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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Is There Truth In Advertising?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Photo courtesy of Jason Taellious

I’m an ad guy as well as a guy’s guy and a novelist. My nine to five for the past twenty-something years has centered on a business that is fun, fast, and many times misunderstood.  In the ad game (and it can be a game) we don’t make things up. We deal with the truth, and we find the right bits of truth that tell the story that you want to hear. At least that’s what consumers constantly tell us during focus groups that we deploy to find out just what is wrong and what is right about the brands we represent.

Why Is Culture Branding So Important?

Although great advertising can become part of pop culture- “Where’s the Beef?” or the new Old Spice guy- it usually succeeds best when it leverages what is going on in pop culture in relationship to desired consumers a brand wants to connect with. If they love sweet dessert tastes and alcohol, they get whipped cream and cake-flavored vodka. It’s that simple. The right product with the right message can be driven deep into the culture.  When your brand becomes part of the pop culture and consumer landscape, you win.

So Why Write A Novel About Advertising?

There have been many brilliant non-fiction tomes about the ad business and what makes consumers tick.  My debut novel, THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE, is a story about love, sex, power, and money. So I asked myself, is there a better environment than advertising to place characters into a fast, frothy world that plays with our perceived truths and imaginations and our perspectives on life and love and the pursuit of happiness? And, I could write about an environment that I know.

So, Is The Novel About Culture Branding?

I did my best to connect with my readers with a positive message and the need to provide a window into understanding  how each sex views the other. Having been single for many years until recently, I noticed that there was a disconnect in how men and women perceived each other. It was usually through a lens that filtered out some of the truth. While crafting the story, I was convinced that the truth was not only a good thing, but also a path to a bridge where men and women could meet in the center and see that at the core, they are the same. We all need love and need to be understood. And that ain’t so bad. Maybe it’s not a new idea, but it certainly is one that is as important now as ever. I guess my novel is true to culture branding.

How do you see the truth in advertising? 



Is He A Guy's Guy?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Image courtesy of Jonathan Mueller

With all the momentum around the ascent of women, it is easy to overlook men in general. They have enjoyed a 40,000-year day in the sun and contrary to popular culture myths, like alligators traversing the sewers of New York City, they are not going away anytime soon. But there is a new guy in town, and he’s someone you should meet. He’s a guy’s guy and in my opinion, he is destined to become a very important representative of our culture.

So Why Is It Time For The Guy's Guy? 

Throughout history and particularly the twentieth century and modern times, the role and definition of the ideal man has shifted like the sands in a Rudolf Valentino movie. Over time, the man’s man archetype as presented to us by Hollywood and pop culture was initially portrayed as a dashing, swashbuckling hero in the mold of Errol Flynn and Douglass Fairbanks, Jr. Smooth, handsome, and brave. These guys were mostly action, with a flair for the dramatic and a sense of fearlessness that could not be ignored. The women swooned. Then came John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and Kirk Douglas. Less talk, not as pretty-boy, but alpha males that you did not want to mess with. But, in most cases these fellas were not encumbered by the stresses of modern life that we face now.  The anti-heroes of the seventies as portrayed by Eastwood and Bronson are no longer relevant, despite Ryan Gosling’s character arc in “Drive”. People didn’t quite buy it, yet, but there is a subtext to Gosling’s version of the slow, but steady disconnected male who strives to belong and do the right thing.

So, Is Seth Rogen A Guy’s Guy?

He could be, but a guy’s guy is not the Judd Apatow male that we have witnessed clogging up our movie screens for the past decade. These characters are hilarious, but have actually hastened our need for the guys’ guys to step up and be counted. Women want men to be more manly, but not in a macho-jerk wad way.

So What Is This Guy's Guy?

