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Knowledge Management Best Practices With Srinivas Rao

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Mark Hiddleson

Srinivas Rao (Srini) is an author and a speaker for Penguin Portfolio and the Founder and Chief Creative Instigator of Unmistakable Media, where he creates content across various platforms to inspire creative professionals to lead more courageous, productive, and meaningful lives. Srini hosts The Unmistakable Creative Podcast.

Srini currently focuses on a knowledge management course called Maximize Your Output, which is helping transform what he has learned from reading over 1,000 books and producing 1,000 interviews into original content and ideas. Srini's passion is to help readers, podcast listeners, and community members develop rare and valuable skill systems and habits that can be applied to every part of their lives and the inspiration to bring ambitious creative projects to life. He is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author of four books and a curator of insanely interesting people.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Why Srinivas Rao started a podcast

  • The value of networking and nurturing relationships

  • Srini's journey writing the book Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best

  • The lessons Srini learned from surfing

  • Srini talks about knowledge and information management and how the brain organizes information

  • What does Srini’s Maximize Your Output course offer

  • Tips for success and living your best life

In this episode…

What structures do you use to collect and organize your business information? Do you often spend valuable time managing the system that is supposed to organize your information? How can you systemize your information to make it more accessible when you need it?

To build a highly productive business, you must have information that is correct, relevant, well-organized, and easily accessible. The systems that manage your information should increase your productivity and stimulate creativity. However, when handling these systems becomes a part-time job, it does the opposite. Technology has made collecting information from different sources easier, although this information often needs to be analyzed to make sense and be usable. Srinivas Rao’s Maximize Your Output course helps you synthesize all your information to create effective systems that will drive growth, make decision-making faster, and improve your company's productivity.

In this episode of The Tao of Pizza Podcast, Mark Hiddleson interviews Srinivas Rao (Srini), the host of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast, about best practices for knowledge management. Srini also talks about his Maximize Your Output course, his experience writing the book Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best, and shares tips for taking smart notes.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by Specialized Storage Solutions Inc.


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Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:01

Welcome to The Tao of Pizza, where we feature top logistics leaders, entrepreneurs, and supply chain innovators and share their inspiring stories with a holistic twist.

Mark Hiddleson 0:16

Mark Hiddleson here, host of The Tao of Pizza Podcast where I talk with top industry innovators in the warehousing logistics and supply chain business with a holistic twist. Before I introduce today's guests, this episode is brought to you by specialized storage solutions. Listen, I've been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades. I know I don't look that old, but it's true. We provide industry leading warehouse storage solutions nationwide. So basically, if you have a warehouse that needs rack, shelving carts, conveyors, or mezzanines, we help with design engineering installation inspections and repairs to help clients optimize their logistics operations. With 3d spawn times, sometimes when people don't realize we can actually help with permit acquisition services, we take a holistic look at your entire business supply chain ecosystem to develop the resources for continuing improving your operation. To learn more, visit special Or give us a call at 707-732-3892. And I'll even give my personal emails for podcast listeners. It's So email me if you're ready to take your warehouse and storage retrieval systems to the next level. And today, we're joined by Srini Rao, the host of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. He's a Wall Street Journal best selling author of four books, and a curator of insanely interesting people, through his business and passion is to help readers, podcast listeners and community members develop rare and valuable skills systems and habits that can be applied to every part of their lives. And the inspiration to bring ambitious creative projects to life. Right now Srini is focused on a knowledge management course called Maximize Your Output, which is helping transform with ease, learn from over 1000 books, and 1000 interviews into original content and ideas. Srini, it's a pleasure to have you on The Tao of Pizza. Thank you for joining us.

Srinivas Rao 2:13

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Mark Hiddleson 2:15

So you are a great guest for me because your podcast happens to be the first podcast I ever listened to you. And it was about five years ago. I think it was probably 2017 2016 2017. And at the time I was I was not a podcast listener. I wasn't interested in podcasts. And but my best friend knew that I was working on the creative project. I'd started a book project. And he sent me a link but via text to your and I said what is this? I don't even know what it was. And I clicked on it. And it was you did an interview? I think it was Tim Ferriss was the first interview. It was you and it was I like to say I'm not a huge Tim Ferriss fan. But I've read all of his books. And I love listening to his podcast material all the time. So I actually am a huge fan. So how did you get into into podcasting? I'm curious.

