20 Insanely Interesting People I Came to Know in 2016

One of the things I do over time is to discover new people and learn from new sources. I had shared my earlier list of 25 insanely interesting people in 2014. You can find that list here.

So, here is a list of some of the insanely interesting people that i came across in 2016. I do hope you will find some of these people and the great work that they are doing interesting enough to start following them. I must say that I was fortunate enough to discover these people online and learn so much from them.

I do hope that you will spare some time and try and follow some of these folks and the insanely interesting work that they are putting out into the world. They are changing the world as we know it.

Here is my list of insanely interesting people I came to know in 2016 (in alphabetical order)

Adam Grant – Super Power – Being Prolific at Original Thinking

I was introduced to Adam through a podcast episode that Srinivas Rao put out on his show – Unmistakable Creative (BTW, it was also one of the best episodes of the show). Then I went on to listen to his book – Originals on Audible. Loved the book. Then I went ahead and bought his other book – Give and Take and loved that as well. I have been highly influenced by both his books and hope I am able to put some of the learnings from the books into practise.

Adam is THE top rated professor at Wharton and a leading expert on finding motivation, meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. He has been recognised as one of the world’s 25 most influential management thinkers and Fortune’s40 under 40.

You can buy his book Originals here and Give and Take here. You can connect with him on twitter at @AdamMGrant.

Anders Ericsson – Super Power – Expert on How to Become an Expert

He is the author of the book – Peak and the proponent of the concept of deliberate practice. I got an opportunity to read his book and have a conversation with him for my podcast and was blown away by the simplicity & openness of this expert on expertise & human performance. He had a significant influence in my thinking and understanding about how does one go about becoming an expert in any given field. So much so that I bought 25 copies of his book to give away to my customers, with the request to gift the book to someone they thought had the potential or the aspiration to become world class at their chosen field. You can find more information about him and his contact at his university page here. You can buy the book here.  You can listen to my conversation with him here.

Anthony Iannarino – Super Power – Inspiring Greatness – not just in selling.

I found Anthony through my search for good sales blogs. His blog is literally called The Sales Blog. This is one of the best sales blog that i have come across which doesn’t just talk about how to be great at Sales but also be a great individual. I had the opportunity to talk to him for my podcast. You can listen to the episode here.

He also has a YouTube channel and has started posting a video on his channel every day. He also launched his first book – The Only Sales Guide You’ll ever Need recently, which went on to become a best seller.

You can visit his blog here and find him on twitter @iannarino.

BJ Fogg – Super Power – Making Behaviour Change Happen

I don’t remember how I discovered BJ. He is a behaviour scientist and is an expert in behaviour design. Like so  many people, I participated in his online behaviour change workshop – Tiny Habits and was blown away by the results that I got from the same. You can look at his model of behaviour change here.

If behaviour design is something that you would like to explore, BJ Fogg is the person to go to. I do hope that i am able to get to talk to him for my podcast sometime soon (truth being said, I haven’t reached out to him yet).

You can find his work here and can reach him on twitter at @bjfogg.

Cal Newport – Super Power – Doing Deep Work

I came across Cal when I listened to him on every one of the podcasts that I follow and talk about deep work and its importance. Then I read (listened to his) book – Deep Work and my respect and admiration for him went up significantly. When Anders suggested that i should host him on my show, I reached out to him and he immediately agreed to be on the show. I am super excited to talk to him and get to understand him a bit more deeply :-).

You can find his book here, follow his blog here.

Dan Gregory – Super Power – Making the Impossible Possible

I came to know of Dan and his work through reading his book – Selfish, Scared and Stupid! He is the Co-Founder, President and CEO of The Impossible Institute™, a strategic think-tank that helps organisations understand what motivates the staff, customers and communities so that they can make impossible things possible.

I had the chance to talk to him for my show and was blown away by his calm, thoughtful and brilliant answers to my questions. You can listen to the episode here.

If you are running a small/medium sized business and want to explore how to significantly grow your business, Dan is the man to turn to.

You can follow his blog here and connect with him on twitter at @DanGregoryTII.

Daniel Burrus – Super Power – Connecting Present to the Future

I first came across Daniel when I read his book –  Flash Foresight. In the book, he talks about Hard Trends and Soft Trends and how if organisations that understood the hard trends can then align their strategies with these trends and benefit immensely.

He also runs a research organisation called Burrus Research and blogs every week. I have followed his blog keenly and have found that he is insightful and extremely well articulated. He has this uncanny ability to predict the hard trends and apply it to the current day-to-day strategy. You can follow his blog here and connect with him on twitter at @DanielBurrus

Dilip Soman: Super Power – The Power of Nudge

Dilip Soman is a Professor of Marketing. His research is in the area of behavioural economics and its applications to consumer wellbeing, marketing and policy. He is also the director of the India Innovation Institute at the University of Toronto.

He is also working with the Nudge team being created by the Indian government to implement nudge strategies in the policy making in India.

I had the opportunity to host him for my show (to be published shortly) and was super excited and influenced by his thoughts.

