"If I at 5’5, a basically unattractive Asian guy, can do it, then you can do it"
Founder of the ABCs of Attraction, JT Tran is regarded as the world’s number one Asian dating coach. Also known as ‘The Asian Playboy’, JT Tran has been in the pickup artist game for over a decade. His mission is simple: to restore the confidence of Asian men who feel unattractive and unsuccessful with the opposite sex.
Based in Los Angeles, the ABCs of Attraction offer a range of programs that include lecutres, exercises, drills, flirting techniques, fashion makeovers and even nights out to bars where students can put into practice what they have learned.
“Known for our ability to turn even the most fobby Asian into a total player, as well as our Holistic approach, we specialize in dating advice, practical application, fashion and grooming, and lifestyle,” reads the ABCs of Attraction website.
Speaking to Resonate, Tran discussed his mission and introduced us to a few of his coaches and students.
Tran was not always a professional in his field. In fact, at one time, Tran had a prosperous career as an aerospace engineer making six figures per year. For many, he was considered successful. However, there was still one aspect of his life that he was failing to headway in: his love life.
“I did the thing that every Asian person was supposed to do,” Tran explains. “Get good grades, go to college, get a degree, get a good job, make six figures, get a Mercedes, live on the beach. On paper, all of our Asian tiger parents tell us this is how you get girls. I was like, “so where are all the girls?” On paper I was the perfect boyfriend.”
On reflection, the 38-year-old perceives his younger perspective as rather naive. “In retrospect, all that was me at the starting gate,” Tran says. “I was a normal guy. I didn’t make me have an advantage over other men. I’m 5’5, I’m average looking, there’s nothing physically very special about me.”
According to Tran, his own naivety led him to blind arrogance at a speed dating event. “Back then, I was arrogant. I wanted to choose the hottest girls. When I got the results back the next day, no one chose me. Maybe my standards are too high. So I lowered my standards, picked half the girls. The results next day showed that no one picked me.”
It occurred to Tran that he may have been punching above his weight, so decided to be open to dating anyone. “At this point I was desperate. Some guys can commiserate with that. So I was like ‘alright I’ll choose everyone, even if she’s got a snaggletooth or a mole and a hunchback. I will choose everyone with no discrimination’. I got the results back and no one chose me. I did everything but apparently I still sucked.”
Tran’s disappointment and failure made him reconsider his situation. Perhaps the problem didn’t lie with the girls he was choosing, but with him. He began to realise that his “game and personality were horrible.”
“I committed the two cardinal sins of dating: 1) being short 2) being Asian,” he admitted. Often, rejection would take a toll on his psyche, but he pursued the fight. “There were times where I would go home and cry after being rejected. But the next day I would get up, get back on the horse and keep trying.”
For Tran, a large part of the problem lies in race. As an Asian American himself, he relates to other Asian Americans who feel anxious about their attractiveness due to their ethnicity. According to Tran, this inferiority complex that exists within the Asian American community simply does not exist in the white community.
“There was a limitation in the pick up artist community and the Asian American community,” Tran explains. “In the pick up artist community, every single white coach says race isn’t a problem. ‘Just be alpha and girls will come to you,’ they say.”
He realised that he could not have been alone in his way of thinking and decided that the Asian community needed a coach that specialised in their problems.
“I’d never thought of making this as a company or career but the demand was there,” Tran said. “I started getting thousands and thousands of followers. It wasn’t so much a job as a call to service. My fellow Asian brothers needed my help because they would tell me stories of being harassed by racists and being rejected by Asian girls saying they’re not into Asian guys or white girls also saying they’re not into Asian guys.”
“To me, it went beyond picking up girls. It became a social movement.”
The lack of confidence in Asian Americans is also shared by Asians all around the world. “One out of 5 Asian American men will never marry,” Tran says. “Part of that is gender disparity because of China’s one child policy. Literally there are not enough Chinese women for Chinese men. You see this phenomenon in Korea, Vietnam too.”
Furthermore, Asian Americans are not deemed sexy by American society, according to Tran. “Here we are treated in a social arena where we don’t have as much sexual value as other men,” he says. “Growing up you can have a lot of limiting beliefs, eg. ‘I know white girls don’t find Asian guys attractive so I’m not even going to try’.”
Conversely, Asian women do not suffer from such complexes. “Asian women aren’t limited by who approaches her,” Tran says. “She has the option of dating anyone who finds her attractive – white, black, Asian. But if I as an Asian man limit myself to only Asian girls and those numbers are dwindling, I am shooting myself in the foot.”
