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Below are slides and a detailed summary of a talk I gave (with my wife) on “An Investor in the Marriage Market: Find Your Dream Spouse without the Drama”.  In this presentation,  I take the same standard process that works for sales, raising capital, and sourcing deals, and apply it to finding a spouse (including my wife of 20 years and 4 kids).


​​An Investor in the Marriage Market: Find Your Dream Spouse Without the Drama

a systematic and efficient method to optimize yourself and find, evaluate, and sign the deal with your spouse

notes for speech delivered at National Council of Young Israel Singles Conference
November 7, 2004, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, New York, by the Tetens

(Covered in the Jewish Week)

Why are a venture capitalist /entrepreneur and a risk manager speaking jointly at a singles conference?

Three reasons:

  1. I lived on the Upper West Side, and found a woman who would marry me in just 7 months. 
  2. Most of my work since 2001 has involved building technology to search for people, capital, and great companies to invest in. 
  3. I wrote a book on how to sell, market, and raise capital using social media (see, and led the first research study on how private equity and VC funds find great companies, published in Harvard Business Review, Journal of Private Equity, and Institutional Investor.

Question: The last time you were looking for a job, how many of you had an organized approach?  Sent out resumes, had a list of people to call, etc.

Question: For those people looking to get married: How many have an organized approach to finding a spouse?

Finding a spouse is similar to finding a job.  In fact, being a good spouse is a job.  It may not pay well, but has very good benefits.

While the experience of falling in love may be irrational, finding a person to fall in love with should be a rational and organized process.  No one is embarrassed to invest a lot of effort in getting and choosing appropriate job leads before we customize our resumes and apply for interviews.  There is no reason not to invest at least as much effort in finding the person. 

When starting a job many people are aware that they are likely to quit before the end of their live.  When entering matrimony very few want to think that it is not going to last until the end.  

  Seeking a Job Seeking a Spouse
1.  Prepare yourself.   “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

  Think strategically about your resume.  Take classes.  Get additional degrees.  Write for publication.  Mold yourself into the sort of spouse you want to be.  Take classes, go to the gym, improve yourself, until you are reasonably close to the sort of person you aspire to be.  You will marry someone fairly similar to yourself, so you yourself should be a highly desirable person.  Would you want your child to marry someone like you?

Accustom yourself to what married life is like, e.g., live with some roommates. 

Define who you are.  Determine your elevator pitch.

Avoid unhealthy influences which acclimate you to being single.  E.g., unrealistically and unnaturally beautiful women/men in the media. 

Avoid substitutes: non-serious dates, spending time with lots of single friends instead of on serious dates, watching television.

Once you are confident that anyone you like has no choice but to like you back, you are ready to meet the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.



Specify location, function, financial position…  but be open-minded Decide that you want to get married, now.

Visualize your spouse.  Now you have a broad image of an ideal partner in mind: Olympic medalist, 2 Ivy League degrees, speaks at least 3 languages.  Ask, would this kind of person want to marry you?

If not, loop back; you are not being realistic.

Minimize the number of red lines, but know what they are. 

In general, happy and unhappy couples are equally compatible; the difference between happy and unhappy couples is the quality of their communication process.

Tell story about our friend who refuses to meet anyone except in an “unplanned”, “romantic”, way. 

Tell story about our friend who spent six years avoiding meeting the man she eventually married.


2.  Gather leads    
Pursue all legal and ethical avenues to get leads.


Networking, independent consulting, writing, job boards. Matchmakers, internet, speeddating, parties, even perhaps offering

 Tell everyone you meet (business contacts, friends, religious leaders, other communal officials, and people with whom you go out on dates if the date itself is not successful) about yourself and what you are seeking in a spouse.  Tell the must-haves and the can’t-haves.  Network!

Provide feedback to matchmakers. 

Rank your leads. Interview with multiple firms.  Your goal is multiple simultaneous offers. Develop a long list of potential matches.  Sort by combination of desirability plus real likelihood of marriage between you.  Of course, unlike in the job market and unlike in biblical times, I recommend serial rather than parallel dating.   

 Tell Story about our friend’s list, asking all her friends for the name of “just one nice guy”.


3.  Evaluate leads    
Analyze role models.  Meet senior people. Spend time with role models: married people, not singles.

Interview married couples with children (including your parents) to develop a better understanding of marriage and responsibilities involved, and ask their advice on how to build a successful marriage.  Think about what parts of marriages that you observe you would like to emulate and what you would like to avoid.

In particular, look at the parents of your potential spouse.

Research marriage and dating.  Some recommended web sites: Some recommended web sites:,

Evaluate compatibility by testing.  E.g., kindness to animals.  Ask pointed questions, e.g., ask to see the firm’s financial statements.  Draw up and compare personal life missions (as discussed in Stephen Covey’s books) and compare yours with a potential partner’s to make sure you are on the same wavelength—and that your missions appropriately incorporate a spouse.

Exhaustively review the major life questions.  Read Don’t You Dare Get Married Until You Read This!, which is a list of about 500 pre-marriage questions.  (Sample questions: How would you feel if my mother moved in with us?  What would you do if I gained 50 pounds?)  Ask those questions, either explicitly or implicitly.

When dating, place yourselves in diverse situations: stay up until 4:30 AM; taking care of friends’ children; going to very right-wing and very left-wing environments to assess where you and your potential future partner feel most at home; and so on.  This way you can evaluate how the other person behaves under widely varying situations. 

Consider using a Myers-Briggs test ( or quick and dirty:

Visualize your future.  Negotiate compensation agreement Draw up a list of the likely areas of conflict in your marriage (the “integration risk factors”).  Share them.

Jointly negotiate a marital agreement.


4.  Build closeness.    
  Share ideas for how you will contribute to the company.  Have meals together. Share and build trust.

– spend time together

– do projects together

– organize an event together

Learn about a University of California study on a scientifically proven method of falling in love.  And then follow that advice!

Psychologist Arthur Aron conducted these experiments at UCSC:

  • The people in these experiments had been told that their lab mate was going to like them.
  • Take two people who have never met, put them in a room together for 90 minutes and instruct them to exchange intimate information, such as their most embarrassing moment and how they would feel if they lost a parent.
  • Have them stare into each other’s eyes for two minutes without talking. At intervals, bring in a researcher who says, “OK, tell the other person what you already like about him.”
  • The first two subjects got married six months later. They invited the entire research team to their wedding.
5. Seal the deal.    
  Offer handshake. Offer the (finger) ring.  Just do it!  Propose!  (No one is perfect, including you.  If you never propose, you’ll never marry.)


Recommended Books

For more on this topic, see An Investor’s Guide to Getting Married This Year.

You might be interested in a related TEDx talk I gave on “Online Dating is the Future of Your Business.”