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First Ask: What Am I Really Sick Of?

First Ask: What Am I Really Sick Of?

Stewart Hillhouse
Stewart Hillhouse

When asked how his show Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee originated in a 2017 interview, Jerry Seinfeld replied:

"Itโ€™s very important to know what you donโ€™t like. For me, that was talk shows [with] people who are really there to sell their show or product. A big part of innovation is saying, 'You know what Iโ€™m really sick of?'"

When starting any project, the shape of it can be unclear. Too often we find ourselves taking early action only to realize that we're going in the wrong direction.

So how might we design our projects more thoughtfully without killing our momentum or spark?

Using Jerry's method, that means first identifying what you don't want your project to be.

I find this a helpful re-framing of the question anyone getting started finds themselves asking: "What do I want?"

Instead, ask yourself: "What do I not want?".

Start with boundaries you're not willing to cross. Once these boundaries are set, it's easier to verify your actions align with your design.

For Jerry, that meant not making the agenda of his talk show about selling a movie or a new product. He didn't want to be behind a desk. He didn't want it to be a big production.

Once he had those boundaries, he was then able to start filling in the blanks.

The result? A talk show most would call innovative.

โ€œWhat am I really sick of?โ€ is where innovation begins.


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