The Tale of Amar, Akbar, Anthony and What They All Need to Succeed

Three Friends

Meet three friends – Amar, Akbar & Anthony.

Amar is an entrepreneur. He thinks that he is unemployable and wants to always remain his own boss. He is self-driven, creative, knows what he wants and has the ability to inspire people. He is not afraid of taking risks and following his dreams. He dreams big and wants to make it big some-day. He believes in his own ability and pursues his dreams. He co-founded a startup and is busy creating the next billion dollar product.

Akbar is also like Amar, but a bit more conservative. He wants to go after his dream but at the same time doesn’t want to bet everything on it. He went through the whole bit – did well in school, became an engineer and ended up in a good, well paying corporate job. However, he is not satisfied with this job and the salary. He wants to do something more. He also wants to have an impact. He secretly wants to be like Amar but doesn’t want to leave the security of his well-paying job.

Anthony is different. He did the full bit – did well in school, college and ended up in a good paying corporate job. He is happy with his job. He is more focused on his private hobbies – wants to spend time with family, wants to travel and see the world, read, play some sport, etc. He has no aspiration of making creating an impact in the world. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and aspires to become the head of a unit in his company or some other company that pays him better.

I am sure that each one of us could relate to one of these three characters, not entirely fictional.

In each case, there are certain fundamental skills that each one of them need to work on and improve at if they want to achieve their goals.

Key Skill – Ability to Influence

One such skill is the ability to convince and influence people – physically (in-person) and virtually (in-absence).

There is a lot of resources that are available for us to learn how to persuade and influence people when we are with them in-person. Some really good resources are books by Robert Cialdini (Influence & Pre-suasion), presentation skills, communication skills training and many more. This is also an area where the feedback for performance (yes, it really is a performance) is immediate (verbal or non-verbal), all of us know where we stand when it comes to our skills and if we are not good, we decide to do something about it.

The area where I think we miss out on is the ability to persuade people when we are not around.

So, in order for Amar to succeed in building up his product to success, he will need to be able to create copy that can convince or persuade his customers to open up their wallets. This copy will include the packaging of the product, product brochure, product website, campaign emails that he will send to his prospective customers and a lot more that he will need to do.

In order for Akbar to succeed in becoming a successful intrapreneur, he would need the ability to convince his organisation of his ideas. He will have to write emails that are persuasive, he will have to write up project plans and new product description and what they will do, that are able to persuade his senior executives to fund his ideas.

In order for Anthony to succeed in becoming a business unit head, he would need the ability to convince his boss to give him the promotion that he wants, he would need the ability to write persuasive emails that will inspire his team to rally around the idea/project that he is driving so that it becomes a success.


So, in short, irrespective of whether we relate to Amar, Akbar or Anthony, one key skill that we all need to learn and improve upon is the ability to write persuasive text or COPY.

One way to learn how to write copy, which is a bit crude, but works wonderfully, is to copy by hand, copies or emails or news paper advertisements that have worked really well.  I have tried this and I can say for sure that this definitely helps but is an approach that not many people have used before.

And Ray Edwards is a successful copywriting coach, who uses his own unique process to come up with a copy. You can use the same method to come up with an email that can convince for you, or create a sales pitch that can convince your customer or write a project plan that can convince senior management to open up their budgets and fund your idea.

Ray has just launched a free online course that will teach how to write persuasive copy. I have already registered for this free course. I recommend that you  register for the same as well. This is one skill that every Amar, Akbar and Anthony needs to build upon to achieve their dreams.

There are courses on copy writing that are available on Skillshare, or the one offered by Ray or on any other platforms.

One of the most important skills to succeed in a Gig Economy - Writing Good Copy Click To Tweet

It is imperative that we all learn to write good COPY. This could be one skill that can potentially have a significant impact on our careers.

You can check our some great examples of good email copy here and some advertisement copies below.

3 Ways to Trick Ourselves to do What We Hold Most Important

One thing that I have understood very clearly after reading the research from various behavioural scientist is that, we as a race still haven’t developed the ability to decide when presented with complex choices.

Another insight that i have from this body of work is that it is easier to hack our environment, thereby hacking our behaviour than directly attempting to hack or modify our behaviour.

Our ancestors intuitively understood a lot of these phenomenon and created cultures full of ceremonies and rituals. Ceremonies and rituals that allow us to do what is good for the group and for ourselves.

So, when it comes to organisations that want to grow and grow significantly, they can use some of these insights to bring their employees together and create a culture of high performance.

A few such behaviours that they can design to encourage high employee engagement and performance are:

The Power of a Nemesis:

Nothing unites people like going after a common enemy. This is a social phenomena which is older than hundreds or even thousands of years. So, find your nemesis. It could be your biggest competitor (Apple vs Google or SAP vs Oracle or Coke vs Pepsi) or could be an imaginary one. It could even be a different version of  themselves (We never want to be like them!!!!).

As long as you have a nemesis that all of you want to go after, you will have cohesion and engagement and high performance. If you have conquered your nemesis, create a new one.

The Power of  Rituals or Ceremonies:

We have evolved with rituals and ceremonies surrounding us all the time. These create a sense of belonging. Some of them also help us release adrenalin and oxytocin, which further increase trust amongst the team. These could be very simple stuff and needs to be done on an ongoing basis. Some examples of these rituals could be:

  1.  as having a team dinner every Friday evening or
  2. ringing a bell every time you win a deal in a competitive situation or
  3. having a simple Hi-Fi done every time you finish a face-to-face meeting or
  4. starting every meeting with a 30 sec silence or
  5. Starting every project with a specific act..

The Power of Social Pressure:

As a race, we value social recognition and validation more than anything else. So, if we really want to achieve something and find that self-motivation is lacking, we can use this insight. Just go ahead and publicly announce that we intend to do something. It is better to announce that we will do something rather than achieve something, or else, you will do something else. For example, I will walk 10000 steps a day or pay X amount to a charity or pay for a party where all my friends are invited but I am not.

Once you have done this, you will have much more motivation to go for the walks than otherwise because now your friends will hold you accountable to your goal and we don’t want to lose face amongst our friends.

This is even more prominent if you are going leverage your basic acquaintances to hold you accountable.


These are just three of many more mechanisms that we can use to trick ourselves do things that are important to us but somehow we never come around to doing them.


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.