The ‘Fran Plan’ for dating

Formerly unpaid advice is now a career for alumna

Formerly unpaid advice is now a career for alumna

What do successfully married men know that single men don’t? The right answer to the following question:

“Do you think that woman in the red dress is attractive?”

Fran Compagno ’91 is out to teach single guys the proper answer to this question and more. Her “Fran Plan” is a 12-week course designed to help professional men ages 30 to 65 hone their dating skills. At her office in downtown Palo Alto, she meets with her clients, gives them a makeover that includes haircut, glasses, and clothes, advises them on how and where to meet women, and, most importantly, coaches them on how to approach women they are interested in.

“The biggest mistake men make in dating is not going after someone they like,” says Compagno. “Usually this is because they think the woman would never like them.”

Men underestimate themselves in the dating world, and often undermine their efforts to appeal to women, she explains. A first date takes a dive downhill when the man starts focusing on his perceived failures.

“You’re having a great time at dinner,” describes Compagno, “then he starts to apologize for things·his life, his career, why he’s in marketing instead of architecture.” The woman will often throw him a lifeline·give him a chance to redeem himself (“but it seems it turned out for the best”), but the guy will refuse it. Finally, he’s convinced her that he’s a loser.

The woman will often suffer through the rest of the date to be polite and avoid confrontation, says Compagno. But she will never return his phone calls and the man won’t know why.

Compagno’s business sprang into being two years ago when she began charging for services she had been providing her male friends and colleagues for nearly a decade. “I was working at a startup with mainly men. When I’d give advice to my male colleagues they’d eat it up,” she says.

“They coined it the ‘Fran Plan,’ and began telling people, ‘You’ve got to get on the Fran Plan.'” Then they started sending their friends to her.

“I saw that a lot of guys just don’t have the nerve to approach a woman,” Compagno says.

While she denies knowing the answer to the perennial question, “What do women want?”, Compagno believes she can teach men a few basics and then give them the skills to find out what a particular woman wants and likes.

Some of Compagno’s Fran Plan basics are posted on her Web site,, along with a test men can use to assess their dating skills.

By the way: The right answer to the red dress question is, “Mmm, I guess so, but she’s not my type.”

Susan Vogel is a regular contributor to Santa Clara Magazine. She is owner of Pince-Nez Press, a publisher of guidebooks, poetry, fiction, and humor.

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