The Theology of Work at eHarmony
A Six-part Study
The videos are from Small Business School the television series created
by Hattie Bryant and Bruce Camber
Dr. Neil Clark Warren is not the type of person you think of when you hear the word, entrepreneur. He has degrees from prestigious schools, he was a counselor, writer and academic for decades before he started eHarmony. His bachelor's degree is from Pepperdine University, he has a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Chicago. For a time he served as Dean at Fuller Theological Seminary.
While most of us know him as the grandfather figure in the eHarmony television advertising campaigns, he is an evangelical Christian and passionate believer. Dr. Warren is an example of transforming what the world thinks of as secular into something sacred. He was not called to preach from a pulpit. He was called to preach with his life. This is the only call that matters to us as Jesus-followers, and when each of us grasps the full meaning of what it means to walk out our faith, to walk in faith, we too will change our world as has Dr. Warren.
For most all of his working career, Dr. Neil Clark Warren was a one-person company. In 2010, eHarmony had over 20,000,000 registered users.
|Turn a Small Idea into a Big One (2:46)|
Watch the video clip.
There are as many as 16-million, one-person companies in the U.S.A. and they deliver a wide range of products and services to customers. Dr. Warren was a company of one when he offered counseling services. You can right now think of the one-person companies you turn to, which might include the piano tuner, the architect, the hairdresser, the engineer, the Internet systems consultant, the mortgage broker, the lawyer, the CPA, the yard guy, and the list goes on and on. Dr. Warren's company has taken the lead in the multi-million dollar online matching business and was bringing in $700 million in the year we taped this episode.
Refer to the video clip to answer these questions:
Q: What percentage of singles say they want to be married if they could find the right person?
A: Over 90 percent.
Q: What is the divorce rate in the US?
A: Over 50 percent.
Q: What did Dr. Warren say that helps you to understand his drive for eHarmony to succeed?
A: “If you could reduce the divorce rate to single digits this would be such a different country.”
Business growth question:
Q: What is the difference between a business that stays small and one that grows?
A: The biggest difference is the market potential. After Dr. Warren spent years being frustrated because he couldn't help the married couples fix their marriages, he started thinking what he could do. Rather than staying with the small, ineffective idea of working with couples who should never have gotten married in the first place, he figured he could really help people if he could teach them how to find the right person to marry.
At first, it seems like a subtle shift; he's still in the marriage business. He had a hunch that marriages fail mostly because of selection, so he started the rigorous process of doing his own scientific study. He said he did "autopsies" on 512 marriages. From that he concluded there was a job for him to do, but at that time he didn't know the size of the job! To use this idea for yourself, think "supply chain." Dr. Warren was making a good living trying to help married couples, but when he started thinking about the marriage supply chain, or the road to the altar, he got the insight to change his service offer.
Try to think like Dr. Warren
Draw a diagram of the supply chain of your work. Think of it this way: if you did not do your job what would happen? Let's say you are a draftsman in an engineering firm. The first step in the process is someone building something needs engineering services. Your company finds out about the need and presents a bid. You win the bid. Your designers create the project design, it is approved by the client, parts of the design are given to you for detailed drawings, which you complete and pass to the project manager, etc.
You are looking at the supply chain like Dr. Warren did to find new ways to add value and serve more people to grow your company.
- Do you think Dr. Warren was inspired by God?
- Do you think if you ask God to show you how you can be of greater service in your work that God will give you insight?
The answer is, yes. God hears our prayers and answers our prayers. God cares about every detail of your work and your life. Make God your partner and watch what happens.
- What product or service could your company offer that you're not now offering?
- Who are your customers? What do they buy from you? What related products do they buy? Is there a gap you can fill?
- Are there new ways to apply technology to the workflow that will improve the customer experience?
Q: Why was Dr. Warren able to create an online service that was truly unique?
A: His starting point was different from the competition. He wanted to solve a different problem because he came from a Biblical worldview of marriage while the competition was focused on dating and sex. The Bible is very clear on marriage.
Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery. (Hebrews 13:4)
No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become one flesh. This is a huge mystery and I don't pretend to understand it all. (Ephesians 5:29-33, The Message)
Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose. Don't ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted! (Proverbs 5:15-19)
Find a good spouse, you find a good life---and even more; the favor of God! (Proverbs 18:22)
Os Guinness, in his book, The Call, writes about people like Neil Clark Warren when he says,
God is on the move. Faith therefore means restlessness. The Caller may be unseen and the destination unknown, but those who follow his call hear a voice above and vision ahead that subverts every status quo and unsettles every resting place.
Dr. Warren was born in 1934 and had a private counseling practice from 1967-2000. He started eHarmony in 2000 when he was already 66 years old. Does that make sense? Why would he leave the comfort of his successful company of one to put his name, his savings, and his time at huge risk? It seems that God gave him the vision and the big faith needed to shake the world from its status quo.
