5 Fictional Heroes Who Influenced Me

What kind of heroes are you attracted towards? The action-type? The cool type? Or the angry type?

All of us have preferences when it comes to the kind of people we like and have an affinity towards. This extends even to fiction. Some fictional characters have such great impact that they push us to develop certain traits and characters which become part of our identity!

In my case, I have a weakness for calm, cool and collected characters. Characters with nerves of steel. I would prefer  having a calm guy/gal by my side who can out-think and outmaneuver the opposition through sheer brain power, than a wham-bamming brute force monkey!

Being a voracious reader, I have consumed loads of fictional novels since I was 12. Here are some characters who have stayed with me through the years and continue to inspire me with their coolness, wit and courage.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

The epitome of coolness. This consulting detective was my first hero whom I tried to ape in every way possible when I was growing up. Sherlock’s supreme confidence in situations old and new, his ability to see beyond the obvious and his calm, unruffled composure inspired me whenever I felt fear and doubt in my own abilities.

Thanks to my obsession to be like him, I ended up studying about topics which made me something of a wonder-boy during my school days. I took to reading Physics, Toxicology and Philosophy with a relish and even went to the extent of collecting crime news clippings from dailies in order to hone my skills as a future detective!

These things seem silly when I look back now, but some of the qualities which I developed back then still help me out. Sherlock taught me to be fearless, driven and logical. He taught me to have the curiosity and the courage to learn about things which fascinate me. Given his ability to still inspire millions, it’s quite elementary he’s my favorite character isn’t it?

(Thank you Arthur Conan Doyle for creating this masterpiece!)

Dr. Ian Malcolm

Ian Malcolm

My first encounter with Ian Malcolm was when I picked up the books Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton. Ian is a rebel mathematician and a chaos theorist who acts as a detached protagonist in the novels.

What struck me about Ian Malcolm was his ability to be the voice of reason (though an ironic one) when everyone around was excited and emotionally blinded. His accurate warnings about the downside of trying to control nature and attempting to bring back dinosaurs made him something of a genius to me.

His dry humor and his intellectual breadth appealed to the nerd in me and gave me the hunger to digest complex concepts which I would have otherwise never excelled at. Even now, when I am forced to learn stuff which I find hard to comprehend, I make myself step into the cool, rational mind of Ian Malcolm. This helps me power up my focus and learn them with ease.

 

John Galt / Howard Roark

Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged

Some young adults (referring to nut-cases such as me) between the ages of 20-23 have a tendency to turn into part-time philosophers. They are besotted by the quest of finding about the purpose of life and our place is in the grand scheme of things.

Enter Ayn Rand’s legendary books Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. The sheer number of thinkers who have been influenced by these books is phenomenal. I am no exception. (I recommend them to anybody who has a love of reading)

Howard Roark and John Galt, to me represent the pinnacle of radical doer-thinkers. Self-made men in every aspect, they move through life with the fluidity, grace and assurance of divine beings. Armed with an objective mind, fearless disposition and a joy for living, these two heroes carved out a distinct path for themselves. Their philosophy of objectivism gave a fresh direction to my thoughts.

They taught me to develop the ability to withstand life’s tribulations with fortitude, through a firm faith in one’s own abilities, no matter how bad the situations around me.

Dirk Struan

Tai Pan

Dirk Struan is the main character of the epic novel Tai-Pan written by British author James Clavell in 1966. He is the Tai Pan (Chinese for ‘Supreme leader’) who commands the respect and envy of everyone  and trades through his trading company called the Noble House.

Dirk Struan is my favourite anti-hero who is a resourceful, tough and a cunning bastard. He is a self-made millionaire who loves the seas and is a fearless merchant. The novel is about his love for China, his challenges, adversities  and how he comes out of them a sheer winner!

The Tai-Pan taught me the need to embrace change and adapt to dynamic situations. His ability to network with a wide variety of people and lead them in times of intense pressure make him an endearing character of mine.

Michael Corleone

The Godfather

No list of my favorite characters would be complete without The Godfather’s prodigal son. A complex character who is forced to take up the family mantle and deal with the ever-increasing violence of his enemies. A man who ruthlessly consolidates power so that he can escape it all. Only to be pulled back again.

Michael taught me never to be intimidated by anything. Whether it be power, stature or size. He also taught me the value of diplomacy over brute force. The need for level-headed thinking instead of impulsive decision making. His words of wisdom have helped me make many good decisions in my life.

What such characters show is the need to live life on your own terms. To be one of a kind. To be driven by a purpose and to excel in whatever you do. To walk the talk and leave a legacy behind which can inspire others to lead better lives

So who are the fictional characters responsible for molding you? Share them with me and the rest of the world…

Cheers!

