Posts

How Deal Breakers Hinder Dating Success – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 93)

How many deal breakers is it appropriate to have when searching online for a partner?  One, five, fifteen?  There is no magic number, of course, and Patti Stanger of The Millionaire Matchmaker says that five is a good choice… I tend to agree.  If there’s one thing I know from both my own dating experience and from being a dating coach, though, it’s that 125 is too many!  Where did I get that crazy number, you ask?

A woman recently posted on Tumblr a section of a guy’s profile on OkCupid that I’ll just say was pretty limiting.  And when I say “pretty limiting,” I actually mean ridiculously and obsessively rude and off-putting.  Below is just a small sample of his “do not message me if…” section.  (For the record, OkCupid actually has a section called “You should message me if…”  This means that he actually added this new section to his profile.  Classy.)

tumblr_inline_mrnocicB0M1qz4rgp

After reading the entire list, I counted, and I have 20 of his 125 “don’t message me if” qualities.  Most notable were:

  • You consider yourself a happy person.  (Umm… guilty as charged.)
  • You wear uncomfortable clothing and/or shoes for the sake of feminine style.  (We all know that women dress for other women!)
  • You use the term “foodie.”  (I’m a foodie, all right, and I’m not sorry about it.  I’m just well fed.)

Even if I did fit everything (which I’m pretty sure no one possibly could), I would be so turned off by the negativity that I wouldn’t want to date him anyway!  A question I would pose to him is, “Why do some of these things even matter?”

In talking with Sarah Gooding, the resident Dating Coach at PlentyOfFish, she and I agreed that one should create and live by a few key dating deal breakers.  Most singles have established certain rules when it comes to dating, but they don’t know that they may have too many unnecessary deal breakers that are preventing them from finding a great relationship.  To ensure the right person isn’t being overlooked, let’s look at these five dating deal breaker rules, courtesy of Sarah and elaborated on by yours truly:

1. Deal breakers should be qualities, values, or beliefs that won’t change.

A lot of clients have said things to me like, “I can’t date him.  He’s between jobs.”  Does this mean he can’t get a job in the future?  Of course not!  Income can change; employment status can change; ambition probably can’t.

2. Create no more than five deal breakers/must haves.

Sit down and really think about what’s important to you.  Maybe it’s religious beliefs or level of education.  Stick to your guns on those things, but beyond that, explore.  As an exercise, picture that perfect person with or without each “deal breaker” and see if it matters.  If not, then it’s time to reevaluate your list.

3. Do not mention your deal breakers in the text of your online dating profile.

Most online dating sites have many check-box questions, such as age, religion, children, etc.  This is where the deal breakers will come out.  If you want kids, then check that box accurately.  No need to then state, “Don’t write to me if you don’t want to have children.”

4. Don’t use your previous relationship to create future deal breakers.

It’s easy after a relationship ends to want to find the exact opposite type of person, isn’t it?  We go through all of the things we loathed about our ex and list those as our new deal breakers.  I encourage everyone not to do this because 1) it comes off as fairly bitter and 2) there must have been some good quality in that person if you dated in the first place.  Using what you learned from your last relationship, make your list, but don’t make it solely based on what didn’t work the last time.

Also, as a side note, everything that may be a trait that you don’t want in a partner can likely be turned into a trait that you do want.  For example:

Negative: I’m not looking for players or serial daters.
Positive: I’m looking for someone who is ready for a committed relationship.

5. Be open-minded if someone meets all of your criteria.  However, if he or she doesn’t, decide if it’s worth giving it a shot.

If someone meets all of the criteria you’ve set for yourself, then it can’t hurt to give it a try.  On the one hand, perfect on paper doesn’t equal perfect in real life, so you’ll still have to assess chemistry, but at least you’ll know that you’re off to a good start.  On the other hand, if you know that someone has one of your deal breakers (let’s say religion), then perhaps it’s best not to “try that person on” if you know in the long run it’s not something you can live with.

Remember that in the end, what’s often the most important is how someone treats you.  Is he or she kind, generous, and giving?  How about trustworthy and honest?  That’s what matters in life.

A final note to the guy on OkCupid: I wear yoga pants when I’m not engaging in yoga, and I have participated in a flash mob. We are obviously not meant to be.

