Do you want to work on a large production or a small team?


If you are in software, like Jerry Seinfeld you can own your choice

I have been enjoying Alec Baldwin’s podcast Here’s The Thing for some time. Some of the interviews (such as with Billy Joel) are a true pleasure to listen to. Alec manages to use the radio medium to be very personal, and with the right guests and an open conversation you end up learning more about a person.
Michael Parkinson, a talk show host in England, manages to do this in spades even on TV. When you compare these interviews to a late night talk show in the US you want to cry. In the US you get a couple minutes of “tell me about your latest movie!”
So, with that background, I was curious to see the feel of Alec’s new MSNBC show Up Late with Alec Baldwin. The debut was underwhelming, but I am hopeful that it will take some time and he will settle in (and get some great guests).
A software product about nothing
Back on the radio show he interviewed Jerry Seinfeld, and it was gold. I felt like I got a sense of what Jerry is all about, and he surprised me on a number of occasions.
One of the areas of conversation that got me thinking was relating his thoughts on small teams. The way this came up was when Alec asked him about his post-Seinfeld career and basically “why didn’t you milk that until the cows came home by putting out a ton of spin offs?”
Jerry noted that he knew what that world would be like, and it would be hellish. What made the original show so great? The fact that he and Larry David spent 90+% of their time on the content. The show hit a critical mass that allowed this to happen, and none of the politics and BS came into play.
He didn’t think he would be able to recreate that, and in fact, he wanted to go back to a world that he fully owned…. being a stand up comedian.
If you look at the entertainment industry, where can you have the most direct connection between yourself and your audience? So many of the mediums require as massive amount of coordination and team work. Jerry loves being able to be on stage and connect with his audience directly. He feels like he has built something that others can’t easily touch, for example a critic can’t bash something and have the same affect as if they panned a new show.
I find interesting parallels to software product development. Are you the kind of person who wants to crank out some small-in-scope great apps a la Loren Brichter? A one-or-two man band? Or are you someone that wants to build a large team and thrive in that environment?
One is not better than the other. This is purely an internal question of yourself, and it certainly got me thinking.
Jerry made his choice, interestingly even though he did a great job of pulling off a large enterprise. The Seinfeld show was far from a one or two man band (with the Larry + Jerry writer comment aside).

I was surprised (although I have no reason to be) when Jerry talked about his Transcendental Meditation practice (over 30+ years!) As he discussed it I remembered a Larry David episode and went back to find it.
There it is. Larry teasing Jerry. As someone who is at least partially known for being a “half” (Ben and Dion) I enjoyed this ribbing immensely.
I feel lucky that Ben and I can chat about how we want to work, and how we want to go about a mission. The world of software is amazing in that it covers many different approaches and bases, so you can choose what works for you.

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