sly : marketing

You don’t have to be Jerry Seinfeld to be running a kick-ass business

What an amazing time I had yesterday. I am back home after watching Jerry Seinfeld live in Oslo. I had a fantastic time along with 20,000 other people. This is the first time I have seen him live, actually, it’s the first time I have been to a stand up comedy show.

The show was brilliant and fantastic. It was just amazing to see him on stage, alone with his microphone in front of 20,000 people. He was hilarious, but the the one thing that impressed me the most was that he didn’t pause for even 10 seconds during the close to 2 hours he was on stage. And not one word was misplaced. Everything was perfect, for 2 hours! That was just incredible. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. How can a person be on stage in front of a crowd of 20,000 people and talk non-stop for 2 hours without any pause and any misplaced words? I have no idea.

The experience of buying an iPad

You are probably going to say that what I’m about to tell you is all my fault. But let me just say that I didn’t know what I was expecting. This is the first time I have been attending a stand up comedy show, and I didn’t think that it was going to be like a rock concert. The first two hours I was at the arena was a lot like the AC/DC concert from last year. Well, except for a completely different crowd of people. This time people looked a lot more like me.

And, it was also similar to the experience of buying an iPad. It felt like chaos, and it seemed that nobody had any idea what was happening.

The ticket said that the doors opened at 6.30 pm. I was there at 6.30 pm, and so was at least 10,000 other people. We were stuck. Piled up. Next to the restrooms (I was lucky, it didn’t smell). If we wanted something to eat or drink, we had to stay in another line. That other line was hard to find. I could only see people everywhere and there was no line for anything, just people.

I waited in line for about an hour. Then, once I was inside and found my seat, I waited for another hour. Nothing happened. It was just people everywhere. I was excited. I was looking at all the other people surrounding me, and they looked excited too. But, after more than fifty minutes in my seat, looking all excited, I ended up playing Angry Birds on my iPhone.

I heard one man talking, he said he heard a rumor that Jerry Seinfeld was going to enter the stage at 8.30 pm, and that got me excited again. I looked at my watch and then I looked up from Angry Birds and at some of the other people. They were drinking beer and already laughing.

Lights out

It was past 8.30. Nothing happened. Then. Bam! Lights out and George Wallace, another comedian entered the stage before I even got a chance to put the iPhone back into my pocket. From that moment, it was 2 hours of fantastic entertainment. George Wallace was amazing. Jerry Seinfeld was brilliant. I had a fantastic time.


Now, that the show is over, and I’m back home, I have started to think about what really happened yesterday.

I came to the arena the exact time they told me to be there. I stood in a line that was not really a line, but hundreds of lines going nowhere. It was more or less chaos. I wanted something to drink and something to eat. But, because it was people everywhere, I didn’t buy anything. I got bored. But, maybe I was suppose to get bored? Maybe it was part of the whole experience?

The more bored I am in the beginning, before the show, the better the show will be? Doesn’t sound right, but what do I know about waiting for a superstar like Jerry Seinfeld?

The experience I had yesterday reminds me a lot about Apple, and especially the experience when it comes to buying the iPad. It seems that the longer we wait, and the more everything feels like chaos, the better quality we get. We need to wait for the best things in life (I’m not saying that the best things in life are Jerry Seinfeld and an iPad, but you get my point).

I have been to the store and asking about the iPad 2 lately. First, the day it arrived in the stores, it was a line outside. Then it was confusion. And even now, several months after it was launched, the people working in the store have no idea when they’ll receive it and how many. This is the current situation in Norway. Hopefully it’s easier to buy it in your country.

I don’t understand how this is still possible in the year of the thank you economy and at a time when content marketing is more important than ever. But I understand that the rules are different when it comes to the most popular products and brands. We have no other choice than wait and do what is necessary. If we don’t, we won’t get what we want. Unfortunately, that’s how the market (still) works.

Should a small business learn anything from Jerry Seinfeld?

Yes, any small business should. But only from the time he was on stage. It was fantastic. The energy, the enthusiasm. Flawless.

But, as a small business owner, you can’t afford to think like a superstar about what happens before and after the actual show. Because everything is part of the show. You can’t afford to make people wait.

I would have organized things a lot different. I would have added entertainment outside the arena. I would have added 15 more sales tents (or more). Looking at the lines of frustrated people, I was not the only one that didn’t buy a thing. They could have earned a lot more money, and people would have been a lot more happy.

