearing it with some casual jeans — OK, so Seven For All Mankind isn’t casual to many, but I got them on sale. This is something I’d typically wear during the day.
The second picture is of me in the same shirt, layered under a $50 sweater from H&M, and paired with a dressier pair of jeans from Rock & Republic. This is my typical lounging-with-drinks outfit. I could also wear just the sweater over a black T-shirt, and it would work just as well for the day.
But let’s say I want to up the ante and go for a fancy dinner with family. In the third picture, I’m wearing the same shirt and sweater, only with a Macy’s brand black tie and jacket — both look sharp and cost me a combined $175 — and some charcoal-grey Hugo Boss pants.
I have several shirt-sweater-tie combinations like that, and they’re suitable for jeans or dress pants. This way, if you have three shirts, three sweaters, a pair of jeans and a pair of dressier pants, you have enough looks to last you two weeks.
Cut loose the dead wood: Those green plaid pants may be nice to goof off with on the golf course, but are you really going to wear them more than once a year? My rule is, if I haven’t worn it in six months, I’m chucking it. That way, I limit myself to buying clothes I’m actually going to wear. I take a page from the European man’s handbook by having fewer clothes, which allows me to buy higher quality. You wouldn’t trade LeBron James for two players with half his talent, just as it’s better to have one $100 shirt than two $50 ones.
Stick to the basics: You don’t need George Clooney’s paycheck to dress like him. If you have the following items, the rest of your closet is just gravy:
Two white dress shirts — I have one that’s more conservative, and one that’s trendier. Both fit me just right.
Three casual long-sleeved shirts — Vintage or second-hand stores are great for this kind of stuff. Even if I’m dressing down, I don’t want to look like every other guy. I have two second-hand shirts I picked up at a Haight Street store six years ago, and people still ask me if they’re new.
Three T-shirts/collared short sleeves — I’ve found some cool ones from my travels out of the country.
Three dressy shirts — I say dressy, but they’re still fun enough to wear for partying and with jeans. A few of mine are from Ben Sherman and Hugo Boss, and they’ll last me for years.
One pair of dressy jeans, one pair of casual jeans — If you’ll be wearing these a lot, as I do, it’s worth it to splurge on a higher-quality denim. Just wait for the right sale. Macy’s has ’em all the time.
A navy-blue or black V-neck sweater — you’ll find lots of shirts and ties to wear under this.
Three or four other sweaters — A turtleneck is a good one to include in this bunch. The rest should be good enough to wear day or night, and V necks or cardigans add versatility, and a thicker sweater can act as a jacket. I’ve been turning to Banana Republic for some vintage-looking, button-up sweaters lately.
Charcoal-grey dress pants — I got some great ones from Hugo Boss (as always, look for sales).
Brown or corduroy pants — So you’re not wearing jeans all the time.
Khakis — I used to dismiss these as too conservative, but worn the right way they can really stand out in the summer.
Three ties — Don’t know how to put one on yet? Learn. They’re an underutilized accessory out of the office, and I know I get more attention from girls than I want when I’m wearing one at night. Be sure to vary the colors and fabrics — I’ve got monochrome, knitted and striped. I save space in my closet by folding my ties once and rolling them.
One suit — Make this suit navy blue, get it tailored and if you have to splurge for higher quality (Italian is the best), splurge. You’ll be wearing it 10 years for everything from job interviews to weddings to funerals, and you can wear the jacket as a blazer for the nightlife. A man dressed in a quality, fitted suit is a man who gets treated better. Don’t forget that.
Black all-weather coat — There are some good ones out there than can handle bad weather but are dressy enough to wear at night.
One bolder jacket — This could be leather. I have a checked black-and-white blazer from Ben Sherman that turns heads. (I wear so much Ben Sherman these days, they should be paying me.)
One reversible belt.
As for shoes, the above video lays out what I have and I how I match them. But really, all you need are brown dress shoes, black dress shoes, a pair of loafers, some sneaker-type shoes you can wear every day, and maybe some boots. That’s it. I can stick one or two pairs of shoes inside those canvas shelves of mine to save space.
Basic doesn’t mean boring: I get my clothes in an array of basic colors and patterns with little redundancy, so I’m able to experiment a lot with a limited selection. I haven’t even had time to wear the outfit you see here, but I came up with it for this post. I’ve got a white shirt, a skinny tie my friend got for me in Hong Kong, brown checked pants and the jacket from my navy-blue suit. I especially like mixing blue and brown — it’s part of what my friend calls the “naughty prep school” style I have — and it’s a rarely seen combo.
As a guideline, I recommend wearing brown shoes over black. They just stand out more (wear black shoes with black pants, of course). And don’t underestimate the effect of some original socks. I wear everything from argyle to orange.
Of course you’ll need room for other things, like shorts, exercise clothes and out-of-season wear. Just buy some containers and stick those under your bed, as I have.
I hope that helps you, and if you live near me, I am willing to extend my coaching services to hooking you up with better clothes — it’s a subject that doesn’t get old for me, and I enjoy shopping for others more than I do for myself.
I think writing all this is lowering my testosterone level, so, I’ll leave you with, um, how about those Celtics?