Learn Charm, Meet Women, Go Legendary
The Art of Charm, they will tell you, is about teaching men to get and keep the girl.
However, this school's approach to dating doesn’t center on the woman, but on the man (in this case: the student). Their curriculum focuses on overcoming insecurities, challenging old beliefs, and gaining comfort in one’s own skin. All of which, they believe, must be done with integrity, honesty and by dropping any fake personas.
AJ Harbinger, who along with Jordan Harbinger (they’re not related) founded The Art of Charm, said most of the men who take their classes are college-educated, have been on dates, and even had a few girlfriends. However, these guys may “ultimately not have the courage to go up and talk to a cute girl that they actually like but do not know.”
Despite a steady love life, I could certainly find myself in that description. When it came to looking outside of that comfort zone and meeting new women, I found a million excuses to extend conversation with my buddies or, worse, dive into my phone. I figured I had something to gain by becoming a student.
Bootcamp: Day 1
I walk across the room towards a cute twenty-something in a sexy black dress, introduce myself, and begin my best efforts to convince her I’m a wonderful guy. For most guys, this situation is tough enough, only we're in a classroom, and I can't believe how nervous I am.
Behind Becky* stands dating coach Alex Weber, his Flip cam pointing at us, some supportive guys behind me. It’s 4:00 p.m. on a Friday and we’re inside The Art of Charm’s Hollywood training center for a three-day Attraction Arts Bootcamp.
4:10 p.m. I squirm as we play back the video. This revealing process reminds me of the first time I heard a recording of my voice... but magnified by the strength of one thousand suns. I wasn’t smiling consistently, I had trouble keeping eye contact, and my hands kept creeping in and out my pockets. My ego was surprised at the disjunction of how I perceived myself and what the tape revealed.
11 p.m. At a Hollywood nightclub, I apply what I learned from “video work” (The Art of Charm’s casual name for the painful yet amazingly helpful exercise) as well as the day’s classroom lessons, and results are seen. I have fun talking to dozens of girls, collect a few phone numbers, and receive a mind-blowing compliment from a twenty-something in an especially memorable black dress.
1:30 a.m. Rachel* tells me she had seen me talking to other people and she was impressed by the ease and comfort with which I did so. She doesn't know this is my first night of it. Her words sum up the service that The Art of Charm provides. And a primary result of that service is greater success with women.
“The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more likely someone else you are attracted to will be comfortable with you,” said AJ Harbinger. “Our most successful clients often change their lives to be more in line with what they truly want.”
Alex Weber’s take: “Learning to get better with dating is part of a bigger picture of how to become a cool, social guy who naturally has romantic interests in his life.”
It Began in Michigan
A few years ago I discovered the audio offerings of AJ and Jordan. I found what they had to say about attraction on their Sirius/XM show, Game On with AJ and Jordan, and their podcasts, AJ and Jordan Talk Chicks and The Pickup Podcast, to be compelling and educational. They also seemed like good guys.
Neil Strauss, author of the best-selling book, “The Game," told me: “My general rule for this kind of business is ‘learn from someone who you are not embarrassed to have sitting at a table with your friends and family.’”
AJ and Jordan became first interested in personal development while attending graduate school at the University of Michigan. Jordan was in law school, and AJ was studying Cellular and Molecular Biology and working in a lab studying animal models of cancer development and progression. The two were academic overachievers with underwhelming social lives.
They decided to learn about social dynamics and psychology. And this education wasn’t just in theory, they were out in the world. In 2006, from AJ’s friend’s basement, using some cheap audio gear, they started The Pickup Podcast. Through sharing their experiences and interviewing various experts, the show soon found a global audience. Sirius’s Maxim Radio took notice and offered the pair their own satellite radio show.
New York, New York
By 2008 men from all over the world were flying to New York City to learn from AJ and Jordan’s year-old company, The Art of Charm. While on a trip to North Carolina the pair met Johnny Dzubak, a dating coach who was a long-time touring rock musician and nightclub manager. So impressed with Dzubak’s complimentary perspective and agreeable personality, they invited him to relocate to Manhattan and become a partner in their young start-up.
The three were helping guys and drawing favorable attention from The Today Show, Men’s Health, and Details Magazine. They were also teaching bootcamps in places like London, England and Munich, Germany.
During that time along came Alex Weber, then a new student. “I just wanted to improve with what I felt were weaknesses, and become the best, most attractive, version of myself,” he said. Alex is now The Art of Charm’s Head Instructor. Like Alex, all of the AOC guys were once students of some sort.
In 2009, looking to expand their reach, the foursome moved to Hollywood. Last year, I had booked Jordan to guest on The Gentlemen’s Club, my comedy podcast where I interview people men find interesting. We ended up hitting it off and becoming friends. He would occasionally mention what positive success his students were having with “this stuff” (the commonly used term for their teachings.)
My bootcamp featured classroom days, outings at a variety of bars and clubs, and some afternoon exercises outdoors. (AOC realizes that most guys want to be able to meet women anywhere, and not just nightspots.)
Classroom sessions featured an emphasis on fundamentals — things like eye contact, consistent smiling and energy level. They also covered topics which I had never seen analyzed before like body language, listening, how to talk to guys when out, and adding value to social situations. I found it all fascinating and practical.
The Art of Charm doesn’t consider an outing a loss if you don’t hook up or come home with a phone number. The only must: “Go out have fun,” ordered Johnny.
Neil Strauss, who also offers dating coaching, said: “Everybody is out to have a better time than staying at home, so obviously if you can be a conduit to somebody having a better time they’re going to want you around."
A surprising lesson was that I found being more social than usual was energy-producing rather than energy-sucking. Chatting it up all night made the time go by quick. Turns out those nights spent in my head dragged on for a reason.
“What do you need to do in this moment to enjoy yourself and have fun,” was a question I had jotted down in my notes from a classroom session. I found out a good answer was simply to talk to new people.
Besides live-in bootcamps, AOC also offers a free intro seminar in Hollywood, a free iPhone app, and a relatively low cost online academy. Though their satellite radio program ended earlier in the year, AJ, Jordan and Johnny can now be heard weekly on Go Legendary, their new weekly talk show on film director Kevin Smith’s SMODCAST Network. They call it: “The only show completely devoted to help you get the girl, amp your career, and create the kickass lifestyle you deserve.”
Broadcasting at 5 p.m. PST on Wednesdays (replayed on Fridays 7 p.m.) and archived for download, Go Legendary, "is about doing the things we love because we can't live not to do it,” said Johnny.
AJ said: “So many men are walking around wishing things were different in life but are afraid to take action. We want to build a lifestyle that welcomes amazing people into it on a daily basis.”
I can say for certain that the Art of Charm gives men the chance to do just that.
*Ladies names have been changed.