In other exciting news, our very own resident GTJ dating columnist has written a book!  Turns out we’re not the only ones she writes for!  Here is the info for the release party if you’d like to join: https://www.facebook.com/events/795227383861189

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

Mensches of Motown: Rebuilding Detroit

5305_753954927979874_822597788960443057_nAt Freedom House Detroit, a temporary residence for asylum seekers from the most violent or oppressive parts of the world, I was curious about the inhabitants’ transition.

“How do you like Detroit so far?” I asked a Nigerian refugee, one who grew up in a country plagued by bloody ethnic conflict, AIDS epidemics, water shortages, sanitation crises, and terror organizations like Boko Haram.

“Man, Detroit is a damn warzone.”

A warzone.

Detroit, factory-forged from sweat, steel, and the American entrepreneurial spirit to become the one-time pride of our nation, is now being called a warzone from a man escaping Boko Haram.

The onslaught of crime, corruption, economic depression, and abandonment in the postindustrial era clearly took its toll on the American paragon.  Each passing Michigan winter, conditions degraded for Detroit until that Motown rhythm was blunted to a complete halt.  The city is now littered with abandoned buildings and blight.

But if our group of young professionals learned anything from the weekend volunteer trip, it’s that the spirit of Detroit, the spirit of big dreams and bigger community, hasn’t broken.

The 25 of us young professionals from Washington Hebrew Congregation in DC gathered this right off the bat from our first morning with Ben Falik and his team from Repair the World.  Within minutes of meeting the passionate, ambitious troop of staffers, it was clear that Falik and his crew could be living extravagantly in Manhattan, employed at any given corporate acronym with lavish expense accounts.  Instead, the Repair the World crew is taking disadvantaged inner city Detroit youth to museums.  RTW paired us with rambunctious grade school boys and girls to guide through the Michigan Science Center as they witnessed the wonders of engineering and air pressure via 4D movie theaters and trashcan wind cannons.  At the proceeding barbecue and ultimate Frisbee game, the thoroughly caffeinated, curly haired Falik detailed all of the other work the organization does with healthcare, education, and nutrition within the struggling city.

That night, we attended services at the Isaac Agree Downtown synagogue, the last surviving synagogue inside Detroit, resilient to the exodus of Jews.  The small congregation with no rabbi embraced our group with open arms, excited to share their beautiful 80-year old shul with young travelers to welcome in the Sabbath together.

The following morning, we had a breakfast meeting with Jon Koller who has been organizing volunteers to renovate and revitalize a once abandoned 100-year old housing complex.  We then drove to the B’nai David Cemetery, a graveyard entirely enveloped in the weeds of long neglect.  Our trip Rabbi, the tirelessly passionate Aaron Miller, told us that, in Judaism, there is no greater deed than charity for the dead because the deceased can never repay.  With that in mind, we terraformed the veritable jungle throughout the day to salvage the integrity of our buried Jewish brethren.  Trees were trimmed, grass was cut, and dozens upon dozens of garbage bins full of shrubbery surrounding the tombstones were removed.

We spent Saturday night at the aforementioned Freedom house, playing volleyball and sharing stories with the asylum seekers stuck in limbo, their true homes an entire world away.  We prepared a massive dinner together with fresh, local ingredients procured from Detroit’s bustling Eastern Market.  Before leaving, we were serenaded with the Detroit Freedom House song written by a former resident, repeating “G-d bless America” throughout the refrain.

We split up on our final day.  Some toured the city by bike with Falik, some were blindsided by the stunning collections at the Detroit Institute of Art, and myself and a few others joined John George of Motor City Blight Busters in a tour of the almost 700 properties his organization has cleaned up.  Almost all of us slopped up some Slow’s BBQ.

The volunteer weekend of the young professionals of 2239 is a drop in the bucket in terms of what Detroit needs.  But that drop meant so much to Ben Falik, John George, Jon Koller, Freedom House, Downtown Synagogue, and all the people of Motor City that we met.

We somberly left Detroit back to fight its own battle, but Detroit will never leave us.  That sense of community, volunteerism, and service will inspire us forever.

