Skip to main content

Creative Collaboration

Lesson 15 from: Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity

Srinivas Rao

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

15. Creative Collaboration

Lesson Info

Creative Collaboration

Let's move on to creative collaboration. One of the things that really became apparent to me sometime in 2013, was the fact that I could collaborate with other people to bring ideas to life, that I couldn't necessarily execute myself. So there's this idea of the myth of the lone genius, or the lone creator. So we see Steve Jobs at the helm of Apple and we think Steve Jobs is the lone genius behind Apple. Well it turns out that Steve Wozniak played an equally important role in the creation of Apple, but he may not be the charismatic person who stands up on stage and gives mind-blowing speeches, but that doesn't mean his role is any less important. In fact, a perfect example is what's happening here. This is very much a team effort. It's a collaborative effort. You have a producer. We have camera people, You have Chase to lead the company. You have everybody who is involved in making this happen, many of who we probably don't even see. And what's interesting about this is that Sam Altman...

, who is the founder of Y Combinator, actually said they very rarely fund solo founders, because the failure rate is just too high, because these things aren't easy to do. We're talking about things that are very difficult to accomplish. But we buy into the myth of the lone creator or genius because of the fact that they're the ones that are often in the spotlight. When you say the words U2, the first name that usually comes to mind is Bono, but without the rest of the band the music doesn't happen. There are other people other then Bono. Bono sings, but other people do lots of stuff, like play drums and play the guitar. They make all the rest of it just as possible. And this became very apparent to me with my own team when I started to do things like shift the brand of Unmistakable Creative to being something very visual, which we'll talk about, because we're gonna have my friend Mars Dorian here. But I want to talk about a few things to look for when it comes to creative collaborators. So, the first thing you want to do is you want to find somebody who frees you up to focus on your greatest strengths, and part of that is knowing what your greatest strengths are. I knew that there were certain things that I couldn't do. I knew that I was a great creator. I knew that I could execute ideas very quickly but often I had a really hard time tryin' to figure out how to create structure around them, how to monetize them. So you know last night I talked about the fact that I worked with a writing coach on my books, and that's because one of my weaknesses was the ability to structure things in a linear fashion. I just didn't have that ability, because of the fact that when you write blog posts, you don't have to have a coherent arc and narrative. You can write a blog post about one topic today and another one tomorrow. You can't do that in a book. Hence the reason I ended up working with a writing coach. They enabled us to accomplish far more than we could on our own, and we'll talk a little bit about this when, you know Mars comes. But if you think about the visual aesthetic of our brand at Unmistakable Creative, I have very little to do with the actual execution of that aesthetic. I know what I want something to look like. I can't draw it myself. I learned after 30 days of tryin' to draw that I can't draw, no matter how hard I tried, I was not gonna get much better at this. I might have gotten decent, but I knew that if I worked with somebody who could do that, I could bring things to life that currently seemed out of my scope, and this is consistent across the board. There's so many things that we all want to do, and we have certain strengths, and we don't tend to look to other people for help because we want to be heroic. We want to try to accomplish everything ourselves and yet there are other people who are really good at doing all the things. So I write a book for example, mentioned the writing coach. Think about the amount of people in addition to me and the writing coach that are involved in the production of a book: literary agent to negotiate contracts; a book cover designer to design a book cover; a publicist to go out and get publicity opportunities; a marketing team to go out and help you come up with a marketing plan. One person can't do all that and nothing of great significance is achieved without the help of other people, and yet we try so hard to do exactly that. Not only that, when you work with creative collaborators you get an opportunity to learn from the people who have walked the path before you. You look at the work of any writer, you look at the work of any artist, there's always people that they have been influenced by. Sometimes it's their teachers, sometimes it's the people who are their heroes and role models, people that they look up to. As I said, it's not a coincidence that I write prescriptive non-fiction books, because my entire bookshelf is filled with nothing but that. So, first off any questions about how to find creative collaborators, what this enables you to do, and how you might implement it into your own work? How did you find your writing coach? So that's a good question. What was interesting about my writing coach was I got my book deal offer and Penguin said, "We want you to work with a writing coach." My agent was really kind and said, "Fine, you want him to work with a writing coach, "you guys find it, and you guys pay for it." So, but all joking aside, Penguin actually made a couple of recommendations, one of them was a guy who had worked with my friend, Ryan Holiday, who I've mentioned previously. He had done multiple books for