Srini Rao Teaches Us About the Art of Being Unmistakable – Episode 8

If you missed our pilot episode, no worries. In today’s episode featuring Srini Rao, I go into a little detail about why Phil and I launched The Shut Up Show. If you haven’t yet heard of Srini, he is a surfing “corporate misfit” solopreneur with an unmistakable story that will inspire you. Phil and I are so damn proud to call him friend. Especially since he unintentionally inspired me to stop stalling, shut up and make shit happen. I kick off the show by thanking him for teaching me bravery, not only through his words, but more importantly through his actions.

In this episode, Srini teaches us invaluable lessons about how to catch our own wave as we ride the school of life and learn the art of being unmistakable.

Watch the show (uncensored & unedited) 

Listen to the podcast

Share Some Shut Up Love –> When you’re afraid to push publish, chances are you’ve done some of your greatest work. – @skooloflife on @_theshutupshow

Fun Facts:

  • Srini is the host and co-founder of BlogcastFM, a 5-star podcast/blog/digital magazine with over 500,000 monthly downloads.
  • Srini has hosted over 400 interviews with some of the most prolific entrepreneurs and thought leaders that include nationally known success stories and emerging stars that are making big shit happen in the world.
  • Srini’s unmistakable voice earned his podcast a 4-star iTunes review from a listener, whom he personally knew, ironically followed by the comment, “I’m not a big fan of Srini.”
  • A friend of Srini’s, who had scheduled her suicide date, personally reached out to let him know that his podcast saved her life. This experience gave Srini the courage to stop being afraid of disappointing people and worrying about others’ disapproval.
  • Srini used to suffer from IBS, which surfing has cured in recent years. (As a fellow IBS sufferer, I am intrigued to learn how to surf now!)

Defining Shut Up Moment:

Srini calls his shut up moments “molding moments” thanks to his friend and a former guest on his podcast. He shares examples of three defining moments in his life when he realized he had been chasing external validation and the hard lessons learned from those experiences.

SURFING BECAME HIS SANCTUARY: Srini honestly shares how he initially used surfing as a tool to earn a reputation of being a cool and awesome dude. Until three months after learning to surf when he wiped out while trying to show off in front of hot girls and busted his eardrum after his board hit him in the head. What started out as a need to be externally validated turned into one of the greatest lessons in the school of life. Srini discovered his sanctuary in surfing. Now, he surfs for no other reason than the pure intrinsic joy of doing it.

HIS MBA WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE SURFING LESSON: Srini talks about how he had always felt he didn’t belong. Graduating from business school feeling disillusioned. Completely unfulfilled despite earning his parents’ validation. While most MBA graduates would be proud to walk across that stage, all Srini thought about was how much money he had pissed away with an education that brought him no closer to feeling purposeful in life. During that dark time, Srini found solace in infusing his two loves (surfing and building a media empire) to share his ideas with the world and became a student of The Skool of Life.

BEING FIRED GAVE HIM CORPORATE MISFIT CLOUT: Srini often talks about how he had thought there was something wrong with him for a very long time. After 10 years of failed jobs and relationships, he felt like a big disappointment to his parents. In deconstructing all the past decisions that led up to recent years, Srini realized that job after job he was fired from was actually moving him closer and closer to his purpose and the revelation that he was a corporate misfit. A badge that he’s damn proud to wear. In response to mutual friends AJ & Melissa Leon on being chosen to speak at the first Misfit Conference ever: “You’ve been watching me commit career suicide on Facebook one status update at a time and now you want me to show other people how to do that? That sounds awesome, let me look into flights.”

Shut Up Tips:

If I could push the reset button on my life, I would have done things differently. But if I did push the reset button, we might not be having this conversation right now. – Srini

I have absolutely no advice for anybody. Just observations. What you decide to do with it is up to you. Who am I to tell anybody how to live their lives. I’m 35 and I live at home with my parents. – Srini

I’m a very, very, very selective curator about what I will put in front of you guys. Sometimes I’ll do it at the cost of downloads and traffic. Because sometimes I feel more obligated to provide the people, who are there, with something that is valuable. The responsible thing to do is use this platform to amplify messages that need to be amplified as opposed to sell more advertising. – Srini

Folklore is everywhere. Now we’re in a time where every story is hyper personal and it’s our job to find a connection to that story. – Phil