And one thing is for sure: that Motown rhythm is picking back up.

Catch a Date with “Email Bait” – – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 86)

heartbaitDo you ever come across a profile that you like, you want to send a message, and then you have a strong bout of writer’s block?  It turns out you’re not alone.

Many people have no idea what to say in an initial online dating email (or text, if we’re talking about apps) to show someone that they have an interest in communicating and potentially meeting.  For this reason, it’s best to give these potential suitors (or suitoresses?) one more thing to comment about.  In other words, provide them with some “email bait.”

In my old JDate profile (LovesLifeDC), I had a photo of myself singing the National Anthem.  I got almost daily emails asking where I was singing and how I got the gig.  (Answers: A Washington Nationals game.  A good demo and a lot of persistence.  It was one of the best nights of my life… until I almost ran out of gas on the way home.  I’ll save that story for a rainy day.)  This picture alone gave men the “in” they needed to strike up a conversation with me.

Other examples of some of my clients’ interesting pictures have been:

  • A woman playing ice hockey in full gear
  • A guy dressed as a clown since he performs for children every Sunday
  • A woman climbing a tree at a winery
  • A guy singing with a mariachi band
  • A woman posing next to a sign saying “Completely Nuts” (Oh wait – that was me again!)

As a side note, I think I can speak for most of my fair gender when I say that we don’t care how big the fish you caught was.  Compensating for something, perhaps? 🙂

To show a real-life example, I’m going to use a photo of yours truly:

erika1

This picture, while fine, is not really showing anything special.

Now, let’s look at this one:

erika2

This picture instead shows me performing with Story League, something I like to do to get my creative juices flowing.  (I’m actually performing tomorrow night in the “Sticky” contest.)  It could easily generate questions like:

  • Where are you speaking? (Busboys & Poets)
  • Do you do that often? (Every month or two)
  • What was that particular story about? (A text message gone awfully wrong)
  • Do you always wear glasses? (If you want me to see you from far away!)

These two pictures were taken the exact same night, but one would do much better online.

The moral: Many people have no idea what to say in the initial email, so give them something easy to comment about, or “email bait.”

erika ettin-49381 Cropped (1)Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

 

 

 

How Not to Catch Someone’s Eye – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 85)

eyesAccording to the handy dandy GTJ calendar, there are quite a few events coming up, aren’t there?  I know I’ll be at the Sixth in the City Shabbat and the Purim Bash in the next couple of weeks, and I have no doubt that many people reading this are also planning to shake their tuchuses at an event or two.

If you’re single, these events can not only serve to give you a taste of Judaism and the Shabbat or holiday spirit, but they might also serve to give you a taste of the finest kosher meat in town… and I’m not talking about your bubbe’s brisket!  It’s important, though, when trying to meet people at religious events (or large parties in general, regardless of the affiliation), not to creep someone out when your real intention is to do just the opposite: turn that person on.

Here are a few examples of people not to be:

The Tiger

This person waits silently until you take a breath in the middle of a conversation about your dog or take a swig of your Cabernet Sauvignon to pounce on you and go in for the kill, in the form of dominating your attention.

The Elephant

This person, oblivious to the surroundings and the discussion already in progress, will simply charge into the conversation, not worrying who or what is in his or her path.

The Shark

This person “swims” around the event, talking to no one and silently stalking everyone.

The Lizard

Much like the shark, this person doesn’t talk to anyone all night.  Instead, he or she simply sticks to the wall, observing but not actually entering any conversations.

Let’s say someone catches your eye.  We’ll call her a 5’1 woman with curly brown hair, hazel eyes, and freckles.  You really want to talk to her, but she’s engaged in a pretty in-depth conversation.  (You know this because her hands are flailing around.)  Rather than taking your social cues from Sea World or the zoo, your best bet is to simply be social with everyone.

If the brunette beauty is all the way across the room, it’s no big deal.  Simply chat with someone who looks interesting near you, male or female.  This gesture does two things: 1) Makes you look friendly and inclusive (and perhaps you might really enjoy the conversation) and 2) Warms you up before you get to talk to your new crush.  Before long, you will have made your way across the room without pouncing, charging, stalking, or cowering.  Instead, you will have been that nice, normal person who knows how to converse with anyone.  And when your time comes to talk with the target of your affection, you will have already talked to so many people that you won’t appear to be trying too hard.  This sounds much better than creepily watching her for two hours until she finally disengaged from her conversation to use the restroom, doesn’t it?