Srinivas Rao 3:14

How did you it was kind of funny. You mentioned you, you don't listen to podcasts. I still don't listen to podcasts. It's literally my least preferred form of media consumption, which you've probably heard me say before. It just my attention span is too short for them, which is kind of ironic since I make a living creating them. But it turns out that that's not uncommon. Stephen Dubner was the host of Freakonomics, which is probably one of the most popular podcasts in the world doesn't listen to podcasts. I was like, alright, well, that makes sense. I honestly got into this very accidentally, it was really serendipitous to be honest. So I finished business school in April 2009. With no job, you know, I was literally broke, I had to move back into my parents house. And, you know, I needed something to pass the time because Indian parents are not very tolerant, you know, adult child who's sitting around drinking vodka all day. So after about two weeks of drowning my sorrows and vodka and you know, a bit of an ass kicking from my dad, who talked some sense into me, I enrolled in this online course. But how to start a blog, my dad gave me the money to do it. And I think there's a couple reasons I probably took that so seriously. One was I needed to show my dad that I wasn't just screwing around for once, because like, you know, I didn't want him to think those yet another stupid harebrained scheme. And so jokingly, like, you know, my dad is the first investor and Unmistakable Media because he's the one who put up the original money. And that course in a lot of ways was really beneficial. Because it gave me a structure to start from and keep in mind, like I had been tinkering with blogs and social media and all this stuff prior because I was the social media internet into it during business school, when I was an MBA student, and that was 2008, which kind of was the infancy of all All of this stuff, where it was just starting to kind of become much more, you know, part of popular consciousness and becoming much more prevalent in the business world, people kind of sensed that something was going to happen in the space that was going to matter that it was going to influence all of our lives. And sometimes, for better or worse at this point. The worst, I don't think we could have anticipated that. Maybe, you know, if you're Cal Newport, you probably saw it coming. But the rest of us aren't as smart as Cal. So we didn't see it coming. But that's a whole other side. We'll talk about that later. But anyways, you know, so I enrolled in this course. And one of the lessons in the course, was to start a to interview somebody as a way to get traffic. And I was diligent about completing all of the lessons in the course, for a couple of reasons. And that one was because I chose the less expensive way to get the course, which was to pay 97 instead of 500. And my dad was like, I'm not gonna give you five hour ones. So if you chose that, and this actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. And honestly, I think that if people actually consume courses, this would they been this way they would finish them. This is why it irritated me, you have a cult course recently, and people were bitching about the fact that they didn't get the first module, you know, all the modules right away. And it's almost always the people who got all the modules right away that don't finish the course. And that's just the design of sort of productivity systems anyway. So I would get one module every week, and the modules took less than 20 minutes to complete. So I had a whole week. And so I would implement the lesson and one of the lessons was to interview somebody as a way to get traffic. And so I took that just first let that lesson. And instead of interviewing one person, I started a weekly series called interviews with up and coming bloggers. One person referred me to another that referred me to another until I got to about the 13th interview. And it was an instance of art. And I emailed him around Christmas time and said, he said, I'm going to start a multi author blog, where we get all these bloggers together so that we can increase our traffic. And he basically said, That's a terrible idea. And you're not a really good writer anyways. But your, your interviews are great. And I think that that's what you should do is you should take the interview series and spin it out into a separate site. And an hour later, he jokingly calls it the screening or reality distortion field, because he literally gave me a piece of advice. And I beat, you know, dragged him along for two years. And I replied, I literally mocked up a version of a website with no design skills whatsoever. And whatever limited design skills I had, I called it Blogcast FM. Just the first thought that occurred to me, and I replied back with a mock up and they said, Is this what you had in mind, let me know when you want to get started. And, you know, he that's why he says he was like, I give you a piece of advice. And two hours later, a week later, I'm literally, you know, setting up a podcast for you doing work in iTunes, he was like, This is what you call the streaming reality distortion field. And I guess to some degree, I probably do have, you know, a reality distortion field, like any person who has the ability to execute in a vision, you can convince somebody in the world of your way of seeing it.

But the thing is that it's been a long, slow sort of road to even get to where we're at. And we're the anomaly of the podcast. Well, people don't know that everything's we're bigger than we are. But we grew slower. We started before everybody else, and we're still smaller. But what we do have is a loyal audience. And, you know, honestly, like, I know this, you know, this, our content is superior to a lot of other big podcasts out there. And that's not just me saying that, like our listeners have literally said that. Yeah. And the truth is, like, in part of it is not to brag, but like, I go out of my way to do three really important things that I think have given us a level of sustainability. One is that my focus has always been on telling an interesting story. Like, I will sacrifice the metrics anytime for a great story. So it's always how interesting is this person to me? Am I what am I curious about? Like, do they make me curious? And will our listeners learn something? So our show winning cannot be the biggest one, but you can damn well believe it's one of the most difficult for anybody to learn and appearance on on purpose. If you see my contact form, it literally says I want my old roommate jokingly said he's like you turned out more people than Harvard, Stanford and Yale combined. And I was like that is going on our contact form. And I did that on purpose because I was getting fed up with publicists who wouldn't take the time to actually listen to an episode. I was like, Listen, I'm doing your job for you. I'm sorry, but this is annoying. And I as a person with ADHD, I don't need more information that's irrelevant coming into my life. And so I thought to myself, well, what have I learned from Cal Newport made people work harder to get in touch with you? So if you go onto that contact form, and you say no, I've never Listen to an episode before it redirects you to a page that says Sorry, we don't accept that. We don't accept pitches from anybody who's never listened to our show. And that actually filtered out a lot of the riffraff. It just kind of slipped your lens. So that's the thing. So I would say it's a combination of a commitment to interesting stories and ruthless, completely non negotiable standards. Regardless of who the guest is, like, it wouldn't matter if it was Oprah or the Dalai Lama, I would not negotiate. You know, they always said the United States didn't doesn't negotiate with terrorists that I've actually the Unmistakable Creative doesn't negotiate with podcasting, as I've had people test this line, I've had my own former guest has this line. And I say, No, you never meet somebody, like wouldn't agree to my terms for a second interview. And I was like, Fine, we'll pass. I was like, besides where meat doesn't need me to reach more people. He has a fucking million people on his email list. I mean, I like for me, it's gonna be wrong a lot. Actually, I think he's great. That's just an example. And his publicist, kind of, she's the one that caused that. You know, she did such a piss poor job. I was like, You have sent me 60 emails. And now we're not going to do this interview. I'm like, one, if this woman ever contacts me, I will tell her, sorry. But whoever you're working with, I will only deal with them directly based on that one interaction. I was like, Do you think we're meat would have put up with this level of bullshit? No. And the funny thing is, she's not working for me anymore, I don't think because the last pitch I got for him, which was very recent, was not for her. So that's, and Anna turned down Gary Vaynerchuk, multiple times.

Mark Hiddleson 11:32

I was wondering if he had been because the ones I've seen, I mean, I've seen Seth Godin, who's great. I've seen the Calvin poor, once you kind of have on the highlight reel, Ryan. Yeah, look, I,

Srinivas Rao 11:41

I will never let somebody use status as a bargaining chip with, because that is not how I show works. I'm like, I don't give a fuck about your status. I'm like, I care. I was like, your status means nothing to me. What matters to me is that you're willing to give us a story that's interesting and valuable for our listeners. And I can find somebody who will give me a much better story that nobody knows. In fact, this is the thing that, you know, when people introduce me, the they always read the introduction, and they talk about all the people that I've interviewed that everybody knows. And then right after the introduction, I always say, by the way, of all the people I've interviewed, those are the least interesting. The ones that nobody actually has ever heard of.

