J.T. Tran aka The Asian Playboy | “People can learn it with enough hard work, perseverance, and practical application”
The OA team has a rather unconventional feature for you this week! Meet J.T. Tran, or better known as The Asian Playboy, he is an award winning dating coach who has helped tons of people improve their dating life. His work has been featured on ABC, VH1′s The Pickup Artist, LA Weekly, and more! On top of that, J.T. has won awards for the Worlds #1 Asian Pick-Up artist countless years. Read on as OA sits down with J.T. over sushi and he shares stories relating to his upbringing, his development as a dating coach, and the definition of “swagger”!
- What takes up most of your time right now? What takes up most of my time right now? Basically, this company. It’s 24/7. The weekend programs are like 30 hours for the entire weekend. And I work eight to twelve hour days, so it’s a full-time job running this company.
- What is your guilty pleasure? You know, I’ve become a workaholic and I download a lot of TV shows. I am a big fan of Bit Torrent.
- What is your relationship status? Primarily, just two–one white, one Asian. It’s difficult to do more than that. When I wasn’t working full time, there were maybe like five. Now that I travel so much, like every other week or every other weekend, it’s like – I have Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, when do you want to hang out? It’s very casual, we’re not exclusive.
- What is your pet peeve? All the things that afflict Asian men, that’s always a big factor. But I don’t really care so much anymore. It used to piss me off a lot and I was like an angry Asian man, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. At this point, this is a trend that’s happening and it’s only going to increase. There are a lot of different factors that go into it. It’s not anything to blame on Asians; it’s the world we live in. I learned to constructively release the anger. The only thing we can control in this world is what we do.
- What do you look for in a girl? Definitely someone who’s open-minded; what I do requires a certain open-mindedness. Someone adventurous because I travel quite a bit, and someone who likes to do different things. In January, I picked up this beautiful girl, a gorgeous model, and we went to go skiing in the Swiss Alps for like a week. I had never been skiing before and it’s like, “Let’s do something different!” I love skiing now. And, intelligence–I say this not trying to sound arrogant, but, in any given room, I’m the smartest person that I know. I do require a certain level of education and intelligence. And obviously she has to be sexy.
- The last time you were intimidated by a woman? I think we all have approach anxiety. It never really goes away. We experts just learn how to manage it for a while. There was this tall, super gorgeous blonde, I had students who were there and I had to perform on demand. I was like, “I don’t know what’s going to go on. I don’t know what’s going to happen – she may completely reject me. But, watch this.” I went over and said, “I just had to say this–but you are f-ing adorable.” And she liked it. We started talking and I said, “I have to introduce you to my friends.” Obviously, beauty can play a part in the intimidation. Maybe it’s because my girlfriend was tall and blonde. When I see that, yes, I’m intimidated. But, yes, I’m also challenged.
- Your favorite pick up line? You’re f-ing adorable. It works, it really does.
- Fun fact: I have only had lap dogs, Chihuahuas, and we’ve always called them by a color. I had Brownie, Silver, then we had Blondie.
- Funner fact: I have two brothers. They’re both married. Everyone keeps looking at me, like when am I going to get married? But I’m like, “No, no.”
OA: Tell us about your holistic approach and how you teach students.
JT: A lot of pick-up is simply one tactic–one routine after another. It’s the idea that if you say these words, then eventually it’ll work, like the placebo effect. If you’re told it’ll work then you’ll more likely believe it’ll work. But guys don’t actually understand why and all the other tactics by other companies don’t work for Asians. What we try to do is give them the foundation for all the principles of confidence. It’s your mental attitude. It starts up here–your mind; there will be that little monkey of fear that stands out on your back and tells you that you’re a fool, your parents will be ashamed, your friends will laugh at you. You’ve got to control your own thoughts and your emotions. Then you get to the physical stuff – how you physically present yourself, how you walk, how you talk, your fashion, your body language, all this stuff. Last but not least, the actual talking: 2/3 of what we do as men, 1/3 what we do for a girl. My company differs in that we are pick-up artists who are not only environmentally conscious, but also socially conscious. I’m a role model not because I wanted to be, but because I was one of the first Asian-American bloggers to talk about dating, and show my face. No one was doing that. I was one of the first. Even though we’re technically pick-up artists, I like to use the term “fun-up artists.” Be a fun maker, not a fun taker.
OA: Through your own personal experience growing up with women, how were you able to summon that courage that you encourage in other people?
JT: My family is more a matriarchy, where my immediate family unit was my mom–a single mother–and then you had my grandmother who was a semi well-known social worker that brought over a lot of Vietnamese people. The house was run by the women and a part of me wondered why I would be scared about talking to women. My parents, my mom, had to go through a lot harder stuff–talking to women is nothing. Coming to a new land, not speaking the language, that took a lot of risk–bigger ovaries than I’ve got. I do have a lot of respect in that regard.