A guy’s guy is a contemporary take on a man’s man, but without the testosterone-fueled veneer that ultimately alienated women and motivated them to transcend a need to be taken care of by men and placed in a never-ending purgatory called second-place. A guy’s guy has many of the traits of the archetypal expectation of a “real” man, but in a more digestible way. He likes women and wants them to succeed. He gets it. He doesn’t have to punch his way of out of a jam or burst into the bad guy’s hideout armed with a knife and pointed one-liners. But he will be there for you and his friends if trouble breaks loose at the local tiki bar. He’s reliable, flexible, non-judgmental, and always ready for a good time. He works hard, plays hard, and doesn’t ever forget who his friends are or where he came from. Women feel comfortable with him, yet are attracted to him in ways they cannot easily describe. He’s a man that other men like and respect. He might enjoy playing sports, but no longer lives and dies with the teams he watches. He puts the journey into perspective, he has a plan, and he is always finding ways to help make you, the world and him better. He sounds simple, but he is far from it. He’ll treat you like a woman, he’s physically warm, and will always make you feel comfortable on his arm. He’s not a chauvinist, but he likes it when you put on that pretty green dress every so often. He knows how to drink and is nice to your family, old people, kids, and small animals. His family might not understand him, but he realizes that we don’t pick our relatives. He is someone you enjoy hanging out with…anywhere, and ladies, he is one helluva lover. Unselfish, pleasing, and lusty as a mountain goat.

Why Are Guy's Guys Important?

Do I really have to explain? Are you, or is your guy, a guy’s guy?


4 Must-Dos Before Embarking On Online Dating

Robert Manni - Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Image courtesy of Du Dãng

Online dating is a big topic and worthy of a book.  As far as getting started is concerned, there are a few overarching rules that apply to anyone who is dating online. You might have a system that works for you, but for most people, they are looking for ways to have more fun and less anxiety when making a splash in the online dating pool.

1. Determine Your Objective

This is marketing and you are the brand. So like any astute marketer, you need to first determine your objective. This is a step that will have ramifications for every online date. Think about it. Do you want lots of dates and partners, or a relationship? Be fair to yourself and everyone else when considering that. You may be thinking, what’s wrong with dating a number of prospects until I meet the right person? Nothing, but it will become a factor with every new person you meet.


2. Find Potential Dates With The Same Objective

Some guys and women use online dating as an efficient way to fill up their calendar, meet new people, score free dinners, and enjoy what happens after dessert. My point is, if that is what you are looking for, find partners who are share the same mindset. You can sort that out fairly quickly. And don’t be a heartbreaker because there are a lot of sincere people out there looking for “The One”.

3. Don’t Waste Time, You Have An Offline Life Too

If you are reasonably intelligent and “normal”, it’s easy to score dates online. There is a bottomless pool of potential partners that is constantly restocked. But this is your time and your money and your sexual and mental wellbeing, so be mindful of your online dating behavior and avoid getting lost in a sea of endless possibilities.

4. Avoid The ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

One of the biggest challenges to online dating is not falling into the pattern of immediately tossing aside potential mates for anything less than perfection because there’s always another prospect out there waiting to share a glass of Prosecco with you.  

Deciding what you want before beginning something new. Sounds like a no-brainer. So does not texting when you are walking up the subway stairs during rush hour. So put down that BlackBerry and take a few moments to consider what you want before texting that new guy back.

Do you know what you want?

How to Score Dates While Sitting at Home in Your Tightie Whities

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Image courtesy of Egan Snow

Hey guys, I’d like to share a few tips on how to meet cool, smart women online. You know, the kind of lady that you probably have admired from across the bar or from the squat rack at the gym, but were not quite sure how to approach. The beauty of online dating for men is that you can relax and plan your introduction without pressure. If you don’t feel like corresponding with her today, she might be in that same location tomorrow. Or maybe not. But why wait when it’s so easy to make your move and connect with her?

1- Read her profile. Twice. 

That’s correct. A lot of dudes flip through the photos and only pay attention to the hottest of hotties only. Tsk, tsk. Of course you want to connect with a young lady that strikes your fancy, but there is a world of important subtext once you dig into her profile. And I assure you that she will be reading your profile very carefully when you send that greeting her way.

You can learn a lot by reading about her. Besides the usual background info and status(avoid ‘separated’ if possible-that can mean she’s in a bad marriage and just scoping the scene), check out what’s going on in her world, and see how much she talks about herself.  Does every sentence begin with “I”?  If the answer is yes, move on.  Same thing if she states anything negative in her profile. That’s a signal for you to turn the page. If someone cannot make it through writing their online advertisement without going negative, imagine how that will spool out on dates with her.