Mark Hiddleson 12:23

So John Corcoran has an interview. And I don't know if you remember that interview, but John Corcoran has an interview that I listened to on your show, and again, is four or five years ago, that really led to me having a podcast. And you know, what I thought was interesting. Were two things about John is one, he worked for President Clinton, he was a speechwriter for President. And well, the show was about networking. So I've always been a networking guy, the way I've built my business, and my friendships and my family's like, it's relationships, it's networking. And so that shows the topic was networking that says, Okay, I want to learn about networking. And he was local in Northern California. So he's in Marin, and I said, this is a guy that, you know, I can introduce her if he's working, or he's working on a project, it's local, so we could work on something together. And what's funny about that is his partner lives in Chicago. And I actually ended up connecting with his partner first, because I was in business on Chicago. I said, hey, I'm interested in Rise25, the projects you're working on the courses you're doing. So that podcast, ultimately led and they're the ones that really thought they looked at my business and they bought a podcast will be great for us. And my audience is kind of the same as you, I'm not trying to expand, I'm trying to attract like my top 100 clients and really kind of narrow it down once people, once they see what we do in our company and my approach, you know, there's a narrow, small group of people that we can really impact their business in the best way. So similar to Yeah, approach I'd rather

Srinivas Rao 13:57

well, that's the thing, right, is that we overvalue reach, and we undervalue loyalty. Because reached looks impressive, right? But it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things like, reaches a vanity metric. It's like, okay, would you rather reach a million people or have a million bucks from 10? I think I think the million dollar Ted. Yeah. Like everybody who you know, has an email list of 200 people. And you know, he did his first product launches $10,000 In sales, because that list was so targeted now. And that business is on track to do seven figures now. So it's kind of one of those things that just, that's the problem with content creators get caught up in vanity metrics, and they completely sort of forget about the fact that okay, if I want to build a business out of this, I need to look at the things that actually matter. And everybody falls into that trap. It's very seductive. So yeah, I mean, that's kind of the start. You know, that's kind of the start and kind of it was really about a commitment to an ethos academic to great storytelling.

Mark Hiddleson 14:54

So speaking of storytelling, one of my favorite books of all time is Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best.

Srinivas Rao 15:00

I appreciate that.

Mark Hiddleson 15:03

I'll be honest with you. The reason is you beat me to the punch on writing the book, using the metaphor now the metaphor is one of the most powerful ways that you can communicate. And the surfing metaphor using the surfing metaphor for an approach to life is something. It's one of the I think the guy that invented a lollipop or something like somebody, a bunch of ideas, people were not the same two people who probably thought of are the only two people who thought right about using surfing as a metaphor for life, but you beat me to the punch. And I'm like, I'm a holistic thinking type of guy. And it to me when you do something like that, when you're working with the ocean and breaking it down into, you know, the paddle out. And, you know, the paddle out the lineup, the drop, and those things in live the impact zone, you know, how many times I know, you know, from surfing, and life is a lot like the ocean, there's certain times you get caught up in a wave, you just gotta roll. If you try to fight it, you know, you're not going anywhere. And I love what you did with that. But where did where did that idea sort of come from?

Srinivas Rao 16:07

Well, you know, so it couldn't be like in parallel to sort of having no job post business will. One of the things that happened was surfing, I needed a way to pass the time. And surfing, it turned out was a really great hobby, if you're unemployed, because it takes a shitload of time and it doesn't cost money. And, you know, I was just telling my roommate, Tim, about this. And I, this is a story that I realized I had never actually told in public before on a podcast. So you know, my dad gave me the $50. So when that happening is my dad gave me the money to enroll in the course. And at the same time, I told my I told my dad, I'm like, I'm not going to find a job. Submitting resumes on job boards sitting here in Riverside, I have to go interact with people and those people are in LA. And one of my classmates from Pepperdine, agreed to rent my apartment if he didn't have to pay the deposit. And he agreed to let me sleep in the living room of the apartment that was once mine. So my dad gave me a $50 allowance, which was embarrassing. So let's think about some 30 something years old. Now imagine trying to make $50 last five days in LA, you want to talk about learning how to be resourceful. So I figured it out. And so it took probably a few experiments. So the first thing that I realized was going to get expensive was parking at the beach, because parking at the beach is really expensive. And if you get a parking ticket, that's even worse, because in LA a parking ticket is like a $75. Fucking from the universe. Yeah, and that was then so it's probably even more now.

Mark Hiddleson 17:44

Yeah. So you have 1404 days to pay it and there's like 80

Srinivas Rao 17:49

Trust me, I always jokingly say that the San Francisco Department of parking and traffic should erect a statue in my honor. If they don't, then I'll just buy that. You know, peeing boy of Brussels, you see in the SkyMall catalog and good put up there with a little plaque that says, you know, Srinivas Rao for all his contributions made to this shitshow of, you know, government agency. But you know, in San Francisco and LA like the way they've made street signs, it's like, I need a PhD in statistics to figure out when I can actually park here because there's so many contradictions on one side. Yeah. Anyways, so that, you know, I figured out quickly that there was a way to get around that. And it turned out that the Santa Monica, City of Santa Monica had a beach parking pass that you can get for $20 a month, which I learned from other surfers, so that took care of the parking situation. And, you know, I wanted to go to networking events to try to meet people and I'm not a fan of networking events anymore. Mainly because they're just excuses to get drunk. And basically after that point, if I ever went to a networking event, it was just a, you know, ruse to meet women. But the thing is that like, but you had to pay to get in and attend or coverage or nega $50, the last five days is a kind of a nightmare. So I figured out that if I mailed the organizers of the event, I could volunteer to work the door and I would get to go for free. But even better, I met everybody because of that. And, you know, I would get a couple of free drink tickets. And if I wanted to drink I thought, You know what, I'm not gonna buy drinks at an expensive bar in LA. So I would take a flask, fill it with vodka, go to the bar, order some water, go to the bathroom and poured out and I acquired a taste for straight vodka, which is because of this experience. On Wednesday evenings, the Santa Monica surf club had a happy hour where they had free food. So I went to that and then you know to wrap up the week I pulled a Steve Jobs because there was a hurry Krishna temple around the corner from this apartment. So I go to the her Krishna temple and have dinner. And that is how I made $50 A week last for five days in LA Oh, and then for food for the rest of the week. I should have mentioned this. This is another ridiculous thing. So you know, I was thinking like where's The most, like inexpensive way to eat when I'm surfing six hours a day because I need some fuel. Turns out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I learned another lesson. Don't leave your duffel bag open on the beach when it has bread in it, or seagulls will eat your sandwich. So that was one lesson I learned. But that was it. I mean, and that went on for almost seven months until I found a job. And so that was where surfing came in all this.

