Jerry Seinfeld’s Key to Innovation in 6 Words


Jerry Seinfeld has had an incredible career. Not only is his career something magnificent to behold, but it’s incredibly varied. He redefined the multi-camera sitcom with Larry David’s Seinfeld as a show about nothing, he’s had a more than respectable stand-up career for decades and launched a fairly successful talk show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

If you haven’t heard of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, you will. Earlier this year, Netflix recognized the potential for the series and snatched up the concept from Crackle in a bloodthirsty streaming platform coup. Now, Seinfeld has a special on Netflix now and several more in the works, with more episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on the way. 

What is his secret to breakthrough innovation? He lays it out in 6 simple words: “What am I really sick of?”

His concept Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee came from this question. He elaborated in an interview with Harvard Business Review, “For me, (I was sick of )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.”

This advice, while at face value seems absurdly simple, holds a message we should all take a moment to hear. Is there something at work that we’re sick of? More than likely, yes, but have we taken the time to identify what we’re sick of? Have we even admitted that we’re actually sick of something at all?

Mike Maddock, CEO of innovation consulting firm Mack Douglas, puts it another way: “Embrace the hate to innovate.” Usually, when there’s an aspect of our company that we, or even worse our customers, hate, it means something is begging for an alternative.

We spend so much time and money on the newest shiniest things that we aren’t even looking at what’s not working and what needs changing in our companies. Take the time to examine what you hate about what you do, and change it. The innovation comes from change and change usually comes from restlessness.