This Matchmaker Won't Apologize for Her $50,000 Minimum — Here's the Secret Weapon She Uses to Play Cupid Barbie Adler founded Selective Search, a luxury matchmaking firm, in 2000 — and has brought together nearly 4,000 happy couples since.
- Adler uses executive search techniques to pair up busy professionals and entrepreneurs
- Selective Search stands by its $50,000 minimum because 'love is what matters most'
- If you're looking for love, Adler says you have to make it a priority — and be present
Becoming a professional cupid was practically destiny for Barbie Adler, founder of luxury matchmaking firm Selective Search.
Adler's mother was a family psychologist, and from a young age, Adler watched her lead workshops on healthy marital communication. As a result, Adler developed a "strong interest in interpersonal relationships" — a passion she went on to explore in her professional career, first in public relations, then in executive search.
Her ability to "read beyond a resume" helped Adler excel in executive search, and she soon determined the skill set could solve a big problem that wasn't getting enough attention.
"I realized that the whole vetting and screening that happens to hire the best talent for your team — the alignment of the three Cs: client, candidate and culture alignment — is so needed in people's personal lives," Adler says. "And I did research and realized no one was addressing the challenge of people meeting quality people."
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By the late 1990s, some websites existed for "more socially awkward" people looking to date, Adler recalls, but there wasn't an option for "people that had built a quality life for themselves and just hadn't found the right person."
So Adler decided to create one: With just her savings and "pure passion," she launched Selective Search in 2000 out of her condo.
And it paid off. Over the past 23 years, Selective Search's matches have led to nearly 4,000 happy couples, 1,800 successful marriages and hundreds of children. (Adler even found love through the firm, though her now-husband stopped his membership and donated the fee to charity to avoid breaking company policy.)
Entrepreneur sat down with Adler to learn more about her clients, process and tips for singles hoping to find love in 2023.
"What's the point of being successful professionally if you have no one to share the fruits of your labor and enjoy the fun parts of life with?"
Adler's "executive search firm for your love life" aims to take the guesswork out of dating for busy professionals and entrepreneurs.
"If people are just looking to get out there and maybe date recreationally, there's a place for that on an app," Adler says. "But when people are talking, 'I really want to build a life with someone and I care about who I'm spending my time with, and time is a premium I'm never going to get back' — those are our clients."
Many of Adler's clients come to her via word-of-mouth recommendations from successful people who see Selective Search's service as an effective form of outsourcing.
"Entrepreneurs, as we all know, have to make a lot of sacrifices when starting a business," Adler says. "That's why outsourcing is so important — because you have to be laser-focused on your passion of building your business. At the same time, we could be helping you with your love life, so when you do have that precious time, you're spending it on the right people."
And the benefits of finding that perfect match go beyond personal fulfillment — especially for entrepreneurs.
"Your business will thrive more when you have a soft landing in your personal life and really feel like you have something to work hard for, someone to enjoy it with," Adler explains. "What's the point of being successful professionally if you have no one to share the fruits of your labor and enjoy the fun parts of life with?"
"[Our clients] put a premium on quality…think about the risks associated with dating, of merging your life with the wrong person, the reputational risks."
Selective Search's program starts at $50,000 — and goes up from there.
Some might raise an eyebrow at the high cost, but Adler says Selective Search is for people who "realize that love is what matters most."
"[Our clients] put a premium on quality," Adler says, "and if you think about the risks associated with dating, of merging your life with the wrong person, the reputational risks — [these are people who] realize that who they partner themselves with matters."
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Selective Search's clients pay a premium for a luxury matchmaking experience, and that's what they get: The firm's proven methodology, dubbed the "Meet Your Future" process, draws on executive search techniques to extensively vet candidates and streamline the hunt for "partner, not passenger, material" — and keeps it all confidential.
Adler runs Selective Search "like a Fortune 500 company," ensuring that everything is scalable without sacrificing quality. Selective Search prides itself on the personalized experience it provides; Adler says the biggest compliment is when people say they feel like the firm's only client.
According to Selective Search, the firm has an 87% success rate, with 34% of couples meeting their match on their first introduction and 48% partnering up after just three to four introductions.
"What really matters is who you're sharing your life with — love is what matters most."
Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and if you're looking for love this year but don't have the funds to try Selective Search yourself just yet, Adler has a few suggestions.
First, you have to make finding love a priority. "So similar to anything that's important, schedule [dating] with the same discipline you would if it was a business meeting or doctor's appointment," she says.
Next, consider if you're happy with the current version of yourself. "Make sure you're working on yourself to put your best foot forward," Adler says.
Don't underestimate the power of doing emotional work, especially if you're just getting back into dating, but don't sit out too long either. "It's almost like riding a bike," Adler explains. "You can't sideline yourself for too long: Brush yourself off."
Related: 18 Things to Know Before You Date an Entrepreneur
Finally, make an effort to be present and engage with your surroundings.
"When you go to Starbucks, everyone's on their phone," Adler says. "You're never going to meet someone if your head is always in technology. So make sure that you're present; you could lock eyes with someone and be approachable — not always in business or intense mode."
Adler wants everyone to find the happiness that she and her clients have; it's why she's made the business of love her life's work.
"The most important things in life are to love and be loved," Adler says. "Believe me, work is wonderful and fulfilling, and you're spending over 60% of your life working, but what really matters is who you're sharing your life with — love is what matters most."