Mark Hiddleson 20:24

Yeah. And so you use a lot of those lessons that you had from surfing. Yeah, I mean, for me, the paddle surfing, cold calling, you know, it's like all those things that are paying off, but you're not gonna catch any waves if you paddle out. And it's hard to paddle out. And we were talking before the shows like, you have to be in pretty good shape just to get out there. Forget about catching a wave, like in order to go back and not die.

Srinivas Rao 20:50

And then you have to be willing to get into it to begin with. Right? That's a whole other thing. Right is you could just stand there on shore and stare. But yeah, that was so what ended up happening from that, you know, kind of what led from that to the book was that coincidentally, like, you know, the writing, the podcast, and surfing were all kind of happening parallel to each other. So I was starting to learn all these things. And I started to learn about sort of the concepts of flow. And suddenly everything kind of made sense. I thought, well, that's why I get so many amazing ideas from being in the water because it's the ultimate flow experience. It, you know, provides the euphoria. I mean, literally, every single time I'd come out of the water, I'd have a new idea for something to write about. And the idea for surfing as a metaphor, you know, for life in a book. I wrote that down in a notebook like four years before we ever wrote Unmistakeable, before I got a book deal, before I knew I was going to get a book deal just kind of always been on my mind that this would be a way to organize a book. And when I got my book deal, my writing code Robin was like Lena organizational structure, and she just called me a balloon. She's like, What about surfing? And I was like, funny enough, I already have an outline for that to some degree. So I finished writing that book in six months. It Yeah, I mean, I can't do that. That was, you know, I think part of it was I had a basis to go off of so you know, and that just takes a whole other sort of level. You know, literally, I was living in my parents house. So there wasn't anything else to do. So it was easy to finish the book in six months, because all I did was work on the book. Because I, my editor, Stephanie, when she made the offer, she said, Can you have it done by November, not realizing that 1000 words a day and writing a book are two entirely different beasts. Because in my mind doesn't go Yeah. 50,000 word book, until I opened the manuscript, for the first time stared at the first blank Google Doc and was like bath luck, what have I gotten myself into?

Mark Hiddleson 22:49

But at that point, you got that all? Those of you were writing on medium, right? Where are you publishing on medium writing on medium?

Srinivas Rao 22:56

So a couple of things happen. So I was writing on medium I self published this book called The Art of Being Unmistakable, that ended up in the hands of Glenn Beck and well, people who I knew nothing about at the time. And, you know, so that was like the catalyst, that book became a Wall Street Journal bestseller and funny because you know, what made traditionally published books are more, more well written, that book sold a lot more copies. So it's kind of, you know, this interesting thing, people have this idea of what a book is supposed to be, or what's supposed to look like, and there's really no thing other than that people like, enjoy it, people enjoy reading it. That's all like row counts. So that book just came about. And of course, you know, you need a point of view. And this is why I've and I've always jokingly said, we could have just as easily called Unmistakable, everybody is full of shit, because that's what I said in a more diplomatic way. Which is why I'm actually I've already started mapping out a new book called everybody's full of shit, including me. You know, and we can talk a little about that if you want. But, yeah, so that's the thing is that it was a level of sort of discipline, you got to remember, I had a lot of unfair advantages in this entire process that nobody else could replicate an amazing mentor. You know, great timing. I was one of the first writers on medium. And, you know, layer on top of that, you know, the environment. I was raised in Indian parents rigid discipline Streeters in school, like that was just a norm. So for me to sit down and read 1000 words a day, you know, you mentioned that I beat you to the punch mark, there's almost nothing that I won't give you the punch at once. Once the ideas in my head. You beating me to the punch is probably not going to happen. Like my brother in law talked to me about this. He said, Dude, he was like, You need to write about this. This is like your whole family is like this. You literally when Mike, I'll give you an example. My dad was really fed up with the water bills in Southern California because in SoCal, you know, everybody's a bunch of pretentious pricks about how their yards look. And you know, if you live in a nice community, they're even more pretentious. And we got into the landscape. So you have to like spend all this money on keeping your lawn looking pristine. Because everybody's like, Oh, if you don't, my property value is gonna go down. And why that was this is some bullshit we're spending like $100 a month on water or something like that, you know, that's like a stretch for him to spend 400 bucks, but he's Indian. So he's naturally thinking this is bullshit. And so instead, what does he do? I think it was Thanksgiving, the thought occurs to him that maybe we could replace all of this with artificial grass, and then we would be done with this bullshit. And by Christmas, not only was that whole thing done by the table, two days before it was finished, we're talking fully re landscaped front yard, artificial grass, all of it like an entire state, you know, like walkway up to the house, then it wasn't a thought in his head and Thanksgiving. And it was done two days before Christmas, that's really fast for a project of that magnitude. Right? I had my brother in law mentioned this to me, you know, he said, your whole family is like this. He said, Dude, he's like, when I talk to you in the morning, you know, when we're working, and you tell me about an idea. I usually see the landing page for it on Facebook in the evening. Now, because that was sort of, you know, like bias towards action and rapid execution. That's how this all started. It's just my default. Like, if, once I have it, once I have an idea of how to do it. You're never gonna beat me to the punch. So I feel bad. No, I do feel bad. There's no chance in hell, you would beat me to the punch on that.

Mark Hiddleson 26:21

Yeah, well, I wasn't a writer at the time, I was just thinking that would be nice to, to write. I'm a lot to say,

Srinivas Rao 26:28

that takes us back to sort of all the things that I had that you don't write, it's like, we don't, this is the problem with so much of his prescriptive advice is context matters. And nobody wants to think about that. It's like, I can sit here and fill your head with bullshit platitudes, 90%. Of which won't be true for anybody in your audience.