You can connect with him on twitter @dilipsoman.

James Victore – Super Power – Insanely Creative & Igniting Greatness

I found James Victore through his YouTube channel. He was introduced to me via Seth Godin in one of his interviews. James is a creative and hosts (used to host) a show on YouTube called – Burning Questions. He would take questions that his followers sent to him and answer them.

He was funny, personal, insightful and would push people to not settle for mediocrity and go for greatness. He just launched a channel on Patreon to allow people who need his advice to go to and get deep, long and insightful commentary.

You can find James’s work here and register to attend his workshops here. His YouTube channel is here & his patreon page is here.

If you are a creative person, I would strongly recommend that you follow and interact with him on twitter @JamesVictore.

Jessica Hagy – Super Power – Morphing Emotions to Charts

Jessica runs an immensely popular blog – This is Indexed. She is an award winning creative and has a very easy way to pick complex topics and show them in a simple chart. She has been doing this on a daily basis for a long long time. He has also illustrated – The Art of War, the quintessential book on strategy and living. She is another person whom I have not had the chance to talk to yet but would love to connect and host on my show to talk about her super power.

You can find her blog here and can reach her on twitter at @jessicahagy.

Richard Thaler – Super Power – Nudge You to do what is Right for You

Richard Thaler is the co-author of the seminal book on behavioural economics – Nudge. This book changed how I saw influence and started questioning a lot of my decisions. He recently released his book – MisBehaving which went on to become a best seller as well. He is probably the one guy who understands nudging and how can one design products or policies to help people do what is the right thing to do through choice architecture.

I think BJ Fogg is the guy for personal behaviour change and Richard is the guy for bringing about mass behaviour change. If you have ever seen a pricing structure with three options and where two of the options seem absurd or one is highlighted as the best option, you are seeing his work being put in action.

He has worked with the British government to set up their nudge unit which is a shining example of how governments now understand that just providing options doesnt move the needle when it comes to doing good – they need to nudge the people to do what is right for them and for the government.

You can find his books (Nudge & Misbehaving) here. You can follow his blogs here & connect with him on twitter at @R_Thaler.

RJ Shraddha – Super Power – Insanely Insane

Shraddha is a RJ at a radio station (104 Fever FM) in Bangalore, the city where i live. Her show – Mad mornings is one of the most popular shows in the city and she has a cult following among her listeners. To say that she is funny, hilarious, super smart, a bit mad, extremely creative and alive would be an understatement. She is just amazing.

I had the opportunity to speak to her in her studio and loved the interaction, warmth and the energy she brought with her. You can listen to my episode starring her here and connect with her on her Facebook page here.

Robert B. Cialdini – Super Power – Building Influence Through Presuasion

I first came to know of Robert when his book was referred by not one but many people who were on my list of 2014 insanely interesting people. I read the book and got to know why he is so revered in the marketing circles.

The book was a practical guide on how to influence people and their decisions systematically and definitely. Then he came up with his next book Pre-suasion. I got my hands on the book as quickly as i could and read it cover to cover – twice.

I was familiar to the concept of psychological framing but this book took this to a different level. He shares strategies about what one could do to create an environment which stacks the deck in your favour to influence decisions. I strongly believe that if your work involves you influencing people around (upwards, sidewards & downwards), you MUST read both his books. I do hope that i am able to convince him to talk to me for my audience sometime soon.

You can follow his work here and connect with him on twitter at @RobertCialdini.

Rohit Bhargava – Super Power – Finding a needle in a Haystack – Futurist

I discovered Rohit through his book – Non-Obvious, where he shares his method to curate trends. He calls it the Haystack Method. He also updates his book Non-Obvious every year and shares information about trends that he sees playing out in the near future. What makes him more interesting is that he also reviews how his predictions in the past year have played out.

He also has a weekly news-letter Non-Obvious insights, where he hand picks 5-6 stories that point towards a trend and are worthy of our attention.

You can find his blog here and he can be reached on twitter at @rohitbhargava.

Roman Mars – Super Power – Craft and Share Powerful Stories

Roman is a podcaster and hosts the immensely popular 99% Invisible podcast. Seth Godin introduced me to Roman Mars via one of his rants. Since then, not only have I not missed a single episode that he has put out, but I went back in time to listen to every single podcast episode that he ever released.

Even my 12 year old son loves listening to this show – probably the only podcast that we both like listening to. He picks his stories with care and is amazingly great at weaving the story in a way that you would want to immerse yourself in the story.

You can listen to his podcast here and sign up for his newsletter here.

You can listen to some of Roman’s favourite episodes of his show here. You can connect with him on twitter at @romanmars

Sanjay Manaktala – Super Power – Making You RoFL.

I came across Sanjay’s YouTube channel when someone sent me a link to his parody song –  IT Guy 2.0. Since then I have watched every single video that he has put up on his channel, including the senti Sanjay. I find him to be extremely funny and uncannily current.

You can find his YouTube channel here and connect with him on Twitter @smanak .

