Rule #1 for Dealmakers: Never Take a Meeting in a Coffee Shop

I hate coffee shop meetings.

“Wait. Hold on, Oren,” you say. 

“Starbucks is so convenient. I meet people there all the time.”

But this is wrong in a dozen different ways. 

Despite what you see in the movies–all kinds of cool things happen in coffee shops in the movies–coffee shop and restaurant meetings are for low-status deals that go nowhere. 

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Take it from a Top Hollywood Producer

I recently called up Brant Pinvidic, one of the top thirty producers in Hollywood, to get his take on coffee shop and restaurant meetings.

If you guessed I had to hold the phone a foot away from my ear at times, you wouldn’t be that far off.

“I HATE Starbucks meetings!” he says.

“WHY,” I ask. . . 

Brant says to me, “When I get invited to STARBUCKS for a meeting, I think to myself. . . Really? That’s where we’re doing “THIS”?

He goes on.

“So you invited me to sit down in a tiny half-height chair like I’m in first grade –

  • To discuss all our confidential information out in the open for anyone to hear. . .
  • With the sound of blenders and espresso portafilters slamming in my ear. . . 
  • While I’m squinting to see some tiny PDF on your iPad?”

Brant starts ranting as if I’d just invited him to a Starbucks meeting. 

My phone starts inching away from my ear.

“Hey Oren, When Comcast offered $3.8 Billion for Dreamworks, did they say ‘Meet us at Starbucks, we have something to show you?'”

“When Verizon decided to buy Yahoo for $4 Billion, did Hans Vestberg tell Marissa Myers, ‘Let’s grab a quick lunch at Denny’s, just the two of us and 37 lawyers, 12 accountants, and my bankers?’”

But Brant’s just getting warmed up. 

“In fact. . .” he continues, “. . . name ONE important deal that was done at Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or Peets Coffee. YOU CAN’T!”

I rub my aching ear. 

But he’s right.

Choosing the Right Venue for Your Deal

My conversation with Brant drove home the point that public meeting spots lack seriousness.

They imply your deal is weak.

Weak enough, perhaps, to be just a thinly-veiled “startup idea.” 

The truth?

YOUR $100,000 DEAL is no less important to you than a $4 billion deal is to someone else.

So I suggest you take yourself seriously.

Do deals in a place that says “this matters.”

If you have to rent an upscale conference room, do it.

If all you can manage is Zoom, take the video, the sound, the background, and the slides seriously.

Take your meeting as seriously as you want your client to.

Brant’s Bonus Strategies for Dealmaking

Now, my conversation with Brant doesn’t end with an explosive rant on coffee shop and restaurant meetings.

Oh, no. 

Brant’s fist slams the table.

My earpiece explodes, but I grab a piece of paper to start jotting down the rules he spits out, rapid-fire.

“Be the first to leave every meeting and phone call.”

I scribble furiously.

“Don’t be greedy. Buyers will walk away from over-negotiators.”


“Never be needy.”

Got it.

“Anchor your price high.”


His point? 

Establish dominance. And maintain it.

The Winning Dealmaker

The dealmaker who commands respect will get it.

The dealmaker who exudes confidence. . . 

Not greed. . . 

Not cockiness. . . 

Not vulnerability. . . 

Not neediness. . . 

That’s the dealmaker who walks away satisfied.

That’s the dealmaker who sets the scene, chooses the right venue, and puts in the work to get the results he wants.

And he gets them.

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