Mark Hiddleson 26:46

So some of the things I have taken, it was like, interesting, one of the I'm thinking, what are the things I learned? What are the habits, you know, I've been, I went to one of your courses to that you did the creative log. And that's right, that, you know, it brings up this is kind of a it's a chain, but the things I learned, and I already knew this, you know, from practicing instruments, or basketball, but a writing practice, and you had a thing of 1000 words a day. And when I was consistently writing, and we were talking about still having a full time job, still coaching, Little League, and basketball, football and lacrosse, and I was doing like, maybe 250, consistently, maybe some days, I would hit 800, just depending. But it was, you know, not 45 minutes a day or two hours a day. And writing is a practice, though, really, it's almost like meditation. And, you know, for me to sit down and the more you

Srinivas Rao 27:42

do it, the easier it gets, like at a certain point, and there are days, I think that the the thing about this is that people have this idea that it's, you know, you're gonna like, just dish up nuggets of gold every time you sit down to write, and that just dying, that's so not true, which is actually what got me into this whole sort of knowledge management thing that I have been really working through. And understanding this. So maybe we can take this there, if you want it to your shows will let you know,

Mark Hiddleson 28:13

I would love to hear more about the course because, you know, I'm gonna tell ya in our audience. So our audience is, you know, people who are professionals in the logistics industry, you know, they're looking for ways to maximize up as they're looking for new ways to look at things. So I'd love to hear about Okay,

Srinivas Rao 28:32

So yeah, let's so let's take a few steps back to kind of paint the picture here. And so you look at sort of the last, probably 20 years or so with the growth of the internet with the explosion of technology, you know, what has happened is that we have the ability to both consume and create more information than we've had at any time in history. And the pace at which that's happening is insane. It's so fast. And the funny thing is that, you know, I mean, given that you're in logistics, you know, this, you the minute you solve one problem, you create other ones as a byproduct of the solution to that problem. That's the irony of innovations coming out of the paradoxes of innovation is that for every problem, you solve, you create another one, which creates another opportunity to innovate something else. So you know, and credit where credit is due Thiago forte really kind of deserve credit for this thought process. But he kind of got me to think about and expand on it a bit more. And then when I get done talking to you, I'll write about it for a few minutes. But But what do we got past that problem of, sort of, you know, being able to create and capture content? Yeah. But as a byproduct of rapid, you know, access and the ability to share our thoughts at any moment with you know, a bunch of people probably don't give a shit on every platform imaginable, what ended up happening was that now we had another problem, which is, how do I organize all of this so that I can actually make use of it or find it or, you know, deal with it. And so then what has happened is a byproduct of that is the problem of constant context shift, right? We go to our inbox to find something, we go to Dropbox to find a folder, or file, you know, we go to Facebook, like, oh, I wrote something there. And you remember where the hell it is. And so what did we do to deal with all this, we built distraction blocking tools, we came up with life hacks, people, like Cal Newport wrote deep work and the world of that email. And, you know, all these things do me wrong, I love Cal, this isn't a rag on him. But you know, I've been having this debate about, you know, sort of, I said, tell him like, the problem with all these solutions, is their band aids on Ebola. Because what these solutions don't address is the root of all these problems, which is the way that we organize information, and the speed at which we can access that information. Right. So think about it. And so the term that I use now, and what I literally just came up at this week was information accessibility. Now, if you have a really high information accelerates accessibility speed, meaning the time it takes to find something, and high information accelerated accessibility speed in our world is a minute or two minute or two doesn't seem like a lot. But when you layer on the time, you combine it with the context shifts that requires and you know, the back and forth multitasking, but it leads to that minute or two to find something creates a compounding effect that literally makes us just beyond inefficient, right. And the funny thing is that this is the way the overwhelming majority of organizations, and knowledge workers still work today. Now, that's how, you know, Cal had a way of describing it in a world by email, which he called the hyper active pipeline workflow. Right? So which is this sort of ongoing unstructured communication approach, I think about managing a project and you know, you're talking with people who deal with logistics. And so this is very relevant. Because what, what you guys do is you build systems, right, and you build systems with one purpose, that's to get to Maximize Your Output.

What I'm doing is taking that idea of building systems to maximize your output and applying it to knowledge. Now, in a standard system, to maximize to for output for knowledge work with a creative work. If you design a system that doesn't aggregate the flow of information, by design, from the get go, you design a system that the very design itself is a bottleneck to the entire system, because the information accelerates sibility speed is so high, you know, do you have to go to Dropbox for one thing to go to a website for another to, you know, go to your inbox for something else to go to another box, the crazy. The crazy thing is that what happens is that even in all these apps that we have, like, you know, Evernote, or you know, notion or whatever, you know, task management tools, the way that information is organized is actually organized in a similar structure. So Thiago forte makes this distinction between networks and hierarchies, right. And hierarchies are basically what you think of as organizational systems. They're, you know, folders and sub folders and files, tasks and subtasks and projects. And, you know, ends up in a hierarchy, everything is linear. And in a network, nothing is linear. And that's why this is such a complicated, it's such a counterintuitive thing to understand. But when it clicks, and the light bulb goes off, is like super powers in your hands. So what ends up happening then is that bit by bit, people are finally cluing into this, which is why you've kind of seen sort of this exodus from notion over the last probably years or so, where people are ditching it and Evernote as well. Like, you know, people Evernote, I think, is really struggling to kind of keep up with this because the architecture of the system was designed in such a way. This is a great way to like so one of my clients actually put it really well. When I was helping him build some of this stuff out. He said that one of the reasons he took the course was because he felt like he was spending more time managing the systems that manage his information that making use of that information. He's a surgeon who happens to be an author. And that's the and I thought that was such a clever, you know, very succinct way of trying to say what I'm saying. And it's true, right? So if you have high information accessibility, speed by design, the time it takes to manage the systems that manage your information is going to be very high. And the consequences of that, you know, we've seen and we've tried to do everything like productivity hacks and life hacks and you know, Mmm books about focus. And every solution you could think of has been created. But nobody ever talked about was that the root of all these problems, problems is the fact that it takes you so much time and you have to go to so many places to access the information that you need to do your job. Now, as logistics people, you probably appreciate this, that's like going to a different grocery store to buy every ingredient when all you want to do is make a fucking peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's the height of stupidity. But again, you know, like, I only recognize this now, because I was turned on to this, you know, by accident. happening, we're browsing YouTube. And I found this selector called How To Take Smart Notes by this guy, Sönke Ahrens, who wrote a book called How To Take Smart Notes. And when I came across that book, he kind of he told this story about a social scientist named Nicholas lumen, who was a professor Nicholas Lim, and created this note taking system called the zettelkasten was all on a bunch of index cards. Right? And but the thing is, the way he took notes made those notes 1000 times more useful, because what he would do is while he was reading, you know, like rest of us, he would highlight and underline passages or whatever it is that we do in those days. And then after he was done, this is where everything is, that's what taking notes ends. For most people, they highlight a bunch of passages, they, you know, might snap that into read wise, where they might just export their Kindle notes, and then store it in a database somewhere. And that's it. That's the extent of which their note take and that's where it ends, you're not actually doing anything with it, you're literally just collecting information, you become a collector of information, as opposed to a creator of knowledge. And obviously, if somebody creates content, I wanted to be the opposite of that. So when I saw that the output was a winner. And this guy wrote 50 books in his lifetime and published 500 papers and finished a PhD in a year. And he was, you know, as a lawyer, you know, at some government agency in Germany. And so naturally, I was very intrigued. So I started really digging into this idea of smart notes. And I was like, wow, this is, well, this explains why I got such piss poor grades in college. And it also explains why people are so unproductive, why people don't get out of their knowledge. But the more that I dove into that, the more I started to really kind of look at this idea of thinking of networks, right.

