Sandy Weiner is an internationally known TEDx speaker, dating coach, women’s empowerment coach, author, and podcast host. She is passionate about helping women realize their true worth, helping them to communicate and lead with power and grace. Weiner is the founder of the coaching sites Last First Date, for dating, and The Woman of Value, for women empowerment.

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

A pine forest surrounded my childhood home in Atlanta, Georgia, with a creek that ran alongside it. It was a home that sparked imagination and adventure. The neighborhood kids would build forts under the trees, soft pine needles serving as our beds. We were outdoors for hours, rolling down hills, balancing along the slippery grey rocks in the creek. One of my favorite things was bending the smallest saplings and riding them like a horse. Yeehaw! I was a confident, creative, happy, wild, and free little girl.

Over the years, we moved several times, and I became quieter and afraid of judgment. It took me almost 50 years to find my voice again, and now, you can’t shut me up!

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

I wish I would have believed in my talent and intelligence, instead of thinking I was mediocre and not unique. 

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

“Play hard to get.”

What that looks like is: Don’t be too available; wait 24 hours before texting back; never accept a last-minute date; play games to keep him interested.

Instead: Be straightforward. If you like him, say yes to a second date. Have a full enough life, that you’re legitimately not available at the last minute. If you want a few days notice for a date, ask him.

“Go out with every man at least three times, even if you don’t like him.”

If you’re dating men you don’t like over and over again, it just leads to burnout. You may even give up on dating altogether.

Instead: Know your-must haves and deal breakers. If he has some of your must-haves and none of your deal breakers and you enjoyed the conversation, go out with him again. If you’re not feeling instant attraction, that’s actually a good thing. Know that attraction can grow from a 5 to an 8, but rarely from a 0 to a 10. So, if you can imagine kissing him one day, date him again

“You’ll find love when you least expect it.”

Just wait for love to show up? Why would you be passive if you want to find love? You’re not passive in any other part of your life, are you?

Instead: If you want to meet someone, ask your friends to set you up on a blind date, join a dating site, or go to a meetup. Get out of your comfort zone. Smile and speak to men every day. Compliment them and ask for help. Whatever you do, don’t be passive.

“Don’t talk about God, sex or politics on a first date.”

This is based on the belief that certain topics are for better discussed when you get to know each other better. I used to abide by this dating ‘rule’, but I now feel differently. Why?

Instead: First dates are for learning about each other. Many times, you walk away from a first date with little knowledge about you date. And while you don’t want to share your deepest psychological wounds, because that’s too much too soon, you do want share more about yourself to get to know one another.

If your first-date conversation leads to God, sex, or politics, you’re going to learn about his worldview and core values. As long as you respect each other, you’ll gather important information that will help you decide whether to date him again.

“Women should never make the first move.”

This is one of the biggest misconceptions of all. Dating ‘rules’ have women twisting themselves into manipulative fakes to get a guy to pursue them.

Instead: I believe women should make the first move in helping create a safe space for men to make the next move and pursue. What that looks like is letting men know you’re interested. In online dating, send the first message. In offline dating, smile, make eye contact and initiate conversation. Let a man know you’d love to have coffee sometime.

Be confident in who you are so that when the right person comes along, he can appreciate the real you.

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?

Losing my firstborn son was one of the most painful challenges of my life. Avi was born with a genetic disease, Fanconi Anemia, and he died of a brain tumor just short of his fifth birthday. I learned many important things about myself:

  1. I rose up during challenges and grew as a person.
  2. I became more sensitive to others who have experienced loss and medical challenges.
  3. I used my experience to help others by writing articles, giving speeches, and coaching.
  4. I learned to speak up to people in power and not be intimidated by doctors. A mother’s intuition can be stronger guidance than a doctor’s advice.

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

Hiring a business coach was one of the best things I did to grow and refine my business. She helped me clean up my website and create programs that sell.

What is your morning routine? Please include the time you wake up.

I wake up around 6:30 every morning. My morning routine is coffee, a 3-mile walk, breakfast of yogurt, blueberries, and homemade granola, and then get right to work. 

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

Stepping back and reassessing has helped me tremendously. Having clarity about my unique contribution to others has given me focus and informed my copy, my speaking style, and my confidence. It’s helped me create programs that serve my audience better than many others. 

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

An online to-do list has helped me stay productive. It includes weekly and monthly repeated tasks, such as my weekly newsletter and monthly membership club materials and offers. I also batch activities on specific days, such as writing and podcast interviews on Monday and Wednesday, and specific days for coaching. This helps me use my time most efficiently. I also have learned to say no to requests that are not a good use of my time or energy.

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

  1. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, because it taught me how to be more vulnerable, which increased my authenticity. 
  2. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott. This was the first book I read that clearly outlined a step-by-step process for having a difficult conversation. Confrontation scares the heck out of most people, and this book will help make it so much easier and less scary. 
  3. How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved by Sandra L. Brown . This savvy, straightforward book pairs real women’s stories with research and the expertise of a domestic violence counselor to help women of all ages identify Dangerous Men — before they become too involved.

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

One of my favorite quotes was in my high school yearbook, and I shared it in my TEDx talk. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”, by Hillel the Elder. What it means to me is self-care first, before we can be present for others. The second part is about partnership and community. We are not meant to be alone in this world. And finally, take action. Get out there and live the life you want. Don’t put off your dreams, as our time on this planet is limited. Make the best of every day!