As a side note, if you’re looking to end a conversation for some reason, don’t simply walk away when you’re done.  Politely say something like, “I see someone over there I want to say hi to.”  And assuming you’re taking this article’s advice, that “someone” could be anyone!

So relax, be social, have a great time, and when you’re ready to talk to someone of interest, act like you grew up in a normal household and not the zoo.

erika ettin-49334smallErika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

 

 

Hanukkah 2013 Events!

hanukkahAre you looking for something Hanukkah-related to do before or after you celebrate Thanksgiving outside the District?  Or are you riding out Thankgivikkah here in DC?  Either way, we’ve gathered the DC Hanukkah events for you!  If you see an event missing, email Rachel at rachelg@gatherdc.org so we can make sure it makes it onto the list.

Many of these events require advance ticket purchase or RSVP.

Thursday, November 20th:

Sunday, November 24th:

Monday, November 25th:

Tuesday, November 26th:

Wednesday, November 27th:

Thursday, November 28th:
Sunday, December 1st

Monday, December 2nd:

Tuesday, December 3rd:

Wednesday, December 4th:

Thursday, December 5th:

Saturday, December 7th:

Sunday, December 8th:

Monday, December 9th:

A Break with Tradition: Over 1,200 High Holiday Visitors Flood the Outdoor, Musical Worship Experience at Adas Israel

Kol Nidre at Adas IsraelOver 1,200 eager Jewish High Holiday visitors descended on the outdoor plaza at Adas Israel Congregation, the oldest and largest conservative synagogue in Washington, DC,  to experience an innovative and free Kol Nidre (Yom Kippur evening) service this past Friday. It was led entirely by Adas clergy-member Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt – an increasingly popular and dynamic young woman Rabbi. Accompanied by a professional live band, this unique High Holiday service boasted reflective eastern music, a pattern of dancing lights in the plaza trees, a fully-lit moon, and over a thousand voices singing and chanting reflectively in unison. This alternative Yom Kippur service drew both synagogue members and non-members alike, and was particularly well attended by DC area Young Professionals, as well as unaffiliated Jews seeking a “less conventional” worship experience for the Jewish High Holidays.

The service reflected a major break with the more traditional High Holiday services most have come to expect from the Conservative Jewish movement – which traditionally charges a great deal of money for High Holiday tickets and wouldn’t permit musical instruments to play on Sabbaths and Holidays. The many guest and visitors (which included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, among others), as well as synagogue members described it as one of the most unique and powerful evenings in the life of the 144 year old synagogue.

Adas Israel Congregation, a historically traditional American synagogue, has just completed a major synagogue renovation and rejuvenation project known as the Vision of Renewal. This Renewal Initiative included the fifteen million dollar renovation of the synagogue’s building and facilities – the major premise of which was to change the “feeling” in the building by creating warm, welcoming, natural worship and gathering spaces flooded by natural light. The initiative also includes the creation of new and innovative programs and learning opportunities designed to meet the needs of an ever-evolving 21st century religious landscape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASenior Rabbi Gil Steinlauf says “innovative new programs and worship experiences like this exciting new Kol Nidre service are exactly the tools we need to change the way we experience ‘synagogue.’ By meeting people right where they’re at spiritually, as well as creating an open-minded, non-judgmental atmosphere that is open to everyone, regardless of their relationship to God, we are confidently meeting an ongoing “Customer Service Problem” many American churches, synagogues and other religious institutions are facing today.”

Adas Israel billed this enormous outdoor worship gathering as “Return Again to Kol Nidre, and it was co-sponsored by the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington at Adas Israel, which offers programs and workshops designed to help deepen the Jewish experience of the “spiritual” through Jewish meditation, yoga, chanting, mindful learning, and spirited Shabbat & Holiday programs, all within a uniquely Jewish context. The synagogue also offered a more “traditional” Yom Kippur service inside its new newly renovated Charles E. Smith Sanctuary, which also drew close to 1500 members and families.

