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What Seinfeld Can Teach Us about Business

seinfeld business 161x150 What Seinfeld Can Teach Us about BusinessSeinfeld is the fount of wisdom for all things animal, mineral or vegetable. Turning our eye to the business lessons taught in the television series will reveal every conceivable formula, recipe, model, strategy and technique for failure one could possibly imagine. Let’s have a look.

Sales and Customer Service

  • “And you want to be my latex salesman.” Lesson: Lying face down on the floor with your pants around your ankles is a poor posture for a sales candidate during an interview.
  • “NO SOUP FOR YOU.” The Soup Nazi’s militant enforcement of customer discipline produces operational efficiencies – for a while. Lesson: Treat customers nicely or they will steal secrets out of your armoire.
  • Beyond B.O. A valet’s supernaturally foul body odor destroys Jerry’s car, and more. Lesson: Bathe before going to work.
  • “You still say hello!” Uncle Leo gets bent out of shape when he doesn’t get a friendly greeting. Lesson: Give customers a friendly greeting.
  • “The washer fluid is NOT fine!” Auto mechanic Tony carries his passion for car maintenance too far, resulting in grand theft auto and an alienated customer. Lesson: Perfection is not the perfect business strategy.

Marketing

  • “Yeah. $37.50 for a Three Musketeers.” If you’re operating a Real Peterman Reality Bus Tour, make sure you’re a real Peterman. If you own a mom and pop store, make sure you’re a mom or pop.  If you’re selling nonfat yogurt, don’t put fat in it. Lesson: Truth in advertising keeps Rudy Giuliani off your back.
  • Parking garages and prostitution don’t mix. Lesson: Approach mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances with care.
  • Kramer sells his stories to Peterman and lives to regret it – as does Peterman. Lesson: Inauthentic marketing is ineffective marketing.
  • “But my feet … my feet are resilient. Thank God I took off my heels and put on my Himalayan walking shoes!” Elaine demolishes her writer’s block by drawing from her personal experience. Lesson: Write from the heart.
  • Debilitating problems arise for Elaine, Jerry, Newman and Kramer when exclamation points are used haphazardly. Lesson: Attention to detail is critical for successful business communication.

Innovation

“Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison and the Smelly Car Valet. Take note of how persistent the Seinfeld crew is in pursuit of innovation:

  • Adults-only dental practice
  • Cinnamon babka
  • Jimmy’s training shoes
  • Levels
  • Make your own pie
  • Muffin tops
  • Napping under the desk
  • The astronaut pen
  • The Beach
  • The belly button voice
  • The Bro
  • The butter shave
  • The coffee table book about coffee tables
  • The Executive raincoat
  • The Kramerica oil tanker bladder system
  • The puffy shirt
  • The reverse peephole
  • The umbrella twirl
  • The Urban Sombrero

Consider how often they came up empty, before finally hitting the jackpot with a show about nothing. Lesson: Relentless pursuit of innovation leads to nothing.

Quality

Faulty products and services wreak havoc on Seinfeld characters, causing everything from financial loss to indigestion to death:

  • A defective radar detector
  • A hair with a cake around it
  • A hot dog from the Silent Era at the Alex Theater
  • A label maker that doesn’t make labels stick to the box
  • A sniffing accountant (“What kind of snow blower did you get us mixed up with?”)
  • A sweater with a red dot
  • A used wheelchair
  • Babu Bhatt, inept restaurateur
  • Chinese hair restoration cream
  • Exploding Magic Pan crepes
  • Horrible haircuts from Enzo
  • Slippery Pete, a less-than-certified electrician
  • The rat hat
  • The Willard
  • Wedding invitations with toxic adhesive

Lesson: High quality is essential. Without it, customers will vomit, die or miscalculate tips.

Bad Bosses

GEORGE: Merry Christmas!

KRUGER: Not if you could see our books.

Notice how Seinfeld bosses botch the basics:

  • Mr. Kruger’s indifference permeates Kruger Industrial Smoothing, dooming the firm to mediocrity.
  • Mr. Leland is unable to fire Kramer, who doesn’t even really work there.
  • Mr. Lippman’s tactical ineptitude incurs the wrath of Rebecca DeMornay, blowing the lid off his muffin top operation.
  • Mr. Pitt’s obsession with trivial details prevents him from conquering Moland.
  • Mr. Steinbrenner reduces the Yankees to a laughingstock, all for the glorification of his massive ego.

Lesson: Bosses should study these Seinfeld bosses, and then follow George’s lead and do the opposite.

