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About The Guest
Alex Banayan is the youngest bestselling business author in American history. The Third Door chronicles Banayan’s seven-year quest to uncover the definitive mindset of exponential growth and success. The book is a #1 international bestseller, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and has been acclaimed by The New York Post as “a joy to read.”
Over the course of his unprecedented journey, Banayan’s research led him to interview the most innovative leaders of the past half-century, including Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Larry King, Maya Angelou, Steve Wozniak, Jane Goodall, Jessica Alba, Quincy Jones, and more.
- 4:20 – The Origin Story Of Alex Banayan.
- 10:17 – How Did Alex Hack A Game Show?
- 15:46 – For How Much Did Alex Sell His Book For?
- 18:27 – Story Of A Person’s Experience With The Third Door.
- 19:10 – Why Is Finding A Mentor The First Step In The Third Door Playbook?
- 29:51 – How Can Anyone Shift Their Mindset and Start Looking At Life Differently?
- 32:21 – Is There Ever Success “By Chance”?
- 45:09 – How Can Anyone Hack Little Situations From Their Daily Routines?
- 47:02 – What Was The Story About Warren Buffett?
- 53:32 – What Would Alex Like His Legacy To Be Like?
- 57:29 – How Can People Connect With Alex?
- 58:04 – What Has Been The Biggest Challenge Of Alex’s Life?
- 1:00:35 – What Is A Book Or A Podcast That Alex Would Recommend?
- 1:01:10 – What Would Alex Banayan Tell His Twenty-Year-Old Self If Alex Could Go Back In Time?
- 1:01:47 – What Does Success Mean To Alex?
Podcast & Newsletter Sponsors
- Feedback Loop https://go.feedbackloop.com/success
- Athletic Greens https://athleticgreens.com/success
- Get Abstract https://getab.lo/success
- Hubspot https://hubspot.com
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.
Machine Generated Transcript
people, book, spielberg, bill gates, life, door, business, interview, warren buffett, called, story, questions, single, alex, hours, success story, game, chuck, months, youngest
Alex Banayan, Scott D Clary
Scott D Clary 00:00
Welcome to success story the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary. This success story podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like the gain grow retain podcast the podcast is hosted by Jeff Bruns, Bach and J Nathan. Now gain grow and retain is built to inspire SAS and technology leaders who are facing the day to day challenges of scaling hosts, Jeff and Jay share conversations about growing and scaling subscription businesses with a customer first approach. If any of these topics sound interesting to you, you’re going to like the podcast creating more brand advocates SAS as a predominant model for business, customer success at scale, or the challenges of integrating new tools with CSM some of these topics pique your interest, you’re going to love the podcast you’re going to love gain, grow, retain. Go check it out wherever you get your podcast remember, gain grow retain on the HubSpot Podcast Network. today. My guest is Alex Banayan. He’s the youngest best selling business author in American history. He wrote the book The third door which chronicles his seven year quest to uncover the definitive mindset of exponential growth and success. The book is the number one international bestseller. It’s been translated into more than a dozen languages, and has been acclaimed by the New York Post as a joy to read over the course of his unprecedented journey. His research has led him to interview the most innovative leaders of the past half century including Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Larry King, Maya Angelou, Steve Wozniak, Jane Goodall, Jessica Alba, Quincy Jones, and more. He’s been named to Forbes 30 under 30 list and business insiders most powerful people under 30. He is his generation’s leading expert in high performance and personal development. He’s been featured in Fortune, CNBC, BusinessWeek, The Washington Post, MSNBC, Fox News, and NBC News. He is a renowned keynote speaker, he has presented the third door framework, the framework that he’s built over the course of his seven year journey that he speaks about in his book to corporate leadership teams around the world including Apple, Google, Nike, IBM, Snapchat, Salesforce, Delta, MasterCard, and Disney. So what do we speak about? Well, of course, we spoke about the third door framework, but we spoke about his story. We spoke about how he hacked not just one but multiple game shows, to win prizes and how he adopted the lens that he looked at a game show through to understand that there is more than one way to succeed in life. And the framework, the playbook to succeed in life, ultimately comes from this third door mentality and mindset. We spoke about the third door, what is the third door? And how can it help you get what you want out of your life, we spoke about some stories of highly successful individuals. Some of the people that he interviewed, that used the third door, not the front door, not the back door, but the third door to get to what where they’re at right now. We spoke about how he has changed his lens and perspective on life and how you can do that for your own life. We spoke about luck, redefining luck, generating your own luck. We spoke about hacking situations in your life to get what you want. And then lastly, we spoke about a funny story that occurred when he was trying to get Warren Buffett to interview for his book. And ultimately, although he’s been successful, even if you adopt the third door mentality, you can’t get everything you want in life and some lessons that he learned out of trying to get Warren Buffett to interview for his book. So he is a very smart guy. A lot of great mindset and perspective lessons coming out of this podcast, stuff that can be applied to your personal your professional life, your business, if you’re an entrepreneur, this is a great way to look at life differently. And a lot of tangible business takeaways you can get from Alex and his third door methodology. So let’s jump right into it is Alex Banyan. He is the Best Selling Author of the third door