Shortly before the service began, Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt announced to the growing crowd as they eagerly anticipated the start of the music and chanting, “Let this be a sacred space, a safe space, a space of dynamism and welcome. Let this be a space where we can all raise our voices in prayer and song before the sky, before the earth, before God, and before each other.”

Despite uneasiness from the more traditional sects of Conservative Judaism, the clergy and leadership at Adas Israel are confident that these new approaches to Jewish life and ritual are exactly the ingredients needed to revitalize the increasingly dwindling movement. Through these renewal initiatives, Adas is betting future generations of Jews  – who aren’t Orthodox, and therefore not bound to show up at a synagogue  –  but are genuinely interested in embracing modern Judaism, are free to meet and explore their innermost beliefs and ideas.

Rabbi Steinlauf says, “Today’s Jews are looking to meet other like-minded people and find an authentic Jewish identity. They are open to sharing new ideas, and they want ‘the real thing.’”

This wildly successful, alternative High Holiday experience represents the next step in the ongoing evolution of this traditional American synagogue, which has played host to the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Israeli prime ministers, US presidents and vice-presidents, and more recently, the Dalai Lama.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, creator of the “Return Again” service, says, “After experiencing this past Yom Kippur service, I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say it may well represent the next step in reviving the Conservative movement of Judaism and synagogue life as a whole.”

Converge with Our Community

Adrianne and the Spring 2013 NeXus cohort at the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes on Good Deeds Day.

Adrianne and the Spring 2013 NeXus cohort at the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes on Good Deeds Day.

Last fall, I got an itch to get more involved in the young Jewish community life of DC, but I really didn’t know where to start.  I asked friends about organizations that they are involved in, went to various events ranging from social to intellectual, and did some research on what I call the “alphabet soup” of Jewish organizations in DC.  A friend told me about NeXus, a program run by Young Leadership by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and that it would give me a window into the Jewish community. He said it would show me how to build a role for myself, and I decided to go ahead and sign up.

I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into, but NeXus is an amazing program!  Not only did I meet about 20 other similarly excited and motivated young Jewish adults, but I learned about how I could make a difference and rise into a leadership role in any organization that I chose to put my efforts towards.  We learned about how to tell our story to get others engaged and interested.  In one of my favorite sessions, we worked with adults with special needs on Good Deeds Day in March, doing arts and crafts and helping to make their day a little brighter.  We also heard from young leaders who are involved in Federation, a local Hillel, a social entrepreneur who started her own organization, and the CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.  They all urged us to be smart and engaged young leaders, and reminded us of the importance of being involved and active in our communities.

Because of what I learned, heard and experienced in NeXus, I decided to apply for and was selected to be a board member of a Jewish organization’s DC Young Professional Chapter where I will help lead my peers in support of Israel and Jewish relations with members of other faiths and ethnicities.  Without that push from NeXus, I may not have made that leap to apply in the first place. In addition to taking this step forward in my life, I also met 20 awesome new friends who I look forward to continuing to build relationships with!

Young adults in the Washington, DC Jewish community, have the opportunity to make an impact. NeXus is an interactive program that will teach you about the work of The Jewish Federation, further develop your leadership skills and introduce you to other leaders in the DC Jewish community. For more information and to register, visit shalomdc.org/NeXus. Spaces are limited and people have already started registering! Have specific questions? Need more information? Contact Jaclyn Gurwitz at 301-348-7354.

image002

DC Shavuot Events

tenOn Shavuot we celebrate receiving the Torah and it is traditional to study Torah through the night.  This year Shavuot begins on the evening of Tuesday, May 14th. We’ve compiled a few event options for Shavuot and will continue to update the list so check back.

Monday, May 13th:

Tuesday, May 14th:

Wednesday, May 15th:

What I’ve Learned So Far: Gather the Jews’ February Business Leader of the Month Shares Insights

In this monthly column, Victoria Shapiro asks top young business leaders in the DC area to share their thoughts on succeeding in business and life. 

4

verdeHOUSE Founder and CEO Morgan Greenhouse at a Jewish Federation of Greater Washington event where she is actively involved.

