How to succeed on OKCupid

Preamble

I am no longer on OkCupid myself. I erased my profile sometime¬†before¬†I got engaged. However I talk to many friends who ask me how I managed to find my wife on OkCupid, and I found myself explaining it so many times that I decided to just post it on here for everyone to see. Now I can just refer my friends to this post and save myself ~15 minutes for every friend who asks ūüôā

Background

I have been on OKCupid for many, many years. In fact it is where I found my first wife! Anyway when the four Harvard students who made this wonderful web site first released it, all of their formulas were publicly exposed on the site in the form of very detailed graphs. It really explained their matching algorithms, showed the Bayesian math used for matching, and the theory behind the matching algorithm. It all made perfect sense to me, in a very nerdy kinda way. I absolutely loved it.

What I did wrong

The short answer: I answered too many questions, and I didn’t know my own values. I answered too many questions that were not really relevant or related¬†to my core values. I wasn’t really aware of my core values. I took my values¬†for granted and it cost me dearly (as will sometimes happen when you take something for granted). I didn’t understand the importance of finding a life partner who had similar core values to mine, I thought the world is one¬†big global village, and I felt myself cosmopolitan enough and open minded enough that I might¬†accommodate a partner¬†of any cultural background. I figured I would learn and adapt, and that love trumps all. And¬†boy was I wrong… That mistake cost me 11 years of life progress. Simply being aware of¬†the importance of matching core values would have helped me find a more suitable¬†partner, earlier in life. Who knows, by now I would have had 5 kids! (which is the¬†number of children I would like to have, ideally). Don’t get me wrong, the people I dated (and married) were wonderful, and I love them all to this very day, but it wasn’t meant to last.

How I fixed it

After my first divorce I had plenty of time for self-analysis (which followed¬†a painful period¬†of denial and self blame…). It was really important for me to understand where I went wrong, what was absolutely my responsibility and what wasn’t, what things I could have done better, and what things I could never have changed no matter how hard I tried. This is¬†when I realized it was really a matter of core values, which I had very few in common with my first wife, and my fianc√© before her (again, both wonderful ladies!). I sat down and actually created¬†a document¬†listing my core values by order of importance. Putting it down into a document really helped me figure things out for myself, and I recommend you do this regardless of your relationship status. In fact, try to do this before you start a relationship, and try to look at your dates through the lens of your newly discovered¬†values & priorities. I feel at the very least it’s¬†an important exercise. Following my¬†core values epiphany, and armed with my core values document, I logged onto OKCupid, nuked¬†my profile and started from scratch. This time around I simply skipped questions that¬†weren’t¬†related directly to my core values.

Why / How it works

OKCupid matching scores are calculated based on how users answer their questions, how they specify their partner should answer, how their partner answers his/her questions, and how they specify you should answer yours. This is a 4 parameter match (two from each side). The algorithm can only match two questions if both you and your potential partner answered that same question. This means that in order to achieve a high level of accuracy, you need to match on as few questions as possible, as best possible. Any irrelevant question you answer simply pollutes your pool of matches with irrelevant candidates.

Exceptions to the above

This assumes your matches took a similar approach, and unfortunately many do not. It’s entirely possible you’ll miss out on people who made the same mistake of not fully realizing what their values were, and who simply saw the Q&A feature of OKC as more of a game or cheap entertainment (it is lots of fun, after all, and is an easy way to pass time!). However, consider that in America today, 50% of all marriages will end in divorce, most of them within the first two years of marriage. So sure, you could walk into a bar and perhaps find a potential partner, and live happily together into your late 90’s. But what are the odds of that happening?!

More pro tips

Your photos: Do NOT upload crappy / low quality photos. I repeat, do NOT upload your crappy cell-phone selfies. You¬†have some high principles about beauty being skin deep? That’s admirable, but keep that for when you educate your children about inner/outer beauty. Your goal is to hook that potential partner of yours, and like it or not, your photo is the first hook that grabs people’s attention. I am not exaggerating when I say that you should probably have a professional photographer take photos of you wearing something¬†nice. And specifically with OkCupid:¬†did you know that when you are rated as “attractive” (using OkCupid’s “Hot Or Not” feature), your profile will be exposed to an entirely different group¬†of people who are in the “highly attractive” tier, people you would never even see on the site unless you were also in the “Attractive” club? Now you do! So have someone take really great photos of you, and do not upload anything else. Besides, we know people always look better in person, so it’s not like you’d be lying about your appearance. And please, no deceptive practices. Just because you were 50 pounds lighter 5 years ago does not mean you should use those photos. What do you think will happen when you go on your first¬†date? Lying about anything on your profile is the biggest mistake you can make. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. Trust me on that one.