Alex Banayan 04:20
the whole journey of the third door started about 10 years ago. So I was 18 years old, a freshman in college. And I was going everyday lying on my dorm room bed staring up at the ceiling. And God I don’t know if you’ve been through that, you know what I want to do with my life crisis. But I was going through it in enemy really hard. And the reason I was going through it, you know, to give some context is I’m the son of Persian Jewish immigrants, which pretty much means I came out of the womb. My mom created me cradle me in our arms and pretty much stamped MD on my behind him sent me on my way. You know, you think that’s funny, but in third grade I wore scrubs to school for Halloween. I thought I was cool. You know, that was my childhood growing up. I had them good foods, so that’s good. Yeah, yeah. And Persian food was good except when you take like a big tub of Persian stew with lamb and kidney beans and you open it up on a hot day in the cafeteria, and it’s makes the whole cafeteria smell. That’s a whole whole nother situation to unpack. But, you know, I checked all the boxes growing up. And I took all the biology classes, you know, study hard for essay, TS, I even went to pre med summer camp. So by the time they get to college, and the pre med of pre meds, and very quickly, the I find myself lying on this dorm room bed, looking at this towering stack of biology books, feeling like they’re sucking the life out of me. And at first I assumed you know, maybe I’m just being lazy. But eventually I began to wonder, maybe I’m not on my path. Maybe I’m on a path somebody placed me on and I’m just rolling down. So now not only did I not know what I wanted to do with my life, I no idea how the people who I looked up to how they did it. There how to Bill Gates salesperson piece of software out of his dorm room, when nobody knew his name. How did Spielberg become the youngest director Hollywood history without a single hit under his belt? Now this is what they don’t teach you in school. So I just assumed there had to be a book with the answers. So um, you know, going to the library just ripping through, you know, business books and biographies and self help books, assuming you know, there had to be a book. Not on a particular age, but really a stage in life. You know, when you have a big dream, you have a big goal, but no one’s taking your calls. No one’s take your meetings, how do you find a way to break through? Essentially, when you’re starting anything new? How do you find a way to make it happen. And eventually, I was left empty handed. So that’s when my naive 18 year old thinking kicked in, I thought, well, no one’s reading the book, I’m dreaming of reading. Why not write it myself. And I thought it’d be super simple. I thought, you know, we’ll just call Bill Gates interview him in every everybody else that’d be done in a few months, that I assumed would be the easy part. The the hard part, I figured was getting money to fund this journey. You know, I was buried in student loan debt. I was all out of Bar Mitzvah cash. So there had to be a way to make some quick money. So two nights before final exams, I’m sitting in the library doing what everyone does in the library right before finals. I’m on Facebook. And I’m on Facebook. And I see somebody offering free tickets to the prices right. Now you you know, you’re from Canada. So but I’m sure you know the game. So the prices right, you know, the longest running game show in American history know it, I definitely know it. And, you know, come on down, you know, every you know, very, you know, iconic. And I was going to school in Los Angeles, not too far from where the show filmed. And the tickets were for the next day. And my first thought was, what if I go on the show, and win some money to fund this book? Yeah, now my brightest moment. Plus on a problem, and I never seen a full episode of the show before. Yeah, I have, of course in bits and pieces, you know, throughout my childhood. You know, when you’re home sick from school in fourth grade, there’s nothing else to watch on TV. I’ve seen bits and pieces. I’ve never seen a full episode. So I told myself. This is a dumb idea. You know, yeah, finals in two days is a bad idea. But I don’t know if you’ve ever had those experiences where no matter how preposterous an idea for some reason, it keeps climbing itself back into your mind. So almost to prove to myself, this is a bad idea. I remember as I’m sitting at this round wooden table in the corner of the library. And I take out my spiral notebook and I write best and worst case scenarios, you have to prove to myself as a bad idea. Just so I could stop procrastinating go back to study. So I write best and worst case scenario. worst case scenarios, fail finals, kicked out of pre med lose financial aid. Mom stops talking to me now mom kills me, you know, there’s like 20 cons. And the only Pro was maybe maybe win enough money to fund the stream. It’s almost as if somebody had a rope around my gut and was slowly pulling me in a direction. So that night, I decided to do the logical thing and pull an all nighter to study but I didn’t study for finals. I said how to hack the prices right? And I go on the show the next day and do this ridiculous strategy and I ended up winning the whole Showcase Showdown winning a sailboat selling that sailboat and that How I found it the book. And that’s how the whole journey got started. So,
Scott D Clary 10:05
I know that I’ve listened to a couple interviews the prep for this. I know that’s not the first, that’s not the only time you’ve done this. So before I go into the third door with the game shows, yeah. How do you hack a game show? I totally irrelevant to 99% of people listening to this, but I just want to know, at a high level, where do you even go? Where do you start to go to hack a game show?