Stephen Dubner – Super Power – Story telling Economist

Stephen is the co-author of the Freakonomics series of books and hosts the hugely popular podcast – Tell me Something I dont know. The amount of trivia I have learnt on his show is just something I never thought I will ever know. His show definitely made me smarter.

He has the uncanny ability to weave a story out of any economic topic and captivate the audience. I do hope that I am able to meet him sometime and host him on my show sooner than later.

You can find his books (When to Rob a Bank, Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics and Think Like a Freak), podcasts (Freakonomics Radio & Tell Me Something I Dont Know) and connect with him on twitter at @freakonomics.

Team Film Bilder – Super Power – Building Animations That Speak to You

I stumbled onto one of their videos through an email I got from Open Culture (you should so sign-up for their daily newsletter). This team based in Germany releases short animated films which have inspired me for sometime now.

The award winning team is extremely creative and use animations to share universal stories that have the potential to speak to each one of us in a very different way, based on our own mental make-up at that exact moment.

You can follow their YouTube channel here. My favourite video among them all is here.

Team Maati Baani – Super Power – Creating Collaborative Music Magic

I generally dont like to listen to songs and music with very few exceptions. One of the exceptions is when team Maati Baani (Karthik Shah and Nirali Karthik) put out one of their songs. What fascinates me is that not only do they release music that is mind-blowing, but are able to do so by collaborating with other musicians from around the world (like Michael Jackson Tribute or Jao Piya here).

I know from experience that it is hard work to produce high quality music, even more to do so by collaborating with other musicians, and sometimes from across the world.

You can follow their YouTube channel here and connect with them on twitter at @maatibaani.

Tim Harford – Super Power – Making Economics Make Sense to commoners.

He is popularly known as the Undercover economist and is the author of the book Messy. I had the opportunity to talk to him for my podcast (to be published sometime soon). He hosts a popular radio show – More or Less. The best thing about him is that he is able to pick complex economic concepts and make it simple enough for non-economic folks can understand and make sense.

You can find him on his website here and on twitter he is @TimHarford.

PBTO43: How to Lead without Authority 

In the future of work that we envisage, one of the key skill that would be needed for anyone to do well is their ability to influence people (upwards/side wards/downwards) with or without formal authority.

This is an ability that anyone can build provided one is deliberate about building the skill.

Here are four things that you need to work on in order to build up your ability to lead with or without formal authority.

Building trust – Your Track Record

One of the most important component of influence or lack thereof is the amount of trust that people have on you as an individual.

  • Do you always do what you say you will do?
  • Do you take action and accompanying responsibility to the result of the action?
  • Are you open, honest and transparent about your intentions to doing something?
  • Are you more interested in the work being done or in claiming the credit for the work being done?

Past track record always has an influence on the amount of trust people have on you. So, it is in your best interest to be trustworthy and build that rapport with people and be known as someone who is honest, transparent and fulfils his commitment. These are the kinds of people, whom we all like to follow, irrespective of their titles.

3E’s – Empathy, Energy and Enthusiasm

These 3E’s are critical for any one who wants to lead. No one wants to follow someone who sucks out the energy from around them or constantly complains about everything and put themselves front, right and Center in all situations; definitely not when they don’t have to.

Manage your energy. Eat healthy, have enough rest, exercise, stay positive and stop whining and complaining about everything. This will give you a lot of energy.

Empathise with the people whom you wish to lead or influence. Understand their world view, what they want to achieve and find a way to align that to what you want to achieve. Find the answer for the question – What’s in it for them? Don’t manipulate. Manipulation always works in the short run but can be fatal in the long run as nothing destroys all semblance of trust like finding out that we were being manipulated in doing something that we never wanted to do or being mislead.

As they say, enthusiasm is contagious. People want to be around people who are enthusiastic and full of energy and have a positive outlook.

Be inspired so you can inspire

The people who are inspired have the potential to inspire people to action. Newton’s first law of motion is as applicable in the case of human minds as physical objects. Every object will remain in its current state (motion or rest) until it is acted upon by an external force. The external force that can move human mind and spirit to wilful action is inspiration. THe reason why we put people like Gandhi or Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela on a pedestal as great leaders is because of their ability to inspire people to action – sometimes, action that could potentially get them killed or injured.

Robin Sharma, author of “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” shares 22 ways to become spectacularly inspirational. As for me, you can’t be inspirational, unless you are inspired yourself.

Study & Understand behavioral Psychology

If we want to influence people and in a positive way, we should learn how people function. We are fortunate to live in a period where is a lot of  great work being done in this field so that we understand how influence works better. We can learn from the works of people like Daniel Kahnemann (Thinking Fast and Slow), BJ Fogg, Richard Thaler (Nudge), Robert Cialdini (Influence & Pre-Suasion), Nir Eyal (Hooked) and many more.


Each one of these abilities function like a positive spiral loop which reinforces your ability to build influence and lead people with or without any formal authority. None of these work in isolation as well as when we have all of these going together.