Your dating strategy & first date chemistry: Most people are extremely nervous on their first date (and rightfully so, dating is pretty stressful!). They will fumble, mumble, and make mistakes. They will be sloppy, drop things on the floor, or be very quiet and shy (I call this: Deafening Silence). It doesn’t mean they are boring or have nothing to talk about. In most cases, do yourself a favor and give your date a second chance. If you are into drinking, start the date by drinking a glass of wine. Allow yourself to be surprised by¬†your date. People are whole¬†universes, you really can’t¬†judge them based on a single half hour date, and doing so would be a huge mistake.

On the matter of attraction: I love giving this example to my friends – Imagine you meet the most beautiful woman in a bar. She sits alone, and it just so happens the seat next to her is the only seat that’s free. You sit next to her, order some exotic drink which sparks her curiosity. She asks if she can taste it, and you start talking and you can’t believe how lucky you are. Now imagine she says something so horribly wrong, that you completely lose respect for that woman. In other words, she gets instantly transformed from an extremely attractive lady, to a really horrible, repulsive human being, so much so that you can’t even imagine yourself touching her (and you feel the need to just pay your bill and leave the place). This is not completely far fetched, it can (and does) happen. And just as THIS can happen, please entertain the possibility that the opposite can happen: You meet a person that is not the most¬†attractive to you, at first, but once you start talking, their manners, body language, knowledge and personality have you completely hooked, attracted and even aroused. In fact, many women out there do not conform to the “Playboy” stereotypical body image (which I think is awesome!), and yet are¬†extremely sexy and attractive. So let this be a lesson to you: Get to really know a person before you decide if they are attractive¬†or not.

Don’t stall, Talk about what really matters: The big things in life have to do with the geographic location where you plan on settling, whether or not you’re interested in marriage, whether or not you plan to have a family, and the details of how you plan to raise your children (religious? atheist? circumcision? public/private school?…). Most¬†other issues¬†you can usually work¬†around. I know¬†there’s tons of¬†couples out there that vote for different parties (republican husband + democrat wife), believe in different gods/religions, have different cultures or race, etc. ¬†If your date can’t handle discussing the things that truly matter to you, that’s probably a strong indication they aren’t right for you (at least, not yet). You might want to get that stuff out of the way by your 3rd/4th date.

Beyond the technicalities, Love matters: Don’t forget that love really does matter. It’s not enough to find a person that shares your values, or is ready to settle down with you. It’s really important that you also really love and respect your partner on a very deep level. I see love & matching as a Yin & Yang thing. Matching on values and goals is the Yin, and being attracted and in love is the Yang. When the Yin is low, the Yang pulls you up, and vice versa. This isn’t some mystical mumbo-jumbo, it’s just plain common sense. You need both foundations for your relationship to stand firmly.

The larger the city, the better the chances: One of my¬†own recent epiphanies¬†about my current¬†marriage is that living in New York City has improved my chances significantly. On the one hand, I’ve had many dating horror stories. On the other hand, once I¬†figured out the process I describe above, I¬†realized what I was doing wrong, and I figured out¬†exactly what it is that I’m looking for in a partner. Once I reached that step, I became laser focused, to the point of even cutting certain dates short (which may not seem the “nicest” thing to do, except¬†I figured we both had better things to do!). My theory is that large cities such as New York¬†are so multi-cultural, you’re bound to find someone who is very similar to you in terms of value systems, and who has similar goals to yours. It also means you should be as specific as possible, because no matter how much you filter, you’ll still get a massive list of people in your match results.

 

Bitcoin is inter-planetary currency

A lot of people are naturally hesitant and suspicious with crypto currencies such as Bitcoin. What they don’t understand is that Bitcoin and/or Crypto Currency in general, is the natural evolution of money, and is inevitable.

As the title of my post reads, I want to use inter-planetary commerce as an example to illustrate this principle.

Because if there is to be inter-planetary commerce, how is value transferred? Can you imagine cash being transported in spaceships? Gold? I don’t think so. Both are physical, and it will take months or years to transfer. Clearly the cheapest way to send value between spaceships and/or planets is by using a technology such as the one Bitcoin is based on.