Alex Banayan 10:28
I’ll tell you the single most if I had to, like if someone, and then it does happen every now and then where someone’s like, I’m going to the game show, what’s your advice? It’s a weird thing for people to stop you and ask you. And just for people listening, what you’re referencing is I ended up doing a second game show too, with the same strategy and walked away with a brand new car on that one. So if there’s a single thing you need to know about a game show and actually applies to business, just like it doesn’t like. Game shows work because they have this illusion of spontaneity and randomness. And that’s what makes it exciting and makes it feel like a casino. But, you know, the reality is, if you think about it, and everybody knows this, it’s a television show where they have a producer, and they need to have certain types of characters, they need to make it interesting. So while it looks random, there is a system to it. And again, the analogy is the same thing, when you’re applying for a job or trying to do business development, there’s always you know, it’s a human design structure. So there’s going to be human beings, that’s always going to be a hack. And I did, I found that in my research, there’s a casting producer, who interviews everyone in the audience before the show goes on. And I don’t care how well prepared you are for being on the ship, like I don’t care how good you will be at the job. If you don’t get past the person in HR, who’s just an entry level reader outer, you’re done, you’re dead on arrival. So the single most important thing, there’s lots of important things, but the single most important thing that’s make or break is you have to really nail the casting producer. And then, just as importantly, I know the price, right. And with many other shows, there’s also assisted casting producers, who are sort of undercover and planted amongst the group. Because they’re smart, they know that people can like turn on charisma for 10 seconds, but they want like personalities. So you sort of need to be on the whole like three hours they make you wait before the show begins. They purposely just like put you in a holding room for three hours with a group of people to see like, it’s like a social experiment, who’s the most entertaining person for these three hours, not the 10 seconds we’re interviewing them. So if you change your mind into it’s a three hour interview, as opposed to a 10 second interview, and you have the leg up over everyone else.
Scott D Clary 13:01
Amazing. So you got that done twice. Okay, so anyways, this is what
Alex Banayan 13:05
By the way, I actually I know this is completely off topic of interviews. I think about that all the time to like when people go in for a job interview. Like the job interview begins when you pull into the parking lot.
Scott D Clary 13:17
100% 100% Yeah, I know. It’s good stories.
Alex Banayan 13:21
I know stories where the hiring manager at the end of the day is exhausted and just like goes to the front desk receptionist. I was like, Oh, what a day and I gotta do you see anyone good. And the hiring guy. There’s a couple people I like and they’re like, oh, you know, the young woman in the red sweater. She was really sweet and really thoughtful. That she goes so far. And again, I’m not saying big kind just as a steak. But be aware like your, your interactions with people matter. Yeah.
Scott D Clary 13:53
That’s good advice. That that is that is very transferable advice. Very much. So I think that’s smart. That’s very smart. I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode feedback loop. Now, if you’re a product person, entrepreneur, startup guy like me, you have at some point in your career tried to take a product to market, you’ve tried to come up with a new idea and it fell flat. It’s ultimately failed 85 to 90% of all new products of all new startup ideas fail why is this basically it is really hard, really expensive and really time consuming to validate product market fit with your potential consumers or customers old style market research is way too slow, too complicated, too time consuming for dynamic fast moving teams and want to build great stuff. But what if you could test out your idea your product with your target consumers whenever you want before you invest in the money time energy effort that it takes to actually develop a product? Well, that’s what startups all the way through to Fortune 500 are using feedback loop for you get quality feedback from your target customers early and often feedback gloop is the test before you invest product research platform. It has built in expert templates for concept testing, user discovery, prioritizing features on your roadmap and much more, you can create your own test in minutes and get quality insights from your target consumers in hours, they set up a special link for everybody who’s a success story podcast listener to test it out to try it go to go dot feedback loop.com/access You get three free tests. That’s go dot feedback loop comm slash success. You can try it out for free, you get three free tests. So if you want your next product idea or feature to be a hit test before you invest, build based on data, not opinion and launch with confidence with feedback loop, check it out right now. Okay, so you funded your dream. Yeah, that’s how it started. You funded your dream. Okay, so you got the boat, you sold the boat.
