Srinivas Rao | Why Only Is Better Than Best (Episode 541)

Srinivas Rao | Why Only Is Better Than Best (Episode 541)

Srinivas Rao (@unmistakableceo) is the host and founder of the Unmistakable Creative podcast — where he’s interviewed more than 700 people from all walks of life — and author of Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • The power of long-term commitment.
  • Avoiding the Idea Echo Chamber.
  • Why your goal should be to become the only and not just the best.
  • The support systems around being creative.
  • How to borrow from other works without staying in the realm of what’s been done before.
  • And so much more…


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People have always followed trends. All it takes is a well-known person to say everybody should do something (e.g., start a podcast), and suddenly the world is flooded with perhaps too much of a good thing. It all gets washed up in a sea of sameness. If you want to avoid getting lost in this sameness, this episode’s for you.

Host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative podcast Srinivas Rao revisits the show to discuss the power of making things that are so unique nobody else could have done them but you. He dives deeper in his new book Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best, but he shares a lot of the good stuff with us right here on The Art of Charm.

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Ever wonder why we get flooded with so many television shows that seem eerily similar to one another when there are new ideas being written by struggling storytellers all the time? Why every network will have a series that features zombies one year and then superheroes the next? How many shows about police detectives and doctors have been made since the invention of television?

“People see something that works,” says Srinivas Rao, author of Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best. “They basically go and they try to replicate that thing by doing exactly what the person who has created the thing that works did in hopes of creating a similar result. And so as a result you get this mimicry epidemic that happens.”

Srinivas points out that this happens across all industries — not just entertainment. Take the so-called gurus who promise to teach people how to duplicate their success by taking the same path they took to become awesome. But people who buy into this are disappointed by negligible results when the formula for someone else’s success is applied to their own situation.

“What we have to do is move away from looking at the advice of experts as gospel and seeing it as guidance,” says Srinivas. “Not looking at it as a map, but really seeing it as a compass and taking elements that work for us, but not every single thing that a person says you should do. If you follow anybody’s instruction to the letter, at best what you’re going to end up creating is a pale imitation of what they’ve already made. And at worst you’ll be completely ignored — and the second outcome is happening more and more.”

This is why it’s important that we find our own paths and create something unique in the world instead of trying to replicate what someone else has already done. “When you’re the only person who does what you do,” says Srinivas, “you no longer have competition.”

Srinivas, being a fellow podcaster, points out how he books guests by following his own morbid curiosity rather than trying to collect from the popular pool making the rounds at any given time. While his show — The Unmistakable Creative — has guests who have appeared on The Art of Charm from time to time, that’s by happenstance, not design. Being just a couple of podcasts among a sea of so many, how can we hope to stand out from the rest?

“Here’s what happens as a by-product of the fact that we have now democratized the ability to create and share our ideas with the world,” says Srinivas, pointing out there are about a million podcasts in iTunes, “It completely raises the bar for what your work has to be in order to cut through the noise, so you have a combination of both the quality has to be off the charts and it has to be distinctive. But if you can accomplish both of those things, then you’re no longer playing this game of competition and comparison.”

If you’ve ever listened to The Unmistakable Creative (and you should), you’ve probably noticed that every guest for every show gets their own hand-drawn, custom cover art by Mars Dorian. It stands out.

“I’m not doing those because somebody said I should do them,” Srinivas says. “I’m not doing them because they’re going to lead to some sort of outcome. I’m doing them because that’s my idea of full self expression. Fortunately, there’s a really nice connection with the audience that happens because they appreciate it as well. And as a result, you create something that other people aren’t thinking about doing.”

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm to learn more about how to avoid following derivative formulas that only lead to pale imitation, how we’re suckers when we follow the advice of so-called “experts” because we think they know something we don’t, how to increase risk tolerance and stifle our natural fear of being wrong, why seasoned comedy veteran Chris Rock still does standup in small clubs to test new material, why our society has such a warped sense of longevity, how to prepare for the commitment it takes to gets results, the importance of keeping tabs on our own mental health as we take on grand projects, and lots more.


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