Lessons from the Dark Arts – Part II : The Hustler

This is Part -II of a two part series. See here for Part-I 

Mad MenSource: Turquoise Branding

 

The Hustler

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle”

- Abraham Lincoln

The Hustler
The Hustler

There is a reason why legendary Hustlers are so successful. Few know and recognize their true nature. They would rather be known as Entrepreneurs, Moguls, Billionaires and Creative Geniuses. Because the word ‘Hustler’ has come to have too many negative connotations, they stay away from using that title for themselves. But they are all masters in the art of hustling.

These Master Hustlers were not born with this mindset. Most of them had to go through terrible circumstances which forced them to adapt. Not doing so would have led to their extinction. The will to survive can be a powerful force in transforming individuals. They used this force to navigate their way to power, money and freedom.

Which begs the question. What exactly is hustling?

Lesson 2: Fearlessness – The Key to Power

You are a Hustler when you stop accepting other people’s definition of how you should lead your life. You are not afraid of claiming your place in the world without waiting for it to be handed down to you. You are always on the move, looking at unconventional angles and methods to push yourself to the limits. Suffice to say, you’re a hustler when you are Supremely Confident and Fearless.

50 Cent
50 Cent

Those of you who have read The 50th Law will know the importance of conquering fear. This trait enabled the transformation of Curtis Jackson (a.k.a. 50 Cent) from a ghetto street kid selling drugs to legendary Rapper and Businessman extraordinaire.

But fear being such a primal emotion is difficult to conquer. So how does one become fearless? The answer lies in having a killer instinct and going for the jugular. This instinct is the art of knowing the time and place to attack . This is what gives rise to fearlessness. And you need to start following these steps to be on your way as a fearless hustler.

a) Tap into the Power of Realism

 The world we live in takes great pleasure in masking its true intent. Everyone tries to conceal information to gain that extra edge. You need to recognize this and stare this farce in the eye. Once you become aware that most things are not what they seem and the real opportunities reveal themselves once you uncover the facade, you will gain tremendous strength in dealing with situations.

Consider the example of Jay Z.  Winner of 14 Grammy awards and having a net worth over $450 million, Jay Z has had a monster of a career sniffing out trends which were grade-A bullshit.  Back in 2009, the hottest trend in Hip-Hop was auto-tune. This basically meant using a device to alter pitch in vocals and instruments to produce perfectly tuned songs. A lot of rappers were making tons of money using this technique and it looked as if the hip-hop industry had their new style of working.

Jay Z
Jay Z

 Jay Z, who was a master hustler throughout his life, smelled this rat a mile away. The trend reeked of a fad which could not sustain itself. Because it had no originality, it made everyone else sound the same. So after careful contemplation, he decided to go for the kill. When the auto-tune frenzy was at its peak, he launched his big single – D.O.A (Death of Autotune).

 It was original, noisy and off-pitch. The crowds loved it. D.O.A won the Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance. The Autotune died a quiet death. Jay Z says in Decoded, “You cannot fake a trend that is not you. It might work for a second, but it’s a house of sand”

b) Take what you want

This lesson has been infinitely doled out to the masses. Yet they never get it. Hard work, sincerity and patience can only get you so much. If you truly want to make it big, you need to start taking matters into your own hand.

 Most people love playing victims. They are happy blaming the world for their failures. What they don’t understand is that majority of people are working for their own self-interest. No one will go out of their way to help you get what you want. A Hustler uses this to his advantage.

 By making sure he knows exactly what people want, he lets others know he is ready to help them achieve their goals. He uses this greed to create opportunities which help him take what he wants. This is not a form of treachery. On the contrary, this skill is highly sought after and appreciated. And the ones who become masters at taking what they want are rewarded beyond their wildest dreams.

Clinton
President-Bill-Clinton

Presenting Bill Clinton Ladies and Gentlemen. Yes the rock-star People’s President. Perhaps one of the most charismatic man to ever grace a Presidency. He discovered early on that people had an amazing love for themselves. Imagine, if someone you met a year ago comes to a party. He is able to recount details of not just your name, but an obscure hobby that you had mentioned offhand. What would be your reaction? Wouldn’t you absolutely fall in love and be in total awe of him?

Clinton used this by mastering a system which helped him connect with people on an intimate level. He had a habit of making cue cards of important contacts and their habits, hobbies and other little details which helped him dazzle them. He was hustling all the time, making use of his talents to charm people and trusting him to be their leader. And the rest, as they say is history.

c) Intense Curiosity

Some of the most successful hustlers owe their success to a burning curiosity. Unless you have a hunger to know and understand what needs to be done in order to succeed, you will never make it. Intense curiosity is not just mere information gathering. It needs action. You need to hustle and find ways of gaining information which is normally not accessible by everyone. And the need to access such information helps you conquer your fears and go for the unconventional methods.

