Article #67, March, 2008
What Jerry Seinfeld Taught Me About Succeeding in Business
Oprah Winfrey recently interviewed Jerry Seinfeld for her magazine. During this interview, he mentioned a commencement speech he gave that I found very validating. Here's what he said:
"I gave them my three rules for living. First, bust your a*s. That's a universal law, no matter what you do. Second, pay attention. Learn from everything and everyone all the time. One of my favorite expressions is "Wherever you look, there's something to see." Finally, I gave them my third rule: Fall in love. Fall in love with your street, your tennis game, a pillow."
In summary, work hard, pay attention, have passion.
The first rule's application to business seems obvious, but I'll bet there are a lot of different interpretations of what it means to work hard. In my opinion, it means to be committed to the endeavor, whether you're working 20, 40 or 60 hours per week.
It means to study what works and do that, try new things and get your bu'tt on the phone, even when you don't feel like it. It means to take risks and stand out - be different. Give good customer service to everyone and generally show up.
Paying attention is equally important, and often overlooked. You cannot expect to do what you are doing today forever. Either you are wanting more, which will not happen with doing the same things the same way, or, and you can certainly count on this, things will change! Your target market will change what they want. You will change. The economy will change - over and over. You need to be paying attention to stay ahead of your competition.
On a smaller level, you need to pay attention to what is going on with people you meet. There will be people who don't like you and you need to recognize this. There will be people who absolutely adore you, and you need to recognize this, too! You need to know what your customers want and what works best for you so you can do more of that.
Thirdly, fall in love. I think this means you need passion - for life. If you love dogs, or flowers, or words, or as Jerry said - a pillow, then feel that passion. You cannot be one-dimensional and be happy, and what is the point of doing anything if you are not happy.
Fall in love with your clients, your purpose and the everyday work. Have an idea of how to keep that passion over the long haul, but focus on enjoying today. Do you think Jerry would be where he is today if he had no passion? Would he have been able to endure the grueling schedule of traveling around the country going from comedy club to comedy club starting out? Would he have been able to sell the concept of his TV show?
What are you willing to do for your own success? Are you willing to work hard, consistently? Are you willing to be vigilant about paying attention - consistently? Can you keep your passion as long as it takes to achieve your goals?