SEINFELD FOR STARTUPS
“A Show About Entrepreneurs”
I’ve always believed that one of the basic underlying premises of the 90’s sitcom Seinfeld , that it was “a show about nothing”, was flawed. In fact, the show was about “everything.” For years, I’ve driven my wife crazy claiming that nearly every situation we (and the rest of the human population) face can be explained by a Seinfeld episode. Despite the show focusing on the inane minutiae of their everyday routines, there are huge lessons that can be gleamed from the 10 years we spent following the lives of Jerry, George, Elaine and Cosmo. I have seen every episode, multiple times, and am constantly amazed at how many times a day, a certain situation, event or conversation triggers a Seinfeld memory.
At a dinner a couple of weeks ago (Spring 2013), I shared my hypothesis with several friends and it generated a mixed response. While unable to cite more than a couple of life lessons from the show, two of my dinner companions were nonetheless firmly in my camp. However, the remaining group suggested I suffered from some level of immaturity, stupidity or insanity, or a combination of the three. Regardless of which side they came down on though, the topic generated a 90 minute conversation with relatively high volume and high intensity. Right or wrong, the lawyer in me loves a good argument. Especially when each side is passionate and there is no clear right answer. These types of debates provide true insight into an individual’s soul. They can also last for years and create unnecessary tension among family, friends and co-workers. My kind of fun.
So, all of this got me thinking: could I actually prove my hypothesis? As I pondered the various ways to satisfy my curiosity, it dawned on me that my original premise was too simple. Like the horoscopes printed in the local newspaper, anyone could read anything into any episode. To truly assess whether the sitcom held any intrinsic value for society, I would have to narrow my focus. So how to do it?
As I’m not the most creative person in the world, it was natural to stay in an area I was already familiar with. Since I spend an inordinate amount of time around entrepreneurs and early stage companies, this seemed like an appropriate starting point. “Does every episode of Seinfeld have a substantive message or provide guidance for startup companies?” So, what started as a simple hypothesis has now become an 12-month (I hope not more) exercise in absurdity. NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.
I welcome all of your comments, thoughts, criticisms and contributions. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Heck, I don’t even know half the questions. But if this blog will simply stir the pot a little, I’m sure there will be soup for everyone.