Alex Banayan 15:52
I sold the boat, I thought I was a billionaire. I was you know, a college student, I sold the boat for $17,000. And thought I was like, you know, as rich as you know, Mark Zuckerberg. And I remember like taking all my friends out to lunch to Chipotle, you know, free guacamole for everybody, you know, I’m really balling out really, really spending that money. And essentially, once I had the money, in my mind, it was like, Alright, now let me go get these interviews. And to my surprise, Bill Gates doesn’t normally do interviews with random 18 year olds in college. So it ended up being two years to finally track down an interview of Bill Gates, it took three years to track down Lady Gaga. And when I had started the journey, when I started the journey, there was no part of me looking for that, you know, one key to success. We’ve all seen those business books or TED Talks. And normally I just roll my eyes. But what ended up happening over seven years of interviews, is I began to realize that every single one of these people treated life in business and success the exact same way. And the analogy that came to me is that it’s almost like getting into a nightclub. There’s always three ways there. So there’s the first door, the main entrance, or the line curves around the block, where 99% of people wait around hoping to get in. You know, we’ve all seen that line, people standing out in the cold hoping the bouncer lengthen it that’s the first door. And then there’s a second door, the VIP entrance where the billionaires and celebrities go through. And for some reason school and society had this way of making us feel like those only two ways in you know you’re born into it, or you wait your turn on everybody else. But what I’ve learned, and what I’m sure you’ve seen in your own career is that there’s always always the third door where you jump out of line, run down the alley, bang on the door, 100 times, crack open the window, go through the kitchen, there’s always a way it doesn’t matter. That’s a Bill Gates on this first piece of software, how Lady Gaga got her first record deal, they all took the third door.
Scott D Clary 18:04
Now, I completely agree there is always a third door and anybody who’s achieved success has with with or without knowing it. Right on the third door technique. But the issue with that is that the third door seems to always be this this series of trials and errors and figuring it out and failing and not knowing what you’re doing. And then something Oh, yeah. But like so how do you how do you know your
Alex Banayan 18:29
body? Your knees? Yeah. You almost got mugged behind the dumpster. You know, you thought you were about to fall into a pothole. But it turned out it was just a ditch like, yeah, no, it is. It’s not apart. It’s a mess. It’s a mess. But I’ll tell you standing out on the sidewalk where it’s well lit, clean and comfortable. You can be there your whole life. A lot of people so I’m not saying you should take the third door. I’m just saying anyone who’s actually trying to achieve a dream of goal become the person they know they can be. Sometimes you got to run down that alley.
Scott D Clary 19:10
Tell a story of anyone and and walk me through what their third door experience was like to put some context around it something really out there that ended up with that. It could have been Bill Gates did anyone, anyone just so people can get an idea of how they got I’ll tell you
Alex Banayan 19:28
what, I’ll tell you one of my favorites. And it actually goes back to what we were just talking about a few minutes ago. With regards to the job interviews and whatnot. There’s this story of how Steven Spielberg became the youngest director in Hollywood history. The youngest major studio director so yeah, Spielberg since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a director. So you know when he was a teenager and he was finishing high school, of course he applied to film school and naturally He got rejected. But you know, no worries. He’s a persistent guy. He applied a second time. got rejected again. Now that’s where most people sort of pack up and say, Maybe I should find a different career, Spielberg instead decided to take his education into his own hands. And one day, he goes to Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles. And I’m sure many people know but for those who don’t, this theme park in Los Angeles, has a ride that takes you it’s called the you know, the tram ride. It takes you on a little tram bus on the back lot of the Universal Studios film studio. And it shows you the sound stages where they make all the movies. So one day when Spielberg was about 19, he goes on this tram ride, and it’s driving around the studio lot. And when the bus stops for a moment, he jumps off the bus hides behind the corner and the bus keeps going. And Spielberg ends up just wandering around a lot by himself. And about an hour later, he bumps into this older gentleman who sees this sort of pimply faced 19 year old says, What are you doing here? And steelworks, you know, admitted the truth. He said, Love a kid. I know, I’m not supposed to be here. But I have always wanted to be a director. I jumped off the tram I, you know, so sorry. And the guy ends up talking to this young kid sees his passion. And at the end of this hour long talk, says How would you like to come back onto the lot for the next few days, Spielberg says I would enjoy it. So this man introduces himself as a miss Chuck Silver’s, and he’s the head of the Universal Television library, the archives. So he writes Spielberg three day passes. You ever goes back the first day, the second day, the third day, but on the fourth day, he like comes dressed in a suit carrying his father’s briefcase and walks right up to the security entrance, waves his hand in the air and goes Hey, Scotty and the guard waves backs over box, right? And now he’s doing this day after day after day, he’s getting kicked out by security. He’s sneaking into soundstages going into editing booths, ASCII actors and directors out to lunch. And he’s essentially creating his own film school from scratch. And over time, the older gentlemen Chuck Silver’s becomes a mentor to Spielberg. After you know about a few months of this, Chuck Silver’s sits Spielberg down and says, Listen, can I need to give you some hard advice. And he essentially gives him the advice that there has to be a time in your life where you stopped schmoozing, and you create something of value. And in order to show people what you can do, so he told us to be over, don’t come back onto the lot until you have a short film of quality that you’re proud of, to show me. Spielberg took that hard advice to heart. And he ended up spending months filming and editing a short film called Amblin. It’s about 22 minutes long. And when it’s finally ready, he goes back to chuck Silver’s, to show him the film. And it was so good that when it was done, a single tear came down Chuck’s over space. And Chuck Silver’s reaches for the phone immediately, and calls the vice president of Universal Television. His name is Sid Sheinberg. And Chuck Silver’s go said I have somebody got to see the Vice President’s like, look, a lot of things people tell me I have to see. Chuck Schumer says no, if you don’t watch this tonight, someone else well, and vice president things says you think it’s that Dan important? Talks? goes it’s that damn important. Sure enough, the Vice President watched it that night. And 19 year old Spielberg gets a call the next morning saying he needs to be in the Vice President’s office immediately. Spielberg, you know, runs out of class rushes over in his car shows up to the office on the desk is a contract making the youngest director and all the history. I love that’s a good story.
