Alex Banayan was supposed to become a medical doctor. That was the plan his parents had for him as they made sure he made it to pre-med studies at the University of Southern California. When Banayan realized he didn’t share that dream, he chose to take his life in a dramatically different direction.
In his new book, The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World’s Most Successful People Launched Their Careers, Banayan recounts how he managed to win a sailboat on the game show The Price Is Right. Selling that boat for $16,000 gave him the funds to undertake a journey of discovery.
In Search of the Holy Grail of Advice
The author undertakes a mission to interview as many successful people as he can in order to understand how they got their start in life. Bill Gates remains the elusive white whale through much of Banayan’s journey, but he succeeds in interviewing an amazing list of business and media celebrities.
Fascinating one-on-one interviews with such icons as Maya Angelou, Jane Goodall, Larry King, Steve Wozniak, Quincy Jones, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lady Gaga and, eventually, Bill Gates, lead the author to a realization that their stories all have one thing in common: They all took the Third Door.
Banayan compares a successful journey in life to gaining access to a popular nightclub. Most people will dutifully wait in line at the main entrance –– the First Door. The Second Door is the VIP entrance reserved for billionaires and celebrities. For the truly aspirational people who are seeking to change the world, there is a secret Third Door.
Finding the location of this door and gaining access requires a five-step process:
Ditch the Line. You must be willing to step away from whatever life plan others have for you and take full responsibility for your own destiny. Bill Gates was supposed to become a Harvard-educated lawyer when he and high-school friend Paul Allen dropped out in their sophomore years to join the computer revolution.
Run Down the Alley. Whether it’s bluffing your way into a USC Film School event to try and get an interview with Steven Spielberg (failed) or messaging Tim Ferriss’ assistant 31 times pleading for an interview (succeeded), you have to be prepared to go the extra mile.
Find Your Inside Man. Identify the appropriate chief of staff, executive assistant, gatekeeper or network contact who can make an introduction. Otherwise, you’re a complete stranger who will quickly get lost in the daily pile of requests.
Trudge Through the Mud. Banayan’s persistence in pursuing Bill Gates finally pays off, but he learns just as much from failed attempts to book interviews with Steven Spielberg, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett. The journey to success can be much longer and messier than you first imagined.
Take the Third Door. With enough persistence and momentum, the Third Door can often appear when you least expect it. After unsuccessfully pursuing Lady Gaga’s manager for over a year, Banayan is introduced to "Matt," who set up Gaga’s online social network. The introduction to Matt gives him the connection to Gaga, and the journey continues.
Banayan concludes his journey with some introspection. Learning the real stories of these icons gave him valuable material to share with a larger audience, but it was his own journey of self-discovery and his growth as an individual that proved to be the greatest gift.
The Third Door tells the adventurous story of how Alex Banayan managed to win on The Price Is Right, which funded a journey around the globe. The purpose of that journey was to discover how successful people got their start in life. The result is an entertaining and informative exposé on how and why people choose to pursue success.