Amber Lee is the CEO of Select Date Society. She is a Luxury Matchmaker with over 23 years of celebrated expertise in curating meaningful connections. Amber has mastered the art and science of love and is responsible for introducing 2,000+ couples. Amber is recognized as the “go-to” matchmaker for successful executives, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and politicians. She has been featured in Forbes, The Wallstreet Journal, The New York Post, Cosmopolitan, The New York Times, and more!
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Amber Lee: I started my Matchmaking career in 1998. I’ve worked for several matchmaking agencies throughout the United States. In 2009, I met Sandra Myers when we were both working for the same organization. We always talked about how we could do matchmaking better and get better results for our clients. We always played around with the idea of starting our own firm, but we didn’t take action until I almost lost my life in 2020. On May 10th, 2020 I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Thankfully, my heart was restarted with a defibrillator. Realizing that life is short, Sandra & I took action! We started Select Date Society on June 1st, 2021.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your view point, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Amber Lee: I think that entrepreneurs are born with the drive and spirit that it takes to create your own path in life, but also made in the sense that life experiences certainly mold and define that path.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Amber Lee: I would say that I am results-oriented. I strive to get results for myself, through personal success. I strive to get results for our team, through the success of the company. And I strive to get results for our clients through their membership success. I’m always focused on the end goal!
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Amber Lee: Select Date Society officially launched on June 1st, 2021, so we are a fairly new company, although Sandra & I Co-founded the company with a combined 50 years of experience! We are a luxury matchmaking firm. Essentially, we act as an executive search firm for our clients’ love lives. Matchmaking in general has changed over the years as technology has evolved. When I started in the late-90’s, we took polaroid pictures of clients and stapled their photos to a hand-written profile.
Now, we have a great CRM system to store and organize client data. Video technology, such as Zoom, allows us to meet with clients no matter where they are. Gone are the days when clients had to drive into our office to meet with us in person.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Amber Lee: You have to assume that nothing will go as planned. Planning is a key part of business, but you have to be willing to pivot quickly when your initial plans fall apart. Starting a business means taking on a huge risk, so it’s not for the faint of heart! I would say to also take your budget and double it to get an idea of what your expenses will actually be.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Amber Lee: We have made a few missteps. In the beginning, we hired a friend and overlooked some things as we tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately, we ended up letting her go, which was difficult, but necessary. We have learned to refine our hiring process and become extremely selective about who we choose to align ourselves with. We have learned that the key to running a successful business is having the right team!
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Amber Lee: Don’t make assumptions. It’s easy to assume that your team is doing things the way you want them done or that your marketing team understands the message you’re trying to get across, but you can’t assume that other people see things the way you do. You have to take the time to have conversations and walk through exactly how things are being done to make sure everyone is on the same page. The same goes for clients. You cannot assume that your clients understand the expectations you have for them.
Our clients make a huge financial investment to hire us, so it’s easy to assume that they know how to dress for a first date. I was taken aback when I recently found out that one of our Platinum clients showed up in a ripped t-shirt for his first date. You would assume that if someone is paying $25k for a service, they would show up dressed to impress, but I’ve learned not to assume anything.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Amber Lee: I think the worst advice we received was not to go into business with a partner. Everyone said that partnerships are bound to end up with disagreements and are likely to fail. We have found that our partnership is our greatest strength. Our unique skillsets complement each other. We have found that having a partner also eases the loneliness that sometimes comes with entrepreneurship. You have someone to bounce ideas off and to talk you off the ledge when things get challenging. I can’t imagine going on this journey alone!
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Amber Lee: I think that Covid-19 has opened up an opportunity to operate your business remotely. It’s now very normal to have remote team members and remote meetings with clients over Zoom. For entrepreneurs, this means no longer assuming that you need to start locally. You can start working with clients all over the world! I believe that hiring remote employees puts you at a huge advantage. In a specialized field like matchmaking, it means that we can hire the best and most experienced matchmakers without limiting ourselves geographically.
The part that hasn’t changed is the need to communicate expectations with your team and manage your team. Working remotely means adding a layer of challenges to the management piece of the business.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Amber Lee: A common myth is that being a business owner means that you will have time and freedom to do whatever you want. The opposite is actually true! For the first several years, your business will be your life. I would tell a new entrepreneur to plan on making the business your priority for the first 3-5 years. As a matchmaker, love is one of my highest values. I’ve had to clearly communicate to my husband and define our priorities as a couple to align with the priorities of the business. My advice for any new entrepreneur is to communicate openly and seek emotional support from your significant other or family. Make sure that they are onboard with your vision.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Amber Lee: I would say:
- Resilience. You will face setbacks, failures, and rejection. You have to keep getting up and moving forward!
- A Generous Spirit. Be generous with your team so that they will stay with you. Be generous with sharing knowledge with others in your industry so that they will collaborate with you. Be generous with your clients so they will refer others to you.
- An Abundant Mindset. You cannot grow a successful business with a scarcity mindset. You need to operate from a place of abundance in order to achieve abundance!
- The Right Team. No one person can achieve massive success alone. You need to have a strong team in place!
- Integrity. People tend to think that successful people in business are very cut-throat, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. In order to reach your goals, you need to operate with integrity and stay true to yourself.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Amber Lee: There are lessons all around us! Tony Robbins has famously said that “success leaves clues.” Read biographies and autobiographies to learn from those who came before you. I read several books a month. Most recently I’ve read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, and Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance. I’m also a huge fan of podcasts. I listen to School of Greatness with Lewis Howes and Entrepreneurs On Fire with John Lee Dumas.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Amber Lee: I would be a writer. I feel like my own life story could inspire someone else and I have so many experiences I would love to share with the world.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Amber Lee: Martin Luther King Jr. His message of love and hope has left a lasting legacy.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Amber Lee for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Amber Lee or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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