So one of the things that you have to understand is to think in order to understand, you know, the idea of network thought, you have to understand how information is organized in your brain. So your brain information is not organized in a hierarchy. It's organized in a network. So for example, if I say the word prom, you literally can recall every single thing you associate with that word with literally no friction, you don't even think about it. And you can also recall all the memories that you associate with all the things you associate. So for example, I'll give you a you know, I was talking to Daniel Levinson, who wrote a book called the organist, when we're talking about the impact that memory music has on memory. And in that moment, I immediately triggered the memory of my seventh grade basketball team, the Van Halen song jump, because my coach, basically let us come into the gym for our last game like an NBA team. And you know, like, we have this like, fancy entrance with Ben Allen's jump playing. So every time I hear that song, my mind goes to that game. But the thing is, I can go from that game to the color of our jerseys to my coach's name was Coach Brown, to the football team, where I get that the shit beat out of me on a daily basis to the fact that, you know, I was going through puberty and cheerleaders were, you know, wearing short skirts, you know, like, all of that is connected, you know, based on that, like from that one song, I can basically recall every single memory and a 1000s of other ones, because the way that information is organized in your brain is as a series of nodes that are all in an interconnected network connected to other associated networks in the brain. Now, what network thought does or what network knowledge management does is allow you to do that with information. So the ability to retrieve knowledge with zero friction, the ability to make connections between ideas, the ability to capture ideas, with no disruptions to your workflow, without ever having to remember where you put anything, what you title that how you tied to any of it, none of that, all that goes away. So literally, everything that causes all these issues goes away. Now naturally, as somebody who has access to more knowledge than probably the average human being will ever be exposed to in their lifetime, simply just because of the job that I have, not because I'm any more intelligent than anybody else. But the nature of my work is that I have an encyclopedia of so much random shit in my head, you know, 1000 books and 1000 interviews, right? I wanted access to that information because the thing is, you know, I always jokingly say was like, if I could actually implement this advice, I'd be a billionaire with six pack abs and a harem of supermodels. And I probably never will be, but it just got me thinking about what would be possible. If I could actually access this. Like, you know, in the same way that I can access to everything that is already inside my head. And that's kind of how this started. Because the thing is, once that knowledge is externalized, just think about the ability, because in your brain, you can only store so much, and that your brain is terrible at remembering detail. What your brain is good at is the few things that the human brain should be used for. But the way that we use our brains is the equivalent of somebody buying a Ferrari, and only driving it in a school district where you know, the like, you know, school zone where the speed limit is 25 miles an hour. It's like, why are you buying a Ferrari just walk. It's such a waste of brainpower. And that's why I think that we're very kind of at a tipping point. So I recently just wrote this article titled how to upload your brain to the internet. Because Gordon rebuilders is researcher at Microsoft, he did this project called Life bits. And he wrote a book called Total Recall, which was this whole idea that, you know, we could have complete and total recall at some point. And the thing with bell at the time, when he started this project, his biggest issue was how to organize all this so that he could retrieve it when he needed it. So if you think about that, right, let's say that somebody said, okay, you don't mark, we can't upload your brain to the internet, we're going to plug a USB cable into your ears, and then all fully uploaded to a dropbox folder. Do you know what a disaster that would be like? You wouldn't be able to find anything

Mark Hiddleson 41:18

that you wish it.

Srinivas Rao 41:20

And that's the idea is that if you want to organize information, and knowledge in the same way that is organized in your brain, then you have capabilities to create the speed of thought. And the main differences. Unlike the networks that are in your brain, you have to build all of these networks from scratch by basically building the brain itself. It's kind of like you're building a brain. It's like a version of you that has amnesia, and you have to restore the memory, which I realize is like,

Mark Hiddleson 41:47

well, memory. And so I've studied so I've got my master's degree in holistic health education. And I've always been a memory freak. And so probably since I was in junior high, because I was in the math Super Bowl. So I was always learning memory tricks or ways to do word problems, or you know, things to just get through things quicker. And no, Sherlock Holmes has this thing where he's married, he's got this file system that he goes through and everything's in files. And what's interesting, there's there's been studies that shows that that's a that filing system way of memory is really, it's super effective. And if you try to mix it with neuroscience, like that's not how your brain works at all, your brain doesn't have these filing systems. But that imaginary, that imaginary system that you create, it does help. But it has nothing whatsoever to do with the neuroscience behind memory. And they really, as far as I know, a lot of this says, I really don't even know, you know, where memory exists, a lot of it's in your body, the smell. You know, there's other things. I mean,

