"I think I have the ability to disarm almost anyone," says Molly Peckler, an observation which, from her, sounds like a statement of fact rather than bragging: Her peppy confidence does have an undeniable appeal.
Peckler's interpersonal skills have served her well over professional stints at cannabis consulting firm Quantum 9, and at the executive matchmaking site Selective Search. But it's her new business venture - combining both of these interests - that's currently earning Peckler significant media attention.
Highly Devoted Coaching, which Peckler founded in May 2015, is the world's first dating/life coaching service specifically geared toward people who consume cannabis. She's uniquely qualified to offer this kind of advice: after graduating as a psychology major, she worked as a professional matchmaker, and has been "been madly in love with my husband [who is a cannabis consumer] for 11 years. We'll have been married five years next month."
"I really understand," says Peckler, "what it takes to be in a truly compatible partnership." On her site, she advocates what she describes as "research-proven methods of confidence hacking, served up in a warm, inviting setting in easily digestible servings."
We called her in Los Angeles, where she's just moved from Chicago in search of sunnier skies and an increased foothold in the industry, to chat about when you know it's time to call a dating coach, the cannabis-specific challenges in modern love, and why the world needs a dating coach specifically for marijuana consumers.
You can listen to our phone conversation (she's a warm, engaging talker), or read the edited transcript below.
Who's an ideal candidate for your services?
I work for cannabis consumers who are a little bit more sophisticated. Definitely not your traditional stoner type, and generally someone who's tried their hardest, but isn't able to find someone who is truly compatible with them: also, people who are just incredibly busy. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who have a ton on their plate. My whole goal is to help people date as efficiently as possible, which means not wasting time, money, energy, or emotion on people who are the wrong fit for them.
I help [people] build confidence, move past any fears or insecurities, and identify the ideal cannabis-friendly partner. If you're truly looking for something serious, I'm you're girl, but if you're looking to date casually, I'm probably not your best bet.
Also, not all of my clients are cannabis consumers (although the vast majority of them are). So it's a bonus that I understand how important it is in a relationship. I'm a safe space: I'm not going to be judging you. I understand why cannabis is important to you and why you want that in a relationship.
What are some of the common challenges people come to you with in their dating life?
A lot of people come to me because they haven't come to terms with cannabis. It's something that they love and enjoy doing, but they still feel a lot of shame for it. I hope to help them understand why cannabis is an important part of their life: what is it that helps them grow, or enhances their experience. Once you have that under control, it's a lot easier to share that with someone else.
Confidence is about accepting yourself for who you are and not focusing on what other people think, but on what your needs are, and what makes you happy. I think that cannabis is a really great analogy for that.
What's the best part of your job?
I love making massive changes in the lives of people who have dealt with insecurities for years and didn't understand why things weren't going their way - especially when it comes to confidence. When I can flip that switch, that's when I'm most fulfilled. Obviously, I love it when my clients find an ideal partner. But for me it's really about confidence: that colors every experience you have in your life. Insecurities can get in the way of you being able to lead the life you really want. Being able to move past that makes me so happy.
What's the most challenging part?
Marketing has been a little difficult: there's a lot going against the cannabis industry. Even though I'm an ancillary business - I don't actually touch cannabis - you still have to deal with social media bans, and Google ads, and it's complicated. I am currently working with a cannabis-centric marketing firm. Hopefully, that that will make things more easier.
In terms of the clients - I love a good challenge, especially when someone feels like they're really in a tough spot. That propels me to work harder and move forward: I don't look at it as overly difficult.
What are some of the qualities that make a good matchmaker?
Being able to see through B.S. A lot of people - especially when they're talking about matters of the heart and dealing with bruised egos - maybe aren't completely forthcoming. The best way to connect with them is to make sure they're truly comfortable with you.
That was part of the reason I was so successful as a matchmaker: I went deeper. I focused on helping my clients build confidence, and understanding exactly what they needed in a compatible partner.
Once they found someone great, I was really good at helping them not only do their due diligence and ensure that person could tick every box, but also making sure that if any lines of communication that got crossed, or things got in the way of a successful relationship, I can help do troubleshooting so that they can immediately work something out and nip it in the bud before it ends the relationship completely.
When you're focused on matching cannabis consumers with other consumers, you're going to have a statistically smaller population to work with. Ever encourage people to branch out as far as their preference for dating a fellow consumer?
I think if it's important to you - if it's an important part of your life - that should be part of your search, and your relationship. If you want to find a cannabis consumer, I don't think you should just give up and go to the mainstream. It is very difficult to find someone, but I do a lot to help people create the best dating profile possible so that they attract the right type of person, even if they're not specifically comfortable talking about cannabis in their profile.
I also encourage them to look at outside opportunities: I help people become involved with different local organizations, volunteer with different groups, or go to specific events where I know they're going to meet other cannabis consumers.
What do you think about mentioning cannabis use in your profile, on, say Match.com?
It really is completely up to you. There aren't any rules that I know of. I know a lot of people who do mention it in their profile, they'll say "420-friendly." If you're not comfortable saying it as explicitly as that, you can say that you're "looking for someone who's more open-minded," who has "more of a wide perspective," who's "focused more on experiences or relationships rather than material things." Those are the values that cannabis consumers tend to share.
As the culture goes mainstream, and gets legalized in Canada next year, some people would question the need for a niche service like this.
There's some truth to that - but in terms of dating experts, matchmakers, and coaches, there's no one else who's doing this. No one else is specifically marketing themselves as a cannabis-friendly dating coach.
When people find out what I'm doing, they're like, 'why hasn't anyone been doing this before?' So, I think there really is still a need for it because I have that empathy: I live the life. I'm in a relationship with a cannabis consumer, and we fell in love over a bowl of weed. So I get that.
There's still going to be some part of it that's counter-culture even if it is completely, truly legalized, just because of the bucket-loads of propaganda we've all been fed.
What are some of your top dating tips for cannabis consumers?
The biggest one is how to bring it up, and gauge whether cannabis is something that they're open to. A really great way to break the ice is to talk about medical cannabis. I know it's not a very sexy subject to be like, "hey, kids with epilepsy aren't having seizures anymore! It's killing cancer cells!" But it is a great way to gauge someone's response. If they say, "oh my god, that's so amazing, I totally agree," then you know that you can open up to them, but if they're like, all drugs are bad, and marijuana is illegal and it should stay illegal, then that's a pretty big red flag right there.
What's your success rate?
Well, all my clients are looking for different things: some are in serious relationships already and they're looking for the best way to navigate it. Others are looking to build up their confidence. I have 10 regular clients, all of whom are making massive progress, and then I have five or 10 that have found their love, happiness, confidence [and] they don't need me anymore. Unlike a therapist, who might need to work with someone for years to get results, I'm offering to help people change their perspective, which can happen much quicker.
When you change that perspective, the way that you make decisions, carry, and handle yourself changes. It's like a magnet that gets turned on, and you start connecting with people who are a really great fit for you.
Banner image: Molly Peckler, highlydevotedcoaching.com