I am confident that Dr. Warren believes God gave him a mind, an interest in marriage, and a passion to help people not just find the love of their life but also help them get married and stay married. He has been married to the love of his life since 1959, and he wants everyone to have the extraordinary benefits that a stable, loving marriage provides.
Is your work dedicated to helping people live out the teachings of Jesus?
Hint: everything you do at work can be your personal expression of Christ in you.
- We are looking at a man who was willing to go into the unknown to share Biblical insight with millions. Are you willing to go into the unknown to share with others what God has given you?
- Does your faith call you to dream? To grow? To be on the move for God? Is God moving in your heart to press out of your safe spaces and share your good news with others?
- Would Dr. Warren be as excited about marriage if he had been through several divorces himself?
- Would he be as confident that he could help others if he had not had such a great marriage?
- Do you think his life has been easy?
- What did Dr. Warren do to prepare him to launch eHarmony?
- What should you be doing with your time to prepare yourself for what God might have in mind for you next?
Prayer: Father, we come now asking for insight. We ask that you open our eyes to how we can serve others, how we can bring to others solutions to problems, relief from pain. Show us how our work can more deeply and more powerfully reveal your glory in us because so often work seems to be such a drag and burden. Help us see the needs of others, get ourselves out of the way, and give us courage to step into the unknown with our eyes on only you. In the name of our Savior, Jesus the Christ, we pray. Amen.
Greg Forgatch, co-founder of eHarmony, says that people will pay for products or services that they believe will fix a problem. The bigger the problem, the more they will pay.
|Fix Something that is Broken (1:09)|
Watch the video clip.
Refer to the video clip as you answer these questions:
Q: How many singles did Dr .Warren say were on the Internet using dating sites?
A: Fifty-five million.
Q: What did Dr. Warren's research tell him his clients need to look for when choosing a spouse?
A: Emotional health and a person who is a lot like you. The more alike you are the better. It's good to have similar intelligence, ambition, energy, and spiritual values.
Business growth questions:
Q: How does a business stand out among its competitors?
A: Fix a problem that no other product or service in the past has fixed. This means it is good to enter a field that already has traction, such as online dating.
However, come into a busy category with something new to offer.
Q: What is it that Dr. Warren and Greg are fixing and how has it come to be in such poor repair?
A: They are working to fix the marriage partner selection process. Dr. Warren says it has been badly broken in the U.S. by mobility. One hundred years ago, people married their neighbors. This meant they had a greater chance of marrying a person with similar economic, religious, and educational backgrounds. Parents would even put their children together with the children of friends as a plot, hoping they would fall in love. Parents, aunts, and uncles would also network to find suitable spouses for the younger generation. There were many amateur matchmakers helping the process along, too.
As Americans left farms to work in factories, we were no longer tied to the land. With completion of the transcontinental railroad and then the invention of the automobile, leaving home became more common than staying home. Now there are singles trying to find the right person to marry, as Greg says, “in the wild.” “Singles no longer have the benefit of extended families to guide and advise them.”
Dr. Warren said, “In 2003, 55 million singles got on the Internet and went to dating sites.” He also pointed out that 43 percent of all people over 18 in this country are single. Therefore, the gut feeling that Dr. Warren had when working with couples in his office was that they did not select the right partner in the first place. That gut feeling led him to develop a product that can be of use to millions due to a concrescence of events. This is why you heard him say this has happened, “in the fullness of time.” His theology background caused him to speak in Biblical terms about this idea for a business being the right idea at the right time.
- Is timing for Christians about God's timing?
- Was Dr. Warren ready when online functionality allowed his algorithms to work for millions?
More than one political commentator is sure that Bill Clinton wished he had been president on September 11, 2001. This is because the presidents we consider to be truly great served during times of war. Thus, while President Clinton experienced peace and the dot com boom, he will not go down in history as great. His timing was off.
Moses stepped into leadership in God's time.
Noah stepped into ark building in God's time.
Dr. Warren stepped into online matching in God's time.
Think about Dr. Warren’s attitude when he said, “in the fullness of time.” He is humble. He never said, “I was in the right place at the right time with the right idea and the right people.” He did not call attention to himself. He completely deferred to his Father God when he said, “in the fullness of time.” He went on to say “our” research shows us....
Frankly, it was his personal research and curiosity that brought him to develop the 29 dimensions of compatibility. What we see in Dr. Warren is a man who recognizes God’s grace and who gives God the glory for the work accomplished.
Was Moses humble? Was Noah humble? Does God love the humble? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit --the humble-- for they will inherit the whole earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Os Guinness writes in his book, The Call,
Calling is a matter of readiness. From his stories about the wise and foolish bridesmaids to his references to 'the days of Noah' and his coming 'like a thief in the night' to his real-life rebuke of his sleeping disciples, Jesus repeatedly urged his followers to be on the alert, waiting, watching, ready. Readiness for followers of Christ is obedience honed to the highest level of responsiveness.
