They're acting all sweet but really just want your peanuts.

by • October 10, 2011 • Best ofComments (21)1100

How to date a supermodel (or get dealflow or find cofounders)

“You take your laptop and go work out of cafes across the street from a photography studio or agency where supermodels work. You need to be where they are and then say hello to them sometimes. That’s pretty much it.”[1]

Supermodels are a key ingredient in the you-dating-supermodels equation. You need to be where they are before anything else matters. Put another way: are you struggling to close funding because your product isn’t good enough or because you don’t know enough supermodels?

This anticlimactic advice prompted me to completely restructure both my personal and professional life to great effect.

Important doesn’t mean hard and striving isn’t progress

We’re wired to believe that these rare, important events are also difficult. So we invent laborious solutions. You want to date a supermodel so you spend a year getting those pecs and that six pack. Congratulations! Your chances are still 0.

Your abs really aren’t the issue unless you’ve already got a robust pipeline of supermodels coming to your weekly pool party and storming out indignantly once you remove your shirt to mount the diving board. And who knows, you may not even need the abs. They may think you’re funny.

I would clarify Woody Allen’s much repeated quote to say:

90% of success is showing up (to the right place and possibly creating that place if it doesn’t yet exist and also talking to people while you’re there).

In our admittedly stretched metaphor, showing up to the supermodel cafe is useful whereas showing up to the gym is not.

How I used the supermodel cafe principle to get set up in a new city

3 years ago I moved from SF (where I knew lots of people, investors, and startups) to London (where I didn’t). Some of the handy places I prioritised attending (or organised) were CEO/VC poker night, startup burger night, and every startup meetup I could find. I soon realised I was only meeting about 1 quality person per meetup (and it was hard to create good relationships), so I began siphoning them off into a bimonthly braintrust[2] and ditched the meetups.

I found a conference with unusually smart attendees and began hanging around the events and being helpful to the organiser until he started including me in things. Similarly, when I’m single, I work out of cafes instead of my office. If I was single and wanted to date a banker, I would work out of cafes in the financial district.

When I wanted to understand how the earliest stage companies got started, I hung out at universities and got involved with their entrepreneurship programs. When I needed contract work, I started giving talks on how business guys could most effectively manage the time & costs of hiring techies. If I wanted to scale an agency business, I would find a way to hang out every day with struggling freelancers.

When I decided to try my hand at running a shared office space, I co-opted the dwindling CEO/VC poker night into an “anyone interested in startups” poker night, hosted it at my empty office-for-rent, and grew it to about 50 players (or more cynically, potential desk customers) per week. When I [briefly] wanted to get back into the game industry, I went to lots of game nights. And importantly, everything in this list is really fun.

This conclusion features references to Greek mythology

I’ve received a lot of value from transforming what appears to be a herculean or even sisyphean[3] task (cold calling & selling, going to bars to chat up strangers) into an easy pleasure (playing poker with interesting people, working in a cafe).

Building a pipeline sucks. Hanging out in fun places with interesting people is rad.

[1] I’m paraphrasing that advice from a source I forget and have been unable to Google, which I realise isn’t the most authoritative citation, but any search with ‘supermodel’ in it is somewhat… contaminated.

[2] A braintrust is just a small, consistent group of people who regular meet to talk about how things are going. We did a 1 hour format with about 5 people in different industries talking about what we tried, what failed, and what we’re doing next. It led to a lot of value in terms of sanity checks, ideas, connections, and general encouragement.

[3] Sisyphus was that crafty Greek king condemned to spend his time in the afterlife trying to get a boulder to the top of a too-steep mountain. It would invevitably roll back down, trivialising his tremendous efforts thus far. My point here is 1) don’t try to trick Zeus and 2) just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s useful. Herculean tasks, by contrast, are just plain hard.

[Image] by <a href=””>jbcurio</a>

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21 Responses to How to date a supermodel (or get dealflow or find cofounders)

  1. HGPA says:

    +1 for Sisyphus reference. See Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”

    An absolutely awesome article to start the new year, for both dating and work. Thanks.

  2. What an awesome read on new year’s!

  3. David switch says:

    That’s right unless you put yourself out there you never know

  4. Dan says:

    Vapid. Enjoy your life as a sales clerk.

  5. Wonderful article. When things have gone best for me, both personally as well as professionally, it’s been because I was unconsciously doing very similar things. Context, location and likemindedness make all the difference.

  6. Steve says:

    I always thought Woody Allen said that 99% of life is just showing up – which is a pretty similar sentiment but even more basic. In other words, first you have to get out of the house! For many of us, that’s a pretty real obstacle too.

  7. Matt says:

    As a meta issue this site has really good content, unfortunately for me is has a down side; it doesn’t render properly in Chromium, to the point of it being unreadable (words over run each other).

  8. [...] How to date a supermodel (or get dealflow or find cofounders) [...]

  9. [...] by Startup Tookit, photo via gamimp & ycchang, CC License) AKPC_IDS += "3848,"; [...]

  10. Eugene says:

    I was doing some idle web-surfing, googling some crazy stuff like “How to date a supermodel”, and – finally – search engine delivered truly decent reading I’ve been looking for!
    What’s more important, the article provides vital advice which can be also applied to career and daily life – and achievements in these areas bring you closer to what I’ve been initially searching for, I guess. And yes, the “showing up” is great – words of wisdom. Like a friend of mine once said, ‘No matter if I’m hungry or not – I go have a lunch regardless’.

    Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!

  11. [...] How to date a supermodel (or get dealflow or find cofounders) [...]

  12. Juliette says:

    date a supermodelis not as difficult as it seems. Many are tired of the tedious old pick up lines. You don’t have to look like George Clooney, but a few dollars helps as does a great sense of humour. From experience it is the funny men who get and keep these women.

  13. [...] How to date a supermodel (or get dealflow or find cofounders) [...]

  14. Avi Shtern says:

    Does this work for sure?

  15. [...] lesson applies for anything you could want to attract, whether a mentor, a job or a girlfriend: If you want to date a supermodel, you need to be where the supermodels [...]

  16. [...] Here, you can see Rob explain how building a blog community is a good proxy for your business model’s channel. (Also check out his post on How to date a supermodel (or get dealflow or find cofounders). [...]

  17. [...] who leads the teaching for our Startup MBA, spent time learning from Paul Graham at Y Combinator. In one of his blog posts, he came up with a twist on Woody Allen’s oft-repeated quote: “90% of success is showing [...]

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