Scott D Clary 24:03
That’s a really good. That’s a good damn example of not even thinking outside the box, just pretending the box doesn’t even exist when it comes to architecting your own career in your own life.
Alex Banayan 24:15
Yeah, and you know, well, there’s first of all, the story isn’t we just have to acknowledge stories and possible without tremendous talent. No, he’s a bad director. Yeah, if he’s a bad director, if he’s bad at his art form, it doesn’t work. But it makes you wonder. I’m pretty confident he wasn’t the only person with talent in the whole city of Los Angeles. You know, you look at singers. There’s a reason some make it even though there’s lots of people with voices that sort of blow you away.
Scott D Clary 24:42
You hear them all the time, and they’re like, how are they not famous? All right. Yeah.
Alex Banayan 24:49
Yeah. And it makes you look at that Spielberg story and say like, what it you know, once you like can enter the game, paying, paying the price of talent and skill and hard work. What makes the difference? And when I look at the story? Yes, he had the courage to jump off that bus. Yes, he had the honesty to tell the truth when he met Chuck Silver’s, you know, all yes, he had, you know, all these different things. But to me it was his ability to make that relationship with Chuck Silver’s an inside man. Because without Chuck Silver’s, we over never would have had the three day pass, never would have gotten the good advice that he needed to hear. They also never would have had someone put their reputation on the line to get into the Vice President’s office. And every single third door store, I don’t care if it was Warren Buffett’s early career in finance. You know, whatever story you look at, you know, Jane Goodall with science, every single one of these stories, there was always an inside person and inside man inside woman, someone who was within the world you want to break into who believed in you enough that they’re willing to put their reputation on the line to help you get in. And you can have all the ingredients but it doesn’t work without that inside person. Every single time.
Scott D Clary 26:07
I just want to take a second to thank the sponsor of today’s episode, athletic greens. Now I’m super happy that I partnered with athletic greens because I literally use them every single day. Now I’ve known about athletic greens for a little bit, only because I tried them about two years ago way before they decided to sponsor the show. And I noticed that in winters when I didn’t take athletic greens, I would get sick as a dog. When I did take athletic greens, I wouldn’t get sick at all. So it turns out that when you take one scoop of athletic greens, you’re taking an absorbing 75 high quality vitamins, minerals, Whole Foods sourced superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens. So this is incredible for your immune system. And the special blend of all of these ingredients supports your gut health, your nervous system, your immune system, your energy, your recovery, your focus your agent, so I take it one scoop every single morning. It’s lifestyle friendly, meaning whether or not you eat keto, Paleo vegan, dairy free, gluten free, it’s going to fit that diet, which is important for me, because sometimes I like to go a little bit low carb, if you’re already taking a multivitamin, this can completely replace that is born to choose a high quality vitamin with ingredients that your body will actually absorb Athletic Greens definitely takes care of that. And it’s way cheaper than actually getting all the different vitamin supplements ingredients, if you’re going to buy them separately, to make it easy athletic greens is giving you a free one year supply of immune supporting vitamin D, and five free travel packs. With your first purchase. All you have to do is visit athletic greens.com/success. That’s right, that’s a special URL they put together just for success story podcast listeners, again, that is athletic greens.com/success to take ownership of your health and pick up the ultimate daily nutritional insurance. So is that is that the takeaway? Is it to find the mentor? Is that the first step in the third door? playbook?
Alex Banayan 28:03
I wouldn’t say it was the first step because if you actually look at, you know, the Spielberg story, you know, this guy’s making home movies for years. Yeah, he’s studying his favorite films. You know, if he sort of just showed up to, you know, Chuck Silver’s office and said, I just decided last week, I really want to get into, like, Scott, if someone comes up to you and says, I decided this morning, I want to podcast. Do you have any advice? You’d be like? Sure. He wouldn’t really be like, Wow, this, this young woman, this young man is my
Scott D Clary 28:33
protege. Right? No, you know, you wouldn’t you and you don’t write but if you
Alex Banayan 28:37
write but if you’re walking around town and you’re at a grocery store, bump into someone who’s like, Scott, I have been dreaming of being a podcaster. For years. I’ve actually listened every episode of your show. Like I hope I’m not fanboying right now. But I just want to let you know that just so you had this person really that follow up question you asked blew me away. And I’ve been reading every book on podcasting. Do you have any recommendations of how to how to break in? You’d be like, yeah, you want to just want to lock in my car. And yeah, here’s my email. If you have any more questions, you know, you might not take them under your wing immediately. But you’d be like, yeah, here’s my email address you You seem like you got a good head on your shoulders. So the inside man is critical. But it’s a piece to the larger puzzle.