Miscellaneous Business Lessons

  • Background checks: Make sure you know whether you’re buying Jon Voigt’s car or John Voigt’s car.
  • Ethics: Don’t: steal lobsters, raisins or marble ryes; install black market showerheads; masquerade as an architect, white supremacist or marine biologist; serve 600 pounds of rotten meat; mix up your import/export stories; take an unpurchased book into the bathroom; participate in cock fighting or violate the Good Samaritan Law. These things, like rat hats, aren’t going to be good for anybody.
  • Human resources: Employees often run scams by inventing fake employees. Check out anyone on the payroll named Susie.
  • Inventory control: Never run out of marble rye.
  • IT: Passwords that consist of five letters, such as Bosco, are easily hacked.
  • Occupational disability: If you’re a hand model, don’t just wear oven mitts, buy insurance.
  • Quality control: An example of poor quality control is when your operating theater permits a Junior Mint to slip through the cracks and into the patient’s abdominal cavity.
  • Recruiting: Decide whether you want a kosher butcher or a mohel, and recruit accordingly.
  • Sales: When you take customers (those sons of bitches) to lunch, don’t let them order soup. Egg white omelets and big salads are OK.
  • Security: To monitor your staff, leave behind a briefcase with a tape recorder in it. Then, listen to the tape and build a diorama. Also: Don’t give your security guard a chair.
  • Strategy: It’s better to focus on importing and exporting, rather than just importing or just exporting. Especially when you plan to lie about it (see: Ethics).
  • Workflow management: “When you look annoyed all the time, people think that you’re busy.” – George Costanza

Over to You

Master these Seinfeld business lessons, and you will become Master of the Universe. To help those who have set their sights even higher, what Seinfeld business insights can you share?

About the author: Brad Shorr is the Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. With many years of entrepreneurial experience, he writes frequently on business strategy and content marketing topics.

Want to know the Secret of What Great Brands Do?

Want to know the secret to what great brands do differently, invest in their company’s differently and get amazing results for their shareholders differently? According to the author of the book What Great Brands Do, Denise Lee Yohn, the great brands do at least 7 things differently than the rest.

As part of the Post 2 Post book tour, I got to spend 15 minutes with Denise talking about her book, and learned some of the “secrets” these great brands share.

Can’t see the video above? Click here to watch What Great Brands Do – 15 minutes with Denise Lee Yohn.

One of the biggest secrets Denise shares is about investing in company culture and having the right people on the team, especially your customer facing team, trained to take care of their customers in the right way. A simple thing, but a hugely powerful thing. Think about it: If your front line team, the ones who spend the most time talking to your customers, are amazing brand ambassadors and live the values your company espouses, isn’t that a much more impactful way to invest your limited monies and other resources?

A little more about What Great Brands Do:

The 7 things great brands do are discussed in detail in the book. Here they are (and admittedly, some are counterintuitive until you learn about them):

Great brands start inside
Great brands avoid selling products
Great brands ignore trends
Great brands don’t chase customers
Great brands sweat the small stuff
Great brands commit and stay committed
Great brands never have to “give back”

To get your copy of the book, visit What Great Brands Do.

Other stops on the What Great Brands Do tour:

Mon. Jan 27 – Jackie Huba

JackieHuba.com
@JackieHuba on Twitter

Wed. Jan 29 – Paul Williams

Idea Sandbox
@IdeaSandbox on Twitter

Thur. Jan 30 – John Moore

Brand Autopsy
@BrandAutopsy on Twitter

Fri. Jan 31 – Jay Ehret

The Marketing Spot
@JayEhret on Twitter

Learn more about Denise Lee Yohn at DeniseLeeYohn.com or follow her on Twitter at @DeniseLeeYohn.

Leadership and Love: An Interview with Steve Farber

Do you believe to be a good leader you need to love your team? Not capital L love, in a romantic way, but little l love, love who they are, what they do, and how they do it? I know it might feel like a foreign concept, and yet it is one of the most powerful ones.

One of my favorite people on the planet who talks about leadership and love is my pal Steve Farber. Steve is the author of many great books, and is one of the most inspiring and practical speakers I’ve ever heard. I got to spend 20 minutes with him on his birthday to talk about leadership and love and a whole lot more.

My favorite quote from Steve is this, and he explains this really well in the video below:

Do what you love in the service of those who love what you do.

It’s what I am honored to do each and every day in my business, and it’s something you can do too.

Invest 22 minutes, and watch this conversation between Steve Farber and me.

Want to go deeper with Farber on leadership and love?

Because Steve is a friend of mine, he’s allowed me to offer something special to my friends and readers (that’s YOU if you’re reading this): It’s a free 2 hour audio program. You can’t buy it anywhere. Instead – you can get it for FREE just by signing up here. You can put it on your mobile device and listen to it again and again and again. It’s that good.