Photos by Sam Nalven
Story by Kimberly Hundley
Alighting like a warm flock of butterflies, Leslee Alexander Gibbs’ expertly manicured fingers graze the Scottsdale Airpark News photographer’s forearm as she leans in, eyes twinkling with possibilities.
“So are you single?” she says, a conspiratorial smile tugging the corners of her lips.
It’s a question familiar to many of the ring-free men and women who’ve crossed the Scottsdale matchmaker’s path. The photographer reveals he’s in a relationship. Well, then, maybe he has a friend looking for love. Before he leaves the TRUmatch offices, a card is pressed into his hand.
Gibbs and her team are always on the prowl to fatten their database with possible matches for clients. “I have chased people down an escalator before. I was sitting at Tanzy at the Scottsdale Quarter and saw a group of lovely young ladies, and I literally ran after them,” Gibbs says. “We do whatever it takes to provide quality service for our clients, whether that’s recruiting more people through groups and meetings or reaching out on Facebook and LinkedIn.”
“Stalking” is the bald-faced term Gibbs and her staff of equally ebullient women use for their recruitment techniques. In fact, that’s how TRUmatch Creative Director Elisa Lane joined the fold. Gibbs had checked out her Facebook profile as a prospective match for a client last year. When the two met, Lane began attending the firm’s workshops and did some coaching work with TRUmatch to address her own love issues.
“Elisa had such a breakthrough, and she’s now in the happiest, healthiest relationship she’s ever been in,” says Gibbs. “TRUmatch changed her life—not just because he’s an amazing man, but because of what came to her in the sessions—and she said, ‘I want to share this with the world. I’d like to come on board and work for you.'”
Lane confirms it’s all true, and she’s not alone. Passion runs through the business like blood through a racing heart. Gibbs didn’t launch this enterprise for the money, though the service isn’t cheap. She owns a highly successful modeling agency and has a proven track record as a hotshot entrepreneur. TRUmatch evolved from her own painful struggle and eventual triumph in the quest for love.
“My husband and I met through a matchmaker, and so I have been passionate about giving people the gift of love because it was given to me,” she says. “When you can change people’s lives, that’s crazy. The feeling is indescribable.”
As Gibbs likes to say, TRUmatch doesn’t just set you up, it sets you up for success. Her 3-D approach to dating is “Mix-Match-Mentor,” with an emphasis on the latter. Clients begin with a “Discovery” session where a counselor helps them identify problematic patterns, set goals for the future and plot a roadmap to finding love.
“The key is mentorship, and the patterns we are able to change. It is absolutely our secret sauce,” Gibbs says and describes a Discovery session she conducted earlier in the week with a handsome Scottsdale CEO who didn’t realize he was overanalyzing his dates.
“Analyzing and reanalyzing data over and over again serves him well in business, but it’s also what prohibits him from love—because you are never going to find the lesson to love in your medical books or searching Internet. It’s something you will feel in your heart.”
As the CEO continues with the TRUmatch service, Gibbs will act as his ongoing accountability partner. Each client puts together their own packages—a mix of “Introductions,” dates, personal coaching and courses—but self-discovery work and feedback are key factors, unlike most dating services that mainly supply their clients with a stack of photographs and guarantee a set number of “fix-ups.”
The TRUmatch approach seems to be capturing the Valley’s attention. Gibbs and vice president Leslie Sprinz launched the company only last October, and already 15,000 people are engaged via the database and social media streams. The women had been offering relationship and self-discovery workshops for three years before deciding to introduce the matching service.
Gibbs says TRUmatch has a 92 percent success rate, based on the number of “Introductions” that move into second dates. Several clients are living together as partners, one couple got married last November, and Gibbs expects to receive news of another proposal before summer.
Charlie Carr, a North Scottsdale resident in his 60s, is among TRUmatch’s satisfied clientele. Divorced and looking for a long-term relationship, Carr had tried several services (at significant cost) before meeting Gibbs during a TRUmatch mixer at Gainey Ranch Village Health Club.
“One of the things I enjoyed the most is they do an inventory and a guided reflection on what you want in life, what you are looking for in a relationship, and then how your past behavior and thoughts impact your current success,” says Carr, whose background is in psychology. “They really ask you to do some work on your own self-awareness, and once you do that, you become the foundation for what you are looking for.”
Laughing a little, Carr says “the Leslies” gave him some much-needed fashion guidance as well as insights into the kind of first impression he makes, based on their own observations as well as feedback from his TRUmatch dates. “How I come across to women is an important question to me. And they took a look at many, many aspects—conversation, how I sound, am I projecting who I genuinely am, what kind of person am I attracting.”
Carr, who has been dating a TRUmatch client steadily for a couple of months now, says the combined insights have increased the chance of him making it to that second date where he and a woman can really get to know each other. Wanting better odds “may sound real guy-like,” he adds, but that’s part of the reality of finding a match.
In the meantime, Carr can’t say enough about “the Leslies,” who even helped him craft an online dating profile.
“These are two people with such good hearts,” he says. “They are really committed to helping you from your point of view. The compatibility thing is not completely predictable, but I trust both of the Leslies to know me and know if there is a likelihood.”
A small crowd of mostly over-50 women have gathered for the TRUmatch presentation on how to get out and start dating again. Though not an official course in the “loveMBA” series Gibbs and Sprinz developed, the talk has some similar themes, and Gibbs is sharing her personal story:
Her relationship of 13 years had ended, and there she was, 35 years old, bitter, lonely and terrified to date again. The days filled with work and kids weren’t bad, but during the stillness of the nights, she felt as though she were moving through quicksand. After two years, she decided to immerse herself in education, determined to figure out why her relationship had failed and what she could do about it.
“I thought I would find places to meet hot guys, but what I found was myself … not just as an entrepreneur and a wife and mom, but as a woman,” she says, urging the ladies to let go of the past, open their hearts, embrace their femininity—and have fun. Gibbs says she never would have met her husband, William Gibbs, past president of University of Phoenix, unless she had learned to love again.
A frazzled woman arrives, takes a seat, and begins to pepper Gibbs with questions about pricing and guarantees. Before Gibbs is finished with one answer, the latecomer fires another question, her skepticism palpable. The room feels increasingly tense—a vibe that something valuable has been shanghaied—and suddenly a woman with a smooth gray pageboy turns and interrupts.
“Maybe I can help you understand,” she says softly. “I’m 64 years old, and I’ve been married for 40. I’ve lost myself. I’m losing my husband. I’m here to grow and to learn. I want to learn to be female, to be with a man, and if that man happens to be my husband, great.”
A moment of silence descends on the room, and the skeptic, visibly moved, thanks the woman for her words.
A week later, she actually attends a TRUmatch mixer and books a Discovery session, much to Gibbs’ delight.
“It all starts with wanting to heal,” she says. “Ask yourself what you can start doing today to have the relationship of your dreams.”
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Take the TRUmatch Challenge
TRUmatch invites you to take the challenge to find love in three weeks.
• The loveMBA Program (six courses giving people the tools to become the master of their love life) is regularly $398; sign up by July 1 and get 50% off.
• Additional matchmaking services offered at 10% off if you mention Scottsdale Airpark News.