Through Tran’s experience, he’s learned that Asian American men have even less confidence than Asians born in the east. As a result, Asian Americans require his services the most.
“Why are a lot of these short fobby students who can barely speak a word of English doing better than a tall Asian American guy that had good hair and works out?” Tran questions. He believes the answer lies in their societal construct.
“When they’re growing up in China or Korea, they’re the apex male and are considered sexual,” he explains. “They weren’t raised being exposed to racism like I was growing up in Texas. Someone coming from China doesn’t realise he’s not supposed to be successful. Asian American guys have horror stories about how they were treated with racism. No matter how good looking he is, in the back of his mind, he doesn’t think he’s deserving.”
Consequently, teaching immigrants is easier for Tran. “With a fobby Asian guy, I can teach him and clean him up with a new hairstyle and fashion,” Tran says. “I can teach him how to approach with confidence and to defeat stereotypes. That’s easy, it’s just technique.”
“An Asian American guy with very deep limiting beliefs that affect his confidence, that goes into a larger deconstruction of societal conditioning. It’s more of a mental game. It’s almost a form of therapy to deconstruct his beliefs so he can build himself up and take the action where his belief set does not hold him back.”
Through the ABCs of Attraction, students can enrol in a variety of courses that range from $3000 to $10,000. “Our flagship is called ‘The Bootcamp’ where we teach over a course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, involving lectures and night games where we go out to bars and clubs,” Tran says. “We also teach day games where we meet everyday women on the street, library, Whole Foods, the mall and the beach. They then have the skillset to go out and actually meet their future love anywhere at any time.”
A long term program called ‘The 12 Weeks Of Fury’ is also offered, which Tran describes as “an intense training of three months”. In this course, ABC Coach Katie takes students on a date and critiques their dating skills.
“For Asian guys, whether they’re born overseas or in America, they all have in common that they lack confidence,” Katie says. “There’s something in their mind that’s holding them back.”
“The difference in their confidence from the beginning until the end and getting rid of those limiting beliefs such as approach anxiety,” Katie adds. “Different hurdles in that they’ve created in their own minds and seeing those broken down in such a short period of time. That way they come out of the other side much more confident.”
Coach Sebastian, who began his journey as a ’12 Weeks Of Fury’ student says, “I really want [the students] to experience what I experience and teach them the ability to pick up women. We are at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to the dating world. I want them to say, ‘forget all that regardless of my circumstances, I’m still going to be good at this’.”
Tran also said there was an “advanced inner game” that “deconstruct the limiting beliefs that they have in their mind”. He tells us that some students actually cried during this course.
ABCs of Attraction also has a coach, Jeff Khan, who specialises in “polyamorous relationships or threesomes”.
Finally, there is the Las Vegas Immersion Program, where students fly out to Vegas and learn 12 weeks of knowledge in one week. “It’s a pretty extensive mind bending experience,” Tran says.
Speaking to some of ABCs of Attraction’s students, it would seem that JT’s courses are working. For Adam, the problem lies in “society in America” where he doesn’t “have many Asian role models”. However, thanks to JT’s course, he has slowly started to build his confidence. “I’m really excited because I’ve learned a lot of things from JT’s course and there’s a lot of things that I’m more aware of now. The first night, we were just dipping our toes in the water. Now we can hopefully swim!”
Whilst Chris fears that “Asian men aren’t seen as sexy or desirable in the west”, he described JT’s course as “kind of scary but exciting at the same time. It’s definitely taken me out of my comfort zone. I’m doing a lot of things I’ve never done before or thought about doing.”
Jun, who is a foreign student said, “English isn’t my first language. I need to fit myself into this culture from my hairstyle to the way I talk.” Thanks to the ABCs of Attraction, Jun has recreated himself. “I had a lot of bad habits but now there are things that I’ve memorised and learned in a different way. It was totally broken down last night. Katie said things I’ve learned doesn’t work for me because I’m in a different status and situation.”
“Things they’re teaching are more for main stream so you’ve got to wear what you look good with. That was such a paradigm changing moment for me.”
Tran encourages anyone who feels insecure about their dating game to take the ABCs of Attraction bootcamp. “Proof is in the pudding that I’ve been around for 10 years and taught thousands of Asian men,” he says. “If I can help these individuals, even if it’s the pursuit of their own happiness. By being successful at it, they themselves can affect a positive turn to our Asian society.”
“If I can give practical advice to every Asian guy looking at this: go big or go home”, he adds. “If you are looking like a stereotype. If you’re short like me or you’re Asian or not classically good looking because you’re thin or fat or balding or old, go big or go home.”