What a Dating Experiment Taught This Entrepreneur Turned Reality TV Star
For on-the-go entrepreneurs, finding love isn't easy. When every waking hour is spent growing a business and chasing your dream, how the heck are you supposed to squeeze in time for anyone else? Even the most successful people in business discover that dating and romance can be a tricky task.
Just ask 28-year-old Kris Ruby, founder of New York City-based public relations firm Ruby Media Group. She and longtime friend Alex Goldman -- an entrepreneur himself, having started Five Senses Catering in New York City -- starred on Bravo's Friends to Lovers TV show. The idea, unless the title gave it away, was to find out if friends could indeed develop a successful romantic relationship.
"I encouraged him to start his own business and was intrigued when he followed my direction and started his company," Ruby tells Entrepreneur. "That piqued my interest."
Over the course of about a year, Bravo's TV crew followed Ruby and Goldman around Manhattan and Ruby's hometown in Westchester County, N.Y., chronicling their path to love. Unfortunately, they weren't destined to be more than just friends. Goldman eventually got back together with an ex-girlfriend, and Ruby is back to work and also working on herself -- personally and as an entrepreneur.
"[The show] was a tremendous growing opportunity," Ruby says. "I saw a lot of things I didn't like about myself after the show and definitely want to focus on fixing those character defects."
Here are five lessons Ruby learned from the show about being better personally and professionally:
1. Always shower clients with attention.
Whether it's a love interest or business client, people invest time and money with you and deserve your attention. You can't fake it or put people off.
"This reality show took a year for me to film while I was simultaneously running an agency and doing TV news segments," Ruby explains. "I thought I could juggle everything and keep clients happy while filming, but I learned that it was nearly impossible to do it all."
Just like with personal relationships, if you let things build up in business relationships for too long without any attention, the relationship will sour. "I now realize that it’s the relationship that keeps the client happy in addition to all of the work. If you don’t keep up the personal relationship with your client, the business relationship will eventually fall apart," Ruby says. "As my business coach Drew McLellan said, 'Clients are a lot like boyfriends or girlfriends. They need a lot of tending to and love. No one wants to feel like they are not the most important thing in the world to you.'"
2. How you are one way is how you are every way.
If you have trouble making or keeping commitments in your personal or dating life, you will most likely have the same issues in business. "I used to think there was such a separation between my personal life and business life," Ruby says. "My business life was completely put together -- my personal life needed a lot more work, as evidenced on the show."
While finding true work-life balance can be difficult, Ruby believes entrepreneurs should have stability and happiness in their personal lives, otherwise that imbalance "will pour over and your clients will eventually feel it."
3. Put the smartphone down.
As a PR and social-media strategist, Ruby is often on her smartphone texting, tweeting and sending emails. But even in this always-on, hyper-connected world, in-person communication trumps digital messages when it comes to keeping clients (and love interests) engaged and happy.
"I was totally wrong on this one and thought texting and emailing would suffice. ... I learned my lesson," Ruby says. "Clients need real in-person love and just texting will get you canned. You actually make it harder on yourself and the relationship by turning it into a long distance relationship when it doesn’t have to be."
4. Success is an illusion.
Just because you may be successful in one area of your life -- such as your business -- it doesn't mean success in your personal life will come easy.
"People automatically assume that if you are a woman in business who has reached a certain level of success, you have everything together," Ruby says. "As leaders, we need to come out and admit that we don’t always have it together.
"Even if every episode did not show my most glowing moments," she continues, "I at least showed other women that you can be successful in one area of your life and totally unsuccessful in other areas -- in my case, love."
5. Know the breakup signals.
In many ways, romantic relationships mirror professional ones. When a client wants to talk about the future or go in a different direction, you are about to be fired, Ruby says.
"Break ups with clients can hurt just as much as personal relationship break ups," she says. "If a client wants to move on, you can’t force them to tell you why. You have to accept that you don’t control the situation and move on."