As a small business owner, I would have wanted feedback. When we left the arena we didn’t get any chance to tell what the experience was like. I didn’t get a chance to tell them why I didn’t pee, and why I started playing Angry Birds.

23 responses to “You don’t have to be Jerry Seinfeld to be running a kick-ass business”

  1. Ricardo Nuñez says:

    I love Jerry Seinfeld, the guy is brilliant. He certainly knows how to make his business work. These days all companies wish they had that power that apples has. Having people making lines at the release of a product is not for everyone, but it sure builds expectations.

    • jens says:

      Hi Ric,

      He is definitively brilliant. I have been thinking a lot about the lining up for a product or a show, and the expectation part. Maybe that’s it, that they want us to line up in order to get the expectation that this is something we have to line up for in order to get the product or the experience? Because, they could have delivered this without the lines, if they wanted to?

      • Ricardo Nuñez says:

        I do believe they can do better for the lines, and with the online waiting times, but then there’s no better publicity than showing to the world that people go crazy with your products.

        • jens says:

          You’re probably right. But at the time, it seemed that it was possible to do a lot better job of organizing everything. And I just talked to a friend of mine, one that I didn’t know was at the show, and he said the same. It was just too much chaos, even for Jerry Seinfeld 🙂

          I definitively agree when it comes to people going crazy over your product. It’s a great marketing trick 🙂

  2. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, I am so glad you enjoyed your Jerry Seinfeld concert! I imagine he is wonderful live. I have only seen his shows on HBO and they have been fantastic.

    I saw Chris Rock in London at the O2 and my experience was nothing like yours. The show did start a bit late, but there was no big line (queue) to get in or for rest rooms or concessions. Everything was orderly.

    Interestingly, O2 does cross promotion well. If you are an O2 customer and go to a concert at the O2, you text a number they show on a screen and they text you back a QR code. The code is then scanned at the entrance to a private lounge for O2 customers where you can relax, have refreshments and enjoy some quiet time.

    Buying an iPad 2 is still a challenge in the US. I would suggest that you order from Apple online to make sure you get the exact model you want.

    I believe at this point, Apple really doesn’t have enough inventory, not that they are holding back to encourage excitement. The Nintendo 3DS also had limited supply but no excitement (not enough games).

    Thanks for your insightful post. I will definitely be pondering your observations for a long while!

    • jens says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      Jerry Seinfeld was awesome. I have always wanted to see him live, but I never thought he would perform in Norway. Chris Rock is brilliant as well.

      I have been to O2 one time to watch an NBA game, and the experience was like yours. Hardly any lines, and very professional people working there. We could buy everything at the stands without hardly waiting.

      By the way, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Apple launches the iPhone 5 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment Carolyn. I really appreciate it.


      • Carolyn says:

        Jens, you may be very right about Apple building anticipation. Everyone is waiting with baited breath this week to see when and if the iPhone 5 will be announced.

        • jens says:

          Yes, I can hardly wait myself. And I find it a little amusing that people are going nuts to get products like this (me included) 🙂

  3. Dang Jens, you’ve just been seeing all the superstars lately man!! 🙂

    Cool story, and love the analogy with businesses. The before, during, and after will all be a part of the experience— the lasting impression. As far as creating urgency and chaos?? Hmm, now that’s a science I’m a long ways away from understanding. 🙂

    Have a great one brother, and thanks for the excellent read my friend.


    • jens says:

      Hi Marcus,

      Yes I have been seeing all the superstars lately. It’s not happening that often, but now everything seems to be happening at once 🙂

      I really don’t understand this part of marketing either, but it seems that it works, at least for Apple and the big stars of Rock’n Roll and comedy 🙂

      Have a great day Marcus.


    • Carolyn says:

      Marcus, I’m beginning to think Jens is the superstar and someday we’ll be waiting in line to see him!

      • jens says:

        Well, Carolyn, I was going to say that that’s not going to happen. But Mark Harai told me not to. I am way too shy, and not superstar material… but I want to change my mindset and listen to Mark. Because if I do change my mindset, I believe it can actually happen 🙂

        But to be honest with you, just being approached by a major publishing company was a lot more than I was hoping for 🙂

  4. john Falchetto says:

    Hi Jens,

    Sounds like you had agreat time. I agree with you businesses shouldn’t view themselves as superstars lik Seinfeld. Although I admire his professionalism, it’s very much a one way street. The audience listens and he talks and talks and talks.
    If anything social media has taught us that we need to listen to our community (not audience) there is a big difference. With one we only talk to, with the others we have discussions.

