HCD Expo Keynote: How To Be Unmistakable
As the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast, Srinivas Rao shares the stories of individuals who “stand out in an incredibly distinctive way.” Those individuals range from a former bank robber to a doctor who teaches the art and science of love.
As for Rao’s own story and how he’s found his unique career path, he shared that, too—all part of his closing keynote at the Healthcare Design Expo & Conference held Nov. 10-14 in Orlando, Fla.
In 2009, Rao found himself in what historically was one of this country’s worst job markets, where job candidates weren’t rewarded for fitting in but instead were required to stand out, leading to the sensation of TwitterShouldHireMe.com by an aspiring job-seeker. At the tail end of earning his MBA from Pepperdine University, Rao said he decided to replicate what he saw worked and created his own “100 Reasons You Should Hire Me” campaign.
The problem: it was a flop (and he couldn’t think of 100 reasons).
But the failure was key to Rao’s ultimate success, because it got him thinking about why simply mimicking wasn’t enough and realizing that the difference-maker is standing out in a meaningful way. Furthermore, he understood the downfall of simply following what are identified as best practices. “Best practices are your worst enemy when it comes to imagination and creativity,” he said.
So why do we all rely on them? “Best practice lets you off the hook,” he said, noting that it provides someone else to blame if an effort doesn’t work out. Additionally, the uncertainty that comes with going the road less traveled is daunting, but it's there, Rao contends, where one can find his or her own unique way of doing something and not just what someone else has done before. “You’re not the best in what you do; you’re the only,” he said.
And that idea is the foundation of Rao’s premise that if we figure out what it is that we can deliver to the world in our own unique fashion, competition becomes irrelevant (he’s even authored a book on the subject, “Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best”). Think of an artist who has such a unique aesthetic and viewpoint that a signature isn’t required on his work or an author whose voice is so distinct that you know a passage was written by her without seeing a name.
For healthcare designers, Rao said, this idea can be delivered through experience—going beyond facility design best practices to create a space that alters the patient journey in a manner that’s distinctively yours.
Part of that process also involves shedding the masks—or labels—we often put on ourselves or work toward, such as job title, salary figure, or Twitter followers, that deem us “worthy or not worthy.” It’s what’s underneath these masks that makes us unmistakable, he said.
For Rao, he discovered that when considering his own titles of blogger, podcaster, author, and speaker, he eventually realized that “artist” was actually most accurate. “When you see the world through the eyes of an artist, you can’t help but see it differently,” he said.
To that end, Rao encourages everyone to consider themselves artists in their own way and create something every day—even if just for an audience of one. “By simply making something every day, you change the world,” he said.