Ladybrillers we are excited about this news! In April 2010, we made our inaugural Ladybrille Man of the Month debut celebrating dynamic and brilliant men we felt the world needed to know. Gracing our cover was a name millions had yet to meet, Paul Carrick Brunson, the first and only African-American matchmaker. It was his first cover, his first major exclusive interview/feature and indeed, we told you Paul Carrick Brunson was the real deal and a star in the making who was just getting stared. Over a year later, we are excited to report Brunson has proved us right; and has been racking nothing but brilliant points on the scoreboard.
Brunson just signed his first book deal with a major publisher Penguin/Gotham Books and from what he has revealed to us, there is even more major news in the pipeline; but we can’t let you in on it, just yet. A hearty congratulations to Brunson and we wish him continued success.
Here is what Brunson had to say about his latest book deal on his Facebook page:
“I am humbled to announce that I have recently signed my first book deal with Penguin/Gotham Books. It is an honor to partner with a publisher known for it’s bestselling authors such as Hill Harper, Russell Simmons, Isaac Mizrahi, and Steve Stoute (just to name a few). My book is scheduled to publish in September 2012 and God willing, will be a New York Times Bestseller! I want to personally thank …everyone reading this for your support. I could never have achieved this milestone, without you. I truly thank you!!! I want to leave you with a video (in case you have not yet watched it) where I talk about living your passion. When I decided to become a matchmaker and life coach 3 years ago, I recall many people (some I considered friends) literally laughed and mocked me. Well, I’m not one to brag but let me just say, I haven’t heard any laughs lately…live your passion!!!”
Revisit our feature on Paul Carrick Brunson in our April 2010 Interview Edition below:
PAUL CARRICK BRUNSON, LADYBRILLE: MAN OF THE MONTH, Millenium Matchmaker!
by Niama Sandy
The Inaugural LADYBRILLE MAN of the Month
Since our inception, LADYBRILLE has been shining a much-needed light on women doing wonderful and positive things across the world. It’s high time that we begin to recognize the equally brilliant men of our community. Accordingly, this is the first of what will prove to be many LADYBRILLE Man of the Month stories.
Our inaugural LADYBRILLE Man of the Month is the real-life Hitch, “the Modern Day Matchmaker,” Paul Carrick Brunson. Trust and believe his name is sure to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the coming months.
In true forward-thinking LADYBRILLE fashion, we knew it was our duty to tell Paul’s story, and of course, we have the privilege of doing so before anyone else.
Who is Paul Carrick Brunson?
He’s been a successful investment banker, the first black director of operations for a major player in educational testing industry, the manager of a major educational investment fund. He has traveled the world, and now he’s a professional matchmaker – the only black professional, full-time matchmaker in the world at that! How does one manage a transition like that?
Earlier this year Paul kicked off his “Modern Day Matchmaker” web series.
When Brunson was a freshman at Old Dominion University in Virginia, he read “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” by Reginald Lewis, the first black billionaire in the world. At the time, he had a .38 grade point average. It was the first book he had ever read cover-to-cover in his life. It changed his life.
At that moment he decided that he wanted “to take the world and run with it.” In the 10 plus interceding years, he has done just that.
Paul has always been a “people person.” As a young man, his family moved from state to state frequently with his father’s software company. The family touched down everywhere from California and Utah to Florida and Virginia. All of this moving equipped Paul with the ever useful skills of learning to appreciate differences in people and building relationships.
He graduated from high school in Fairfax County, Virginia and went on to Old Dominion. After reading the Reginald Lewis book as an undergraduate, Paul was a man on fire – creating his own major through the University’s interdisciplinary program, mentoring students in the surrounding areas of the University, and eventually graduating with honors. Shortly after graduation, he was among the first African-American investment bankers hired by a boutique firm in Richmond. He was steps away from completely living the dream.
Investment banking afforded him fine suits, luxury cars, and many other amenities. Over time, Brunson became discontented with the culture of the firm; with the attitude that the world was his for the taking, he left in 2001.
He stepped out on faith and moved into a new career path. At this new position with Kaplan, a giant in the education field, he developed interest in the disparities in achievement and educational opportunity in the USA. Within two years, a new opportunity arose to manage the U.S. investment portfolio for Bahcesehir Ugur Educational Institutions, Turkey’s largest private education holding company.
