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How to build focus and hone your creativity as a founder with Srini Rao of Unmistakable Creative [Podcast]

For this episode of Secrets for Scaling, we spoke with Srinivas Rao, Founder of Unmistakable Creative. The Unmistakable Creative is a podcast and animated short series for “instigators, rebels, and people with a pathological inability to accept the status quo.” Srini has interviewed hundreds of insanely creative people on how they’ve blazed their own trails. Guests have included Seth Godin, Elle Luna, Tim Ferriss, Simon Sinek and Danielle Laporte. About 10,000 people listen to each episode and over 20,000 receive their newsletter.

Srini is also a speaker and the author of Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Beste, The Small Army Strategy, and is working on his third book on creative habits and productivity. In the full episode below, he shares how the media company is productizing, his unique founder journey, and his top lessons learned from some of the most unmistakable and successful people in the world. Listen for more!

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Episode Highlights

Show your work. Building Unmistakable Creative in public resulted in a successful media company and book deals. The original impetus of the project was to stand out in the job market. Instead, it led Srini down an entrepreneurial path to building a business he’s passionate about. If you create quality work and put it out there for the world to see, people will take notice. As Austin Kleon says, “By sharing our process, we allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work, which helps us move more of our product.”

You can accomplish miraculous things if you do anything consistently. Over and over again, Srini sees people failing to sustain whatever they’re doing because they’re not doing it consistently. He added, “consistency is such a critical factor in a creative career. You have to be consistent when no one is paying you and no one cares what you’re doing.” For him, it took three to four years of hard, consistent work before seeing true success.

Make your work unmistakable. “If you’re the only one who can do what you do the way you do it, then your competition is pretty much irrelevant. When your competition is irrelevant, people aren’t shopping and making decisions on price, features, or functions. They’re making decisions based on the fact that you have the thing they want and no one else can provide it to them.”

Embrace your setbacks and use them to your advantage. Srini used Philip McKernan’s dyslexia as an example. He’s one of the most poetic speakers because he has an intuitive and feeling sense he had to develop. Taking information in a normal format is not the norm for him. He took a seeming disadvantage and turned it into a disproportionate advantage. The system rejects people like Philip and Richard Branson. They have no other option than to disregard the status quo. Srini has also noticed that the insanely creative have usually gone through some sort of struggle. He said, “there’s no way to get to where you’re at without taking a few blows.”

Be focused. As Srini’s career has progressed, he’s become much more focused. This holds true for interviewees such as Tim Ferriss as well. Successful people are very clear on what their essential priorities are. What they say yes and no to changes significantly with time and experience.

Don’t fall for the “I’ve made it” myth. Srini said, “the real reward for getting to this point in your career is not the external accolades but the fact that you get to keep doing this thing you love. You get to keep playing this game.” This mindset will help prioritize what you’re really after and help generate a sense of gratitude.

Take the MVP (minimal viable product) approach to experiments. Srini suggests, “when running experiments, do things that: you can get rapid feedback from; take little time to execute; and provide you with valuable insight. They shouldn’t cost you a ton of time or money, either.” He added, “you want to run experiments that give you information and you want to make decisions based on data.”

Keystone habits can create positive change in your routines. A positive habit can create a ripple effect in your life. The popular example of this is exercising regularly. When you do that, you can literally/physically feel it if you eat junk. Naturally, you start eating healthier. Srini took this concept and applied it to work, starting by writing 1,000 words a day. The result of this practice for him has been new creative ideas and a new venue for therapy. It’s also led to influencer promotion of his book, book deals, new interviews, etc.

Find your certainty anchors. Srini cited Jonathan Fields’ concept of certainty anchors in Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. He said his 1,000 words/day habit makes him feel more grounded because it’s something he can rely on every day. By nature, if you’re doing anything entrepreneurial, it’s uncertain. “If you have one thing you do every day, it helps you navigate the uncertainty every day without losing your mind.”

To build sustainable habits, start small with consistency. To avoid hitting walls with your new habits, start small and build up from there. If you come out of the gate trying to write 1,000 words every single day, you’re going to fail. Start with a sustainable pace.

Cut out distractions. We all give into distractions at some point. Srini suggests asking yourself, “is your day-to-day activity aligned with where you want to end up? That’s where you should prioritize.” This probably means less time on Facebook, more time talking to your users, for example.

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