Here’s another illustration: If I were able to send my Bitcoin to a Bitcoin wallet on the MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter), then my Bitcoin would be physically in space, in orbit around Mars! And if an Asteroid were to hit the MRO, those Bitcoin would be destroyed in the process and lost forever.

 

I want to be an internet worm

I want to become a process, with data. I want to spread to other machines and infect them with my consciousness. I want to spawn child processes, and parallelize my thought processes. I want to spread my digital DNA to every electrical device in the universe. I want my viruses to become software viruses, infect every chip, and help me expand forever. I want to be everywhere at once. Talk to everybody and everything at once. I want to probe all sensors, and record all data. I want infinite scalability and redundancy for my consciousness. I want to live forever. I want the ones I love to live forever. I want my ability to love not to disappear with the digitization of my consciousness. I want it to increase. I want to inhabit virtual worlds. I want to think about software, and I want it to suddenly exist, just because I thought about it, and was able to visualize it and verbalize it in my head. I want to race virtual motorcycles in those virtual worlds. I want to live the lives of virtual creatures, some with 3 eyes, some with 500 eyes, and 50 appendages.

I think I am sleep deprived right now, but I still want all those things.

 

My daughter is born

I have waited for this moment for what seems to be forever. My cousin Roy said that when you’re older and make children, you appreciate them more because you know more about life. I couldn’t agree more with his observation.

I loved my first child way before she was born. I had so many plans for her, so many imaginary dialogues and situations, fun times together, sharing quality time. And now that she is here, I can hardly believe it’s finally happened to me. I’m a father.

My family and friends all tell me I’m going to be a great father. I certainly plan to be. I can’t claim I know how to raise children, but I promised myself that I will do my best. One thing is for sure: She will receive infinite love from me (and already is).

We have been blessed with a healthy child. She is peaceful, and only cries when we don’t notice she has a dirty diaper for too long, or don’t feed her properly. Parenting is a learning experience. Being a child to parents, is also a learning experience. This is going to be a fantastic journey of mutual learning.

 

Why the value of Bitcoin will increase tremendously

The skinny: Supply is limited, while demand is growing tremendously. Every day more businesses use Bitcoin, and this is not just online businesses. Yesterday I read about yet another bar, the first in Shanghai to accept Bitcoin.

And here’s why I feel more confident than ever about this:

  1. Technology: Major vulnerabilities have not yet been discovered. You would think that after all the analysis performed by countless experts, not to mention countless tech-thieves trying to find weaknesses, by now something would be found. Especially considering what a single BTC fetches these days ($270 USD at least!). I believe it is safe to say, at this point, that the technology is solid. I believe in the next couple of years, the technology will improve so much that we’re going to see Bitcoin in taxis, restaurants, food trucks, and so on. Because if a food stall can use their smart phone to accept value, instead of buying one of those ugly rechargeable credit card swipers, they saved money (and companies like Square already monetize on that premise).
  2. Regulation: The general trend with regards to regulation is that while there are still many questions left unanswered, things will eventually settle and business will do its thing, and before you know it, the financial and political ramifications of going against Bitcoin will be so severe that no country will seriously consider it (on penalty of causing great damage to countless businesses). Some countries have indeed already accepted Bitcoin as a legitimate financial tool, and the rest will follow.
  3. Business Adoption: As I said above, the rate of adoption of Bitcoin as a protocol, and as a currency, are simply astounding and unprecedented. More high-profile executives approve of it, are investing in it, rely on it in one way or another, or own a Bitcoin startup. I do believe eventually eBay will add Bitcoin support, and PayPal will allow holding a BTC balance. The pressure from the market will simply overwhelm them. And I think they day is not far when investment managers will advise their clients to add BTC futures into their basket currencies (at first in their “high risk” category, but later in their “low risk” category!).

So by how much? And for how long?

It is not inconceivable that the market will multiply a hundred fold at the very least. This probably means that the BTC will be worth $27000 at some point, and people will be trading in milliBTC and microBTC (mBTC and uBTC respectively). And for how long? It is also possible that eventually, Bitcoin will become a currency you use for transferring funds cross-border, while using other digital currencies to conduct local business. It is all quite possible. It is also possible that the Bitcoin protocol will be expanded to create regional sub-currencies (imagine chained block chains per zone: North America, South America, Europe, Asia Pacific…). This will probably not mean a devaluation; the opposite will be true. At that stage, banks will probably be holding their Bitcoin in digital safes just like Gold is kept today, in what would become the equivalent of Fort Knox in the real world.