50-Cent-Suit jayz-suit2

50 Cent and Jay Z went from Drug Dealers to Rap artists to Music Moguls to Entrepreneurs. This happened mainly because they learned to harness the power of curiosity. Everytime people told them their limits had been reached, they probed. They refused to believe that they had to accept someone else’s definition of how to live.

Realize one thing. You are here on this planet for a limited time. You can either let yourself be ruled by dogmas or You can conquer fear through action and hustle your way to success. Hustlers are not people who will wait till the conditions are right for action. Rather they start acting and manifest opportunities to bulldoze their way through life.

Ready to Hustle? Let me know how it goes.

Lessons from the Dark Arts – Part I: The Con Man

Conning People – Hustling. These are not for the faint of heart. Nor are they for people with extremely high moral compasses. But just like all other professions, they too have their legends. There is a reason why they attain legendary status. They are masters in their chosen art. And they leave behind traces of their mastery for people who wish to learn from them.  

Con Man

I have learnt some very valuable lessons just by studying them. These legends learnt their lessons by spilling blood (often their own), being in life and death situations and surviving to tell their story. These lessons are not taught in your classrooms. Nor will you gain any advantage from them if you don’t apply them in your life. In these posts, I will show you what these masters of the dark realms can teach you.

The Con Man

Ever heard of Ponzi schemes? Where you cheat people out of their hard-earned money? That’s right. It’s named after the first guy who swindled the so-called Rich and Smart investors for a neat $20 million. And this was back in early 1900’s!

Charles Ponzi a.k.a. Charles Ponci, Carlo ,Charles Bianchi. One of the first Confidence tricksters to make it large. To the untrained eye, Charles Ponzi on a holiday could have been easily mistaken for a suave and sophisticated gentleman. To the trained eye, he would have appeared to be a iron man of indomitable will, wealth and power. He rendered your observation skills pretty useless.

Ponzi

Ponzi made it his business to be unruffled under any circumstance. He was absolutely fearless in executing his schemes and with ruthless focus made them profitable. The most important lesson I learned from him is the art of Supreme Confidence.

Lesson 1: Acquire Supreme Confidence

There is a whole lot of difference in having Confidence and displaying Supreme Confidence. An average level of confidence works for most people. They remain content in being a good team player, growing slowly and working hard. If you wish to stand out and rise, you need to do it like a Con Man. There are 3 simple ingredients for Supreme Confidence:

a) Appearance

“People respond to how we are dressed. So like it or not, this is what you have to do.”

 – Harvey Specter (Suits)

This might seem glaringly obvious. Yet, so many of us fail to do it. Even Nature uses appearance to intimidate, threaten and hide from predators when it suits her purpose.  We are all wired in our subconscious to respond to appearance. This does not mean being dressed as a dandy. Carefully craft your dressing to convey sharpness and Professionalism.

Harvey Specter

Con-men also teach it is not just enough if you dress appropriately. It needs to be accompanied by the right posture, mental attitude and gestures. These complete the picture of a person who is effortlessly at ease with himself/herself.

b) Authority

Studies in Psychology have shown the power of Perceived Authority. If you want to be respected as a consummate professional in your field, wear the authority of one. Your appearance should complement your air of authority for maximum effect.

Be careful not to use this with actual authorities if you do not have the stuff to back it up. This is how most cons are caught. Instead, use perceived authority as a tool to help you get into meetings and places where you can learn. Absorb information faster than your competitors while they remain meek and humble.

c) Using Herd Mentality

The most important lesson of having Supreme Confidence is understanding and using Herd Mentality. Most people are never sure of themselves in life. They always seek to validate their actions by seeking permission or approval from their Bosses/Superiors.

Aubenoire's Blog
Aubenoire’s Blog

 This is where Con Men steal it from right under everyone’s noses. They know that once they get those few important people in their target segment to invest in their schemes, the large majority will follow them. The larger this following gets, the more successful the Con.

Always keep a look out for herd mentality if you wish to stand out. As organizations become large, there is a tendency to follow pointless processes and systems by all and sundry. See if you can show the person in charge the error of the herd (Be gentle. See how Ponzi charms the first target below).

Charles Ponzi
Source: UK Telegraph
 

This act has a dual advantage. Not only will you be recognized as an upcoming star, but you will also receive the gratitude of your fellow workers for reducing their burden. A confident person is also seen as reliable and trust-worthy. People will end up associating positive qualities to you thanks to your Halo effect.

These traits of ‘Fake it till you make it’ have consistently helped a multitude of high performers. When you believe in yourself, both your self-esteem and the odds of being successful in your task improve by leaps and bounds. Put this lesson to work and start exuding Supreme Confidence from this very moment! Let me know how it works out for you by leaving your comments below.

Good Luck!