Would you work for free for one year through speaking engagements? Would you be willing to dedicate yourself to something that much? It would be very difficult to do, we all like to get paid for our work but to get your foot in the door to the life that you wish to live means that sometimes you have to dig in deep to achieve your dreams and goals in life.
You have to start somewhere on the ladder, and it is normally the first step.
And that is exactly what Akash Karia had to do to fulfil his ambition of becoming an international keynote speaker.
Akash has also written 20 books that have been published on Amazon – each book hitting the number one spot in it’s respective category.
International public speaking and still finding the time to write 20 books still – that’s a lot of dedication and commitment, I wanted to find out just exactly how Akash not only found the time to do this but also learn more about his choice to do something for one year without charging a fee.
So I asked him for an interview and lucky for me he said yes.
Let’s hear from the man himself:
Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
I am a global keynote speaker and workshop leader who travels around the world helping companies learn how to craft persuasive stories, deliver powerful presentations and increase sales. Prior to becoming a full-time professional speaker, I was the Chief Commercial Officer of a multi-million dollar technology company in East Africa.
I was born in Tanzania to Indian parents and now reside in Hong Kong. I spend six months out of the year travelling to other countries to conduct workshops, seminars and keynotes for my clients.
What motivated you to become an author?
Since an early age, I loved reading. This naturally led me to want to write a book. When I was in sixth grade, I wrote a book about a mouse who rescues a cat from the cold. I submitted the manuscript to Penguin. I never heard back from them. But I knew that I wanted to write…
As I grew up, I become obsessed with personal development books. And as I began to apply the strategies I learned, I noticed remarkable transformations beginning to take place in my life. Writing was a way for me to package the best of what I’d learned and share it with the world.
How did you learn about the process of putting together an ebook? From creating content to cover design and marketing there is a lot to learn!
It took me two years to write and self-publish my first book. How did I learn? By reverse engineering the process. I looked at other self-published and traditionally published books, decided what I liked and tried to replicate the same for my book (e.g. the quality of the cover design). There was a lot of trial and error, but after a year I managed to put together a virtual team that helps me with the cover design, editing, etc. I share all my strategies in my book, “How to Write a Non-Fiction eBook in 15 Days”
Do you have a mentor?
I don’t have a formal “mentor-mentee” relationship, but I regularly pick the brains of people I admire.
You seem very dedicated to developing good habits, how has this helped your writing career?
If you’ve watched the movie Kingsman, there’s a line in there where the character says “Manners maketh man” (right before he goes on to kick some butt). I believe that “Habits maketh man”. Once you cultivate the right habits and form a regular routine all aspects of your life become much easier. I am so passionate about this subject that I even wrote a book titled “The Habit Project”.
My writing habit revolves around:
(1) Making a list of the top three things I need to do each day (e.g. writing/marketing)
(2) Breaking my day up into 50 minute blocks (e.g. 9:00 – 9:50 a.m, 10:00 – 10:50 a.m)
(3) Assigning each top task to at least one 50-minute block where I work on just that task (e.g. writing).
Have good habits played a key part in developing other areas of your life? E.G Fitness?
Fitness has become a huge part of my life over the last year. In the past, I paid no attention to keeping healthy. I’d eat junk food, sleep late and not exercise. This led me to developing a double-chin, and even worse…I kept falling sick VERY often.
Once I got tired of being sick and tired, I decided to apply my habit-formation strategies to cultivate the habit of exercising at least 3 times per week. Within 90 days, I lost 15 pounds of fat, put on sizeable muscle mass and got into the fittest, healthiest shape of my life. You can check out my free case study on this here: http://akashkaria.com/habit-case-study/
One of your ebook topics covers public speaking, what made you take the steps in becoming a public speaker?
When I was a teenager, I was shy and unconfident. I always admired one girl in my class who had so much confidence whenever she got up on stage to give a presentation. She was fluent, she was confident and she had everyone’s attention.
I wanted to be like her.
So I started reading books on public speaking and presentation skills, studying the speeches of great speakers and trying to reverse engineer the same techniques into my presentations.
How did you start the public speaking process? Was it a case of speaking for free at the start before you became an established name?
Absolutely. When I first started speaking, I cold-emailed over 100 schools in my area to ask if they would be willing to “hire me for free”. One of them said yes. I delivered a half-day workshop to their students and received a free lunch in exchange. The school, however, was so impressed that they asked me to come back again the next year.
In total, I spoke over 150 times for free during my first year of speaking before I finally got a paid speaking engagement. I almost approaching 9 years of being in the field.
I’ve been very fortunate that clients have found value in my material, and I have a 90% re-booking rate (i.e. 9 out of 10 times, the same client will hire me again). I also end up getting a lot of my clients through referrals and word-of-mouth.
How many countries have you currently visited as part of your speaking career?
So far, I’ve spoken to over 180,000 people on 4 continents and in 10 countries. My goal is to reach over 5 million people through my live seminars and workshops.
How many books have you now published?
I’ve published over 20 books, but my three favourite books are this, this and this. My books have also been translated and published in Italian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.
How many of your books have hit the number one spot in their categories on Amazon?
All 20 books have hit the #1 spot in their respective categories on Amazon. I’ve been lucky to have a dedicated fan base. However, of all those books, my book “23 Storytelling Techniques from TED Talks” has remained in the top 5 bestseller lists ever since publication three years ago.
What tips would give our readers looking to become a public speaker or an author?
Whether you want to become a speaker or an author:
What do you know now that you wished you had known when you had first started out?
Interesting question. If I could go back and give myself any piece of advice, it would be this: “Don’t wait. Start now. It’s not knowledge that makes you successful. It’s knowledge PLUS action.”
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are to create an online academy for storytelling, public speaking and sales. Online courses and training will allow me to scale both my expertise and my reach.
Lastly, do you have plans to come to the UK to speak any point in the future?
Absolutely. I will be in London in mid-2016. And I am always open to working with clients in the U.K. for speaking, consulting and workshop-related work.