Scott D Clary 29:24
So if somebody wants to I think this all comes down to thinking differently. I think a lot of has to do with thinking differently as to what’s possible and what is not possible. So what would be your advice for somebody to get themselves in the right mindset, so that they start approaching life with this mentality that they can do things outside the norm? I guess I’m trying to get somebody on the right. The what I’m trying to pull out of you is how do I get somebody listening to this show, to start looking at life differently?
Alex Banayan 29:56
What I’ve learned after 10 years Have stunning success is that you can give someone all the best tools and knowledge in the world. And their life can still feel stuck. But if you change what someone believes is possible, they’ll never be the same. And you see it all the time, you can go to Harvard, where they have all the resources and all the information, and their kids who come out of there who still have no idea what to do and want to just sit on a couch. And then you can go to some places where there’s no resources, and you see in someone’s eyes, they’re willing to do whatever it takes. And they believe it’s possible, and they actually make it possible. Of course, it’s easier if you have the willingness are at Harbor. But what I am saying though, is you can have the tools and the resources, and it still does work. But as soon as you change what you believe is possible. And again, it doesn’t make it easy. It doesn’t make it automatic, and it doesn’t mean guaranteed. But when you can change what you believe as possible, nothing is the same.
Scott D Clary 31:04
Another as Oh, go ahead. Sorry. Finish finish your point seven other I want to touch on that. But go ahead. I mean,
Alex Banayan 31:10
yeah, well, I would just say the biggest thing about you know, how you change what someone believes as possible. It’s really about what you what you’re surrounded with? And yes, there’s like, you know, the cliche, you know, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, yes, of course, I guarantee you, you take any anyone, and you take them and surround them with like five motivated, successful, kind people, it just rubs off on them. Eventually, it might take a week, and I take a year you’re gonna change. But it’s also the things you consume. I remember when I was 19 started off on my journey, the third door, you know, I wasn’t hanging out with Bill Gates. But I was reading, you know, the four hour workweek, I was, you know, listening to talks by Gary Vaynerchuk out, you know, I was just I was reading Malcolm Gladwell, and I was just sort of changing my world. And again, I wasn’t doing it on purpose. But in hindsight, I was seeing that my world was changing, because I was changing what I was bringing in. And people listening this podcast, I’m sure already on that path. If they’re already listening to your show.
Scott D Clary 32:14
They hopefully that’s the goal. Fingers Fingers crossed. That’s what they’re taking away from it. Um, one story that I heard you speak about as well, which I thought was interesting was redefining the word luck. It was a story of Qilu. So I want to bring that up, because I’m just trying to just get rid of any sort of like, Oh, what happened to Steven Spielberg was just by chance. This is none of this is by chance. I feel like this is all architected in a way. So
Alex Banayan 32:42
I’ll go off and say something completely opposite that actually gets to the same place. Okay. There’s no, it’s all by chance. That’s true. And everyone actually gets to the point where I think you’re trying to get out with the Chiou story. Everyone has chance at some point in their lives. The question is, is your chance manifest into an opportunity? Or does it pass you by? Right, because we’re all it’s actually, I don’t know if this is true at all. I don’t know if this is true at all. But I heard someone say, the difference between chess and back Ghana. You know, chess is sort of this, like Western European game of strategy and war back in and has a little bit more symbolism to it. It’s from the Middle East. And main key is back in you roll a dice. So it doesn’t matter if you’re the best player in the world and amateur can just get lucky hands. And yeah, and then theory, with enough brains and lucky hands can win. And I do think that there’s that degree in the business world, you know, I look at Bill Gates. The reason he had the biggest company on Earth is his skill, of computing of strategy of was really good to have in 1980. And the personal computer revolution, at the same time, I feel very confident if Bill Gates grew up in Yeah, right now, if he was like a teenager right now, that motherfucker would be making the greatest AI company whether he’s fine, we’d find a way to apply or he would be like the biggest crypto just if you look at the the intellectual power and the strategy and the personality type. Warren Buffett has a quote that said if Bill Gates dropped, you know, never went into personal computers, he would have the biggest hotdog stand empire in America because there are certain minds and by the way, for better for worse. Yeah. Yeah, for better for worse. He just has a proclivity to it. And there are personality types that just have it. Alright, so go into the lock. The lock story which Chilo is actually one of my favorite stories because it sort of gets to the heart of what’s possible. So I met him and one of the people I interviewed, his name was Qi Liu. And Qi Liu grew up in a rural village hours outside of Shanghai, China, where there was no running water, no electricity. People were so impoverished in that village that they want some walked around with deformities from malnutrition. You know, we complain about our education system in America. In that village, they had 300 students for every one teacher. So this guy had a tough, he was really smart work really hard on his dream was actually to become a shipbuilder. But he was too skinny and had bad eyesight. So he had to sort of like, go to plan B and try to go into academics. So he said, he’s like, you know, computer science. And you know, he works really hard and gets into college. And by