Ryan. Another was a guy who hated all of my books and didn't like my writing, so that guy was off the list immediately. And the other was a woman named Robin. So it was through referral, and I met Robin, and there are two reasons I chose Robin. I didn't choose Ryan's writing coach because I didn't want my books to sound like his. I love his books, but I also knew that the voice of my books would be really different, if I had one worked with a woman, and two didn't choose the same writing coach that he did. Robin also happened to have edited multiple books for Seth Godin, one of which became a New York Times Bestseller. That was enough to sell me on it and when I met her she said, "I'm not going to be easy on you. "I'm going to be tough on you." Those were the other, that was another selling point for me because I didn't want somebody who was gonna be easy on me. I wanted somebody who would not sugarcoat their feedback and what's funny, is that it took me about a month to get used to dealing with her feedback, and not taking it personally, Because for the first month I found it really offensive and we would get on the phone, and she would kind of talk me off the ledge, and I would realize that okay, she's doing her job. She's doing the job that I hired her to do, which is to be tough on me, and to basically get me to produce the best work I could produce. Because you know, it was really funny. Every now and then I'd see a compliment from her, that would say great, and that was the extent of it. (group laughing) And you know, I thought to myself, wow, I was like, 'cause you have to learn that, you know when you're working with somebody like this you have to learn to separate the fact that this is not an attack on you personally. It's a commentary on the work and that's their job. Their job is to make sure you do the best work that you can do and your job is to listen to their feedback, because of the fact that they have done this before. Like I said, I knew that her intentions were completely good. I said this a woman who had edited a book for Seth Godin, who we all know is basically a cultural icon, so why would I not listen to her, that's what I'm paying her for. And you look at this across mentors and people who are tough, they're tough on you because they know that that's what you're capable of. So that's one thing I would look for, always, you know reference checks are a big deal. You know fortunately she was vetted because of the fact that she was referred to me through my agent. Right. So that's how I found her. The other thing that I think is important with your collaborator is that you have a really, sort of similar set of values, and standards, and that you work well together, which you know we'll talk a little bit about Mars. It's really funny, because you're about to meet him. I don't think I've ever actually seen his face, What? In five years of working, at least not on screen. We've never met each other in person and we've worked together for almost six years. So I think three things that you need to think about for successful collaboration, confidence, commitment, and trust. Every person has to have no ego involved okay. You have to be confident in the other person's ability to do what they say they're gonna do, and they have to be confident in your ability. You have to be able to trust them, again like I said no ego or envy. Complementary skillsets, now this is this thing that often trips people up when it comes to creative collaboration. They tend to look for people who are just like them. We gravitate towards people who are just like us 'cause we like them. We feel good around them 'cause they're like us, but the problem with that is that it completely defeats the purpose of collaborating. So there are people that I work with on my team who can do things that I can't do. We work with a copywriter. I can write a book. I can't write a sales letter to save my life, I just can't. I don't know what it is, but anytime I try to write copy it sounds awful, it sounds stilted, but I can write a 200 page book, but I can't a one paragraph sales letter. So these are the most important things and I think now that takes us into my dear friend Mars.

Ratings and Reviews

Melissa Dinwiddie

What a fabulous class! Srini covered one actionable idea after another that can be implemented immediately to fuel creativity right out of the gate. And the beautiful thing is that each tactic builds on all the others, so every little step you take will improve your overall systems. I loved the stories from his podcast and the guest speakers, too. My only complaint was that some of the slides had a lot of text on them -- too much to read. Other than that, it was well-organized, thoughtful, and super useful. I've already recommended it to several people in passing.

Kathryn Kilner

This is a great course for anyone pursuing creative work. It is easy to get distracted in the modern world and Srinivas provides practical insights and tested systems for empowering creatives to focus and get more done. Although I've read a lot about how to optimize my habits, I was challenged in this course to think differently about how I structure my time and my work space. The changes I've made have helped me be more productive.

a Creativelive Student

I've watched many CreativeLive courses. While I find many interesting, there are only a handful that capture my attention from beginning to end. This was one of those. The speaker mentioned countless gems that were applicable not only to creativity and productivity, but to how one lives daily life. There were multiple "deep thoughts" and several practical ways to alter one's environments (including physical and mental) in order to enhance productivity and general well-being. I've already implemented a few suggestions, and am anxious to revisit my notes on this course repeatedly.

Student Work