Seinfeld: The Business of Nothing

Ever since I began studying for my MBA, I have been seeing examples of the lessons and practices taught during my courses in my everyday life. It seems like there are business lessons everywhere I turn! Over the years, I have watched my fair share of Seinfeld episodes, and can appreciate the entertainment value of the ‘nothing’ that the show is about. Recently, I started to notice that the ever-present reruns were reminding me of all the catch phrases and slogans that came out of the show.

I was surprised at how many could be used as reminders of various business lessons and practices. For a show about nothing, they sure talked about everything! While these phrases were definite fuel for laughter, try to think about them through the business lens. For example:

  • The Close Talker- Personal space invasion is an easy way to strain an interaction. Maintain a respectful, professional distance during face-to-face meetings. Don’t be a Close Talker!
  • The Low Talker- The Low Talker is someone who does not enunciate and articulate clearly or loudly enough to be understood. Make sure your message is clear and speak at a moderate volume so that people can hear you.
  • Mulva- If you don’t remember someone’s name, don’t guess and make it up. This can be embarrassing, but it is never a good idea to pretend. Don’t let it get to the point where you can’t ask. Maybe ask for their business card or come up with another creative, professional way to (re)learn the forgotten name.
  • No Pick!- Perception is often much stronger than reality. Always be aware of the way your actions and professional choices will be perceived. In other words, even if you are not picking your nose, don’t let it look like you are!
  • Yada yada yada- In the show, the phrase yada yada yada is used to gloss over big and small details when sharing a story. In business, we have a tendency to do the same thing, gloss over things that may seem inconsequential, but can have a large impact. Think before you ‘yada yada yada’ the details.
  • No soup for you!- The ‘Soup Nazi’ as he is referred to is famous for his amazing soup and strict service policies. Those who do not follow his protocol are banned and told, ‘No soup for you!’ Is your product so good that you can ignore your customer service? Do you want to be known in a similar manner for your lack of service? In my opinion, customer service is the most important thing a business can do to improve its reputation.
  • Puffy shirt – When Jerry wears the puffy shirt on television, it is a great bonus for the designer. However, in the end, Jerry is too concerned about what the puffy shirt does for his image and ends up damaging the designer’s reputation. This serves as a reminder on two levels for me-be careful what you agree to in a partnership and carefully control your image.
  • The vault- ‘You can tell me anything, I will put it in the vault.’ There is no such thing. Secrets and gossip have no business in the workplace. Nothing will stay in the vault forever. Maintain professional behavior and relationships and don’t participate in rumormongering.

As I said, I can find business lessons anywhere these days, but having catchy phrases like this to remind myself of some proper professional responses certainly is useful. Try to think of other unique and interesting places you might find business lessons to learn in your everyday life!

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