2- Look for someone who knows what she wants. 

Does she mention what she is looking for in a partner or is it all about all about her and the places she has traveled? Does she offer up anything that acknowledges that online love is a two-way street? You’ll probably have to read between the lines a bit, but it’s important to find out if she gets it. To me, no matter how good looking she might be, if you cannot get a good sense of he and the qualities she’s looking for in a guy, it’s a red flag. Same thing if she is too specific. But if she only wants to date accordion players from Alsace Lorraine, at least you’ll know that you don’t fit her specs.

3- No winks. 

Really. Dude, winks are for the ladies. And most women will send a line or two if they’re interested.  Guys need to step up. Tell her that you enjoyed reading about her and that you think she’s pretty and then comment on something in her background info that you can connect with. “Yes, I love Korean BBQ too.”

4- Always ask her a question to make it easy for her to reply. 

And I don’t mean, “Has anyone every referred to you as a spinner?” Come up with an inquiry about her trip to Iceland or that belly dancing class she takes, but without an innuendo about your personal expertise at wiggling below the waist. Take the high road and she’ll see that you are a gentleman.

5- Spelling counts. 

Yes, women pay attention to details and usually have excellent written communication skills. Review your note before sending it on and ask yourself if you would respond to it if you were her. If you are feeling a groove, add a little humor, but again, no sexy time talk. Show her your smooth side and then see if she responds.

6- Never write in all caps. 

I’m sure this is obvious to most, but it’s surprising how many people commit this faux pas which means they are yelling at someone. Bad sign if they do not know this. That’s a sign of not paying attention. Move on, quickly.

7- And, of course, make the first move.  

Show her that you’re interested.  I’ll leave it at that. Good luck.

What are you waiting for?

Are Women The New Men?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Image courtesy of Zak Mc

If you haven’t seen it coming, you haven’t been paying attention. More and more, women are increasingly rising in power and being represented in archetypes such as super heroes, CEOs, cultural and artistic leaders, and world-renowned athletes. Why? Because women are making it happen and you cannot find fault in self-advancement. Is this a good thing? You bet, and it is about time that women have ascended. Even in this fast-paced age of media dominance and instant celebrity, until the past decade or so, men had definitely held their own. Now women are getting a fairer shake and really making their move. Let’s hope they make the best of it for all of us.

What Is The Result Of This Trend?

Economic gender parity and the shift for women thinking about marriage from necessity to choice is one result. Not only is this true in the west, but also in Asia where traditional family values have been perceived to be stronger than in America and Europe.  One surprising statistic according to a recent Economist article is that people marry now even later in Asia than in the west.  It sounds ominous, but it is simply fallout from the ongoing shift happening in our society. As women continue their accelerated path to higher education (for every two men in college there are now three women) the game will continue to change and the balance of power will shift. Again, this is welcome news, particularly to men who pay attention and continue to evolve with the changing times. 

Are Men Finished?

Hardly. Like it or not, for the most part, men still hold the majority of positions of power. Studies have proven that men continue to not only excel, but also dominate technology, engineering, and many other areas of study. That does not mean that women cannot achieve greatness in these specialties. It simply means that men and women can both make wonderful contributions when they apply themselves.  I laughed when I watched the recent Intelligence Squared debate about whether men are done. We live in a big world with many problems and there is plenty of room for both sexes to contribute. But guys need to drop the video games and get off the couch. It’s time for young men to show up and get back in the game or they really will be toast for the foreseeable future. It is really up to them.

What's Next?

Okay, everybody, calm down. It’s okay if women are now calling the shots, literally, and introducing men to chocolate whipped cream vodka. Guys are lapping it up. And it’s okay if men are waxing while women are pumping up at the gym, kicking ass and taking names. The situation only becomes unacceptable when men give up. The rise of women in our lifetime is a very good thing. Men can now have better, more capable partners to share their lives with or just hang with without the pressures to be superman. Let women be the superwomen some seek to become. They excel at multitasking and seem to enjoy the challenge.  Male or female, it doesn’t matter. When the cream rises to the top it benefits us all.

