I Want Your Job finds Torontonians who make a living doing exactly what they love to do, in any field, and for any salary, and asks them how they did it.
Name: Gloria MacDonald
Job: Owner and founder of Perfect Partners dating agency and matchmaking service.
When Gloria MacDonald tells her clients that she understands how hard dating is, she means it. “I’ve been there,” says MacDonald, who owns and operates Perfect Partners, a “personal relationship executive search firm” that matches professional Toronto singles. “I’ve walked in my clients shoes, and I know how challenging it can be and what it’s like to feel lonely. And having come through it, I also understand that there is wonderful happiness and joy at the end of the tunnel.”
MacDonald, who was formerly the VP of consumer marketing and telemedia publishing at AOL, was married for seventeen years before going through a divorce. In her forties and suddenly single, she was cajoled by a friend into trying online dating. “It was not a good experience,” MacDonald recalls. “They never returned my calls, which is just bad client service. They also guaranteed an introduction a month, and in a year I met only three men. I thought to myself that surely there has to be something better than this for the professional market in the GTA.”
MacDonald’s Perfect Partners was designed as a specialized matchmaking service that provides an experience that mega companies like eHarmony can’t. “It’s not like online dating at all,” MacDonald says about her “highly personalized” service. For starters, MacDonald begins each client relationship by personally visiting their homes and conducting a two-hour interview, after which both she and the client decide if they want to work together. “I’ve literally patterned the business after an executive search firm,” she says. “Like headhunters, we even go out and look for men and women.”
What are some of the criteria you use to match a couple?
When I make an introduction I want to make sure that people can connect on a variety of different levels. I deal with the facts right away: age range, religious preference, socioeconomic demographic, level of education, and what someone does for a living, as well as things like if a person wants to have children or not. Then I look at hobbies or interests, which are more flexible.
Do you think there’s any truth to the saying that “opposites attract”?
I think that very often opposites do attract, but I don’t think it makes for a good match in the long run…those very same things that attracted you at first can start driving you crazy a year later.
What were some of the challenges to starting your own company?
My background is in marketing and magazine publishing, so I was very well prepared when I started my own business. I already knew how to run a business, manage a team, and inspire and motivate people, so I brought that experience into this. We’ve been very successful, and we now have a staff of three full-time people.
In additional to our matchmaking services, we are just about to launch an online dating site; we’re hoping it’s ready for Valentine’s Day. It will be more casual and won’t include matchmaking, but instead be a place for people to find each other. Obviously online dating is huge, but I hear about how people misrepresent themselves all time: they post ten-year-old photos, lie about their age, men make themselves taller than they really are. On our site, we will interview all the people ourselves, and we’ll take a headshot and a bodyshot, as well as verifying their age and height with documents. It’s [going to be] a site for people who value honesty and mutual respect, and want a relationship.
What are the best and worst parts of being a matchmaker?
The best part is without a doubt when you get that phone call from a client who says “Stop, you are done, you’ve found me the person of my dreams.”
The worst part is when you have a client who has given up on themselves and is really discouraged. One of the biggest things we deal with is keeping people positive and upbeat, and sometimes it just takes time, and sometimes you have to meet a lot of people. It’s very hard to go through a divorce and go on a date again when you haven’t been on one in seventeen years! I am the product of my own business: I am happily married to a man I met when I started this company. He was referred by friends, and I interviewed him and he ended up asking me out for dinner. That was nine years ago! So I believe that if a [relationship] is something you really want, it’s something worth working for.