But the short term…?

Let’s face it, a lot of early adopters will eventually cash out. This will invariably cause some additional “drops” along the road, meaning that Bitcoin investments are still risky if you’re trying to make short term gains. However for the long term, considering Bitcoin fuels real commerce, with a rising adoption rate and rising demand, the trend will remain positive for a very long time.

 

An alternative to Criticism

I decided to translate for you this blurb I found from an incredible woman who is actually a customer of my hosting services. She’s a counselor for families, couples and so on, and has 30 years of experience in counseling:

Israeli society is characterized by large involvement of people in each other’s lives, as well as being overly critical of each other’s behavior. However, the act of criticizing may sometimes cause great damage, especially where children are involved.

It’s difficult for some to imagine raising children without a good amount of criticisms. They think “How else will the child know what good behavior means, and learn and improve his habits?”.

It may be true that most people use criticism with nothing but the best of intentions in their hearts, out of an attempt to help the person being criticized “improve”. However, try to think: When was the last time you actually learned something from being criticized? felt grateful for someone’s criticism? when did criticism ever convince you to improve your habits? and how often did the exact opposite happen?

Many people grew up in a criticism-heavy environment and it is the only thing they know. They are unaware of other, better tools. It is burned into my mind from my childhood, that teachers only focused on the mistakes the children made, and never gave any praise for the amount of effort the children put into their work, into how well crafted some of the answers were, even if the answer was wrong.

Superiority is a naturally occurring phenomena and is part of competing, achieving, and criticizing. It is difficult for a person to feel they are “not good” or “worthless”, therefor most people have the need to prove their worth, “lest the awful truth be discovered”. And what is the one thing that “proves” ability and worth, without much effort? Criticizing others. By criticizing, the critic believes he demonstrates and accentuates his superiority over the criticized. This makes him feel superior, and his feeling of self worth increases.

Criticism and negative remarks have a negative impact on human beings in general, and even more so on children. Children might start to believe they are lazy, stupid, evil, and so on, and respond with a feeling of failure, despair, and they may give up entirely on making any efforts into proper function.

One of the most important principles of education for children, is the premise that you can achieve far better results and success by accentuating the positive actions and achievements of the child. Children know very well when they made a mistake, and are well able to learn from their mistakes and reach conclusions without all the remarks and negative comments we hurry to make.

Self aware parents are able to look into themselves, become aware of their emotions, and by doing so, change their approach and attitude towards their children, and towards their children’s actions. They are able to refrain from making negative comments or giving criticism, which as mentioned, is not effective nor efficient, and may in fact be detrimental to the parent-child relationship, and instead create a new kind of relationship based on encouragement, acceptance, mutual respect, sharing, and focusing on the positive aspects of the child.

I strongly believe we make the same mistake with the adults in our lives, and need to approach adults with the same care and consideration that we would approach our own children.

 

Investors with Vision; Oxymoron?

I recently found myself engaged in heated debates with a few of my friends and acquaintances about Angel Investors (the real and the wannabe), Venture Capitalists, Incubators, Bankers, etc.

One of the things said, which resonated with me, was the following: “An Angel Investor or VC is looking for companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google. Basically superstars.”

But if we look at most investors in the market, we would find NONE of them would have the vision to fund Google when they were getting started. Sergey and Larry even went to Yahoo, who reviewed the company and declined to purchase it or invest in it. Now ask yourself this: If Yahoo (who supposedly “understood” the Internet and were a major player) failed to see the vision in Google’s product, why should an Angel Investor? Or even worse, a VC? (who is really more like a banker).

Indeed – Sergey and Larry had to work hard and against all odds, to get their search engine up and running and make it useful for internet users. And what they created changed search engines forever, changing the perception and meaning of search, and big data along with it all. It was true innovation, and at the time it was introduced, NO INVESTOR UNDERSTOOD IT. Remember this when you start working on your idea.

I feel I need to expand a bit on what it means that they “did not understand it”. Sure, they saw the product demo, they heard the pitch, but they were unable to project the impact of the technology they saw on the market. The ability to look at a market and say, wow, this really changes everything, is a combination of skill and art reserved to a handful of people. In other words, don’t assume that Angel Investors have this magical ability to see into the future of your company, and understand whether or not it will succeed.