the age of 27, he is making the most money he’s ever made in his life. He’s making $8 a month are they just want to fast forward 20 years later, he’s a president at Microsoft. And how this story is possible goes back to before he was famous or successful. So when I was sitting down to cheat Lou, he essentially explained to me that when he was in college, he had a realization. Everyone wants to, you know, make it out of poverty. Everybody in his university that he had made it into, wants to go to America to study and get a big corporate American job, like, he wasn’t rare in his desires. And he realized, he’s essentially just like everybody else, in the sense that everyone has 24 hours in a day. Everyone is sort of shooting for the same target. And he realized, something that he could change about himself is that everyone else, just like him, slept, whatever, eight hours a night, whatever, whatever the normal rate is 789 hours a night. And he started realizing and started studying different people in history, who had learned how to essentially hack their sleep, and go from eight hours. So he started experimenting, reading about sleep hacks, and sort of gone from eight hours, seven hours 6543210 And sort of saw how his body reacted. And he was able to realize that one hour of sleep two hours, three hours sleep, he’s essentially was going insane. But before I was asleep, he was able to engineer it in a way where he was able to stay fully alert. And he essentially calculated that by going from eight hours to four hours. And using that time to work, he was essentially adding an extra two months onto his calendar year. So he had a 14 month work year as opposed to a 12 month work year. And he essentially spent all that extra time in the library doing extra research papers, doing extra studying, not knowing how it would pay off, but sort of just hoping that this was his, his shot. Sure enough, you know, you can’t you can, it’s like farming, you can control the, how you water the plants, how you tend the soil, but you can’t really control the weather. And sure enough, one day, it’s raining. And it’s a Saturday and normally on Saturdays was the one day a week he would ride his bicycle back to the village to visit his parents. Because it was raining, he couldn’t ride his bicycle. So he was sort of just like, stuck in his dorm room. Again, just studying more and doing more research papers. Just because it was raining. That’s the only reason he was there. And he hears a knock on his door. And he opens the door. And it’s one of his friends from his department and says, Hey, we actually have this visiting professor from Carnegie Mellon giving a guest lecture but because it’s raining, no one’s on campus, and the seats are completely empty. And the speech is about to start Can you Can we just like need some people to sit there so it’s not rude? And T Liu goes, Yeah, you know, I’m happy to goes sits down listen to this lecture on computer science. And at the end, you know, the question answer portion Chiou raises and asked him like really, you know, very thoughtful questions. At the end of the session, the professor, the Carnegie Mellon Professor goes up to this, you know, young, you know, 27 year old Sheila and says, Wow, those questions were really insightful. Have you ever done any research on this topic? And the truth was, she had actually written three research papers on the topic. And the professor goes, Can I see them and I was like, yep, be very back in Sprint’s up to his dorm, grabs the papers runs back down, hands them to the professor, professionals looking Throw them in on the spot says, Have you ever thought about coming to study in America. And Chile tells them it’s as big a stream. But there’s a problem in order to even take the entrance exams to see if you qualify to apply to an American university. It was I think, like $60. He’s making $8 a month $7. To eat $1 would go back to his parents in the village. And the professor goes, I’m covering your entrance exam. And your application fees. So cheaply takes entry exam, files the application. And a few months later gets a letter in the mail saying congratulations, you’re given a full ride to Carnegie Mellon to get your PhD. And that’s where his journey in his career set off. And from there he goes to IBM and from there he goes to Yahoo, where he goes to build Yahoo search Yahoo shopping eventually become a vice president at Yahoo in charge of all search engine optimization. And then Microsoft poaches him to become the head of the Bing search engine and cloud computing on Microsoft.
Scott D Clary 41:13
Now, why is that? So question. When I brought this up, it was in the context of redefining what luck is, why is that really redefining luck? Because there’s still a big component of luck in that story. Yeah,
Alex Banayan 41:25
I remember when I was sitting with Qi Liu. I looked at him and I said, on the one hand, if the weather was sunny on that Saturday, you would, it’s fair to say you may not be sitting here as the president, Microsoft, and he laughed. And he goes, You know, there’s a point to that. It’s possible, who knows? You know, it’s impossible to know. But yeah, it he sort of was like, I get your point. That’s funny. And then at the same time, there was nothing lucky about the fact that she Lou was the only person in that room with that Carnegie Mellon professor, who had done three research papers on the topic, and had them up in his dorm room, ready to go. And I asked she Lou, I was like, Look, I’m sort of torn. Are you the luckiest person on earth? Are you that? Just the hardest working person on earth? And she Louise says, Look, I do believe in luck. Luck, but I don’t think luck operates. Yeah, he said, You know, I don’t think luck operates the way everybody assumes it does. He said, The way I see luck is that luck is like a bus. You know, if you’re standing at the bus stop, and you just so happen to miss that bus. Eventually another bus is going to come around. But the only way you can get onto that bus, is by paying your fare in the form of preparation. So if you’re never prepared, it doesn’t matter how many times the bus comes around, you’ll never be able to get on.
