Rachel Russo is a matchmaking expert, dating and relationship coach, marriage and family therapist, author, speaker, and educator. She is a veteran in helping people succeed in love and life. Rachel, as a bonafide relationship expert, was honored to be awarded one of NYC’s Best 12 Matchmakers of 2014 by DatingAdvice.com and was named one of the Best Female Relationship Experts of 2018 by LoveySigns.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in Totowa, NJ, a small NYC suburb, that was very Italian-American. My childhood was filled with friends, family, and activities—from summer camp and swimming lessons at the town pool to softball, Girl Scouts, and singing and dance classes. There were Sunday dinners, CCD,  catching lightning bugs in the yard, pizza and Blockbuster videos, and, of course, family vacations!

I was very involved in the performing arts in middle school—from plays to singing and dance competitions. This set the tone for a pretty great high school acting career with lead roles in many plays. In retrospect, it was excellent preparation for being in the spotlight—doing public speaking, hosting events, media interviews, etc which have all been a part of my career in the dating industry. It has also developed my posture—I am constantly complimented on my excellent posture!

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Happily-ever-after is not about getting the guy; happiness really is an inside job!

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I cringe when I hear dating experts encouraging women to pursue men– suggesting that men like it when women ask them out, pay for dates, and pursue them. Sure, they may be flattered, but nine times out of ten, I see relationships working better when the man is the one pursuing.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

My mother just had Covid and was in the hospital fighting for her life. I experienced physical symptoms of anxiety and felt great sadness thinking about how my life would be if she wasn’t here. The thing that comforted me most was to pray and know that my friends and family were praying for her. I’ve been ”recovering” by doing acupuncture, yoga, and being grateful for every day. I was reminded of the importance of faith, having a doctor that you trust, and being your own advocate in the health care system.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Building strong professional relationships. I have been in the matchmaking industry for over fifteen years, and I collaborate with dating industry professionals throughout the United States and internationally. We refer to each other business, lean on each other for support, and have each other’s back. I have done very little advertising since fully launching my own business three years ago; I have gotten so many referrals-wonderful, high-paying clients-through word of mouth. I always treat people respectfully; I do the right thing, and it comes back to me!

What is your morning routine?

Love this question! I typically wake up at 7:30 – 8 am. First thing: Hot water with lemon, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar, followed by a liter of coconut water, and a good breakfast within my first hour of waking. As I am drinking my water, I am journaling, praying, looking at my affirmations, and reviewing my To-Do-List for the day. If it’s nice out, I may go for a walk afterward. Or I will start answering my emails, digest my meal, and head to the gym in my apartment complex or do yoga at home. If I don’t feel like working out, I may decide to clean or organize something–do meditation or read. My morning routine has flexibility, but it usually includes most or all of the above. If it doesn’t, I feel a bit off-center.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I have been journaling for many years. It has been my therapy. It has helped me discover and process my feelings, work through adversity, and clarify my priorities. I think this will be a habit for life!

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I try to only check my emails and texts a couple of times per day, and I do not reply to non-urgent emails in the morning. I often work in “Pomodoros”-twenty-five-minute chunks- followed by five-minute breaks. During this time, my phone is on “Do Not Disturb” and all notifications are off.  I do not take unnecessary calls or meetings. I try to manage not just my time, but my energy. When possible, I try not to have too many back to back client calls, because I find it draining. I will occasionally do client coaching sessions on a Saturday, but don’t bother me on Sunday! I work often and really hard, but…there’s always tomorrow! If someone truly wants what I have to offer, he or she will wait.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of The American Meal by Eric Schlosser   I read this book in college-almost twenty years ago- and have never had fast food or any type of meat since!

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find And Keep Love by Amir Levine –  I met, Dr. Amir Levine, the author of this book, at a matchmaking conference in NYC  several years ago, read it from front to back cover in a couple hours, and found it to be one of the best books I have ever read on relationships. I have bought it for my boyfriends, given it to friends, and incorporated it into my coaching programs with clients.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“If life gives you a chance take it, if changes your life, let it.”

“Keep Calm & Carry On”