Hey guys, can you handle the truth?

5 Surefire Ways To Have A Successful First “Meeting” With An Online Connection

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Image courtesy of Courtney Carmody

After you’ve shared a phone call that elevated your new connection to the oral word, it’s time to meet her. This can be the start of something big, or not. You’ll probably know fairly quickly and the odds of it working out are well below fifty percent.  That’s not to say that there’s something wrong with either of you. It’s just that if life were that simple, the online ladies in waiting would all have their very own Prince Charming that looks like Clooney and the guys would have a Playboy playmate with a PHD who loves watching football and can cook southwestern food like Rick Bayless.  Here’s a basic game plan for making that first date count.

1- Adjust your expectations.  

You’ve never seen her in the flesh, so you have no idea if that first look will exhilarating or a letdown. Face it. If you don’t connect with her looks, it’s not going to work out for long. No judging. That’s just how we homo sapiens are wired. I suggest discounting your expectations from what you’ve seen in her photos by 15%. That gives you an opportunity to be delighted and sets your reality barometer at the proper level. Everyone chooses their very best profile photos and some pics are going to be dated, so get over it and hope for the best. She’ll be doing the same thing when she eyeballs you for the first time.

2- Let your vibe be your guide.

Dinner at Daniel? Be my guest, but I suggest allocating an hour for a glass of wine at a reasonably nice establishment or even the old standby, Starbucks, if you’re not quite sure what to make of her and she doesn’t drink alcohol. If she doesn’t drink and you feel a connection, take the high road and meet her at that nice wine bar and spring for a cranberry and club soda. If you follow my previous tips and have gotten this far, it’s a good bet that this could be a real connection for you. Just keep the first “date” simple.

3- Actively listen, be honest, but don’t reveal too much. 

Even if you both are digging what you see and have an easy, free-flowing conversation sprinkled with laughter, make sure you allow her to tell you what she wants and don’t pry for more. Then, when she asks you a few things, consider what she is really asking and give her an honest answer. If she doesn’t ask you anything, it’s probably a one-time meet up. That’s okay you don’t want to waste your collective time if she is not feeling it. Respect a woman’s prerogative.

Don’t be evasive if she asks your age or if you’ve been married. Fess up and get it over with. She wants to know and she’ll eventually find out.  And if she doesn’t like the answer, it’s curtains anyway. And regardless of how much fun you’re having hold back some personal info, like your being a Reiki Master, for another date. She’ll appreciate peeling the layers back to reveal the mysterious man that you are.

4- If it feels right, order some food or suggest someplace different for a casual bite.

That’s it. Keep it simple and keep it to an hour or so. If it’s meant to be, you’ll see her again. And if you think meeting for a drink or coffee is boring, be my guest and enjoy your scuba diving lessons or ice skating.

5- What if it’s not happening? 

The heart wants what the heart wants, but be gentlemen. If she is not as advertised or just very sweet, but not your type, she is still a person with feelings and a woman deserving of your respect. Don’t look at you watch or play with your phone. She might be a really cool person and someone that could become a friend. Yes, a friend. But leave that up to her. When the bill comes, take care of it you asked her outand then offer to hail a cab for her. And even if she’s not a keeper, remember to say good night with a smile.

Think you’re ready to take the situation offline?

Do You Still Want to Live in NYC?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Image courtesy of Shmuli Evers 

Back in 1978, Mick Jagger sang about “rats on the West Side, bed bugs uptown” in the Rolling Stones’ eponymous New York song, “Shattered”.  Hey, those guys really did know a thing or two.  And now it’s over thirty years later and people from all over the world still look to our fair city as the modern-day Rome. It’s still the perceptual global center of culturefor better or worse, finance, media, food, arts and attitude. And despite the news reminding us each day of how our western world is crumbling, like millions of others, I choose to live here.

But What About Paris, London, and Shanghai?

