'Tame it! Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no! You will not control me! No! You will not take my soul! No! You will not win this game! Because it's a game, guys. You want to think it's not, huh? You want to think it's not?'
Frank Mackey, Magnolia
The rumours, lazily meandering through Wexford town, are met with an immediate straightening of the back and stiffening of the face. "Did you hear about Stephen Nolan? You must have heard about Stephen Nolan?" The whispers gradually become louder as days slip by and he becomes the hot topic in the bars around home. "You've seen his website right? You must have seen his website? Come here and I'll show you his website." The opinions are suddenly within earshot of the GAA player with the most interesting occupation of them all. "Look, there he is, that's the guy."
By the end of January there was both the confirmation and confidence to say it to Stephen Nolan's face. The Wexford centre-back was away at a training weekend with his teammates in Mayo, when, late one evening as he got up to leave the kitchen table, Colm Bonnar mentioned it in front of them all. "Eh, Stephen," laughed the manager, "when's the next boot camp?" Less than four weeks after the website accepted clicks from the public, word had reached those that were never supposed to know. Another headache for the 23-year-old CEO of Kama Lifestyles.
That same CEO is now sitting in a Dublin bar, weighing up the net gain of talking about this publicly. Sure, there's the publicity for his recently-launched dating-training company but this is an Ireland of antiquated beliefs and more judgement is the last thing he needs with the championship opener against Offaly closing in fast. You interrupt his musing and recite what hits you when you open up the website that had the county talking.
"Have you ever felt that some of your skills need to be improved when it comes to the dating game and when interacting with beautiful women? What about in a bar? Are you mindlessly walking up to girls saying the exact same things that every other guy is saying, and as a result, creating no attraction and getting blown out by beautiful women? Imagine what your life would be like if you had complete choice, if you could walk out your front door and meet an amazing woman everyday and interact without fear. How satisfied would you be?"
"You can't claim to know exactly what women want and keep it all to yourself" you tell him.
"Well where do you want me to start," he asks.
"Okay. There's a girl sitting at the bar. She's beautiful, she's with friends, you can't stop looking but you don't stand a chance," you suggest.
"Why don't you stand a chance? If guys are worried about someone being out of their league, they should know that looks have very little to do with it. So approach her, what's the worst that can happen? Now the biggest mistake guys make is they don't smile. It's about energy. People are there to have fun. It's 60 per cent body language, 32 per cent voice and eight per cent what you are actually saying. If there's a gorgeous looking girl there, you can be sure she's been approached 20 times and unless you are Brad Pitt, she's just going to say it's another guy. You are shot down. If you say you're on your way out the door and need a quick opinion she gives you a bit more. You have to use this as a technique because she's after building up a defence against the idiots that didn't know how to talk to her. There are all these little techniques you can learn and we teach."
"Is this just manipulation of the mind?" you ponder.
"Some people get the wrong idea but at the end of the day women don't do themselves up in front of a mirror for three hours to go out and talk amongst themselves. They do it to meet guys. They want to meet a guy who has boundaries, who knows what he's talking about, who will impress her friends. All we are doing is clearing out negative limiting beliefs that are sadly in guys' minds and replacing them with beliefs telling them they do deserve relationships, they are as good as anybody there. We are giving them social tools that basically give them a greater chance in situations."
• • •
Like any dreamer, the kid used to tuck up each night in bed beside his hurl, thinking one day he'd use it playing for Wexford. But a degree from UCD thought him to stop dreaming and believe in what works. He and his hurl now play for Wexford and he's convinced this works too. He used to assist those who needed advice on the internet but more recently started putting together boot camps. They involve two days of dating theory and training, followed by two nights of in-field training. That part's the worst because regardless of his humour, clients pick out groups of girls and expect success from him each and every time.
"Any of the guys I know from back home, they get pissed when they go out, just to hide. After that they might get a woman or they might get sick. The church probably has a lot to do with it, the way people are brought up but if you can get a relationship in Ireland you can take get a girl anywhere in the world."
He uses an example of a friend back home who's done rather well for himself. The problem is his girlfriend knows it and takes advantage. "In bars guys are flirting away and so is she in front of him. She goes to the dance floor and she's grinding and he pretends not to notice. It's uncomfortable for everyone." And he reckons that's a common case in Ireland. Guys underestimate themselves, think they'll never do as well again, and don't set boundaries. It's why he has a second book coming out this summer on the subject. His first release was all about how to get the girl. This time it's about how to maintain a successful relationship and that involves laying down the law.
"You have your willingness to walk away, and you know if she disrespects you, you have a choice. If you will walk away that will build up respect. She won't walk all over you. It's important for there to be mutual respect in a relationship. Now we haven't moved onto boot camps on that yet. At the moment we teach guys to improve their social skills to the point where if they see a woman they're attracted to they have to confidence to approach her and set up a date. It's huge in America. David DeAngelo makes over $30m a year doing this yet we have more problems with it in this country and there's never been this."
Until now. On weekends when the hurlers aren't in action over the summer he'll be teaching the basic tricks of the trade.
Like bouncing girls to different bars: "If you meet a girl for three hours you can make it seem like three days if you bring her to different places. She'll think she knows you a lot better. It'll feel like you've been on a few dates together. That one is not complicated."
Like opening seated groups: "If you are standing there and she is locked in, think about how quickly you'll be blown out. If there are four girls there, after 30 seconds it's awkward. It's not something a socially-skilled person would do. Sit down on half the seat, get one of their seats and if she gives out tell her you're getting up in two seconds. It makes conversation. It turns things in your favour."
And of course, the old classic, stopping a moving target: "That one is the most difficult of the lot. You have to touch, or she'll keep going. Make an observation, anything, then get back to adding to your value. We always say that in the first five minutes, mention five things about yourself that are interesting. Even if you don't think you have a lot going for yourself there'll be things that are interesting about you. You are trying to sell yourself, that's the whole point of this. Make her think you are a cool guy but don't go overboard. Let her ask more about it so you can't be accused of boasting. After that there's a body language ladder. If you hi-five you've registered, if you spin her that's a bit more, if you hold her hand, push back her hair, draw your finger down her neck, you are always moving up it."
He describes the first and only boot camp to date as "amazing". One of the guys on the course was 22 and never kissed a girl but ended up with a couple of numbers from their night in the field. Another was the lead singer in a band but still struggled. At one stage Nolan came around the corner in the bar and found him with an audience of women, telling them about his next gig.
"It's about breaking the mould, having confidence in yourself, doing what you thought you couldn't and not listening to people who want to put you down."
Sounds like Wexford hurling but it's a million miles away.