Knowing what you do not like - Jerry Seinfeld on creating ideas

Jerry Seinfeld is creating ideas for his comedy since the mid-'70s. He's world-class at the craft of comedy. You can learn this from him:

It's very important to know what you don't like. A big part of innovation is saying, "You know what I'm really sick of?" ~ Jerry Seinfeld

I heard Seinfeld say that on my favorite podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. He also explained the sentiment in an interview with the Harvard Business Review. He added:

For me, that was talk shows where music plays, somebody walks out to a desk, shakes hands with the host, and sits down. "How are you?" "You look great." I'm also sick of people who are really there to sell their show or product. "What am I really sick of?" is where innovation begins.

There are some things that distinguish Seinfeld from most other comedians: He doesn't drink alcohol, doesn't swear and always wears a suit on stage.

That is how Jerry Seinfeld was and still is creating ideas, for example for Comedians in Cars getting Coffee, an award-winning comedy series that is now in its 11th season. Seinfeld's explanation reminded me a lot of when I planned my own podcast, The Connecting Dots Podcast. Maybe one day it will be equally successful as Comedians in Cars. 😉 In the summer of 2019 I didn't yet have the exact concept for my podcast in mind but I already knew what I didn't want it to be.

What I did not want my podcast to be:

  1. consisting of short episodes (10-20 minutes) that only scratch the surface of a topic
  2. treating one topic only like only startups, only marketing, only digitalization
  3. being too much about showing off, selling my guest's product or brand

So what should my podcast be like?

  1. long episodes, deep-dive conversations spanning 45 to 95 minutes
  2. treating many different topics because I'm a curious person
  3. having authentic, honest conversations that include problems and difficult topics

That already gave me a lot to work with and guided me well on my podcast journey. So if you don't know what to do, start writing down what not to do.