Business Leader of the Month: Morgan Greenhouse, founder and CEO, verdeHOUSE
Age: 27
Relationship Status: Single
Education: University of Pennsylvania, BA
About verdeHOUSE: The company identifies and markets unique, unoccupied, underutilized and/or emerging spaces. For events, verdeHOUSE secures venues for companies and individuals in need of a venue. For real estate companies, verdeHOUSE provides a variety of marketing services and facilitates events to help showcase and brand developments. No other company in the DC area does what they do.

Victoria: Morgan, your name has come at me from all directions as a great person to profile for this column, which spotlights business leaders who have shown a sense of adventure, innovation, tenacity, and commitment to community.  It’s really nice to meet you.

Morgan: It’s very nice to meet you too, Victoria.  Thank you for this opportunity.

Victoria: I’ve checked out some of your interviews and media coverage; you have a talent for public relations. It was great how you jumped right in there in response to The Atlantic Wire’s September article calling DC “unhip” with your Twitter campaign, defending our city. You received some nice media coverage. Talk to me a little bit about that and your general public relations approach.

Morgan: In terms of PR, I feel lucky and honored to hear you say that….The Twitter campaign was a product of wanting a platform to discuss why DC is such a great city.  The key is to embrace what makes it so special; DC is simply a different brand of hip…. It is important that brands stay relevant, and we spend a lot of time considering ours.  We make sure our values are solid, and our marketing reflects a thoughtful and meaningful brand.  When engaging externally, we consider ‘What do we stand for? And, what do we want to represent?’

Victoria: How does your business model work?

Victory! The verdeHOUSE team celebrates over great press.

Victory! The verdeHOUSE team celebrates over great press.

Morgan: There are two sides of verdeHOUSE.  We have clients who constantly come to us for space for an event such as a celebration, fundraiser, or pop-up (short-term retail event).  Finding the right venue is often an onerous task for those who are not familiar with the process. It’s nice to be able to help with that.  On the other side, we work directly with real estate developers, owners, and reps to understand property goals.  We then create event concepts and marketing to project the desired brand and messaging.

Victoria:  Where does the revenue come from?

Morgan: Primarily, we receive compensation for connecting events to spaces, and consulting with real estate clients.

Victoria: How do you attract business?

Morgan: That’s the special sauce (laughs).  A lot of our business comes through word of mouth.  Events themselves provide great marketing for the company.  So, it is fairly perpetual.  Hosts, attendees, and media coverage from successful events tend to generate client leads.

Victoria: You jumped in and took a risk when you were 25.  Did you encounter any difficulties specific to being a young woman starting a business?

Morgan: To be honest, I didn’t find it to be an issue.  Perhaps I chose to ignore it, but I found the opportunity to be more exciting than feeling any threat or concern for risk… It didn’t matter who I was, there was a demand for space and the facilitation of the use of space.  I think people admire innovation and change as long as it’s done effectively while providing valuable services.  What matters is that you’re successfully addressing goals and needs…. I really admire women who are leaders and game changers, especially in real estate…. Though the question is very relevant, I don’t have a very strong response.  That’s likely reflective of my experience.

The verdeHOUSE team visualizes event possibilities on the rooftop of Union Market in Northeast, DC.

The verdeHOUSE team visualizes event possibilities on the rooftop of Union Market in Northeast, DC.

Victoria: You launched a few years ago.  From that time you’ve grown from a one-person shop to managing several people.  What has that process been like?  What have you learned?

Morgan: It’s been a remarkable learning experience.  On one hand, it has been a great exercise in identifying core values and non-negotiables, things as basic as treating people with respect, doing what is ethical, making sure everyone onboard is willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard.  I also learned how important it is that as a team we are all on the same page in regards to values… also, it’s important to have a team that both enjoys what they are doing and feels challenged.  I learned a lot of this along the way and continue to do so.

Victoria: Talk to me about taking on your business partner, Christin Martinelli.

Morgan: Christin and I met serendipitously at a Georgetown University roundtable right when she moved to DC from California to get a master’s in real estate.  Within two weeks, we were working full-time together.  Within a few months, it became clear a partnership was forming.  It has been a remarkable partnership so far.  Our vision and values are well aligned.

