109: Being Non-Obvious is the Obvious Answer

About Rohit Bhargava

Rohit Bhargava is a trend curator who helps brands and leaders win by learning to see what others miss. He is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of five books on topics as wide-ranging as the future of business, how to build a brand with personality, and why leaders always eat left handed. His signature book, Non-Obvious, has been read or shared by over 1 million readers, features 15 annual trend predictions and is in its 8th year of publication. Rohit is the Founder and Chief Trend Curator of the Non-Obvious Company and previously spent over 15 years leading digital and innovation strategy for global brands at Leo Burnett and Ogilvy. He is the founder of three successful companies, advises multiple startups and teaches marketing and storytelling at Georgetown University in Washington DC. His thinking has been featured on NPR, Fast Company, and the Harvard Business Review and he writes a monthly column for GQ magazine in Brazil. As a “non-boring” keynote speaker, Rohit has been invited to deliver multiple TEDx talks and has taken the stage at over 500 events in 31 countries around the world.


Why is “non-obvious” thinking so important? (2:15)

“I think because we are surrounded by so many people who say the same thing. And we're all trying to position our selves either in our careers as a little bit different or position the products and services that were selling as being different…is about getting outside of your comfort zone and getting outside of your industry and starting to see some intersections and new insights often form the things we don’t pay attention to.”


What is the biggest mistake that most of us make which keeps us from truly thinking more innovatively? (6:00)

“I think the biggest mistake that we often make is that we loo on our experience. Because usually, that’s a good thing to do right. You have your experience and the more experience you have the more confidence you earn and so you get used to succeeding by counting on that experience…”


Why do you hate cauliflower so much? (11:10)

“Well, the obvious reason is that it's disgusting. The less obvious reason why I make such a big deal out of it is actually something that I wrote about in one of my books which is all about building a network for yourself and building a successful career. And I talked about not only how I hate cauliflower, but I actually talk about how I hate it. And what it ends up doing is…”


Share with us one of your best networking stories (13:10)

“you know there’s a couple of events where there is a niche topic of the event. It ends up being a great way to meet people because you know everyone’s there because they're passionate about that one thing, whatever that one thing is…”


How do you stay in front of your network or community? (16:25)

“I think that the number one thing that I have done at most of the events that I have been at is, be willing to show up and stick around…”


What advice do you have for business professionals looking to grow their networks? (18:30)

“Sometimes the challenge is knowing where to be and what to go to. And what I’ve seen a lot of people do as a mistake is they look for the largest event that’s happening or a place where there is a lot of people. And they say this is the way to grow my network because the most people will be there…”


Digital networking or traditional networking? (20:55)

“there’s no substitute for meeting someone face to face. Because we’re still humans, right were not robots. I'm not exactly sure what that encompasses but clearly I connect with people digitally and that’s a part of how I interact with people.”


If you could go back 20 years, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of regarding your career? (22:40)

“I would probably tell my self to focus less on the thing I had to do to deliver a particular project. And to do more to share insight. For example, for me, I’ve always been a writer. I have a master’s degree in English, I am a writer at heart…”


If you could meet anyone within the 6th degree, who would it be and why? (26:20)

“Queen Rania of Jordan. Whose been just an amazing force for all kinds of awesome stuff in the world. And she’s someone that I really admire, so if there were some 6 degrees of separation that would allow me to meet her, I think that’s who I would choose.”


What book are you reading right now? (27:50)

“I’m always reaching a bunch of different books at once. Sometimes they’re business books, I’m lucky because I have a ton of business books, so there’s never just one book that I’m reading from a business book perspective… there’s a book from Tim Hartford called 50 Inventions that Shaped the Modern Economy…”


Any final words of advice for our listeners? (29:00)

“most of all is to engage with people kindness and give them as much of my time as I can afford. And take advantage of those moments when I’m out and away from home…”


You can get in contact with Rohit at:

Find him on LinkedIn


Tweet at him: @rohitbhargava