Lessons from Jerry Seinfeld

Tim Ferris released his interview with Jerry Seinfeld.

I listened to it.

It was amazing.

You should listen to it.

Here are my takeaways.

  • The two things I’d like to pass along to my kids are ethics and boldness.
  • “Hack” away at your craft daily. Whatever it is. You don’t have to write [insert your craft], but you can’t do anything else.
  • As any writer will tell you, it’s 95% rewrite. There’s the free-play creative phase. And then there’s the polish, construction phase.
  • You gotta get your work in. “Did you get your work in?”
  • It’s important to know what you don’t like.
  • Find your own operating system for living life. Experiment with different things to see what works for you.
  • Don’t work on a problem or your craft without a timeline. That’s a ridiculous torture to hang over a human’s head. That’s like hiring a trainer and asking, “how long is the workout?” and she says “It’s open-ended…” Forget it! I’m not doin’ it. You’ve got to control what your brain can take. You gotta get a reward for working.
  • If you have the guts and balls to sit down and write, you need a reward at the end of it. Put the pen down and go have some cookies. It’s pretty simple.
  • Learn to accept your mediocrity. No one is really that great. You know who’s great? The people that just put tremendous amounts of time into it. It’s a game of tonnage. How many hours are you going to work? You might even want to chart that.
  • You gotta treat your brain like a dog you just got. The mind is infinite in wisdom, the brain is a stupid little dog that is easily trained. Don’t confuse the mind with the brain. The brain is easy to master, you just have to confine it. It’s done through systemization and repetition.
  • Never talk to anyone about what you wrote that day, that day. You have to wait 24 hours to ever say anything to anyone about what you did. Because you never want to take away that wonderful happy feeling that you did that very difficult thing. 
  • The key to good writing is to treat yourself like a baby, very sweet, nurturing, and loving. Then switch over to being a harsh prick, ball busting son of a bitch. “That is just not good enough. That’s gotta come out. It’s gotta be redone or thrown away.” Flipping back and forth between those two brain quadrants is the key.
  • Weight training and transcendental meditation. These will solve most people’s problems.
  • Pain is knowledge rushing in to fill a void at record speed. It’s gonna hurt, but you’re gonna learn.
  • Just work.