When Mohammed Ali was young he was known as Cassius Clay.
He was also known as “The Louisville Lip” because of his arrogance.
He would predict, in rhyme, the round he’d knock his opponents out.
“I’m wise to his tricks,
so he must fall in round six.
But if he talks in jive,
I’ll put him down in five.”
At first everyone laughed at the arrogance of such a loud mouth.
But boxers started to fall in the rounds he predicted.
And pretty soon everyone stopped laughing.
This was something no one had seen before.
A man who was so supremely self-confident it wasn’t even a question of whether he’d win, just what round.
Other boxers were terrified.
The question came to be not, would they lose, but could they survive the round Clay had predicted.
They became so terrified of the accuracy of his predictions, defeat seemed almost inevitable.
His opponents’ confidence evaporated.
They were beaten and demoralised before they started.
Years later he admitted that his early opponents weren’t that impressive.
So, to make himself stand out, he would predict a round to win.
Often he could have knocked them out in the first round.
But he waited, and kept the fight going, until the round he predicted.
Because he knew it would have a greater effect on the better fighters who were watching.
The ones he’d have to fight next.
So he changed the rules of the game.
Frank Lowe did something similar.
As CEO of Collett Dickenson Pearce, he asked Mike Yershon, the head of media, to buy every 48 sheet poster within a mile radius of the agency.
Then he made sure that all CDP’s client’s posters ran on them.
So that any new business client coming in to see CDP would have seen all their advertising before they even got to the agency.
And when Frank Lowe showed them the agency’s work, they were impressed that everything seemed like famous campaigns.
Because, without realising it, they’d just seen everything on posters, on the way there.
Like Cassius Clay, Frank had won the game before it even started.