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|Hayley Matthews • 3/21/16|
The Short Version: Founded by Steve Harvey’s go-to dating expert Bela Gandhi, Smart Dating Academy doesn’t just find singles a date — it teaches them ways to attract the best person for them, get the relationship they’ve always wanted, and maintain long-term success. Through customized profile makeovers and Smart Dating Academy’s very own GHQ® and Sexclusivity℠ systems — which include one-on-one coaching and a goal-setting-and-achieving approach — singles learn how to get their dating “pickers” pointing in the right direction and, most importantly, at the right person.
Bela Gandhi matched her first couple when she was in college. She wasn’t studying psychology, sociology, or another subject related to matchmaking. She was studying business, but her gut told her these two people belonged together. And she was right.
Two years later, that couple got engaged on the anniversary of their first date, and they’d always wondered what it was that made Bela realize they’d be a perfect fit. Her answer is simple:
“I get the essence of people and what works for them and who the yin to their yang would be,” she told us during a recent interview.
It was this initial match that sparked the inspiration for Smart Dating Academy, Bela’s full-service dating coaching firm.
With its profile transformations and very own Sexclusivity℠ and GHQ® (also known as “Good Husband Quality”) systems — not to mention Bela’s leadership — Smart Dating Academy teaches singles ways to overcome their particular dating hurdles and zero in on the most compatible people for them.
No matter what a client’s ultimate goal is (whether it’s a quality date, monogamous relationship, or lifelong marriage), Smart Dating Academy gives them the tools they need to attain it — adapting the coaching process each time.
Perhaps what Smart Dating Academy is most known for is its one-of-a-kind Sexclusivity℠ and GHQ® systems.
Through exercises like one-on-one coaching and setting concrete goals (e.g., one date a week or two dates a month), Smart Dating Academy and singles work together to analyze what they’re doing right and how to maintain that — as well as and what needs improving and how to avoid those same mistakes in the future. Ultimately, they’ll zero in on the type of person who would be the best for each client.
These exercise also include learning overall concepts needed for successful dating, such as:
Bela said this intricate process helps singles get out of any ruts and break any habits that are holding them back — plus it allows them to fully understand how to make the right choices for themselves and their dating lives.
“Human beings tend to do what feels comfortable vs what’s actually right for them, so through our process, we help clients hone in on the things that are going to be right for them long term, and then that becomes an immediate realigning of their ‘picker,'” she said.
At Smart Dating Academy, it all begins with a free 15-minute phone session that’s open to everyone. This where the team gets to know the individual person, what they want to get out of dating, and what they look for in a match.
The next option up is a one-hour “Online Profile Analysis” orientation, where Smart Dating Academy will go through the person’s username, profile text, search criteria, photos, and emails — providing helpful tips along the way.
For a more comprehensive experience, Smart Dating Academy has 3 affordable, all-inclusive packages to choose from:
The Bronze introductory package offers:
The Silver package includes everything from the Bronze plus:
The Gold package includes everything from the Bronze plus:
A big focus of these packages is the clients’ dating profiles, with the point being to take the time to make sure every detail is perfect and help them stand out in a sea of millions.
“I want to help people to understand that online dating is a significant component of dating, and it’s only going to be more significant,” Bela said. “When you get online, you have to think of yourself as a marketer of yourself. I often tell people they have to imagine themselves as a box of cereal in the cereal aisle at the supermarket.”
Smart Dating Academy also offers several other on-site perks, giving more people a way to reach the expert information they provide. These perks include live webinars and free ebooks that address a variety of topics.
Most recently Smart Dating Academy hosted an online seminar that covered how to navigate the senior dating world, highlighting common concerns like how to choose the right site and profile do’s and don’ts. Each webinar also wraps things up with a Q&A session.
In terms of written content, “The 4 Commandments of Online Dating Success” is Smart Dating Academy’s latest free ebook, which is filled with effective advice for getting “from the site to a successful date.”
Smart Dating Academy may be based in Chicago, but they work with clients all over the U.S. and Canada in person and via phone, Skype, email, and even text. And their clientele runs the gamut — from 20-year-olds and 70-year-olds, to bankers and teachers, to divorcees and widowers.
The link between them all is they want to take control of their dating lives and finally find who they want and deserve. And with Smart Dating Academy being responsible for at least two engagements or committed relationships every month, that’s very likely to happen.
Bela added that very few couples who find love through Smart Dating Academy break up because they’ve been given the groundwork to succeed.
“I had nothing less than an amazing response to my new and improved online profile, totally revamped and really adorable, if I do say so myself! I was literally avalanched with responses — better than I ever imagined!” — Jill, New York City
“It’s about understanding who is going to make you happy and how to pick the right partner for that. When you’re picking right and you’re being that person, there are very few reasons to break up,” she said.
Not only has Smart Dating Academy helped singles in their romantic relationships with dates and partners — but they’ve also helped singles in their professional relationships with colleagues and personal relationships with friends and family.
“What we’re doing is starting to expand what we’ve learned in the dating world into building better relationships with yourself and the people in your village and how to communicate more effectively to get people to like you, which has been a big deal for us,” Bela said.
Bela charmingly compares her Smart Dating Academy crew to a team of skydiving instructors. Most people wouldn’t jump out of a plane for the first time without a professional strapped to their back, so they should think twice before jumping into the dating pool without help from an expert.
Besides Bela, Smart Dating Academy’s talented team consists of Date Coach Lindsay, Photographer AJ, Stylist Hanna, Writer Lindsey, and Hair and Makeup Artist Jen, all of which who excel in their respective fields.
And one of the main aspects that sets Smart Dating Academy and its team apart from other date coaching companies is they’re all successful in love, including Bela, who has been happily married for almost 19 years and has 2 kids.
“We’re all walking the walk,” she said.
Before matchmaking, Bela’s first love was business, as we said earlier. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she worked in the mergers and acquisitions space before taking a position at a manufacturing company — where she quickly became the Senior Vice of Global Houseware Business.
It was right before she was about to board a plane to Tokyo for a business trip that she realized matchmaking was her true calling. Bela soon left the company and didn’t look back.
During her initial time as a matchmaker, Bela saw that singles wanted more than just to be set up on dates — they wanted the whole package. So she hired several professional writers, photographers, and stylists to give them the well-rounded experience they were craving.
It all culminated in 2009 when Bela launched Smart Dating Academy, a company that was matching people and, most importantly, teaching them how to make dating work for them.
“We started putting fact-based, analytical processes together to be able to understand what clients’ dating patterns are and how we can best create a dating plan for them. That’s our business now — to help people figure out why they’re not finding the right people,” Bela said.
Now in 2016, Bela is a leading dating coach, is known as the “Fairy Godmother of Dating” by the press, is Steve Harvey’s on-air dating expert, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Smart Dating Academy is changing what it means to be a date coach, with it’s personalized, detailed, and successful process. And all of this wouldn’t be possible without Bela’s passion, initiative, and natural talent — as well as the people she’s surrounded herself with who get it, too. It isn’t just about finding singles a date — it’s about showing them how to bring overall happiness into their lives.
“Our goal is to bring more love into the world — bring more love into the world in a smart way and help people be nicer to each other,” she said. “We’re talking a more holistic approach to dating. We want to teach skills that help people find healthy, happy lives and then keep them.”