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Lightning component question - call controller js without a UI event

So i am digging thru sample code, and i have a lightning quick action working that calls an Apex method. 
The sample calls the controller js function as part of the button click - but i dont want a UI interation in this quick action 

How would I duplicate   <ui:button label="Call Apex" press="{!c.echo}"/>  function  without the UI piece?  - 

here is the simple component : 

<aura:component implements="force:lightningQuickAction" 

    <aura:attribute name="firstName" type="String" default="daffy"/>
    <ui:inputText label="Enter a name: " class="field" value="{!v.firstName}"  updateOn="click" />   
    <ui:button label="Call Apex" press="{!c.echo}"/>