EP 149: Combining Creativity and Productivity To Do Great Work With Unmistakable Creative Host & Author Srinivas Rao

The Nitty Gritty

  • Take a look at Srini Rao’s daily writing routine — from the apps to the systems — that enable him to write 1,000 words a day, every day
  • How creating for one — rather than many — invokes higher quality work
  • Why looking at the long-term view helps you avoid the comparison trap
  • Thoughts on mastering the creative process so that your work makes a lasting impact on your audience, customers, and clients

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Srini Rao writes at least 1,000 words a day and yet the majority of them you’ll never read. Why does he write so much, knowing that most of it won’t see the light of day through a blog post, an email, or a book chapter? Srini argues that within that daily practice comes some of your best work… and the essential opportunity to master your craft.

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Using a daily writing system to do the work

“The seeds of your most resonant work are actually created in private. When you’re creating this much in private and you don’t have the pressure to share everything, then you can be selective. I create a large volume of work much of which largely nobody sees.” — Srinivas Rao

Here’s a reality: not everything you create will be great and not everything will be for public consumption. That’s just part of the creative process. But as you dedicate yourself to a daily practice, you hone your skill and thus are more selective about what you do share.

Take Srini for example. He writes over 7,000 words a week and only a small portion of those words become a blog post or an email or a book chapter. But through that process, Srini uncovers some of his best ideas. Here’s a look at his daily writing routine:

  • Wake up at 6 am
  • Meditate for 10 minutes using the Calm app
  • Read for 45-60 minutes. Almost everything he writes that day is inspired by something he’s read… and he only reads out of real books, not Kindle books.
  • Turn on the same techno track on repeat and put on noise canceling headphones.
  • Write in a physical notebook by hand first, then turn on Mac, open MacJournal, and write 1,000-1,500 words, which usually takes 30-45 minutes.

Srini employs this process using the Activation Advantage, a concept from the book, The Happiness Advantage. By reducing the number of decisions he needs to make, he dives immediately into the work. No energy is spent on the steps that need to happen before he can start writing — like choosing a pen or notebook (or even music!) because it’s already planned out.

The importance of creating for one

“When you satisfy your own desires and you maintain your own values and standards — as opposed to letting it be driven by the desire to live up to the expectations of other people — you’re much more likely to create something with emotional resonance, something that’s going to have a lasting impact on people.” — Srinivas Rao

Right now, you can create and share something online in the blink of an eye. Because of it, truly good work is often eclipsed by the stuff that gets all the likes. Despite that, Srini believes in a daily creative process to master your craft.

But it’s not just about the daily work: it’s also about creating something that matters to you and slowly becoming your personal best at it. In Srini’s latest book, An Audience of One, he makes a case for why creating for your own pleasure is essential to a creative and meaningful life.

Executing the creative process

“We live in a really interesting world where you can go from idea to execution in a matter of minutes. Because of that, people’s behavior tends to be driven by the desire for validation and to seek attention as opposed to the desire to master a craft and enjoy the creative process.” — Srinivas Rao

Today, so much is created for the likes and followers. “Just because you can go from idea to execution in the shortest amount of time possible and get that idea out into the world doesn’t necessarily mean that that is how these things should be done,” he says. “When you start to prioritize attention over mastery, we’ve got a real problem.”

Take a look at your current creative process and ask yourself: am I making space to create… just for me? Am I ever honing my craft? And then ask yourself if there’s anywhere you’re giving up your personal joy or passion for the sake of attention in the form of likes, followers, and fans. Is there a way you can start cultivating joy from your work… for you?

Hear more from Srini Rao about the importance of creating for the sake of self-enjoyment and mastery in this episode of What Works.

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support