Nicky Dunn: The Woman behind the Business….
Nicky Dunn, the woman at the heart of Pi Society & Exeter’s most sought after match maker, reflects on a journey that’s allowed her to both elegantly & sensitively, align her business with her ultimate passion for connecting.
When we meet, despite her hectic schedule, Nicky radiates calm, confidence and a deep rooted sense of clarity. We talk flirting, work/life balance and making things happen….
So Nicky, it seems that pretty much every singleton, over the age of 35, in Exeter, is talking about Pi. The business has hit the ground running & the PR crews are all over it. But tell me more. How did it all start?
Back in November 2016, I had a wonderful cycling adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia; I raised over £16,000, for three cancer charities.
Whilst sitting outside a restaurant in Siem Reep, Cambodia, one evening, I couldn’t escape the feeling that there was something missing in my life; a deep sense that I wanted to utilise my skills, in my work life, more so. I felt that my purpose lay in helping others on a deeper level. I loved recruitment, but I knew, that in my heart, that I shouldn’t go back.
That’s when the lightbulb moment struck! Matchmaking! Matchmaking is just so similar and would offer the people of Exeter a different, yet personal and friendly approach to dating; a dating agency, in Exeter, with a heart!
It was shortly afterwards that Pi started to bubble into life.
I love it, but looking at this from a single girl point of view, there are so many dating apps and sites out there right now. From Tinder through to Elite Singles, it seems the market is flooded with opportunities for singles to meet.
There are, but Pi is about making connections at a deeper level. It’s about creating opportunities for people to meet, away from their online worlds, through social events; dinners, cocktail nights and specialist activity events, where people meet others who share the same interests.
Never underestimate the power of chemistry. On paper, you can be a perfect match but if the chemistry isn’t there, the relationship, or potential relationship is going no-where.
Pi gives you the chance to meet other, like minded singles, in a safe, non pressured environment.
So do you get involved in one on one matchmaking too, or is it just through the events?
No, we have different levels of membership; Diamond, Ruby & Sapphire social memberships.
There’s nothing we want more than to find that perfect partner for our clients and I’ll stop at nothing to find them. Look… I’m even searching single men near me on FB! I’m not even kidding!
The rise of dating apps has left many of us, including the guys, wondering if there is actually anybody decent, wanting anything more than a quick fling, out there?
You’re not wrong, but I promise you there are. The thing is, if all you’re doing is liking people based on their looks then the odds on finding the right partner are a little low, to say the least. And even when you do find yourself comparable on paper, there’s no guarantee that the spark will be there too!
And so to meet more people, you have to… meet more people!
Exactly! The more people you meet, the more people will enter into your partner funnel. Online dating, in my eyes, creates, short, sharp engagements that involve minimal commitment and maximum pleasure, characterised as a metaphor of liquid love. It’s easier to break with a Facebook friend than a real friend; it takes a split second to delete a mobile-phone/Facebook contact and there is little or no emotion attached. One thing the internet will never do, no matter how sophisticated its analytics, is feel.
So let’s talk flirting. It seems the art is a little lost and in many cases, people are getting it wrong; coming on too strong or not at all.
Whether in your personal, or business life, holding eye contact is so important. Obviously you don’t want to freak the other person out, but holding eye contact let’s them know they’ve got your attention. Listening intently, asking questions and creating banter; these come from an inner confidence and from practice. Reading the book “Get the Guy” by Matthew Hussey is a wonderful way to understand how we flirt and understand the art!
I’m always telling my clients to practice flirting in every situation, with both men and women. It doesn’t matter whether you’re attracted to them or not, the more you practice and get comfortable with it, the easier it’ll be when you do meet the one who makes you melt; you’re not going to feel nearly so awkward.
That makes a lot of sense, but tell me about you Nicky. You have this air of positivity & excitement around you, but you’re juggling a job, a new business and a family. How are you managing to stay on top of things?
I’m not going to lie; it’s a challenge. I’m usually finding myself replying to emails at 12am at night and then I’m up again at 6am. When you love what you do, you find a way to keep going and, in many ways, it doesn’t actually feel like work. Being on your own in this world can be tough and knowing that I’m making a real, positive, difference to lives…. there’s not much that can compare.
And your children? How are they finding life with an increasingly busy mum?
They love to get involved in the business and Harry, my youngest, is my biggest fan! Yes, it’s busy, but they are understanding. They appreciate what it takes to have a work life balance.
I took a week off last week. I headed to deepest, darkest, Devon with them, turned off social media and we spent an amazing week with my cousin, & her family. It is possible to do it all, you just have to make sure you balance your life around you.
You strike me as being very intuitive. That’s a great skill to have as a matchmaker. Do you apply it to your role as a business woman too?
I’ve definitely become more intuitive over the years. I’m very in tune with my inner guidance and I use this to make both business and personal decisions. If something feels wrong, it usually is. If it feels right, again, it usually is right.
I think that sometimes we can get so caught up in the over whelm of every day life, that we forget to stop and just listen to how we really feel about things. The answer you need is always there. You just have to listen.
Your strength seems to lie in your ability to just get on with things and make them happen.
For sure; I guess I’ve always been a bit of a free spirit. I travelled across Australia, on my own, in my early 20s. I believe that if you want to make things happen in this world, you have to get out there and try. It’s not always going to work out and you’re going to make some pretty huge mistakes along the way but, in the end, when you get to do the thing you love, it’s worth every moment of worry and question.
And what about your weaknesses? Where do you struggle?
Ironically, I think it’s with my writing skills! If I could improve one area, it would be there. I’m so passionate; I know exactly what I want to achieve, but I’ve always struggled to get it down on paper and reflect that passion. It doesn’t come naturally & I definitely have to work hard at it.
But it doesn’t hold you back.
Not at all! The second you start making excuses, for not being able to do something, is the same second you start putting doubt in your mind. Your ego can be your worst enemy! It’ll eat you up for dinner if you’re not careful!
None of us are capable of doing everything; we’ll all have aspects we struggle with. When you find yourself struggling, call for help, let them get on with it and focus on the aspects of your business you can do well.
That’s very wise advice.
Thank you. It’s always about staying positive. I have a real admiration for Queen Elizabeth I. She was an amazing woman; independent, intuitive and wise. I like to think that I can look to women like her; past and present, for inspiration and wisdom.
So if you could give one piece of advice to your 20 year old self, what would it be?
I would tell her to be kind. Our lives can get complicated. We can get overwhelmed with advice and with information, that just doesn’t stop coming. Sometimes we just need to take a step back, re-connect with our values; who we are at the core and to just be kind to each other.
And to your 50 year old self? What would your message be?
To enjoy life and to enjoy it in such a way that can only come from being kind and making a positive difference to the world.
Follow Nicky @pisocietyexeter