    Great post and I feel a bit envious you have such agreat shows in Oslo 🙂

    • jens says:

      Hi John,

      Seinfeld is brilliant and I believe he is unique. I haven’t seen anyone with that kind of control over the audience and he is a true professional. But you’re absolutely right. He talks and talks and talks. And the only way he is so popular is that he knows exactly what the audience wants. A small business wouldn’t be in a position like that. We need to encourage our customers to talk to use, and we need to engage.

      Hope you’re having an awesome time in the south of France my friend. I bet the weather is a lot better where you are 🙂


  5. Steve says:


    I think the waiting IS a huge thng for small businesses. Apple doesn’t just rush out there new models. They build anticipation. I think they may even intentionally release it with “not enough” models ready to fill demand (thereby scarcity)

    These things are great to get customers ready for the product. As long as the product itself is quality. If jerry had gotten up there and stunk the place up he would have had 20k angry people on his hands.

    • jens says:

      Hey Steve,

      I don’t have much experience with the waiting part, other than with Apple (I have waited for most of their products) and at rock concerts. For concerts, it seems to be part of the culture. I still get there on time, even though I know that I have to wait for at least 2 hours before they enter the stage.

      I have no problem with waiting, if I know that I am going to be waiting. But with small businesses, with lots of competition, I wouldn’t expect waiting, even though their was awesome. I believe waiting is for superstars only 🙂 But on the other hand, people wait if they want something bad enough. If not, they won’t wait. The market will regulate it.

      Thanks a lot for your comment Steve. By the way, I have been learning a lot from your blog lately.


  6. Adrienne says:

    Ah Jerry Seinfeld in person, I’m jealous. He is one funny guy I will definitely give you that.

    I also enjoyed how you pertained to business with this post. The anticipation, the excitement of getting something new and then the presentation. Does sound like it could have been organized a bit better but I have no doubt that all those people got what they paid for.

    I’m sure most small business wish they could be the next Apple but I’m not sure that’s what I would personally want. Meaning the chaos part of purchasing a product and not being able to keep it on the shelves. Okay, that would be awesome but I’d settle for just half of that. That would be cool wouldn’t it!

    Thanks for sharing this story with us Jens and so glad you had a wonderful experience. A great time was had by all.


    • jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      You should be jealous, because he was brilliant 🙂

      What I didn’t write in my post, is something I probably should have addressed, but it would have been a completely different post. We paid a lot of money to be there, and a lot of people (30 years +) were texting (sending sms) during the show. I couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t they focus entirely on the show? It’s an interesting world we are living in 🙂

      I don’t quite understand the chaos part of marketing. But it sure works for Apple and the major superstars of music and comedy 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your awesome comment Adrienne.


      • Adrienne says:

        I saw him recently on the Oprah finale, he’s just too funny. Okay, maybe some day in person but not in a line that darn long.

        I don’t understand people these days Jens. I know I’m a lot older than most but I still don’t text. I get annoyed when I go shopping and I see everyone talking on their phone. Can’t they enjoy what they are doing at the moment? Why spend so much money seeing a show like that and spend your entire time texting? It continues to boggle my mind too!

        Thanks Jens…

  7. Bill Dorman says:

    Great observation; they could have really maximized revenues with just a few minor changes. It appears they were only concerned with the show itself.

    I love stand-up and something else just as hilarious is if you get to see a hypnotist live. They will have you splitting your sides laughing.

    I thought your standing in line might turn in to another pee story but you have probably played that one out, huh?

    Thanks for sharing and it sounded like you had a great time even with the inconveniences. Hope all else is well Jens.

    • jens says:

      Hey Bill.

      I believe it might be what superstars do. They focus on why they are superstars, and it’s solely because of the show. And, the fact that Jerry Seinfeld is not responsible for everything before and after. It’s a Norwegian company that are hosting the event. But, Jerry Seinfeld is the superstar and I guess he could have told them what he wanted them to do. The problem for us Norwegians is that there are only a few companies big enough to host events like this in Norway. So, there will probably be choas for years to come 🙂

      I have never seen a hypnotist live, but I have watched a few on TV. I agree that it’s a lot of fun. But I always end up asking myself, is this real? 🙂

      I was actually thinking about another pee story, but I believe I should wait a few more weeks… my wife was a little embarrased when she read the other one 🙂

  8. Suraj says:

    Very nice.
    Thanks for sharing this article!

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