Read Matthew 25:1-30 together.
Q: Do we know when Jesus is coming again?
Q: Do we know when an opportunity to learn, grow and advance in our work might come to us?
Q: What are we to do to be ready for what Jesus has for us to do here?
A. In this story the bridesmaids, who were not prepared with oil for their lamps, were irresponsible and even ended up asking their friends, who were prepared, to bail them out of their predicament. We don't want to be in that situation. When we find a problem to solve or something that is broken that needs fixing, will we have the knowledge and skill to be the solution? Even as we are in one particular job, like Dr. Warren, we should stay curious and alert to spot either what God puts right in front of us, or even some simple indication that times are changing and a new idea should be explored.
Q: Could some Christians use “Jesus may come today” as an excuse to be lazy?
A: Maybe, but the Bible is clear that laziness is not God's way. Jesus says he will come again unexpected, “Like a thief in the night,” but in the meantime we are to be at work fixing things and making things. Sloth or laziness is sin. Sloth could look like apathy and inactivity and not just relate to physical effort but also to a lack of spiritual growth.
Q: What does the Bible say about how many days each week we are to work?
A: In Exodus 20:8-11, we are told to work six days per week following the pattern God set at creation.
How did I get from “fullness of time” to laziness? God's timing for you, God's call for you, cannot be ready if you are not prepared, and preparation takes the opposite of laziness.
- What can you see around you that is broken that you might have the depth of insight to fix? Hint: Schools where students don’t learn to read, elderly who are alone and lonely, too many Americans taking too many pills, crime, abandoned buildings, etc.
- Are we alert, waiting and watching for God to call us to move ahead with some idea?
- Are we too easily pleased? Are our standards too low? Are we expecting others to do the fixing, and we’ll just take advantage of their efforts or ride their coattails?
Like Dr. Warren, can we experience “the fullness of time” if we are not ready, willing and able? Do we trust that God is moving the puzzle pieces together to use us to fix things that are broken?
Prayer: Father God, we are in awe of you, of time, of events, of the timeline of history, of our smallness in your big world. We know you have called us to yourself, to love you, to serve you, and to serve our fellow man. We see how you have used others to solve problems, to fix things that are broken. Prepare our hearts to enter fully and engage passionately to bring in your kingdom and glory on this beautiful earth, our home for now. In the mighty name of Jesus we ask these things. Amen.
eHarmony was late to the matchmaking business. This gave them a chance to learn from others and as a result they developed a completely unique product.
|Charge More and Demand More Than Your Competition (2:47)|
Watch the video clip.
Refer to the video when answering these questions:
Q: Was eHarmony the first business that Dr. Warren and Greg Forgatch started?
A: No. Dr. Warren wrote a book then the two went around the country presenting 150 seminars that people would pay to attend. The seminar was based upon his bestselling book, Finding the Love of Your Life.
Q: What was Dr. Warren’s research methodology that led to the book?
A: He studied divorces. He went inside 512 relationships that had ended in divorce to try to understand what caused the divorce.
Q: What was Dr. Warren’s big insight?
A: He said 75% of those couples never should have married in the first place. They had chosen the wrong person!
Q: What did they decide to do when they realized they had great information that needed to reach more people and they were tired of being on the road?
A: They tried creating online tools that they would sell to the professionals like Dr. Warren. In turn, those counselors and psychologists would sell the materials to their clients, creating a two-tier distribution system.
Q: Did that idea turn into a profitable business?
A: No. They discovered that counselors didn’t want to sell materials: they wanted to keep charging for their one-on-one therapy and not ask their clients to buy books, assessment tools, and DVDs. This failure pushed the two into what we now know today as eHarmony. They decided to take their tools directly to the singles, who like the ones attending their seminars, would be willing to pay directly for help.
Business Growth Questions:
Q: Being the most expensive and the most time consuming of all the match services on the web, how is it that eHarmony won customers?
A: Singles are exhausted by the dating process. The quick and the cheap have already been tried, and there is a group of singles that have been burned by quick and cheap online services. Also, plenty of men have told us that dating is expensive because women want to be taken to very nice places. Not only do men have to fork over hard earned dollars to go on a date with someone that they have no idea will be a good long-term match for them, they have to spend hours on the date.
Let's just think about the price first. Spending $49 a month or $249 for a year to use eHarmony could save a guy hundreds of dollars and plenty of Friday nights. For a woman, the money invested in eHarmony is more about safety than about saving on the cost of dating. By letting eHarmony match them and screen potential dates, when two singles who decide to meet in person do so, it is only after the relationship has been somewhat established. The cost of the service is worth the reduction in risk it provides.