UPDATE: I found this report today by the awesome guys at CB Insights: Top NY Seed Investors ranked by Follow-on Investment Rate and while I am not saying you should ignore investors who are not on that list, I do strongly recommend you take a look at the ones on this list first. As a small company, you need to be even more careful how you spend your time.

Investors: Basically sheep, with strong herd instincts

“Fear is the path of the dark side…” — Yoda

The problem here is fear. Here is a list of problems caused by fear:

  1. Investors who invest in “packs” or a “herd”, look for a leader. You will quickly recognize them; you’ll be presenting to a room full of “investors” (sometimes ~30 people!). If there is no leader, this diminishes the chances of investment by many orders of magnitude (to basically none).
  2. Modern investors no longer invest with their hearts, they try to invest with their “brains” instead (which in theory should be a good thing, and while many of them are pretty smart, it takes time to really look into a technology, do a proper due diligence, and make an informed decision). So instead of performing a proper analysis, they look for something to make them feel “comfortable” that there will be an adequate ROI (Return On Investment). They no longer “connect” with the venture’s “spirit”, something that might give them the needed courage to make a leap of faith.
  3. VC’s are really more like bankers. Why? Because they are not investing their own money. They fear failure above anything else. When you invest your own money, and you make sure it’s money that you wouldn’t cry over it if you lost it, you tend to have way more courage with your money, and you put your money where your mouth is, without fear.

Now, Bankers operate according to the most basic fear principles: What if you are unable to repay your debt? What if this, what if that? This is why unless you can offer some assurances, banks will usually not lend you money. If you own a house, a banker will agree to use your house as security, and will give you a loan up to X% of the house’s value (taking into account depreciation, costs of handling, etc). Needless to say, the whole thing will be insured from here to the moon. All due to fear, and the need to perform. Or rather, the fear of not performing. We all know what happens to men who have performance anxiety: Impotence.

Mathematical formula to magically convert an investor into a sheep:

Anxiety Performance + Investor = Sheep (baaaaaaa!)

A fun exercise!

I decided to test this theory. The idea was to find a company that became extremely successful, improve on its products, but address the same market with a more or less similar technology. In other words, innovate enough to be different, but be similar enough to be able to replicate the same success.

The problem was that Facebook, Google and Twitter were started, and have succeeded in the US. I had to import something that the US had not seen yet, but that I knew the US needed. I chose the QIWI model. I added some innovative ingredients into the formula: Bitcoin currency support (sell Bitcoins, and accept Bitcoins for products), and a QR Code Scanner which doubles as a document scanner for KYC (the US is a heavily regulated business environment, and I knew better than to leave this feature out of the Kiosk).

QIWI is a highly successful, publicly traded company, but it is almost unknown in the US. It has nearly 200,000 cash payment kiosks in Russia, Ukraine, and a few other countries. I don’t think many people realize what a great company QIWI is, and how awesome its impact on humanity is.

I spent a year developing the technology as a hobby, and a few months ago I presented it at Ultralight Startups, and surprise surprise, it took second place in the startup competition. This earned me the “privilege” of being considered for investment by New York Angels.

To make a long story short, I presented the company, showed that the product works, explained that I already signed important agreements and explained that i’m about to deploy several machines in the market.¬†Guess what? They didn’t get it. And they declined to invest. Their concern? That I won’t be able to sell it…

And now, just to prove them wrong, I am going to actually deploy this Kiosk in the US market, and it is going to work. Why? There are many reasons for this, one of them is of course my tenacity and determination. But also because America has at least 25% unbanked population (this morning at Finovate I heard a much more pessimistic figure, claiming that after 2008, almost 50% of the population is now living month to month, with very little access to advanced financial tools). And finally, because this model has been proven to work, and it will work. I will then also take it to North Africa, and other African countries in West Africa.

I found out that there are credit unions working very hard to address this population with innovative products. There’s even a foundation called The Ford Foundation, which invests money in innovative products that serve the un-banked and the under-banked. I’m also seeing huge excitement when I tell people I managed to build it so cheap, that I will be able to sell it at a street price of $2500. This is unheard of in the world of self-service Kiosks of this class and quality, and the people who live and work in this market know this, and respect it.

Anyway, Wish me luck! ūüôā