Seinfeld, the legendary television show about nothing, has arguably delivered more sentences beginning with “remember the episode when” than any other.
So… remember the episode when Cosmo Kramer, the character played by Michael Richards, decided to erect pictures of all tenants in his and Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment building on the lobby wall?
Kramer felt that his neighbors needed to socialize more with one another, and that a wall with pictures and corresponding names will create a familiarity which will encourage interaction. Well, his success was so great, that his friend Jerry demands his picture be taken down due to an inundation of kisses hello from all female building tenants (click here to watch a classic scene from the episode in question).
Kramer’s wall is an early, non-tech adaptation of the Facebook wall created by Mark Zuckerberg.
Like Kramer’s wall, the Facebook wall allows one to maintain contact with others that would otherwise stay on the fringes of their life. Kisses would become pokes and neighbors would become people you may or may not have met during your years of existence, but the intentions were one and the same.
I am often asked by wannabe entrepreneurs where to find inspiration, and where to come up with a winning idea. My response is to look around you as ideas are everywhere. Entrepreneurs who go on to establish successful startups just manage to see them while the rest are blinking.
There is nothing to suggest Zuckerberg got his idea for Facebook from Kramer, and the lesson in the analogy above is not to watch all 12 seasons of Seinfeld (while I would definitely recommend that for comedic stimulation). The lesson is that one could have got a social media idea by seeing that Seinfeld episode and applying modern technical thought and process to scale it to heights like that of Facebook.
What I do discourage wannabe entrepreneurs from doing is dedicating a day, weekend or week to think up an idea and force entrepreneurism out of them. I have dealt with many who have done this out of desperation to come up with their successful startup concept, and rarely does this approach inspire and even more rarely does it produce scalable success.
If you were born to be an entrepreneur, and like Kramer and Zuckerberg it takes a special breed, the ideas will come. Otherwise you should surround yourself with people with great ideas and help in implementation and other areas as co-founders.