“The Third Door” by Alex Banayan
STEP 1: DITCH THE LINE
Life, business, success…it’s just like a nightclub.
There are always three ways in.
There’s the First Door: the main entrance, where the line curves around the block; where 99 percent of people wait around, hoping to get in.
There’s the Second Door: the VIP entrance, where the billionaires, celebrities, and the people born into it slip through.
But what no one tells you is that there is always, always…the Third Door. It’s the entrance where you have to jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the door a hundred times, crack open the window, sneak through the kitchen — there’s always a way. Whether it’s how Bill Gates sold his first piece of software or how Steven Spielberg became the youngest studio director in Hollywood history, they all took…the Third Door.
STEP 2: RUN DOWN THE ALLEY
- Jump off the tour bus.
- Find an Inside Man.
- Ask for his or her help to bring you in.
The most important step was finding that “Inside Man” — someone inside organization willing to put his or her reputation on the line to bring you in.
Luck is like a bus if you miss one, there’s always the next one. But if you’re not prepared, you won’t be able to jump on.
I didn’t have the experience, but I had the heart, the discipline, and the desire.
You may have a desire, a wish, a dream — but it’s got to be more than that — you’ve got to want it to the point that it hurts. Most people never reach that point. They never tap into what I call the Hidden Reservoir, your hidden reserve of strength. We all have it.
Don’t let anyone tell you your dream isn’t possible. When you have a vision, you’ve got to hang in there. You’ve got to stay in the fight. It’s going to get tough. You’re going to hear no. But you’ve got to keep pushing. You’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to use your Hidden Reservoir. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s possible.
STEP 3: FIND YOUR INSIDE MAN
- Never use your phone in a meeting. Using your phone makes you look like a chump. Always carry a pen in your pocket. The more digital the world gets, the more impressive it is to use a pen. And anyway, if you’re in a meeting, it’s just rude to be on your phone.
- Act like you belong. Walk into a room like you’ve been there before. Don’t gawk over celebrities. Be cool. Be calm. And never, ever ask someone for a picture. If you want to be treated like a peer, you need to act like one.
- Mystery makes history. When you’re doing cool shit, don’t post pictures of it on Facebook. No one actually changing the world posts everything they do online. Keep people guessing what you’re up to. Plus, the people you’re going to impress by posting things online aren’t the people you should care about impressing.
- Never, ever go back on your word. This goes of your relationships with everyone from this day forward. If you act like a vault, people will treat you like a vault. It will take years to build your reputation, but seconds to ruin it.
- Adventures only happen to the adventurous.
Never again will you sit in a meeting with someone and not tell them that. Your mission is nice, but this story tells me more about who you are than anything else you could possibly say. This story commands attention.
Everybody has experiences in their lives, some choose to make them into stories.
I had no idea what I was doing. Ever since then, I’ve lived my life by one motto: Bite off more than you can chew. You can figure out how to chew later.
What your story is about isn’t as important as how you tell it.
You have to go for it, even if there’s a chance you’ll fail. The planets are never going to perfectly align. When you see an opportunity, it’s up to you to jump.
You see, most people live a linear life. They go to college, get an internship, graduate, land a job, get a promotion, save up for a vacation each year, work toward their next promotion, and they just do that their whole lives. Their lives move step by step, slowly and predictably. But successful people don’t buy into that model. They opt into an exponential life. Rather than going step by step, they skip steps. People say that you first need to ‘pay your dues’ and get years of experience before you can go out on your own and get what you truly want. Society feeds us this lie that you need to do x, y, and z before you can achieve your dream. It’s bullshit. The only person whose permission you need to live an exponential life is your own.
— Why don’t you let your employees shadow you? (Alex)
— I’d be happy to — but no one ever asks. (Tony)
STEP 4: TRUDGE THROUGH THE MUD
Buffet is famous for being a long-term value investor and this story shows he treated his career the same way. He could’ve gotten a high-paying job right out of school and made far more money in the short term. But by offering to work for free under Graham, he set himself up to make much more in the long term. Instead of trying to get paid as much as possible in dollars, Buffet chose to get paid in mentorship, expertise, and connections.
— It’s like what Elliott told me, One path leads to a linear life, the other an exponential. (Alex)
When everyone else skims a report, Buffet is obsessively scouring the fine print, going above and beyond, studying every word, looking for clues. You don’t have to be born a genius to read the footnotes — it’s a choice. It’s a choice. It’s a choice to put in the hours, go the extra mile, and do the things others aren’t willing to do. Reading the dam footnotes isn’t just a task on Buffet’s to-do list — it’s his outlook on life.
Instead of getting frustrated by repeating the same old problem reframe the question in a new way that is amenable to a different kind of solution.
The best way to raise money before you have a track record is to do it from people who already believe in you and trust you, because they’ve seen you do other things in the past. Those people can be family, friends, college professors, former bosses, or even the parents of your friends.
