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Meet Srinivas Rao, Surfing His Way to Inspiration, Creativity and Podcasting

Srinivas Rao is Host & Founder of The Unmistakable Creative, and a Catersource Featured Speaker, on “The Art of Being Unmistakable”

The host and founder of the popular podcast The Unmistakable Creative, Rao has interviewed more than 700 people from every walk of life imaginable. Today the show has more 500 5-star reviews in iTunes and reaches a global audience. He has also written three bestselling Wall Street Journal books and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, and The New York Times.

Companies look to him for help with creating “new rules” for growth, developing creating confidence, cultivating creative habits, and identifying what Rao calls “magic moments,” when customers fall in love with a product or service.

As the catering and event world become more competitive, becoming “unmistakable” and unique—breaking through the clutter—is more important that ever. We sat with Rao to get a glimpse into how he started his own business and what it means to be unmistakable in today’s environment.

The catering + events show of the year is back! James Beard Award winners, TED style keynotes, influencers galore, and food for days. See all that’s in store here!

What do you mean by unmistakable?

Something that is so distinctive it's immediately recognized as your work. You don't even have to put your name on it. It can't be mistaken for something created by someone else.

So, how does one stand out in today’s media-centric world?

There isn't necessarily a formula for how to stand out. But there are a few commonalities between organizations and individuals who do. They have:

• A Bold and Compelling Point of View
• Demonstration of Mastery
• Generosity
• Emotional Resonance

None of these are tactics as much as they are mindsets and value systems.

What three things must caterers need to do in 2019 to become and remain unmistakable?

• Don't just make products. Design experiences: There's always an option that's better, faster, or cheaper than what you're offering. So the best way to compete is by designing an experience that only you could.

Give People What They Don't Expect in a Way That Delights Them: People don't pay attention to things that meet their expectations. They notice what they weren't expecting. For example, you could approach every plate you serve as an art project that makes people want to take a photo.

Treat Food as a Tool for Community: You might see yourselves as caterers. But in many ways, you're the glue that connects a community. Food brings people together. Aim to connect people with everything you do.

Creative inspiration is a big part of our industry. Where do you get yours?

For me, it's not a person, but my relationship with the ocean. I'm an avid surfer, and nearly all of my creative ideas come from the time I spend in the water. I don't think it's a coincidence that my creative journey and surfing journey are parallel almost to the day.

What was your own journey? How and why did you decide to get into the type of work you do and become unmistakable yourself?

My journey has been very accidental. I graduated from business school in April 2009, and I couldn't find a job. I started tinkering around with the internet and started a blog as a way to the pass the time. I enrolled in an online course about how to start a blog, and ironically ended up starting a podcast called interviews with up and coming bloggers which was the precursor to Unmistakable Creative. Throughout the past ten years the project took on a life its own, led to a book deal and a speaking career.

Who are some of the most memorable people you've interviewed and why?

• Joe Loya robbed 30 banks, went on to become a talking head on the criminal justice system and consult for Orange is the New Black. But what struck me most about him is how well read he was. I jokingly say that he read more books in prison than I did at in college.

• Srini Pillay is a Harvard neuroscientist who was raised in South Africa during apartheid. My conversation with him was one of the most insightful explanations I've ever heard on the process of achieving goals.

• Gahmya Drummond Bey is doing amazing things to help redesign educational around the world. And transforming education is a big passion of mine because I feel strongly that the education system failed me.

Srinivas Rao will sign copies of his books after his session on Tuesday morning. Learn how YOU can become unmistakable from by attending Catersource 2019!

Nancy A. Shenker

Founder/CEO | theONswitch

Nancy A. Shenker is Founder/CEO of theONswitch marketing and a professional content strategist, writer, and speaker.

She has spent more than  30 years in the events, food, retail, and small business worlds, focused on delivering meaningful and memorable experiences and bottom-line results.