Victoria: That’s a very significant relationship.  I suspect you two have become good friends as well.  Can you talk a little bit more about the relationship?

Morgan: Yes, through business the relationship turned into a friendship…. Just as this is my first time starting a company, it is my first experience with this kind of relationship.  It really is quite unique.  We have tremendous admiration and respect for each another… in many ways, we feel we are raising this company together.  I do understand that to be somewhat of a female perspective, we are nurturing a concept.  And, an important bond has been a by-product of that.  It’s a great lesson and experience in growth and trust.

Morgan and business partner Christin Martinelli share a moment of laughter in a warehouse turned venue in Georgetown.

Morgan and business partner Christin Martinelli share a moment of laughter in a warehouse turned venue in Georgetown.

Victoria: What role has Judaism played in your life and in the company?

Morgan: For me, Judaism has been a strong source of values, community, and tradition.  The community has played a very supportive role to me in starting and growing this company, from referrals and business, to exceptional advice and mentorship…. In running the company, I resort to key values as well as find ways to give back to the community.

Also, the first time Christin said she was ‘kvelling’ was such a proud moment for me.  You’ll often hear an ‘oy’ from someone on the team.  Love the inadvertent Yiddish integration in the company culture (laughs)!

Victoria: That’s funny (laughs)!  What you’re doing is cool.  It was fun talking with you, and thanks for your time.

Morgan: Thank you!

We at GTJ wish Morgan and verdeHOUSE continued success and expect to keep hearing great things from the company!

Victoria headshotVictoria Shapiro is a senior account executive at Susan Davis International, a full-service communications and public affairs firm on K Street. She is also an advisor to her family’s company, The Donald J. Ross LLC, the licensing company for the 20th century golf course architect.

 

 

 

 

 

Practice Makes… Better – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 59)

practiceWhen I was younger, I took piano lessons.  Did I practice?  Nope.  Can I play the piano today?  Not really.  I still have to think about “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” and “Good Boys Do Fine Always,” or “Great Big Dogs Fight Animals,” as my teacher taught me.  (For those not so musically inclined or who just have no idea what I’m talking about, those are the notes on the treble and bass clef, respectively.)

Later in life, when I decided that I wanted to sing, which is something I really love, I wished I had actually listened to my teacher and parents (don’t tell them I said that).  While I certainly never had any desire to be a concert pianist or anything, practicing would have helped me later when I discovered which form of music I wanted to pursue.

You’re probably thinking, “I thought I was reading a dating column.  What does practicing the piano have to do with dating?”  In life, practicing makes you better for when that thing comes along that you really want to pursue.  And in this case, that thing is a future date.

A friend once wrote to me, “So… I just took down my JDate profile because I started dating someone a few weeks ago and we DTRed last night.  I didn’t meet him on JDate but I do think that I was a lot more comfortable going on dates with him because I’d been getting a lot of practice on JDate, figuring out how to be slightly less awkward at ending dates, and really identifying what was important to me and which behaviors to look for that signaled that the person had the characteristics that I was looking for.  Everyone knows the old adage that ‘practice makes perfect,’ but I don’t know if a lot of people really think about how much that can be applied to date-like interactions, which can be really complex.  I really do think it helped build up my confidence and comfort level with guys.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Now, I’m not saying to go out with just anyone to get some practice, but it’s important to remember that going on dates can only help define what you’re looking for in a partner.  It can also, as my friend pointed out, help you hone your conversational skills.  While every date may not lead to a trip down the aisle, each will fill your toolbox with useful skills to apply next time.

I see many people peek into speed-dating events or quickly scan a page of JDate for 30 seconds only to decide on the spot that no one there interests them.  If you’ve likely already committed the time (and often money), it’s worth joining and meeting new people (even if only to become friends), while practicing the art of flirting, engaging in witty banter, and making conversation with a broad range of people.  And when you come face-to-face with the guy or girl who you’ve had your eye on for a while, you’ll know that you’re fully equipped to make a great impression.

So take it one date at a time.  Practice will never make it perfect.  (We’re still talking about dating here, so there’s always going to be an element of awkwardness!)  But practice will make it better, for sure.

Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating.  Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for JDate.com.