“The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World's Most Successful People Launched Their Careers” by Alex Banayan, takes readers on an unprecedented adventure as the author travels around to find legendary icons and discover their secrets of how they broke through and launched their careers.
The author takes readers on a journey of how he chased Larry King in a grocery store, waited in a bathroom to talk to Tim Ferriss, used his network to meet with Bill Gates, and dozens more of the world's most successful people.
Banayan’s story begins with hacking The Price Is Right as a college student and using the prize money to fund his quest to learn from the world's most successful people. Since then, Banayan has been named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list and Business Insider's Most Powerful People Under 30.
He is now an acclaimed keynote speaker and has presented the Third Door framework to business conferences and corporate leadership teams around the world, including Apple, Nike, Harvard, and others.
1) The Proper Way Cold Call/Email
To seek out advice from Tim Ferriss, Alex Banayan emailed Ferriss’ assistant several times but received no response for weeks. Banayan decided he would try to meet Ferriss in person by attending a conference where Ferriss was scheduled to give a speech.
To get the best chance of speaking with Ferriss in person, Banayan looked for the nearest location near the stage, which unfortunately turned out to be the men’s bathroom. Banayan crouched next to the toilet for thirty minutes until he heard applause. Banayan then opened the bathroom door and saw Tim Ferriss right in front of him.
Banayan told Ferriss about his mission of interviewing successful icons and asking them about their journey and Ferriss said it sounded great and he would get back to him in a few days. However, several weeks passed and Banayan hadn’t received any email from Ferriss.
As mentioned in the quote above, Banayan didn’t give up and sent a total of 31 emails, both short and long emails, but none of it worked. Banayan received an email from one of Ferriss’ assistants saying Tim wouldn’t be doing the interview anytime soon, if at all.
But Banayan still didn’t quit and kept emailing Ferriss and his assistants. Then one day, out of the blue, Banayan got an email saying Ferriss was free to do an interview the next day. Much later in life, Banayan learned he had gotten the interview not because of his persistence, but because become an annoyance to Ferriss.
During the phone interview, Ferriss gave subtle hints to Banayan about the fine line between being persistent and being a hassle. Ferriss advised Banayan to keep emails short, avoid sending six emails a week and to put the question right in the email.
He also said to not use phrases such as “You’ll love this because…” and “Thanks in advance!” because the former is superlative, how could you know what someone loves when you don’t know them, and the latter phrase is annoying and entitled.
Instead, use Ferriss’ cold-emailing template:
I know you’re really busy and that you get a lot of emails, so this will only take sixty seconds to read.
[Here is where you say who you are: add one or two lines that establish your credibility.]
[Here is where you ask your very specific question.]
I totally understand if you’re too busy to respond, but even a one- or two-line reply would really make my day.
All the best,
2) Focus on Your Path, Not Others
The quote above comes from Jessica Alba–the actress and businesswoman and who started the Honest Company which was recently valued at $1 billion. Alba emphasizes the importance of focusing on your personal path and not comparing yourself to others.
Alba says that it’s easy to get distracted in life and spent time looking at other people, but doing so will delay your chances of getting to your own finish line. This is also important because not everyone is running the same race.
Alba says that if people could choose, almost everyone would want to be a white male in America born into a family that cares about his education. However, that is simply not the case. Alba says that women have a harder time in running the race to becoming successful, but in the end, having faced more obstacles she believes women become skilled in dealing with unfair situations.
There’s a lot of things in life that one cannot control, but one must still work with what they have to the best of their abilities. Spending time yelling that life is unfair or that the person next to you had an easier road to success is a waste of time and energy because, in the end, those things won’t help you move forward with your own journey.
3) Always Be An Intern
Decades before Warren Buffett became the legendary investor whose net worth totaled $83 billion, he was a young MBA student who had just graduated from Columbia University. Instead of pursuing a high-paying corporate job, Buffett offered Benjamin Graham, a Wall Street legend, that he’d work for Graham for free.