I want a relationship. I want somebody I can trust. That I can relate to. That isn’t like me, but exactly like me. – Phil

If you look at people who are successful, it appears that they have these massive platforms. That if you have all the numbers they have, that you’ll have all the success they have. Not quite. You have a unique story. You have a unique angle. That’s what actually matters. That’s the kind of thing that makes you unmistakable. – Srini

The whole point of the art of being unmistakable is that you tell a story in a way that only you can. What I call the no bullshit version. You start shedding. – Srini

I have this crisis of conscience [with book launches]. I have this amazing group of people and this incredible bank of social capital and I’m making withdrawals to try and push somebody else’s agenda in a lot of ways. Some people come to me and say ‘well you’re connected’ and I realize I ran into a huge ethical conflict with this. I don’t feel good about doing this. For me, I don’t want to abuse the people [in the small army] I’ve built to help market somebody else’s launch. – Srini

Molding moments, we all have them. But we don’t recognize them until we have them. – Srini

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – an excerpt from Steve Jobs’s Stanford Commencement speech (via Srini)

The whole moniker of corporate misfit. I gave myself this label. It was hard not to talk about it. I only subtly hinted at all these things and what I’ve been working on. I thought I can’t subtly hint at it anymore. Especially after the presentation Confessions of a Corporate Misfit went viral on slideshare. Now I’m completley fucked. Nobody is gonna hire me again anyways. Now there’s only one thing to do. – Srini

Catching that first wave, I didn’t realize what that would do for my life at the time but I thank God. Surfing probably saved my life. Even though some people will tell you it ruined my life. I was in a dark place mentally and the worst part is I didn’t even know it. I was sleep walking through life and I thought I wanted all these things. Every decision became about the external value of that validation. I never thought about the intrinsic value. – Srini

Sometimes I feel like I am court side at a Lakers game with all the celebrities except I’m not one of them. You’re invited to the party. You get to drink their booze. But at night you go home in your VW that fits a surf board and they go home in their limousines and Mercedes. – Srini

Things are evolving in a weird way. It has been four years of sweat equity with very few rewards. – Srini

We start out in school with no external rewards. If a kindergartener is in the corner building a castle out of Legos, he doesn’t say he’s going to put it on his application for MIT. Then in high school, why does anybody do anything? Because they need to [build their profile to] apply to college. Same thing as resume building but at a much younger age. – Srini

[We need to] get our head around the ability to do something for a really long time with a lot of ambiguity and also zero external rewards. – Greg Hartle (via Srini)

The idea that you’ll get to this point where everyone loves you is ridiculous. – Srini

You connect the dots moving forward, but the view continually changes. You can’t see the next step. – Srini

If I haven’t been fired from practically every single job, what would I write about? All these things that I thought were huge inadequacies would leave me with nothing to write about. – Srini

Sometimes people are afraid to go there. Afraid to go deeper. Because it’s icky to talk about fear. – Berni

There’s nobody left for me to disappoint. I’ve screwed up everything that I could possibly screw up that could cause worst case scenario. The only thing left to do is tell the truth and deal with the consequence. I rather share my truth unfiltered than spend my life living a lie. – Srini

No regrets but no repeats. – Phil

It takes time to learn how to be yourself. Be patient with that. Understand it’s a process. Just be. – Phil

The first time you wake up and realize you look in the mirror and you actually see yourself it’s terrifying because you’re like holy shit I’m out of my mind. I’m a complete lunatic and the whole world needs to know about it. – Srini

Tell the lizard brain to shut up. We just have to continue to keep moving forward and be okay that it’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s not about looking cool, it’s about learning. – Phil

Anybody can learn how to write a blog post or newsletter, but far too often people forget to learn how to ‘go there’ and write vulnerably. – Berni

Srini Recommends:

Greg Hartle – $10 Dollars and a Laptop

AJ & Melissa Leon – Misfit Conference

James Altucher – Choose Yourself

Kamal Ravikant – Love Yourself

Updated: Srini’s newest book “The Art of Being Unmistakable” is now available!

Find Srini:

Tweet with Srini at @skooloflife on Twitter

Read career suicidal updates by friending Srini Rao on Facebook

Listen to insightful and inspiring interviews hosted by Srini on

Check out Srini’s latest project: The Instigator Experience