Francesca Hogi, relationship coach
TAKE US THROUGH A QUICK HISTORY OF YOUR WINDING CAREER PATH. SPARK NOTES VERSION: WHY DID YOU GO INTO EACH CAREER, AND WHY DID YOU LEAVE?
I was a kid who never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew was that I didn’t want an “ordinary” life. So I was always drawn to things that everyone else wasn’t doing. I studied film and television in college, and I shot a lot of things and worked on a lot of things and wasn’t convinced that production was the route for me. So when I was newly graduated from college and I got advice to go to grad school, I took it. I figured more school would buy me time and give me some new skills. I chose law school because there was no math on the LSAT (really).
After law school, I took the path of least resistance, which was to go to work for a big NYC law firm. Being a corporate lawyer is a lot of work and ultimately it felt like “much ado about nothing,” so I quit and moved to LA to start a film production company. It was great to follow my dream of making movies, which had been sidelined while I was working in law (though I had produced two short films in NYC while I was still at the firm).
It is incredibly hard to make money as an independent film producer, and even more so as a woman and a POC, and I ultimately decided that I didn’t have the passion (or the bank account) to keep fighting. I knew I wanted to start another business, but didn’t know what I wanted that to be. I started a small business manufacturing a product I invented, but again it wasn’t paying the bills and wasn’t enough of a passion for me. While I was in LA I also started blogging about dating, which was my side hobby and I never thought there was any career path there.
(I apologize that this is NOT short! I’ll try to wrap it up quickly.)
I moved back to NYC, went back into law on a contract (temporary) basis while I figured out my next move. I was still blogging about dating at the time. Then the opportunity arose to be on Survivor and I took it because I didn’t have anything better to do at the time! After that, I went back to contract work, went on Survivor again a couple of seasons later and that was my breaking point.
When I returned from my second season, I discovered that matchmaking was an actual career and there was training and there was a matchmaking institute and I was thrilled! I fell in love with the industry and jumped in. That was three and a half years ago.
TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW YOUR COACHING / MATCHMAKING PROCESS WORKS.
The very first thing I do with my clients is learn about their lives and what they care about. I help them to articulate their values, and who they want to meet and why. In coaching, you don’t take things at face value – if someone says to me, “I want to meet a man who went to a good school and is fit and loves to travel,” I have no problem with that list, but I do want you to articulate why. What do these qualities have to do with your relationship and your values? And the answer might be “a lot” and the answer might be “not much” – but either way, we need to understand that.
Coaching is about strategy and forward action – so if you have a goal to get into a serious relationship, or to get more confident about dating, we need to understand what in your life supports those goals and what is counter to those goals and how you move forward strategically to make that happen. It’s fun. I love it.
HOW DID (AND DO) YOU BUILD YOUR CLIENT BASE FOR THIS?
I’d say my #1 source of clients is referral and word of mouth. Luckily I’ve been able to create a public profile in my field, so sometimes clients find me through Google simply because I have good SEO. And sometimes they find on social media, or actual media. I’ve had some great media opportunities and that is really helpful. Being on The Today Show a few times isn’t as good for business as you might think, but by the time I was on 6, 7, 8 times people started to pay more attention.
And also, I pound the pavement! In matchmaking in particular, you can’t be passive – it’s all about constantly recruiting for your clients. I focus much more on coaching now, which is more successful overall for my clients and it’s a bit easier from a business perspective.
WHEN WAS YOUR "AH-HA" MOMENT WHEN YOU KNEW YOU COULD BUILD THIS INTO A BUSINESS, RATHER THAN JUST BEING THE FRIEND EVERYONE CALLED FOR ADVICE?
The first time I spoke to someone who told me one session with me was life changing for her. You think you can help people, you hope you can help people, but when you start seeing the results of actually helping people, it’s incredibly encouraging.
BRING US BACK TO WHEN YOU "TOOK THE PLUNGE." WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
For my first plunge, my biggest challenge was figuring out how to survive. I was heavily in debt from law school and I had a six figure law firm salary that made my life very comfortable materially. I was in my 20s and I wasn’t sure if I was making a huge mistake. I knew I had a job that a lot of people coveted and though it wasn’t for me, there was a psychological leap I had to make to leave that security.
BONUS QUESTION: SURVIVOR - WHAT?! WHAT LED YOU TO SIGN UP FOR THE SHOW, AND WAS IT TRULY AS CHALLENGING AS THEY MAKE IT SEEM, OR WAS IT ALL FOR TELEVISION? ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE, PLEASE DO.
Survivor is real, I never would have knowingly agreed to that debacle! I didn’t apply to be on the show, I had applied to be on The Amazing Race and Survivor recruited me from that pool of applicants. The one great thing about being on a reality TV show is that if you can walk away from the experience with your head held high and your sense of self fully in tact, pretty much everything else feels very doable.