If time is the #1 commodity that no one seems to have enough of, why would an eHarmony customer be happy to invest over an hour in the first step of the process?
Although it only took me one hour to answer the 436 questions for the personality profile, we know people who have taken as long as three hours to complete the questionnaire.
Of course, time is not an issue to singles looking for their soul mate. The goal is to get married to the right person. Most everyone knows the pain of divorce—either directly or through someone they know—and to find that right person is worth the time. For many, it is the only unfulfilled expectation. People often have the best job and live at the best address, but they are alone and they don't want to be alone.
- Have you ever failed at an idea that you had put a great deal of time, effort and even money into? If yes, how did you handle the disappointment? How did Dr. Warren handle his failure? In II Chronicles 20:12 Jehoshaphat says, “We do not know what to do but our eyes are on thee.” Is this comforting? Does it put us in the right frame of mind to move ahead with God and not try ideas on our own?
- What did you sense in Dr. Warren’s face when he said that people who came to him for therapy were in such deep trouble? Hint: true compassion. It was this compassion that led him to struggle with the reason they had arrived at this sad state in their lives.
- Does your heart go out to your customers? Do your customers know that you care about them as whole people not just about what they buy from you? Can you share an example of how you get to know customers and how you try to do more for them than they expect you to do?
- What could you learn from your customers if you took time to ask them what’s going on in their lives? Remember that every person who has a job has a customer. You may not be a sales person or even a person who provides direct service to a customer but you serve someone in your organization that does. If you are an electrician in commercial construction, it would be rare for you to meet the owner/developer of the project. But, you have a supervisor who might meet with the contractor who meets with the developer. Your customer then is your supervisor.
Because Dr. Warren had compassion for his customers, he got the idea for eHarmony.
Who teaches compassion? Jesus, of course.
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:34)
When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her. (Luke 7:13)
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
|Accommodate the Hard-To-Win (2:23)|
Watch the video clip.
Refer to the video when answering these questions:
Q: What did eHarmony do to win over the women?
A: They made the site safe to use.
A women's picture and personality profile are made available to the men she is matched with but the men can only see what she chooses to reveal. The service will say to a man, “You have a match and her name is Sue. Do you want to meet her?” If the man chooses the yes button, he then sees just the first name and a short description of Sue's likes and dislikes. Based upon that information, he may send her a message that is completely controlled by the software.
There can be as many as five communications back and forth that are controlled by eHarmony standard messages before a couple even can begin to email each other.
A woman may choose not to show the photograph she has submitted until the third or fourth or fifth exchange with a man. Remember that Dr. Warren wants singles to get to know each other from the inside out before they progress too far in even thinking about meeting in person. A woman may choose never to show her photograph. This communication process is safe, women appreciate it, and are willing to pay for it. They also tell their friends!
Most of the online matching and dating services have had no problems getting men to sign up, but they have difficulty attracting women to services that seem intrusive. Dr. Buckwalter told us that they knew that they had to get women to sign up or eHarmony would be a failure.
- Is there an old-fashioned chivalry at eHarmony?
- Why do the founders, all men, worry about the women being safe?
They love God and they love their own wives and daughters. They are venturing into the risky work of introducing women to men they themselves have not met. In the “good old days,” these men might be introducing their daughters to the sons of men they know at church, at work, or from a community project.
Now, Dr. Warren and his team feel they must protect women. The eHarmony team is not interested in matching men and women simply to date. They want to help singles find a life-long partner and stay pure in the searching stage.
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11)
The acts of flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery. (Galatians 5:19)
See that no one is sexually immoral. (Hebrews 12:16)
- Dr. Warren feels protective of women. As a follower of Jesus, do you work with some people who need to be protected? Do you come into contact with children, the elderly, the uneducated or some group that is in some way vulnerable? Do you step in to fight for and to protect those who need help?
Prayer: Father, we thank you for our work. We thank you for the opportunity to serve others and for the trust that our customers have in us. Help us to step up to the plate to fulfill the expectations of customers and co-workers. Help us to be strong and sure as others depend upon us day in and day out. Give us compassion for our customers and co-workers and then the courage to act on their behalf. We thank you for the men and women who pioneer new ways to solve problems, and maybe in the future one of us will be part of a breakthrough that brings us all closer to you. In the name of our Savior, the one who showed us compassion, we pray. Amen.
Dr. Galen Buckwalter is an academic with plenty of expertise and experience. Founders Dr. Neil Clark Warren and Greg Forgatch recruited him and other big brains to develop the product.
|Attract Big Brains (4:28)|
Watch the video clip.
Refer to the video when answering these questions:
Q: Did Dr. Warren and Greg think they could launch an online service alone?
A: No. They needed someone to develop the questionnaire that would generate the algorithms, and they needed programmers to build the complex functionality.
Q: How many questions does the user have to answer?
Q: Why so many questions?