There are lots of great cities spanning the globe and as new media and mega brands shrink our planet, there is only one New York City. Having traveled extensively, although far less than some, I can honestly state that no city has the mash up of people and energy of New York. Everyone here seems just a bit more intense and into what they’re doing, even if they aren’t doing much of anything. From the Central American guy spinning pizza dough, the sidewalk bucket drummers, the struggling artists who’ve been forced to create the next great neighborhoods beyond Manhattan, to the titans of a damaged Wall Street, New Yorkers are a buzzing group that refuses to be stopped.  How can you not like that?

But It's So Damn Expensive!

I have no sane response to this except that the runaway cost of living and punitive taxes we face make every New Yorker scrap a little harder.  That’s what we do. We make it happen. We may vent about the snail-paced subway service on weekends, having to spend $10 for that sandwich we wolf down at our desks, or the stifling aroma of broken garbage bags landscaping Manhattan’s sidewalks during summertime, but we still chose to live here and we’ll be damned if anyone is going to say anything negative about our town. That’s what sets New York apart and that’s why people from all over the world continue pouring into our city. And many of them never leave.

Not necessarily a pretty picture, so are you convinced that this is the place to be? 

Can You Change Your Outlook on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness in Ninety Seconds?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Image courtesy of Jason Tromm

I’m glad I caught your attention, and yes, it’s true. Ninety seconds is all it’s gonna take if you stay with this blog on a regular basis. You’re probably thinking¾do I really need to read another blog? I guess that’s like askingdo you need a vodka that tastes like whipped cream or another recipe using bacon or a way to make your pores look smaller. Maybe you don’t.  But, hopefully you’ll choose to read my regular posts here about life and love and the pursuit of happiness. Surely you have a fleeting interest in those topics. So it’s on me to make your ninety-second investment a game-changer. In this age of Facebook drama (look at Jason on his tricycle) Foursquare revelations (I’ve just checked in at McDonald’s on 34th Street) and the souls of the world crying out across Twitter (Be takin’ a showaaa now), I might be able to win you over.

I promise to be direct, to call a spade a spade and a heart broken after it’s been replaced by another’s after your guy’s endless visits to that dating web site where you met.  And I’ll call out the guys and gals and anyone who is not playing fair. Because life should be fun and there is too much negativity spewed from our leaders, the media, and our collective egos. Yep, this blog is gonna tackle all that and more in an increasingly “all about me” world.

So Who Am I?

Wonderful question. Please let me know when you find out, but in the interim, I live in NYC, I work in advertising and help convince consumers why they really DO need that whipped cream-flavored vodka, and I care about people and how they treat one another. And, in relationships in particular. We’ve all searched for that one true love and have been disappointed, but we rarely take a look at ourselves and ask what messages we’re sending out, what we are manifesting, or how we can do better.  Somehow, I’ll help you with that, even if it means holding up that mirror so you can see things a bit more clearly.

Am I An Expert?

Like all of us, I’m a work in progress, but I’ll do my best to remain open-minded and share perspectives and find answers that help you.  That’s my goal and I hope you find it worthy enough to invest those ninety seconds every few days so I can weigh in on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness as it relates to your personal experience.

Fair?

Who Should Pay For A Date?

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photo courtesy of Tim Boyd

Things have changed. No doubt. And that’s for just about everything that takes place between the sexes or within the same sex. Every other movie or TV show that stars a woman these days seems to feature a buff chick toting a shotgun, dressed in a wife beater, about to take revenge out on the bad dudes who harmed her family. Up until a few years ago, this was a genre reserved for Ahhnold, Van Damme, and Chuck Norris. Now these action vehicles showcase wiry females with a martial arts skill and an attitude.

Concurrently, this month’s Playboy features an article about men, using iconic male stars like Dean Martin and Paul Newman to hawk a bunch of facial creams and hair products. It seems that having smooth, glowing skin, product-laced hair and squeezing into your skinny jeans has become a new way to demonstrate your “guyness”. And we can marry whoever we chooseHarry or Sally. It doesn’t matter and most of us don’t care.  But change creates interesting questions as we dance in the dating mosh pit. Like who picks up the tab on a date?

Here’s what I think. Generally, if you ask a woman out on the first date, even if it’s just for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, the guy should reach for the check. Even if the woman starts digging through her hobo bag, the guy should pay.