I kissed my first girl at the age of 20 and she chose me. We were all watching a movie in my dorm room, and one by one, each of my friends leave. And it’s like midnight and I was like, “Ok, she wants to see the end of the movie.” She chose me and it was like an engineering college – it was 10 guys to a girl. I was lucky, I could have been 23, left college and still haven’t had kissed a girl.
OA: What defines swagger?
JT: This is one of those things where it’s hard to capture in a simple answer because there’s so many elements to it. What we talk about is what you’re thinking, what you’re physically doing, and then the words. We try to do the “Walk of Khan.” Originally that comes from Genghis Khan: “What is good in life, to crush my enemies, to see them driven before me.” I will have our students, get up, and say this and the idea is that it’s silly. You express whatever anxiety, see girl, and get girl. We talk about standing tall. So many people are confused about what it means to stand tall. What do you think is the top of the spine? It’s a lot higher than you think it is. You have a lot of guys who slouch, who are trying to be unassuming. In high school, I used to look down at my feet, and some people literally cannot make eye contact. Putting this all together, part of that swagger is understanding that we are physically different from women. Women walk with their hips, men walk with their shoulders.
OA: Who’s been a memorable student to you?
JT: There was one particular student, though I have similar ones with that range who go from worst to better. This was someone who did the most with the least. He was a five foot nothing Korean FOB. He made his family ultra-rich, inventing something that was equivalent to Korean win-out. But when the dot.com busted and he lost his money, his whole family blamed him. He had all this mental burden and he moved to America. He’s trying to date and he realizes it’s more difficult for Asian men. He does this experiment and the guy’s incredibly smart. He does this internet-dating experiment where he creates two different profiles on match.com. The two profiles were worded exactly the same; the only thing he changed was the picture, a picture of him and a picture of a white guy. And he learned that the Asian guy never got responses– the white guy did. He had all this negative reinforcement. First time I met him, he’s bright and a hard worker but he was like, “I bet I’m the worst student you’ve ever had.” And I was like, “What? You want a medal for that? A pity party? No. You’re going to learn.” He applied himself a lot and he ended up being engaged with a black women who he picked up in New York at Starbucks. As he approached her, everyone’s watching and he opens to her and talks to her. They start dating and, two years later, they’re engaged.
OA: How is your experience as an Asian American in this industry?
JT: What I learned in 2004 was that I could control this at some level, that it wasn’t out of my hands. One thing that took me a while to learn is that the seduction community as a whole does fall in community. What’s assumed is that what works for a white guy, will work for all of the above. The principles aren’t completely destructive, but can be harmful if they take it down the wrong road. Things like, disqualifying themselves early on. Not many Asian men go out of their way to hit on girls. You need to be more dominant and direct then disqualify yourself. Every Asian guy needs to know direct game.
OA: How did you do against the male models you challenged in the “Wooing Game”?
JT: I definitely noticed that some of them weren’t the brightest guys, but women came up to them. I was like, “Why don’t women come up to me?” The thing with people that are good looking is that they can make a lot of mistakes. Women will rationalize in their head and come up with excuses. I just have to be better than them; it’s frustrating and it can take a lot more work. One thing that happened was, before I went backpacking through Europe, I had been busting my ass–they were getting results, and I was getting middling results. And then I went to Europe, and the first night I got laid and I kept on getting laid. I was at the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, all this fun stuff but it’s that principle of forming that mind-body connection and having enough repetition. They say you need 30 days of constant practice to form an instinctual behavior. That also because I was so physically tired and the voices that held me back saying I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t hear it because my body was so tired–my mind just shut down. Once I got to that point, I was able to step toe-to-toe with them.
OA: You travel the world doing seminars and workshops. Have you noticed any cultural differences in terms of how men behave and the perspectives toward women?
JT: I think people think there are differences, but confidence is there regardless. I remember giving a speech in Australia and I was like, “You guys have it so easy. It is so easy to talk to Australian girls–it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done.” They were like, “What?!” Europe, Australia, wherever, whatever racial misconceptions are not as prevalent there; it was just pure skill.
OA: You call yourself “Asian Playboy” which might portray a negative connotation. How do you reconcile that?
JT: Obviously, there’s flack in the community. Now that I’m older and wise, I don’t go to extremes and I focus on building this up. If you look at my blog, it’s been a progression in my maturity and expression. You also see me going through anger and a discovery process; learning what techniques and strategies work for my students and myself. You have to realize there’s a difference between the ABC Brand and the Asian Playboy brand.
OA: What do you ultimately want to gain? Do you find yourself having a goal in mind when you pick up women?
