Naren Aryal – Can you judge a book by its cover

Naren Aryal is the CEO of Amplify Publishing Group, a visionary leader who has actively disrupted and redefined the publishing industry over the past two decades. With a career initially rooted in law, advising technology companies in Washington, D.C., Naren transitioned into the world of literature by launching Amplify in 2003 with a single title. Under his guidance, Amplify has grown into one of the fastest-growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies globally. Known for his innovative approach and dedication to providing high-quality publishing services, Naren is a frequent speaker on topics such as the publishing landscape, content development, book positioning, production, marketing, and author branding.

Episode Summary:

In this engaging episode of “Humor in the C-Suite,” host Kate Davis welcomes Naren Aryal, the CEO of Amplify Publishing Group. The discussion centers around Naren’s influential role in the publishing industry, his journey from law to leading one of the top hybrid publishing companies, and the importance of humor in leadership. Naren shares insights into the ever-evolving world of publishing, the challenges and opportunities it presents, and how Amplify helps thought leaders and authors bring their visions to life. The conversation is both insightful and humorous, emphasizing the vital role of levity in professional settings.

Naren delves into the concept of hybrid publishing, which bridges the gap between traditional and self-publishing. He highlights the importance of creating high-quality, editorially excellent, and beautifully packaged books. The episode offers a glimpse into how Amplify operates, the significance of maintaining a balance between professionalism and humor, and the crucial role humor plays in team building and client relationships. Naren also discusses the impact of the pandemic on workplace dynamics, including the shift to remote work and its effects on communication and team cohesion.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hybrid Publishing Insight: Naren explains the concept of hybrid publishing, a middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
  • Importance of Humor in Leadership: Using humor and self-deprecation helps foster authentic relationships with employees and clients.
  • Adapting to Pandemic Changes: The shift to remote work has altered how team-building activities are conducted, requiring more intentional efforts to maintain team cohesion.
  • Evergreen Content: The importance of creating content without an expiration date, ensuring long-term relevance and value.
  • Personal Connections Through Humor: Utilizing humor and shared interests, like Seinfeld memes, to build stronger bonds with team members.

Notable Quotes:

  1. “We help authors, primarily thought leaders, create game-changing books that are editorially excellent, well-designed, and beautifully packaged.” – Naren Aryal
  2. “I’ve never worked on a project in 20 years of doing this where it’s been smooth sailing all the way. When that something happens, just know the person you’re in the boat with shares your goals.” – Naren Aryal
  3. “Self-deprecation is a wonderful way to introduce levity into a work environment.” – Naren Aryal
  4. “Life is hard. Parenting is very hard. I think being able to look at things from a perspective of humor and gratitude leads to a more sane life.” – Naren Aryal
  5. “The importance of creating content without an expiration date, ensuring long-term relevance and value.” – Naren Aryal


Stay tuned for more enlightening and humorous content from “Humor in the C-Suite.” Listen to the full episode to dive deeper into Naren Aryal’s journey and insights on blending humor and leadership in the publishing industry.


Humor in Leadership: How Levity Transforms C-Suite Dynamics

Humor as a Leadership Tool: Creating Authentic Workplace Atmosphere

In today’s fast-paced corporate environment, the importance of an authentic and relaxed workplace cannot be overstated. Leaders who effectively use humor can significantly enhance team cohesion and productivity. In the thought-provoking conversation between Kate Davis and Naren Aryal, CEO of Amplify Publishing Group, the pivotal role of humor in the C-suite is explored.

“We do serious work,” Naren says, emphasizing the weightiness of delivering high-quality content for authors, “but on the other hand, we’re not surgeons in the ER.” This perspective forms the crux of Naren’s leadership style—striking a balance between serious work and impromptu humor to create a genuine connection with employees and clients alike.

Naren’s approach is evident in his day-to-day interactions. He shares anecdotes of using humor to navigate tough situations, “I’ve never worked on a project in 20 years of doing this where it’s been smooth sailing all the way.” By anticipating challenges and blending humor with problem-solving, Naren fosters a supportive and resilient organizational culture.

Humor can also defuse tense moments. Naren recounts drawing on self-deprecation to build rapport, “Self-deprecation is a wonderful way to introduce levity into a work environment.” This tactic not only humanizes leaders but also encourages a collaborative spirit among team members, driving home the message that perfection isn’t the end-all-be-all, but striving for excellence is.

Connecting Through Shared Interests: Building Trust and Camaraderie

One of the most fascinating aspects of effective leadership is understanding and leveraging personal connections within the team. Naren illustrates this beautifully through his interaction with Kristen Perry, the VP of Operations. “I learned early on… that she is a Seinfeld fan,” Naren recalls. Sending Seinfeld memes during off-hours creates a shared, personal connection that transcends professional boundaries.

Such gestures play a crucial role in solidifying relationships and building trust, fostering a more engaging work environment. These small, personalized touches can make big differences. As Kate Davis notes, humor isn’t just about telling jokes—it can be as simple as sharing a meme or a funny comic strip that resonates with someone.

Knowing your audience is crucial, both in comedy and in leadership. Naren reflects on this wisdom, applying it to client relationships as well, “With respect to our client work, first and foremost, we have to do great work… but humor has its place once the rapport is built.” This level of insight shows how humor, when used appropriately, can strengthen bonds and facilitate more open communication, leading to long-lasting partnerships.

Adaptability and Authenticity: Bridging Generational Gaps in Hybrid Work Environments

Navigating a diverse, multi-generational workforce comes with its own set of challenges. The pandemic has reshaped workplace dynamics, leading to more remote and hybrid work setups. Naren acknowledges this shift, emphasizing the need for intentional and meaningful interactions.

Post-pandemic, Naren mentions, “We have to be super deliberate… it only happened two or three times a year.” The shift to hybrid work means finding alternative ways to connect. Although spontaneous happy hours may be less frequent, scheduled team-building activities and intentional gatherings can fill that void.

Despite infrequent in-person meetings, the shared objective remains—to cultivate an environment where authenticity and genuine bonds flourish. Naren points out, “When I see them, I want to lead with an authentic conversation and work in a bad joke probably toward the end.” This authenticity is critical in promoting a sense of belonging and unity among team members, irrespective of their physical location.

The conversation also touches on the evolving landscape of publishing amidst technological advancements. Naren’s reassurance of the enduring relevance of human touch in the industry serves as a testament to the irreplaceability of authentic connections. “AI is not gonna know the Kate Davis war stories and how rotten these kids have been at times, right?”

This underscores the importance of story, humor, and human experience in a rapidly digitizing world. The ability to adapt and remain authentic is what sets visionary leaders apart.

The essence of this enlightening discussion circles back to three foundational themes that are significant for both burgeoning and seasoned leaders. Humor is more than just a tool—it’s a bridge to authentic connectivity, deepened trust, and resilient team dynamics. By embracing these principles, leaders can navigate the complexities of modern corporate environments with a lighter, more effective touch.

Naren Aryal’s journey with Amplify Publishing Group exemplifies how integrating humor and authenticity into leadership can transform not just workplace culture but also the broader industry narrative. The takeaways from this conversation serve as invaluable insights for any leader looking to foster a more engaged, cohesive, and innovative team.

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