It’s hard to do when you’re young, and that’s why people smart so small.
— If you were starting out today, what would you do? (Alex)
— Same thing, I’d knock on doors. I’d knock on whatever doors I’d have to. There’d be many more places to knock. And look — nothing is new. We have the Internet, but nothing is new except the transmission. Human nature hasn’t changed.” (Larry)
People like human beings. People don’t like random names in their inbox.
CHAPTER 5 TAKE THE THIRD DOOR
Gates was selling IBM on his speed in a way that was obviously impossible. In reality, it took Microsoft months to deliver the software. But that didn’t matter in the long run. What mattered is that Gates understood that one of the problems large companies have is they move slowly — so he was selling them on what they needed most.
He bet it would be better to take less money from IBM than to squeeze it for all it was worth. He believed that other companies would come into the PC market, and if he could close the IBM deal, other PC companies would make even more lucrative deals with Microsoft.
Figure out your opponent’s fears, then use them to your advantage.
He was saying it’s critical to become an expert on the background of the person you’re dealing with. When it came to the founder of MITS, Gates
learned everything he could about his personality, his quirks, his successes, and his dreams. On top of that, Gates learned about his business model, financial constraints, capital structure, and cash flow problems.
The best negotiating tactic is to build a genuine, trusting relationship. If you’re an unknown entrepreneur and the person you’re dealing with isn’t invested in you, why would he or she even do business with you? But on the other hand, if the person is your mentor or friend, you might not even need to negotiate.
You have no way of knowing what’s going on in the lives of the people in your pipeline. You can’t anticipate their mood or how generous they’re feeling. All you can do is control your effort.
Whenever you wonder, the answer is yes. People don’t want to do small shit. You need to think bigger and think differently. Don’t ‘I wonder’ through life. Just make it happen.
When I was a kid I had two goals for my life. The first was to create something with engineering that changes the world. The second was to live life on my own terms.
Most people do things because that’s what society tells them they should do. But if you stop and do the math — if you actually think for yourself — you’ll realize there’s a better way to do things.
I’m happy because I do what I want every day.
Society tells you that success is getting the most powerful position possible. But I asked myself: Is that what would make me happiest?
It’s about humbling yourself enough to learn, even when you’re at the top of your game. It’s about knowing that the moment you get comfortable being an executive is the moment you begin to fail.
— When someone is young and just starting out on their journey, and she or he needs help finding that rainbow, in mustering the courage to keep going, what advice do you have?(Alex)
— Take as much as you can from those who went before you. Those are the rainbows in your clouds. Whether they knew your name, or would never see your face, whatever they’ve done, it’s been for you. (Maya)
Approach writing, approach whatever your job is, with admiration for yourself, and for those who did it before you. Become as familiar with your craft as it is possible to become.
You have to know that you have certain natural skills, and that you can learn others, so you can try some things. You can try for better jobs. You can try for a higher position. And if you seem assured, somehow your assurance makes those around you feel assured.
Don’t narrow your life down. I’m eighty-five and I’m just getting started! Life is going to be short, no matter how long it is. You don’t have much time. Go to work.
Facing death, makes you sensitive to how delicate life is. Everything is so in a moment. It forces you to think about all of your decisions in a different way. What really matters? What are you spending your life doing? What are you going to do when you stare your biggest fear in the eyes?
Nobody is in control of who they are when they’re born. You’re born into the family you’re born into and you’re born into the circumstances you’re born into. So you just have to take what you can from where you’re at and not compare yourself to other people. You have to look at your path and know that whatever got you there, and where you’re going, is unique to you. You weren’t supposed to be any other way.
It’s tough to find job candidates who are intelligent and focused, but who are also dreamers. The dreamer part is that entrepreneurial spirit — where if this door is closed and that door is closed and that door is closed — how the hell are you going to get in? You just need to figure it out. You need to use common sense, build relationships; I don’t care how you get in, but you’ve got to get in somehow.
I live my life by two mantras. One: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And two: most things don’t work out.
You have to cherish your mistakes. You have to get back up no matter how many times you get knocked down. There are some people who face defeat and retreat; who become cautious and afraid, who deal with fear instead of passion, and that’s not right. I know it seems complex, but it’s relatively simple. It’s: let go and let God.
It’s amazing, the psychology of growing in your field, no matter what
you do. Growth comes from mistakes. You have to cherish them, so you can learn from them. Your mistakes are your greatest gift.
— Everyone has the power to make little choices that can alter their lives forever. You can either choose to give in to inertia and continue waiting in line for the First Door, or you can choose to jump out of line, run down the alley, and take the Third Door. We all have that choice. (Alex)
— If there was one lesson I learned from my journey, it’s that making these choices was possible. It’s that mindset of possibility that transformed my life. Because when you change what you believe is possible, you change what becomes possible. (Alex)