JT: There’s the tactical goal, the strategic. At this moment, I’m not looking to settle down. I’ll give myself maybe a five-year time frame but I’m definitely looking to see if this girl’s put together because I’ve dated enough hot, crazy messes to know that it’s fun but I’m too jaded and too old now. When I encounter a woman, I will take her as she comes. I’m not here to change her. I’m not looking for a fixer upper. Either she’s fine the way she is or I understand what I’m getting into in the first place, both her beauties and her shortcomings.
OA: How much does personality play into the whole equation?
JT: Personality plays no part in the initial attraction. It plays a part when you’re trying to maintain a relationship. You have to understand as men, when we look at a woman, we undergo an actual chemical reaction. We look at it like, “Wow.” It’s like morphine is tripped into our blood. The concept isn’t too objectify or commodify women but that’s what happens; we look, we see, it’s pretty. Now, when you go up to talk to her, am I interested in continuing this conversation? There have been times where I’m like, “This is horrible.” The desire to approach her does have to start from a physical attraction. If I want to maintain the conversation, it is a combination of attraction and personality.
OA: There seems to be this negative Asian male stigma of he’s not as masculine, he’s not as sexual. And a lot of your work has to do with breaking those stereotypes, giving the world the Alpha Male. Why do you think this stigma exists?
JT: I think this would be a question better asked for a psychology class or Asian American studies. What I do is more practical–it could be called applied psychology. I used to obsess about all the reasons why this existed. What I learned was, the more I obsessed about it, the more my students obsessed about it, and the more it lowered my confidence and my students’ confidence. This is why I’ve been hesitant to answer certain questions. Yes, there are many underlining reasons; you can talk about European western colonialism to China’s struggle with becoming more innovative. There are so many reasons from the media. A lot of it is what we do to ourselves as Asian men. We have to bear responsibility for that. A lot of the non-Asian girls I’ve been with have told me I’m the first Asian that they have been with ever. That’s because they’ve never been approached by an Asian guy or even remotely been approached well. Granted, we are only 5% of the population but we need to get out there. There’s a lot of societal issues, what can I do about that? I can only control myself and what I do. I don’t think it’s constructive or helpful to get really into it because it’s like a virus in your confidence and keeps undermining it.
OA: Can your method be applied to women who want to woo men? What is the key to getting an Asian American man?
JT: Can women learn it? Certainly, but it’s different. The goal of women in learning pick-up is to get into a relationship. That is a lot of what women’s money is spent on, how to get a man, how to get a husband; the makeup, the fashion, the million dollar plastic surgery industry. For girls, it’s difficult to grasp the concept from a man’s perspective. A guy can’t go out there and be like, “I’m going to have sex with a beautiful girl,” no matter how good you are. A girl, if she’s beautiful and goes out, she can get laid instantly. But a girl’s perspective is not to get laid–a girl’s perspective is to get a relationship. That’s where the women’s money and industry is being spent. There are more subtleties. You do have to dress up. You can be the girl who is going to be like, “He’s going to like me for who I am.” But you’re not going to have choices. That’s the biggest thing–beautiful girls have almost an infinite amount of choices. You don’t really get to select which guy goes up to you and hits on you. Women got to look the part when it goes to hitting on Asian guys. You have to be indirect. It’s really good to meet their social circle. That’s probably the most common thing that I’ve heard of picking up Asian guys.
OA: How do your family and friends feel about your profession?
JT: I’m already well-known enough that people Google me, and girls look me up on YouTube. My family knows what I do is important.
OA: Have you fallen into love before?
JT: Many times. There was my first girlfriend. Then there are other girls you grow to love and grow out of love. I’ve been there, but not too much. At heart, I’m still a romantic. I’m still a nerd. That’s how I was for a quarter of century, so I won’t change.
OA: Do you have advice to Asian guys out there?
JT: My advice isn’t applicable to all Asian guys out there, but there should be no shame associated with it because it’s about making you a better person: what you want for the women of your dreams and becoming the man of her dreams. There’s no shame in learning this, becoming better, talking about it, and expanding your options. I heard this a lot from students, “I only want to date Asian girls.” You know what, that’s okay, but that limitation is something that Asian girls don’t have. 6 out of 10 Asian women marry Asian men, 4 out of 10 Asian women marry someone else, only 2 out of 10 Asian men marry someone else, leaving 2 out of 10 Asian men not getting married. So open up your options. Realize that this is learnable; people can learn it with enough hard work, perseverance, and practical application. That’s another thing – you have to apply this in real life. It’s like taking night classes in college–you have to take classes and labs. I was going out four to six nights a week, holding out a nine to five engineering job. This is something I wanted; I was methodical, I had a plan, I learned and applied myself. Don’t worry too much about the tactics, that’s not what wins the date. Beginners think, “What do I say to a girl?” Experts think, “Where do I take her emotionally? Where do I physically take her?”
OA: How to stalk JT Tran.
Phone: 1-888-689-GAME (4263)
Photography by Melly Lee
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