A: Go back to Dr. Warren’s passionate understanding of why people stay married over the long haul. He is looking for his 29 dimensions of compatibility. The more alike two people are, the greater their chance for a life-long happy relationship. It takes time to quantify the complexities of human personality.
Q: What is the eHarmony process forcing?
A: The required startup questionnaire reveals inner qualities, so matched couples learn about each other from the inside out. Dr. Warren said, “My greatest fear is that couples fall in love from the outside and never go inside to learn if they are truly compatible.”
Q: Who gave Dr. Buckwalter some very positive feedback on the eHarmony experience?
A: A couple of friends that he described as intelligent and probably the type who are difficult to please.
Business growth questions:
Q: Why and how did Neil and Greg bring Dr. Buckwalter, Dr. Carter, and Greg Steiner into the business?
A: Like many entrepreneurs, they simply didn't know what they needed to know to go forward. Their idea was bigger than their ability to execute on it. They had to recruit the scientists who could help create the product they have today. The great thing about this story is that Neil and Greg are not egomaniacs and were not arrogant enough to think that they could take what they had in the book and build an automated match system. They had plenty of research, it just wasn't enough.
To refine and build the models they are using now, they started by inviting Galen to join them. He said he was happy to help because he was a former student of Dr. Warren's and had great admiration for him. Galen then recruited Steve. This is one of those “hire who you know” success stories.
Dr. Warren's long-term commitment to the problem of helping people have happy marriages is core to Dr. Buckwalter's willingness to leave other research to work for eHarmony.
At the end of the episode you hear Dr. Buckwalter say, “I admire him [i.e. Dr. Warren] more than anyone else in life.” Also, Dr. Buckwalter says the problem they are working on is as fascinating as his other research which is in the field of brain aging.
To attract the biggest brains, you have to have a big, fascinating problem for them to work on, and you have to be a person they admire. The biggest brains have choices and they will not choose your company if you are a difficult person with an unattractive personality, or if you just want to play at the game of business.
Q: Did Jesus offer a compelling opportunity to Peter and Andrew?
A: Yes. “Catching men” would be a new challenge for these professional fishermen.
As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers who were fisherman, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew, catching fish in the lake with a net. Jesus said to them, "Come with me, and I will teach you to catch men." At once they left their nets and went with him. (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20 )
Q: Did Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, point out that Moses’ job was getting too big and he needed to bring in some smart men to help him?
A: Yes. Exodus 18:13-27 tells the story of Moses working day and night to solve problems for the Israelites. Jethro told Moses to appoint judges who would handle most problems with only the very difficult ones being referred to Moses. Jethro said, “You should choose some capable men and appoint them as leaders...let them serve and share your burden.”
Solomon had a big job to do. His father, David, handed over to him the plans for a temple and four years after he became king, Solomon began the seven-year effort that defined his reign.
King Solomon raised a workforce of 30,000 men from all over Israel. They went in shifts of ten thousand each month to the Lebanon forest; they would work a month in Lebanon and then be at home two months. Adoniram was in charge of the work crew. Solomon also had seventy thousand unskilled workers and another eighty thousand stonecutters up in the hills--plus thirty-three hundred foremen managing the project and supervising the work crews. Following the king’s orders, they quarried huge blocks of the best stone--dressed for the foundation of The Temple. Solomon and Hiram’s construction workers, assisted by the men of Gebal, cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of The Temple. (I Kings 5:13-18)
Q: How was building the temple a little like building eHarmony?
A: It had never been done before! The Bible says that God gave David the directions for the temple and we believe that Dr. Warren credits God for his insight, perseverance and passion. Also, eHarmony took skilled workers some of whom we meet in the video. And, eHarmony was not built overnight. It took a life-long career in the private practice of marriage counseling, it took intensive study of the problems people had staying married, and it took determination to use the newly invented tools applied in new ways to produce the amazing results.
If you think of the stonecutters being the programmers and the lumbermen the data collectors, you can start to see that Dr. Warren’s experience was much like Solomon’s.
It was a long, difficult process that was only finished with the help of others.
- Do you think your business could grow if you had some new people with fresh ideas?
- Does your business look for and hire the smartest people?
- Are you confident enough to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you?
Body language exercise.
What do you learn about Dr. Warren from watching this video of him?
Is he warm or cold?
Soft or hard?
Thoughtful or just a chit-chatter?
Expressive or reserved?
Open or closed?
Affirming of others or quick to criticize?
Knowledgeable or faking it?
- Would you, like Dr. Buckwalter does, enjoy working for Dr. Warren?
- Are you the person people want to work for or with?
- How would you score yourself on the list above when you think about how you are at work?
