An NYC financier learns the ropes and shares his personal date spot gem


This week on ASK AN ACADEMY GRAD… 


For our ASK AN ACADEMY GRAD Series, we chat with past clients of Smart Dating Academy to get the up-close-and-personal scoop on their story – what led them to cross paths with Bela, what it was like working with the SDA Team, and how they’re doing after parting ways with the Academy. Whether you’re looking to sign up with SDA or just plain curious about what others have learned from the experience, this series has all the intriguing stories and veteran tips you’ll want to know!


They call me: RT

I’ve been alive for: 20-something years (“Late twenties”)

You’ll find me in: NYC

I work in: Finance/Investments

So RT, how was your dating life before you came to SDA?

I never really dated! I’ve been living in NYC for the past 5 years, and I’ve always been focused on my career. About 2 years ago was around when I noticed my friends had started being in more serious relationships. At that point, I just felt like I was ready too – I was already established career-wise, and yeah…

How did you find and start working with Bela?

I didn’t feel confident approaching people offline, but I didn’t find much success with online dating either. I would just get ignored or even if I got a date, it wouldn’t go that well and I wouldn’t get a second date. I was on which offers webinars, and I got a good impression from one of Bela’s 30-minute talks that I signed up for. I researched the services she was offering, and figured there might be something broken about the process I had been trying that I could use her professional guidance with.

You seem to be a very logic-minded person. 

Yeah, I knew that it was a matter of putting more time and effort into this, and I was prepared to do it.

“Figured there might be something broken about the process I had been trying”

So what did you learn from the team at SDA?

Bela and Lindsay pushed me to be consistent about messaging people and about having the right approach. The key thing is that you have to confident in the process, accepting that rejection is part of it, and that it’s just a screening process that helps you with your search. It teaches you who you’re compatible with and how to be better. And you have to know it’s a numbers game – you’ll have to spend time messaging back and forth, and most times, it will not turn into anything more. But you need to build up the incremental situations that do pan out.

Bela and Lindsay also gave me specific tips on communicating, though I feel like my communication skills mainly got better through just through practice. It comes with having a more positive mindset where you genuinely want to connect with people and relate to people. Instead of “I hope I don’t mess up and they never talk to me again.”

Did you start seeing a change in your dating life as a result of improving your approach?

Yeah, I started getting a steadier stream of people – I remember there was one week where I went on 4 date with 4 different people, and that really helped my confidence! It was maybe around 2 – 3 months in.

Did you meet anyone special?

I found a relationship that lasted 4 months. We actually broke up a few weeks ago, but I learned a lot of lessons in this process. I’m sure a lot of people do find someone during the program, but I’ve always thought of SDA as a school where I learn skills…now that I have this method, I’m optimistic that I’ll find the right one!

Glad you were able to reach this understanding. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with newbies to SDA?

Everyone can be likable. You just have to be willing to take on rejection and accept it as natural. Push through the minor heartbreaks.

Also for first dates, go for coffee – it’s a more relaxed, more flexible environment, so it feels like a chat instead of a formal thing. If it goes well, you can always do more, but if not, it’s easy to just call it.

“Push through the minor heartbreaks.”

What about second dates? There’s so much to do in NYC – give us some off-the-radar recs for date spots.

I love going to SPYSCAPE – it’s a spy museum with fun facts and interactive experiences, like tests on your spy skills and stuff. It lets you have a great time with the person while checking out their personality.



We’ll have to check that out. Now that you’ve graduated SDA, can you give your coaches a grade based on how you think they did?

Definitely a solid A. They’re really focused on serving all of their clients. They turned my mindset around and provided me with the skills I needed – and that was the goal!


"RT is a very considerate and thoughtful person who thrived on encouragement and having a dating plan in place. I think that one of the reasons he is successful professionally is because of his ability to see the bigger picture. Same with his dating plan. It was helpful for him to take a step back and see his success over a longer period of time, rather than allowing the highs and lows of each week to dictate how he felt about dating. He never gave up! He played the numbers game well and learned how not to take things personally. RT’s a total catch and I’m confident he will meet the person that will make him happy!"

Josh Neimark