As the sun sank in the evening of Friday, November 21, 2008 ten men boarded a boat and slipped out of Karachi harbor in Pakistan. Each had an AK 47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, seven magazines of 30 rounds each and 400 loose cartridges, an automatic, eight hand grenades and other explosives with time delay detonators.
Two days later, on November 23 they hijacked an Indian trawler and killed the four fishermen on board. They forced the captain to navigate them to within seven nautical miles of Mumbai harbor.
As darkness fell on Wednesday, November 26 they slit the throat of the captain and set off for Colaba jetty in three speed-boats. Reaching land, they split up into two and four man teams and set off to wreak havoc and destruction.
Attacked that night, in a rampage that lasted four days, were the ultra-luxury hotels Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Train terminus, the upscale Leopold Café, the Cama Hospital, the Nariman House Jewish Community Center and numerous smaller targets. Bombs left in taxis exploded in different parts of the city adding to the confusion.
When it was over 164 civilians were dead with some, as in the Jewish Center, tortured as well. There were more than three hundred injured.
Nine of the terrorists were killed by police and special-forces operatives. The tenth, Ajmal Kasab, was wounded but captured alive.
During interrogation, Kasab revealed details of the training and indoctrination he had undergone.
And, if you can step back from the revulsion of these horrific acts, there is a lesson here for all entrepreneurs.
You think you have it tough and all you are trying to do is get somebody to buy stuff that you want to sell.
The masterminds behind this attack persuaded ten adults to forsake their human instincts and become inexorable killing machines. Further, each of the ten knew that they were not coming back, ever.
How did they do it and what relevance does this have for you?
There is an element of coercion in the training of suicide attackers. They are isolated from their families and previous life, their access to media and outside information is controlled, their life is regimented and training is strict.
This is not relevant to you. Democracies do not restrict freedom of individuals. They salute it.
But coercion is only part of the process. The willingness, even eagerness, to perish while taking others with them comes from a second element.
And this is very relevant to you.
Suicide bombers are trained by leaders who are extraordinary storytellers, with anecdotes that fall into two categories:
First they paint a picture of the atrocities committed by others on their community. These are backed up by frequent viewings of grisly videos, first person accounts and distorted interpretations of news items.
Second they depict the wonderful consequences of indulging in the behavior being encouraged. They will be lionized and honored as martyrs. They will live in paradise in sexual ecstasy. This is also backed up by homage paid to those who preceded them, statements of pride from the families of predecessors and assurances by clerics that indeed they will prosper in an after life.
It is the process that is compelling. The details are less important and can be tweaked. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) used a similar methodology to train their suicide bombers and are the only terrorist organization to have assassinated heads of government.
There are business examples of this process. Angelo Siciliano told a tale of how he was insulted as a youth and was driven to develop capabilities that ensured this never happened again. You know him better as Charles Atlas, who built a body-building empire because he was once a 97 pound weakling who had sand kicked in his eyes.
Your challenge is simple.
I said simple, not easy.
Come up with a story about the unfortunate predicament your ideal customer is in, something that he can instantly and deeply relate to.
Create another story about how what you offer can solve this problem decisively.
And, given how time pressed we all are, these stories should be absorbed fast.
The method is very powerful. So powerful that ethical issues arise. Victor Lustig used it to sell the Eiffel Tower. Twice. Please be truthful in the stories you create.
What can you expect if you can pull this off?
Sara Blakely is actually a storyteller. Women related immediately to her tale of undergarments that leave no lines. The daughters of a North Carolina hosiery manufacturer, who had initially turned her down, persuaded him to work with her.
Her solution was Spanx and she became the youngest self-made female billionaire and a member of the Forbes 400.