“We were the largest conduit for students coming from Turkey. That [taking the position] changed my life! I started spending a lot of time in Turkey; traveling to different countries. I evolved so much as a person. I became friends with Supreme Court justices, and met prime ministers of countries. . . It was a wonderful experience,” explains Paul.
One of the true marks of highly-functioning and progressive persons is the desire for elevation and evolution.
While his time at Bahcesehir was enlightening, it was also a wakeup call. He began to feel as though all he was doing was acquiring things and not making a quantifiable impact in meaningful ways.
Paul began to brainstorm about how he could create a space to address the needs he wanted to fulfill. What was he passionate about? Educational disparities, and well, for lack of better phrasing – love. He realized that if he were to get things done they would have to be two separate entities.
The L10 Project
In 2007, Paul created Level 10, a non-profit organization designed “to curb the achievement gap,” through tutoring and other forms of student assistance. In the non-profit world, “level 10” refers to free-standing and highly functional non-profit organization – the name implied the intensity of the organizers fervor to make an impact.
The organization’s programming kicked off in Washington, DC. In time, the program was active in Philadelphia, New York City, and with the help of athletes like Michael Vick and Alge Crumpler, Atlanta.
Paul was still managing investments at Bahcesehir, but by the end of 2007, Level 10 was running programs in several cities, had 12 full-time staff members and an operating budget of over one million dollars.
In 2008, the non-profit was restructured and renamed the L10 Project. The organization is now a strictly volunteer-run and project oriented entity. The new objective is to revitalize schools in the United States and across the Caribbean – whether that means restructuring, literally rebuilding school buildings, or mobilizing people who will do that work.
The latest L10 project was the largest of all service projects in Washington, D.C. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with over 30,000 volunteers participating in the beautification of a local D.C. public high school.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match.
In his travels on behalf of Bahcesehir, the conversations would always turn to relationships and love.
“At the end of the night the talk was always about relationships. It’s is one of very few universal concerns. They’d always say ‘Paul, you’re the married one, what do you think?” he explained.
Over time, he would turn his attention to researching relationships.
“I would study and just wait for them to ask me about it. I read a couple books; I would look at columns, blogs. I realized that I liked the interaction; I liked doing the research behind it. I liked being able to pull from the success of my marriage,” he said.
In 2008, Paul decided he was going to leave Bahcesehir. What was the impetus behind this decision; the election of our 44th President of the United States – Barack Hussein Obama.
“I thought to myself this is incredible! This is something I never thought would happen in a million years. Him winning it [the election] definitely meant a lot; it conveyed a lot (the possibilities are endless now). It was then that I said I’m going to do something I’m extraordinarily passionate about.”
He began attending seminars and professional conferences on match-making and life-coaching. Paul immersed himself in the culture of his new found craft.
“I would go to these matchmaking conferences. The white matchmakers would come up to me and say ‘I have these black clients I can’t do anything for them.’” It was clear that there was an area of opportunity.
In early 2009, he began piloting services for his company, One Degree from Me (onedegreefrom.me). The company has three areas of focus: matchmaking and life-coaching, content publishing – in the form of video blogs – , and technology, namely compatibility prediction software. One Degree from Me’s target clientele are “sophisticated, highly-educated and cultured singles.”
The “Real-life Hitch,” as Paul is sometimes called, gets to know his clients beyond the surface level. He works together with the client to develop a strong and healthy view of the self– as the famous sayings goes “you can’t love someone before you love yourself” – setting goals and desired behavioral outcomes. Sometimes clients even engage in mock-dates, readying them for the actual encounters.
“By the time I got to the end of the year, I put the finishing touches on my first video blog. The video blog was released in December and it mushroomed.”
The first week the blog was posted online, Paul received calls from a major movie studio, several national media outlets, and more prospective clients than he handle. He currently has a three to four-month waiting list.
The One Degree from Me team is about to kick off an eight-city tour beginning in D.C. at the end of this month. Other stops on the tour include New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, and London.
The possibilities for this venture are thrilling.
Without a doubt, Paul Carrick Brunson is a dynamic human being who is making significant contributions and connections with the world. He is on the cusp of something major and something tells us that he will be unstoppable as the momentum around his work picks up!