Prayer: Father, we need help at work. Our jobs are big and seemingly never ending. It’s hard to stay motivated through the stone cutting and the programming and the difficult customers and moody co-workers. It is especially hard because we rarely hear compliments, only complaints. Help us to be the person that others want to work with. Help up to be warm, thoughtful, expressive, open and affirming to others. We want to serve you and show you in all we say and do. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Customers keep coming back when they know they can count on you.
|Keep Your Promises (2:23)|
Watch the video clip.
Refer to the video when answering these questions:
Q: When they felt like they weren't keeping their promises to paying customers, what did Greg think they should do?
A: He suggested that they give all of their customers their money back and close the company.
Q: Why weren’t they able to keep their promises to the customers?
A: Early on, they were not able to give people enough matches. Greg felt they were not keeping their promise. Rather than quit, they worked harder and changed their customer acquisition strategy.
Business Growth Questions:
Q: We learned in Part 3 from the video, "Charge More and Demand More Than Your Competition," that their first marketing strategy failed. Do you remember their first idea and then what they did when that failed?
A: They tried selling through marriage counselors. This is when there were not getting enough customers to deliver the matches promised. They gave up on the idea that others would sell their services and went straight to the singles via radio advertising. The radio spots starting driving hundreds and then thousands of singles to eHarmony every day.
Q: By offering a free profile in the radio spots the site had to be ready for more activity than they could even imagine. What big problem did they create?
A: The problem was eHarmony had to provide mega service with no cash up front. They hired an experienced dot com systems person, Greg Steiner, who marshaled his forces. He confessed that the traffic created a demanding, intense process.
In part of the interview that didn't make it into the show, Greg (Steiner) revealed,
There are very intense processing needs to actually store the data then perform the matching functions amongst all the other processes that are happening on the site. People are using our service to communicate with individuals after they are matched together.
This is a scale business meaning that you must have a certain amount of infrastructure to deliver the base line, but then the cost to run the business drops per user as users are added. With three million paying customers at the time of the taping and the thousands of singles that come new to the site every day, Greg has to keep ahead of the game.
He also said,
The site operates differently when you have thousands from when you have millions of people. You are constantly uncovering certain bottlenecks in the application. We solve certain problems and then others arise. Some are masked for a time and then it is constant.
It is an evolution.
In the very early stages of eHarmony, 100 percent of the building of the site was done externally. And as you might expect, when the site started to get traction, the leadership of eHarmony decided to hire in-house engineering talent. Today, they still use external resources, but the core functionality is done on location under Greg's moment-by-moment direction.
- Do you keep your promises? Someone share what you have to do at work to keep promises to customers and co-workers. Was there a time when you discovered your company was not keeping promises? What changes were made to fix the problem?
- Do you make excuses when you miss deadlines? While the media tends to make business people all look like Bernie Madoff, most owners and leaders of companies truly want to do the right thing. If they are walking their faith into their work as we know Dr. Warren, Galen, and Greg do, they want to please their customer because they are really trying to please God. Greg looks in pain when you watch the video. He was truly disturbed that the site was not able to provide customers with what he thought they had promised. Was this the Holy Spirit moving in his heart? Sure.
- What do these verses mean to you? What do you think they meant to Greg?
There will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good. (Romans 2:10)
They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. (Romans 2:15)
If you know customers are not receiving from your business what they are promised, what is a Jesus-follower to do? What eHarmony did: change the offer, the processes, or the people so customers do get what you promise and so that they brag about your company.
If you turn every work day over to God, he will give you direction through the problems. “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and he will help you” (Psalm 37:5).
|Find an Advertising Strategy (2:08)|
Watch the video clip.
"If you build it, they will come" was not working for eHarmony. The site was up and running. Some singles were signing up. Dr. Warren's reputation and his best-selling book were established, and he had a bit of a following; however, the paying customers were not getting enough matches, so everyone was discouraged.
Just before they thought they might quit, they tried advertising on the radio.
Business Growth Question:
Q: What is the risk with advertising and how does a company find the right form of it?
A: The risk is that thousands of dollars can be poured into a campaign that doesn't pay for itself. There are plenty of ad agencies who get your money whether their ideas work for you or not.
We don't mean to bash the advertising industry but they certainly make money by spending your money, and unless you track results, they could end up with all of your hard-earned profits.
Do what Dr. Warren and Greg did--test an idea on a small scale before you roll it out in a big way.
eHarmony's advertising budget was up to $20 million in the year 2004, but that is because their very first radio spot, which cost them just a few thousand dollars, worked.
They slowly increased the number of markets in which they buy time.
Here's Greg telling the story:
In early 2002, we started looking at radio. It's easy and it's not too expensive. It's a matter of cracking the code. We built 13 different radio spots. Some of them never reached the air.
In September 2002, we launched a radio ad that popped. Here's what's amazing--the same ad has been running for over 16 months. It had some legs. It's working. It started:
"Hi, my name's Sarah and I met my husband on eHarmony.com.
Hi, my name's Debbie and I met my husband John on eHarmony.com.