Srinivas Rao 42:50

that's the thing, memory is contextual, you know. And so you need context in order to create memories. So, and that's the thing, though. So that's the whole idea behind this was to create, you know, a contextual sort of neural network of knowledge that I could access in a way that I never could before. And so like the things that used to take me, you know, three weeks, I can do in two hours now. There's things that used to take me, you know, that would have taken me an hour I can do in less than

Mark Hiddleson 43:16

a minute. So what are some of the practices? Or what are people still? Can you just enroll in this? Or is this something that's only everyone? Yeah,

Srinivas Rao 43:24

absolutely. So no, no. So we have a, we have a self paced version of the course that you can get at And so that actually carries you through all of this, like it goes through the whole thing, will probably do a new new cohort pretty soon, like I have to start charging higher prices at this point, I just don't have the bandwidth. I also do this, you know, for clients one on one, as well, like I do a build a second brain and an hour inside of them, which is the app that I use for all of this. And I also have a YouTube channel with free tutorials, as well, where I publish tutorials every week. So needless to say, that's probably why I haven't been surfing as much because I've been working. Right. That's what you said, you've

Mark Hiddleson 44:05

been really putting some hours in. So this is really,

Srinivas Rao 44:11

this is the thing, you know, it's because I know where this is headed. Like, I have this thing well Unmistakable, I didn't have a clear path to like, Okay, I know how I'm going to turn this into a business and make money off of it with this. I bear like, you know, within a month of starting, and I was making money out of it. So I know that Yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 44:29

So I like so there's, you've always been open to feedback, and I liked that. So I wanted to share something that was kind of a rub with me and I've always wanted to ask you. Yeah, when I read your writing, it's sometimes you like to say this isn't new age bullshit. And I always cringe a little bit because, you know, I spent a life of looking at everything new age and kind of getting the bullshit out of it because there is bullshit. But there's a ton of good stuff. Okay.

Srinivas Rao 45:02

Yeah, so this is this, it's okay that you bring this up. Like, it's funny because my old roommate Matt was extremely, he was like, half the stuff that your own podcast guests would be, would be qualified would qualify as what you're calling New Age bullshit. And I agree, like there's a grain of truth to that. I think that what my sort of take on this is that I feel like there's sort of a lot of nonsensical, you know, stuff you because you live in a place like Encinitas, you will run into people where you have conversations with them. And I'm like, why the fuck do you talk, but I need a translator understand what you're talking about, and you speak English. That kind of New Age bullshit that I'm talking about. That, to me is kind of the where I'm, you know what I mean, by New Age bullshit. It's not necessarily, you know, the stuff that we think of as like, okay. You know, like I said, I mean, you could very easily say a lot of the stuff my own guest teach would go into the category of what I often referred to as New Age bullshit. So I think part of it and we literally had a guy who taught you who wrote a book called The Life Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit on the show.

Mark Hiddleson 46:09

Now, and so he had a really

Srinivas Rao 46:12

good way of putting this he called it pseudo profundity things that sound profound and mean nothing. Right. Right there. And then there are a lot of people who've made a fortune off of that kind of shit. Yeah. Yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 46:24

So we're, we're winding down. There's another, I looked at your, in your website, and I'm always following your work. But there was something you wrote, I don't know if it was the about page, but it was somewhere. But it was basically like life is too damn short to spend living up to other people's definition of success. Yeah, let go of old stories, take off your masks, throw away labels and become the best version of yourself that you've always wanted to be something like that. Can you say a little bit about because I think all those any letting go of the past is huge that a lot of people don't realize in the masks have done a lot of work. I'm doing an archetype series where I'm doing 12 podcasts on archetypes that I've embodied over the years that once you look at it, you're like, I'm just playing a role like this is an energy I can No Yeah, well, it won't have to be. So what are some of the ways for letting go taking off mass? Throwing? Well, I mean, I think the

Srinivas Rao 47:18

the first thing was to acknowledge that you're wearing them, right. And that's, that's the hardest part is that you have to basically say, Okay, I'm willing to ditch this, you know, because, like, identity is a really powerful thing. And it's very hard to ditch, you know, especially the more embedded your beliefs are, you know, this is why I said, like, if I the next book I write will be titled everybody's full of shit, including me, because that means that I have to be willing to question, you know, some of what I, I believe is true. In fact, like I wrote the introduction, I said, you know, that, in the introduction, I say, if you want to get the most out of this book, I want you to consider the possibly everything that I've written here is total bullshit, because it might be for you. And I think that we should do that. I think we should do that with everybody, I think no matter who the person is, but the problem is that, you know, go back to that idea of defining what it means to be successful. And our definitions of success are so influenced by the world around us and the people we're exposed to in the culture and media that influences and shapes our thinking. And so what happens as a result of that is we don't actually have our own definition of success. And often, we just trade in one, you know, one person's version of success for another, which we mistake, it's like a Tim Ferriss Four Hour Workweek, it's like, that's Tim Ferriss his definition of success, you don't get to say that, that's my definition of success, because you read The Four Hour Workweek, it's not your definition of success, you just think it is because you've been exposed to an idea over and over again, you know, and so what I think that you have to be really willing to do, and this is hard, I'm not saying this is, all of us are influenced by the people around us, you know, like, I'm not any less susceptible to any of this than you are anybody else's, you know, like, I'm susceptible to it, because of the culture that I grew up in. I'm susceptible to it, you know, because the friends that I have are all, you know, high achieving, you know, people who are driven almost to a fault as I am. And yet, we have to be able to kind of say, okay, like, where's the we're sort of the balance between what matters to me and what looks impressive, because so quickly, we get caught up in this sort of validation spiral of wanting to impress other people. And as a result, we make choices that basically look good on paper, but are actually terrible for our lives. And that's such a hard thing to do to break that pattern, because nobody's going to question your sanity for taking a job at Goldman Sachs, or going to school at Harvard, Italy. You know, if you say that that was a life decision that you know, you regretted or that you know, it was a bad decision, people would think you're out of your mind, because it doesn't sound unimpressive at all. It It sounds amazing. It sounds like oh, you got your shit together, you went to Harvard. Like Dennis always says, like, even if you go to an Ivy League school, it doesn't make you immune to being a douchebag.

