We are back again with the very last Book Brief of this decade! This month, we read The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World’s Most Successful People Launched Their Careers by Alex Banayan. This one was cringy, vulnerable, inspiring, and packed with life lessons. I laughed, I cried – oftentimes simultaneously! Obviously I want you to read my Book Brief but despite that, you should stop reading and do yourself a favor and go buy the book. You won’t regret it.
Visualize your dreams
I’ve always been a vision board kind of gal. I love pulling them out of storage years later and seeing that everything I dreamt of has come to fruition. Every year, I create a vivid vision for my business’s annual goals. Last year’s board was a visual reminiscent of the Candy Land game, in the form of Betties Land. 2020’s visual will be a board in the style of Wizard of Oz. There is something magical about writing down your dreams and doubly powerful when you put down a due date!
Much like my vision boards, the author, Alex, carries around an index card with his dream list of people he’d like to interview. He also created a list of people he would love to have as a mentor.
The path to success
- Take great risks. Alex was in college to become a doctor, which would provide for a very predictable and steady life. However, he missed class on Exam day in order to get on The Price is Right in an attempt to win prize money that would fund his travels. It paid off. He also missed his Final in Accounting to meet his dream mentor – another gamble. There are thousands of people who could tell the tale of their dream to be a doctor but they lost their way and now live below their potential. This is not one of those stories! Great reward takes great risk.
- Never lose your cool. When Alex met his mentor for the first time, Elliott Bisnow peppered him with rapid-fire questions. I smiled reading this, just knowing something good was about to happen. When I like someone but I’m not entirely sure about them, I will oftentimes begin a line of questioning made to make them feel uncomfortable. They will either fold under the pressure or prove that they can handle it. When Alex passed this test, he was offered the opportunity to accompany his mentor to his next meeting. This just so happened to be in a room full of people like Larry Page, Tony Hsieh, and Reid Hoffman.
- Facts tell, stories sell. At first, Alex approached potential interviewees with only the facts of his mission. He hoped that would be enough to get them on board and failed to mention that he stayed up all night learning how to get himself chosen on The Price is Right or that he then won the entire thing the next morning. He failed to tell the story of selling the prize to fund the mission. His mentor told him that he should not ever tell anyone about his quest again unless he starts it off with the story. The story is what ropes people in. It’s what shows Alex’s character and is more entertaining than anything he could ever pitch.
- Haters come in all shapes and sizes. You may even call them “Mom”. Alex’s mom tried hard to reason with him and help steer him back to safety and predictability. You will have people that are jealous and hate on you, but more often you will have people who love you and are frightened when you choose a path of adventure over safe travels. Alex stood his ground when the opportunity to accompany his mentor to Europe arose. Elliott’s rule number five: Adventures only happens to the adventurous.
- Success only comes from kissing frogs. An interview with Dean Kamen (inventor of Segway and insulin pumps) revealed that each frog represents a different way to solve a problem. If you kiss enough, one will turn into a prince! If you haven’t found your success yet, you haven’t kissed enough frogs.
- Keep an intern mentality. No matter what level you reach in life, there is always more to learn. You need to be willing to be humble, think like an intern, and always keep learning.
- Growth comes from mistakes. In an interview with Quincy Jones, he stated that you have to cherish your mistakes so that you can learn from them. Your mistakes are your greatest gifts!
- The journey is your success. In order to get his publishing deal, Alex had to land an interview with Bill Gates. He spent months honing in on Bill Gates as the destination. But after interviewing Quincy Jones, he realized that all of his growth had occurred during the journey. Bill Gates was never the holy grail, it was the journey and the mistakes along the way that helped Alex to see that both success and failure are just different results from the same thing – trying. He learned that no matter the result, he will always walk away a better man.
Prioritize your desires
In addition to the above notes, something that really stood out from Alex’s story is that you should make a list of 25 things you’d like to accomplish. Then circle your top five. Forget everything else. Success as a result of prioritizing your desires. You can be really good at those 25 things or you can be world-class at 5.
In the interview with Kamen, he states the following about doing big things: “Be prepared for them to take way longer than you thought, cost way more than you expected, and be full of failures that are painful, embarrassing, and frustrating.” When you prepare yourself like this, managing 5 things seems a lot more reasonable than 25.