Hi, I'm Cindy and I met my husband Bill on eHarmony.com."
Right there we positioned ourselves as building marriages--giving people hope that they can develop a lasting relationship. It wasn't about dates and quantity and guys with great jobs and cute girls.
Then Dr. Neil Clark Warren comes on. He has a special voice, credibility and a meaningful message. We closed with another gal talking about her husband.
Then we figured out we needed to give people more than hope. We needed to give them a free personality profile. That was a wonderful direct response tool. We had a call to action. Write this down and get the free profile. We tried some agencies but Neil wrote the best eHarmony ad ever written.
Q: What are the four parts to the successful eHarmony ad campaign?
A: First they use real customers, not actors, who speak about their experience in their own words. Second, they use Dr. Warren because he is the voice of authority. Third, they repeat the name of the company four or five times. And fourth, they offer a call to action that is obviously irresistible to singles.
I took the free profile because we needed to tape the process for the television production. I am not a "legal" prospect for eHarmony because I am married. However, I can report that once a person takes the free offer made in the ads, eHarmony has a friendly and, what I would call a hard-sell, follow up e-mail plan.
The ads are bringing in thousands of prospects a day, but eHarmony has to work hard to convert them to paying customers.
Q: In the complex world of business, is it easy to tell the truth and be a person who is trustworthy?
What does the Bible say about telling the truth?
Genesis 3:4-5 is where we find the first lie recorded in the Bible:
The serpent told the Woman, "You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil."
In John 8:44 Jesus said,
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
God is not man, one given to lies. (Numbers 23:19)
These scriptures seem to say that our human nature is prone to lying. Without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we might tend to do the easy thing and say what others might want to hear, or even lie to get someone to buy something from us.
No lies about your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
Jesus said, "Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself." (Matthew 18:19)
Jesus said, “You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother.” (Luke 18:20)
...no more lies, no more pretense. (Ephesians 4:25)
Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. (Colossians 3:8-9)
Here are six things God hates and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a trouble maker in the family. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
God can’t stomach liars; he loves the company of those who keep their word. (Proverbs 12:22)
Greg told us that when they used another voice other than Dr. Warren’s, the ads never worked as well. Dr. Warren has spent his life walking his faith into his work and becoming an expert in one field. He took time to write his research and speak in person about it, requiring him to face the public that could include naysayers. Dr. Warren stayed true to his beliefs over decades. He earned trust and customers rewarded his faithfulness to truth.
- Why are so many of us cynical about advertising?
- Have you discovered lies in advertising?
- Have you returned products that didn’t do what the advertisements promised?
- If yes, what did you think of the company?
- As followers of Jesus, how can telling the truth, in every type of business communication impact customers, co-workers and vendors?
Prayer: Father God, without you in our lives, we default to lies. We easily lie to ourselves, when we need to get out of a tight spot, to make a sale, to recruit a new employee, or to get any result we are trying to achieve. So often a little white lie or a shaded truth will give us a short-term success. Sometimes we tell the truth but by not telling all of the truth we create a false impression of reality. You hate to see us lie and we don’t like it about ourselves. Come now Holy Spirit and pray for us. Help us confess our lies of the past and give us a clean, clear, and honest heart. We need a fresh heart start. We want to be all you expect us to be in every communication situation. Thank you for hearing this prayer and for starting a new, good work in us. We humbly pray in the name of Jesus, the one who makes it possible for us to come to you. Amen.
The eHarmony team is a success because it doesn't compromise.
|Be Bold (1:35)|
Watch the video clip.
When you watch Dr. Warren and Greg talk, you can tell they are bold. They have courage. They are the kind of guys who take action on an idea when they believe in it. They have kinetic energy, enthusiasm, and passion that could not be contained.
Refer to the video clip as you answer these questions:
Q: How much is being spent at the time of this taping by people trying to find the love of their life?
A: Over one billion dollars a year.
Business Growth Question:
Q: What was so bold about the launch of eHarmony? Aren't all entrepreneurs bold?
A: No. Many entrepreneurs admit that they are risk adverse. They only move forward on ideas they can test and prove out before they pour in the cash. This team took action based on a gut feeling. Dr. Warren felt strongly they needed to ramp up and do the needed research to build an automated product. Plus, they did this as hundreds of dot com companies were losing billions of dollars and closing their doors. At the same time eHarmony was launching, the only companies making money on the web were brick and mortar companies using the web as a channel.
The other issue they were dealing with was the Sleaze Factor. As we already wrote, women were not flocking to the web for dates because the online dating business looked like a front for pornography and sex.
Dr. Warren and Greg decided to stare down the enemy and go into its territory armed with research and a superior product. Rather than give the pornography people a wide berth, they are pushing them back into the dark corners where they belong while legitimizing the best parts of the industry.
Q: Where do gut feelings come from?