Graham said no, and Buffett got a job as a stockbroker elsewhere, but Buffett continued to write letters to Graham. Eventually, Graham said he’d give Buffett a job, and Buffett took his wife and child to New York to start the job without even asking if there was a salary.
As the quote says, Buffett is a master when it comes to long-term value and he knew that working under Graham would provide a lot more value in the long run than working at a high-paying corporate job.
Armando Christian Pérez, better known by his rap name Pitbull, is also a big believer in being an intern. As a young artist, Pitbull sought mentorship from Luther Campbell–a successful rapper and entrepreneur.
Even after winning a Grammy and having a number one record, Pitbull remained an intern. Pitbull tells Banayan that he asked Carlos Slim Jr.–the son of prominent businessmen Carlos Slim whose net worth is $59 billion–if he could intern him.
At first, the businessman thought Pitbull was joking, but Pitbull said he wasn’t kidding and he would do whatever he needed, “I don’t have a problem being down here for a month, getting doughnuts, making coffee, I don’t care,” said Pitbull.
Banayan writes that the goal to continued success is to humble yourself enough to learn, even when you’re at the top of the game. “If you want to continue being Mufasa, at the same time you have to keep being Simba” (Pg 237).
Bonus: Use The Third Door Method
The title of Banayan’s book is a metaphor for achieving success in life or business by taking craving your own path. Banayan says that success is like a nightclub and there are always three ways get inside. The First Door is the main entrance where the vast majority of people wait in line, hoping to get in. Then there’s the Second Door. This is the VIP entrance where billionaires, celebrities and the like slip through.
But there is always the Third Door. Banayan says “It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the dor a hundred times, climb over the dumpster, crack open the window, sneak through the kitchen” and get in whatever way you can.
The Third Door is when people decide to take a different path in life and try multiple methods to get inside. Banayan’s book is filled with people who took the Third Door.
Larry King for example, didn’t go to college or even have a resume, but he knew he wanted to be a radio host. So he literally went to radio stations around Miami and knocked on their doors asking for a job. Eventually, a small station gave offered King a job and he jumped on it.
When Banayan was looking for a advice from a successful entrepreneur, he cold-emailed Elliott Bisnow and Bisnow said to meet him in-person. The only problem was that the meeting date was that to make the meeting, Banayan would miss his accounting final. Banayan decided it was worth the risk and Bisnow eventually became Banayan’s mentor and introduced him to several successful figures.
Banayan also talks about how he got to shadow Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, simply by asking Hsieh at a party. While shadowing Hsieh, one of the employees at Zappos who had worked there for several years told Banayan that he was lucky to have the chance to shadow their CEO. When Banayan asked Hsieh why he doesn’t let Zappos employees shadow him, Hsieh looked blankly and said: “I’d be happy to–but no one ever asks.”
“The Third Door” (2018) is an absolutely spectacular book. My last post about slave labor camps showed how horrible life and people can be, but this book is the exact opposite. Banayan’s adventure is an incredible story of how he managed to talk and meet with countless successful icons.
To me, this book was like a drug. I stayed up till 2 am reading it the first day, went to sleep, and finished the book that morning. It is filled with a ton of helpful business and life advice, but it’s also a classic hero story of a young kid going on a scary yet rewarding adventure and then returning to share their story with others.
The book is about 300 pages and is densely packed with useful nuggets of valuable information. I’m calling it now, Alex Banayan will likely be the next Tim Ferriss. Now read this book, go out into the world and use the Third Door method!
Rating: 5/5 stars
If you’re interested in reading the book, click here or on the image below!
- Book: “The Third Door" by Alex Banayan
- Pages: 320
- For: Entrepreneurs, college students, people who like inspirational stories, Ferriss fans
- Lesson: Learn how the world's most successful people launched their careers
If you enjoyed "The Third Door" you'll likely also be a fan of "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss. Click here or on the image below to get the book!