Per his Instagram bio, Dave Stultz brands himself as a “men’s lifestyle coach.” With his tutelage, he promises to lead men to their dream lives — primarily that pertains to women and crossing things from their bucket list. The curriculum itself is part self-help (with a heavy dose on emotional intelligence) and part classic pickup artist stuff (with a heavy dose on how to master the opposite sex) — with some tightrope walking and hard-to-believe miracle-working mixed in.
We’re living in a world of nice guys. It’s my job to help men embody the core of what it is to be masculine and to kill the Nice Guy Syndrome.
When I say the “core of what it is to be masculine,” I mean a high emotional intelligence and the awareness of where his energy sits inside his body. When a man is grounded, he’s balancing his energy, and he’s going to be able to stay calm in a car crash much like a firefighter or a soldier who deals with the emotional and physical tension of a high stress job. That’s why those kind of men are perceived as attractive by women. They can handle the shit when the shit goes wrong. But they do it from an emotionally intelligent place, not from a shutout place.
The work we do to establish a new form of masculinity goes across the board and includes gay and straight men. In either case, the masculine and feminine need to have that polarity. Those polarities are often confused with being straight, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of very masculine gay men — and you will always see them with very effeminate gay men. Same goes for women. That polarity exists outside of gender.
I started coaching this philosophy in 2010. I more or less stumbled into it — before that, I was a commercial and fashion photographer in New York City. I had friends who were having relationship troubles or starting businesses that failed, and they saw the way I balanced my life and wondered how they could do the same. After I helped a few friends, I had people calling me left and right.
In 2013, I met my business partner, and we put together a more formal program. For example: We have an exercise for emotional grounding where we have our clients work with female models who will test them with the wrath of the feminine by making fun of them or acting crazy. It involves approaching the situation from a place of emotional intelligence rather than by just reacting. We want them to allow the woman to fully express herself in an emotionally chaotic state. Over time, she will begin to settle down because he provides a sense of calm. He’s the eye of the storm, so to speak — the eye of the storm is calm; the chaos is around him.
The type of female models we look for are average everyday women who a guy would interact with. Some are actresses, some are artists and some are CEOs. It’s a breadth of women, but they have to have a certain level of emotional acuity and be able to translate that to us as well as to our clients.
We also conduct physical tension exercises where our clients will get smacked on the arm and we monitor their nervous system. Men lose their focus very quickly. Think of the training for a Shaolin monk — when they lose focus they get hit with sticks. We’re not going to hit people with sticks, so instead we just slap them on the arm.
Additionally, we run different diagnostic exercises where we put our clients on a slack line or put them on rollerblades. Someone who’s too analytical isn’t going to be able to walk the tightrope because they’re thinking too much.
We classify men into three different levels or stages. The first stage is the guy who’s very masculine in a my-way-or-the-highway kind of way. The second stage is the middle-management guy who lives in the suburbs and who’s always trying to make his wife happy. His problem is he doesn’t have any polarity, and therefore, he isn’t going to be viewed as attractive by his partner. The third stage is the opposite — he’s got a lot of polarity. He’s not afraid to be sexual. He has access to the bad boy. He isn’t afraid to say things; he just does it from a place of emotional intelligence.
This is the stage we try to get all of our clients to.
Our clients include young men, divorced men, suicidal veterans with PTSD, CEOs, celebrities and attorneys. One of our first clients was a second-stage guy who lived in North Carolina. He was a musician who was afraid to express himself sexually. Men are thought to be hypersexual beings, but that isn’t the case at all. A lot of them — like our client in North Carolina — become ashamed of their wants and needs around sex. It’s especially difficult because the media considers any man who doesn’t live up to that macho ideal of wanting sex all the time to be a sissy.
Another one of our clients had cerebral palsy. He came into our workshop with a walker. He was so ingrained with his victim persona that he believed he couldn’t walk. With some of our exercises — accessing the anger toward his disability with punches — he was able to tap into a lust he hadn’t accessed before. Some of it was anger toward his family for always catering to his victim mentality. But by surfacing the first-stage man inside him — the wild man — I had him walking 500 feet without a walker in two days. Before that, he hadn’t walked in 32 years.
One of our most difficult clients, though, was a first-stage man from England. When I opened the door and met him, I thought, Oh my god, this guy isn’t going to be able to do anything. It was like communicating with a wall. But he was dedicated, and to his credit, he worked nonstop with our female models doing a lot of nonverbal communication exercises that included identifying his feelings via touch. At first he would only recognize his anger — a midlevel energy. Now, however, he’s able to identify sadness, apathy, grief, lust and fear. He still has repressed anger, but his understanding of his emotions is more acute. For the first time in his life he feels like he can connect and communicate with people.
Honestly, I applaud any man for being vulnerable enough to say, “I need help” or “I’m going to do something even if it’s not right the first time.” Because men generally don’t talk about help. But from my perspective as someone who’s always had coaches in athletics and in life, men shouldn’t interpret self-improvement and being coached as, “I’m broken.” Instead, they should see it as having an upper hand — a faster way to get to where they want to go.
— As told to Andrew Fiouzi