A: In Dr. Warren's case his decades of working with couples informed him deeply. His continuous study of his field and the Bible led him to insights. God put Adam and Eve in the garden and told them to take care of it and to be fruitful and multiply. To Dr. Warren this means that marriage is between one man and one woman and that as a couple they have work to do together. The joy of the garden was poisoned by sin but Jesus replaced what Adam erased, so Jesus followers should seek to have what God put in place in the garden.
Dr. Warren and his team marched boldly into a world that was dominated by sex, and won over millions of customers who want more than a one night stand. Millions want monogamous and enduring marriages. Millions want the garden.
Q: Are we all to be so bold?
The righteous are as bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1b)
But now, this is what the LORD says he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Isaiah 43:1-3a)
Jesus-follower, Ann Vosskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, writes,
Fear is like this piano wire cutting round the wrists, life shackled, cutting deep, and the hands spasm, fists of control. Fear keeps a life small. The music dies and the joy drains. I've lived the strangle.
But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.' 'Lord, is it you?' Peter replied, 'Tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'Why did you doubt?' (Matthew 14:27-31)
- Are we more like Peter than we want to be?
- Does fear keep you from being bold?
- Is fear sin for those of us who follow Jesus?
- Are you as bold as you were when you were younger? If not, do you think it's because you don't have an idea that inspires you? Or an idea that God has given you?
- What's the worst that could happen if you made a bold move?
- Does bold action always result in money and fame?
- Will God give you the bold idea? Are doubts holding your back?
- Is it OK to stay where you are and not venture out?
|Invest in Continuous Improvement (3:58)|
Watch the video clip.
Galen Buckwalter knows that his competitors are adding personality assessment and more in-depth tools for matching to their online offers. This is driving eHarmony to stay on the front edge of research to continuously improve.
Refer to the video clip as you answer these questions:
Q: Does Greg think they are doing all they can do to help people find their soul mate?
A: No. He said he thinks they are on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding why relationships work or don't work. Dr. Buckwalter says the scientific problem is endlessly fascinating and he said it as if it will take more than his own lifetime to crack the mysteries of attraction and compatibility. The intellectual pursuit creates stimulation for the workforce at eHarmony. Therefore, while the product improves as more research is applied, the team at eHarmony is energized and motivated to keep on keeping on.
They have not arrived. They are at the beginning of a long journey.
Q: What did Dr. Warren say about dreaming?
A: He said he wants every single person who wants to be married to dream a big dream for their marriage. He also said he has dreamed a big dream for their business. They want to change the culture.
- What are your dreams for your work?
- Do your dreams motivate you or make you feel inadequate?
- Can someone share a work-related dream that has come true?
- How do we stay joyful when we are hoping on our dreams for the future?
Dr. Warren says,
I feel like I'm the luckiest man on earth to have this effort that I can be central to, reach so many people for good. Many men and women who grow big, profitable companies have told me they feel lucky. They look around at many others who seem to be very smart but who never realize a market success. Deep down they know that something happened for them to succeed that they can't put their finger on. Generally, these top performers give credit to timing.
In part two of this study, Dr. Warren said his ideas arrived in the fullness of time. This explains why Dr. Warren feels lucky. He is really saying that eHarmony came about in God's time and he was the person God used to bring it all into reality.
To wrap up our study of Neil Clark Warren, let's re-cap what we saw him do as a person of faith.
- He spent years in college and graduate school to prepare himself for God's call on his life.
- He found the love of his life and stayed committed to his marriage.
- He felt compassion for his clients who had chosen the wrong spouse.
- He struggled to understand mistakes his clients had made so he could help others avoid those same mistakes.
- At the age when other people retire, he launched a complicated and risky venture.
- He found and added to his team other Christians who were committed to the same goals.
- He became the person people could trust as the voice and face of the advertising.
- He won customers by inventing a superior service based upon a Biblical worldview.
- He asks for a serious commitment--in time and money--from customers.
- He was not afraid to change as ideas failed.
- He is happy and appreciates what God has done and is doing in his life.
- He believes in God’s timing.
Our work will never be done because things keep breaking and we, as the ones who say we follow Jesus, are the ones to do the fixing.
What work is before you now?
How can you serve others?
What do you see that needs fixing? Probably if you see the problem you can be part of the solution.
To explore more about what the Bible says about serving others by fixing what is broken, go to "Applications from Joseph's Management Experience (Genesis 41:46-57; 47:13-26)" in Genesis 12-50 and Work.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for Dr. Warren and his example of walking with you even when your direction took him out of the familiar and comfortable. We too want to hear your voice and we need the courage to act on what you have for us to do. In your holy name we offer this prayer. Amen.
This study guide and associated video was produced by Small Business School. Used by permission. If you have questions or suggestions on how to improve this study, please contact [email protected].
Watch this entire made-for-PBS television show about eHarmony in a single video.