Season 2 – Episode 06

Designing a Life & Business for Creative Mastery & Meaning

with Srinivas Rao & Marty Neumeier

Artwork by Ionut Caras

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We have spent the last several weeks exploring how to design memorable moments for our customers and communities, our audiences and even our families. But how do we design a life of wonder for ourselves? How do we juggle our own creative calling with the needs of our clients and communities? Is there a way to approach marketing as a craft, making it part of our path to mastery? How do we realize our best creative selves, pursuing mastery and meaning in every aspect of our lives?

Today, Jeffrey explores the creative process with Srinivas Rao, the founder and host of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast and author of the recently released Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake, and Marty Neumeier, Director of CEO Branding at Liquid Agency and author of several books, including the forthcoming business thriller SCRAMBLE: How Agile Strategy Can Build Epic Brands in Record Time.

Srinivas and Marty explain how they make decisions about which projects to take on, discussing the tension between what they have been called to create and market demands. They address the significance of ongoing reflection and self-awareness in carving a path of personal and professional mastery and offer insight around putting your imprint or signature on any project you take on, learning best practices—and then challenging them. Srinivas and Marty also describe how they measure the value of their own work, seeking self-mastery rather than obsessing over marketing metrics. Jeffrey asks them how they work through doubt in the writing process, what surprised them in the creation of their latest works, and how they foster openness in creative collaboration. Listen in for advice on leveraging a support system to navigate crises and learn how to design a fulfilling life and business with an eye to creative mastery and meaning.

Our Guests

Srinivas Rao

Srinivas Rao is the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative podcast where he has conducted over 500 interviews with thought leaders and people from all walks of life. This has given him an incredibly distinctive view into branding, storytelling, and marketing. He’s also written multiple books including the WSJ Best Seller The Art of Being Unmistakable (2013) and his recently released An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake (2018); created, planned, and executed a 60-person conference called The Instigator Experience. Somewhere along the way his compass led him in the direction of an economics degree from UC-Berkeley and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Extracting unmistakable stories out of people is his superpower. And in his spare time he’s usually chasing waves.

» The Unmistakable Creative

Marty Neumeier

Director of CEO Branding at Liquid Agency, Marty Neumeier spends most of his time lecturing all over the globe about the role of creativity and innovation in the creation of relevant and meaningful brand experiences. He is a firm believer that clarity about a brand’s purpose has an inextricable relationship with business success and the role of design in business. He has penned several books, including The Brand Gap (New Riders 2005), The Brand Flip (New Riders 2015) MetaSkills (New Riders 2012), and his forthcoming Scramble (October 1, 2018).

» Twitter: @MARTYneumeier

Key Takeaways

[5:01] Young Srini and Marty at their best

  • Srini listening to Thriller on repeat
  • Marty learning to draw from mom

[9:51] Marty’s transition to an audience of one

  • Career of being creative on behalf of other people
  • Sold company to Liquid Agency ‘to do own art’

[13:05] Srini’s transition to an audience of one

  • Making money helping others execute vision
  • AJ Leon encouraged to ‘create own stuff’
  • Aim for mastery rather than metrics

[19:55] Marty’s insight on mastery and metrics

  • Always focused on mastery, fell short on metrics
  • Not about gaming system but getting word out

[22:40] The difference between mimicry and modeling

  • Danger in replicating formula
  • Rule to not be like anyone else

[31:20] The role of environment in the creative process

  • Introduced to idea by The Ultimate Game of Life
  • All things have energy that inspires OR expires
  • Upgrade space to ‘pull into best version of self’

[32:40] How to reinvent yourself with each new project

  • Explore other’s work, save what you love about it
  • Can’t know what’s new unless experience world

[43:12] Srini’s insight around creativity and the internet

  • Creative pursuits in search of external reward
  • Tools designed to trigger envy and comparison
  • Conflates attention with value, prevents creative work

[50:54] The impetus for Marty’s new book SCRAMBLE

  • Business book won’t give experience of agile strategy
  • Suggestion to deliver principles through story

[53:14] The surprises Marty & Srini experienced in the writing process

  • Characters take on life of own
  • Learn to write in rhythmic cadence

[59:13] How Marty & Srini work through doubt when writing

  • Email from writing coach when Srini stuck
  • Marty wrote in full view of advisor/audience

[1:06:00] How Srini navigates crises in business

  • Support system of friends, family who care
  • Therapy and self-care (exercise, eat well)

[1:12:00] Marty’s approach to crises in SCRAMBLE

  • Character of CEO must involve team to fix problems
  • Similar to own journey in realizing can’t do it alone

[1:18:09] How to foster openness in creative collaboration

  • Eliminate ego and envy to do something great
  • Project more important than who has ideas

[1:20:55] What Srini & Marty are pursuing in the next year

  • Srini leveraging platform to highlight social issues
  • Marty founding Level C (branding as profession)

Caras Ionut

Caras Ionut was born in Romania in the late 70s and is currently devoted to photography. Ionut loves the things that happen around so he always has a camera to capture moments, and then turn them into dreams and positive images of what he wants. We leave you to judge for yourself and be surprised with this wonderful work.

Are you a Wonder Designer?

We’re inviting you to share with our community of listeners how you are a wonder designer this season.

​​​​​​​It’s easy and takes just 3 minutes of your time:

In 15-30 seconds or less, state your name, where you live, and your url if you wish, and state in 1-3 sentences one way you are a Wonder Designer.
Make it personal and personable. Not a pitch. Not a teaching.

For example, “Hi, Jeffrey and Tracking Wonder. My name is Abigail Madley. I live in Towanka, Washington, and you can find me online at One way I am a wonder designer is by shaping educational experiences for elders that bring them more joy and happiness in assisted living.”
“I am a wonder designer because everyday I am fostering more connection with strangers in the city where I live.”
“I am a wonder designer because I am encouraging more open listening at the startup where I work.”
“One way I am a wonder designer these days is by having my three children sing for their breakfast. It makes a hectic morning pretty funny.”​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Listen back to your submission, and when you are happy with it, click send!

​​​​​​​Your response could end up on the Tracking Wonder Podcast this season.

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Each week brings you in-depth conversations with leaders, stories from change-makers, and provocative ideas from artists and scientists – all designed to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.