Mark Hiddleson 50:14

Or you if you want to. Yeah, if you want from reasonable time and money, I mean, if you want it Well, I mean, that's

Srinivas Rao 50:23

the problem is we we've created a world that perpetuates people going for the wrong reasons. Yeah. And that's just kind of where we're at. And so this is, I wish I had like a set. Like I said, I can't give you this answer in a soundbite. Because it's there's no soundbite to to do this. Like, there's no, you know, there's no sort of man. I mean, that's part of the reason people get annoyed with Unmistakable is that, like, they give me a tactical roadmap, and I'm like, that's the whole fucking point. Yeah, is that there is not one, right? I have been reading this book called Quarter Life that just came out, which is all about sort of people making decisions between the ages of 25 and 36. And one of the things that she said is like, we have this idea that we have a path. The thing is that anybody who's lived, as you would know, realizes you can map out this, like perfect plan and have, you know, somebody gives you a map to follow the path and nothing will turn out like you think it's going to. And she really summed it up beautifully. It was like, you know, it's the experiences that you have that define the path, it's not the path that defines the experience. And that I mean, I don't know any other way to sum it up. Other than that by stealing somebody else's ideas, which is how I built a career by stealing 1000s of other people's ideas.

Mark Hiddleson 51:40

Yeah, Great artists steal, right, good artists borrow Great artists steal? Well, yeah. We're getting close to the end. And I'm gonna tell you three, we are going to put all of the resources you mentioned will be in the notes section. And you've mentioned a lot you played it on us I, I said,

Srinivas Rao 52:01

I'm like an encyclopedia. It's kind of insane. My friend, my friend, Michelle Fernando, she was like, You're like my personal productivity, productivity encyclopedia, she's like, I know that if I have a problem, you'll always have some sort of solution. That'll work for me and my friend, Matt's like, Shireen, do you have a book on recommendation on this? He's like, What am I talking about? You always do?

Mark Hiddleson 52:21

Exactly. It's just what is it will? So tell us again, what's the best way to engage with the content? Obviously, the podcasts, you know, I would suggest

Srinivas Rao 52:30

being one and then maximize your is where you can kind of get into like, the stuff that I'm really working on now.

Mark Hiddleson 52:36

And we will have a link to that in the in the show notes. And all the books and I wanted to ask you because I know, audience in one audience of one is another book you wrote, and I'm missing. One of what's the other book that I'm missing? Unmistakable audience of one that was well,

Srinivas Rao 52:56

yeah, they're self published books. So those are the two don't worry about the other ones. Okay, awesome. You can't even you can't even buy one of them anymore, apparently, unless you're willing to spend like $600.

Mark Hiddleson 53:05

Nice. So yeah, I'd say grab a copy of that mistake. We'll have a link to that in the show notes too. And I want to ask you one last question. I have a practice what to do. It's funny, this has to do with memory, too. I remember I have a I've just gift I have a gift in memory. It's one of the things that I just it's almost a curse, like I still no phone numbers of girlfriends, Virginia I. But if I follow work, like I follow the Unmistakable, or a lot of books, I've read seven habits or nine drivers, I'll memorize it and I memorize. And when I tried to or the Four Agreements, if I'm trying to memorize and I can only think of five or six, I can't think of the last one, I'll go and look it up. And usually I find like, that's, I can't remember, that's part of my life where I kind of need to look in that area. Right? It's like, what do you look at? So when I was preparing for this, I went through the paddle out and lineup and the draw and the impact zone and the ride. And I was like, Is that is that it? And I grabbed the book. It's right behind me on my shelf. And I had forgotten about the Stoke. So tell me something about the stuck or share something? What does that mean? And yeah, I mean, I kind of like it. Yeah, that's what I'm missing. Right? Yeah. It kind of just like

Srinivas Rao 54:21

it sort of piggybacks right off of the previous answer that I gave you. Right? Which is, what is the point of all this? It's so that we have joy and meaning in our lives. Now. Ultimately, what else is there? Uh, you're, you're gonna be here for a while. Now, do you want to look at it as you know, a time that was shipped? And you know what, like, look, I'm, I'm not a Pollyanna you know, life is great see the world through rose colored glasses person, you know that, um, as realistic as it gets, like, I always, I

Mark Hiddleson 54:56

always, you're not a toxic positivist, like, you know, But heard about toxic positivity? And I was like, Man, I think I'm a toxic positivity like,

Srinivas Rao 55:04

yeah, no, that's definitely not me. So like, I would say what I am is a combination of rational optimism and optimistic realism. Yeah. That's those are the two. So it's, you know, I'm part of that is I've had to learn that, you know, through experience, and part of that is to control my own emotions. But, you know, really often it's those people who are like, just excessively toxic positivity, ironically, is a recipe for a lot of mental health issues.

Mark Hiddleson 55:34

Because you're not in these people's reality.

Srinivas Rao 55:37

Well, yeah, you have such high expectations that inevitably, you're going to be disappointed.

Mark Hiddleson 55:42

Yeah. And I don't think I think the labels are tough to you, because there has to be attention I read this quote was awesome, because it was like a pessimists will complain about the wind. Optimists will be hopeful that it's going to change leader just check, adjust the sales. So whether you're optimistic or pessimistic, and really, you know, either one, they're just kind of everybody kind of falls in that. But do you adjust yourself? Do you adjust your sales is the key.

Srinivas Rao 56:09


Mark Hiddleson 56:10

So you've, this has been such a pleasure and talk about Joyce Rainey, this, this project that you you're really an inspiration for. For me even having a podcast. I appreciate your work. I've read it. We're going to I'm going to have our staff engaged with the This has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much. Yeah, my pleasure.

Srinivas Rao 56:38

Yeah, totally.

Outro 56:39

Thanks for listening to The Tao of Pizza Podcast. We'll see you again next time. And be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.


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