Here’s an exception. Maybe you two didn’t hit it off and the woman feels patronized and insists on paying her way to assuage any guilt, anger, or because she just wants to get away from you. Let her throw a few bucks down and say goodbye. We’re all even now.

Going forward a pattern usually occurs between potential partners and although it’s going to be different in every relationship, the bottom line is that you want things to feel equal so no one seethes inside or gets all passive aggressive. In a perfect world, and in a big city where women are increasingly taking the wheel in business, politics, and relationships, paying for a date would be split down the middle every time. But we know that this isn’t a perfect world, except in its imperfections, so we’ve got to be flexible and open-minded about almost everything.

Directionally, whoever has the idea and asks the other person out should be willing to pony for the bill. But that can get old quickly. And what do you do if you’re an investment banker ranking in the cash and she’s a teacher. Are you really going to make her split every tab down the middle? And vice versa, what if your lady pulls in major coin as a corporate litigator and you’re “consulting”?  It’s something to keep in mind. And there are some women who never, ever crack their wallets open, and that doesn’t feel right.

What I have done to make life easy is to take charge and arrange the first few dates, at least until we’ve “gotten to know one another better”, and either paid the bill or made the offer. After you’ve taken care of the first major date, if she wants to split the tab the next time, cool.  I suggest having no pretentions and always being prepared to pick up the bill if necessary. Women get it, and if they are not choosing the fifty-fifty route they usually have some things in mind that will make up for it, like cooking a nice dinner at her place or bringing along your favorite Pinot Noir when you cook for her. Women pay attention and the vast majority are not looking to exploit you. So if every check is not split exactly down the middle, chill.

In many ways dating is a microcosm for how we interact and treat people, and all I’m suggesting is to always be a gentlemen, do  what  you know in your heart is the right thing, and always give a lady the benefit of a doubt.

Does who pays the tab really matter?

 

Want a Kick Ass Online Dating Profile? Start with Some Great Photos

Robert Manni - Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Image courtesy of Chris Huggins

Here are a few more pointers for guys and ladies for getting yourself set up for online success. It’s all about creating a visually engaging online showcase that demonstrates that you are a wonderful catch. 

1-Show only between three and five photos of yourself to give a full picture of the brand that is you. 

Too much of a good thing is not recommended. Maintain a little mystery. If things work out you can take your own photos.

On the flip side, keep in mind that even if you write like Nicolas Sparks, no photo means no dates. Pretty much a guarantee especially if you are a woman. Guys are visual and unfortunately some men don’t bother to give the words in your profile more than a glance anyway.

2-An appealing headshot is the starting point. 

Don’t have one? Forget the professional route. Have a bud help out—friends enjoy helping out and doing stuff like taking photos of you. Pick one that you like best, and remember to smile.  Don’t have any friends? I’ll leave that for another column.

3-Include a photo from a wedding or an event. 

Nothing too stiff though. It shows you have a life and adds social context. Since you’ll probably be dressed up for these, it adds another dimension to the multi-faceted person that is you.  

4-Always include an action shot someplace outdoors (beach, mountains, biking, or in front of the Pyramids, etc.)

This shows you get out and are comfortable with your body. This gives your potential connections a chance to get a look at your form. If you’re shy about this, do the best you can. Eventually the other person is going to see you and they will check you out.

5-Throw in a wild card. 

Have fun with this one. You and your crew at the Jets game, or in the midst of that Pulp Fiction party, or maybe just you and your dog.  If you are a hottie, feel free to give ‘em some eye candy, with class, of course. No lingerie, ladies, and fellas─no flexing. This isn’t the WWE. Or just choose your very best photo, regardless of the situation.  A photo that shows the real you and makes you feel good about yourself and what you projecting. Okay, you’re done.

6- Pick the one that suits you best for your primary photo, make sure they can see your eyes, and stick with it for while. 

Changing your profile pic every three days sounds the insecurity alarm.

That’s it. If you are unsure about your choices, have a friend take a look and give you feedback. Then post them for a month and see how it goes. You are the brand and you want your connections to like what they see and want to learn more about you. Smile!

Can you recall the profile pics that attracted you to someone you met online?




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