Scott D Clary 43:02
Just want to take a second to thank the sponsor of today’s episode, get abstract. Now, if you’re trying to figure out where to get information from where to learn where to read, there’s so much stuff out there. It’s like information overload. What get abstract does is it finds rates and summarizes top business books, articles and video talks into 10 minute abstracts to help people make better decisions in business and their private lives. I know you don’t have hours to kill, but you still want to learn you still want to upskill This is where get abstract really helps over 22,000 texts and audio summaries in areas such as leadership, finance, innovation, health and science. And many more. If you want to get to the meat of various texts, articles, books, videos, go sign up for get abstract, you can get a free month for all success story podcast listeners, by visiting get ab.li/success. That is get ab GE t ab.li/success. You apply the third door in your own life. You’ve done it multiple times. The one other case study, best best thing I can think of the way to call it I guess a case study or or practical application is when you asked Warren Buffett a question. So I also think that’s I think that just you know, we talked about the president of Microsoft, we speak about Bill Gates. And then we can also speak about Alex, who you live this and you you you’ve internalized it and this is how you get what you want in life. So not to say you’re not as impressive as Bill Gates, or Chiou.
Alex Banayan 44:46
I would I would agree with that statement. I definitely don’t think so. But I appreciate that.
Scott D Clary 44:53
But even even that last that last because I think the chance of you asking Warren by it a question is like one in 1000 at one of these shareholder meetings or something even more astronomical? I don’t know. But yeah, there’s about one and 1000. So how do you hack even small little everyday situations to get to get what you want?
Alex Banayan 45:16
Got, I hope people don’t walk away from this, like, wow, Alex is really good at game ships.
Scott D Clary 45:22
I think that’s all they’re gonna take. I guess that is the takeaway, though. There’s a lot of there’s a lot of practical, like, I hope that they can extrapolate some of the things that you just taught to Okay. Yeah, maybe he didn’t do it in a game show. But there’s a lot of things that I could replicate from this. And that’s
Alex Banayan 45:38
essentially what the story of the third door is. Yeah, the way the book is written? Yes, it starts with the prices, right story. Yeah, chapter one and two. But essentially, the way I think about it as a writer is, you know, a great musical, starts with that overturn that opening song and actually plays throughout the whole musical in different ways. I remember when I was writing the third door, I would sit down with my editor. And it started dawning on me, Hey, I didn’t have the idea. In the beginning, it sort of came to me as it was happening. I was like, Oh, the price is right. Energy. And they didn’t know this. I wasn’t self aware, I was, you know, this teenager going on this journey. It was only when I was writing that I was able to step back and look at this seven year journey, and see that, oh, my goodness, the energy of the prices, right is the same energy of how I got the Warren Buffett situation, how I got the Bill Gates interview, about the Spielberg disaster of how I went to the south of France and tried to interview him there, like all of these stories, actually all had the same energy. And essentially, I had to summarize third door philosophy in a single sentence that at the end of the day, there’s always a way, no matter what obstacles stand in front of you, at the end of the day, there’s always a way. I love that. I love that.
Scott D Clary 47:02
But how did you get I still need to know that you didn’t answer the question on
Alex Banayan 47:07
the Warren Buffett story for anyone who is a warren buffett fan. You know, you know, most people know him as the most successful investor in financial history. And what the super fans know is that he has this thing called the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, you know, his company, his Berkshire Hathaway, has an annual meeting where 30,000 people fly out to Omaha, Nebraska, sit in a big stadium and essentially, hear updates from Berkshire Hathaway. And there’s a q&a portion where people in the audience get to ask Warren Buffett questions at a microphone. And I had spent at this point, about six or eight months trying to get an interview with Warren Buffett writing handwritten letters, he actually would hand write his responses back to me, but the answer is always no. So after about eight months of this, his assistant, Debbie, you know, call her every Wednesday. One Wednesday, she just you know, after six months, she just was like, listen, Alex, look, you’re a nice kid. But I just got to tell you, I know warrant. And I know the answer is no. So how about just as my guest, you come to our annual shareholders meeting, and I’ll send you some tickets. I was like, Oh, my God, that’s, you know, it’s really kind of and she’s like, Yeah, you can even bring some of your friends. I said, Can I bring like five friends? Yeah, I’ll send you six tickets. I was like, Wow, thank you. And then she goes, yeah, just come out and enjoy the shareholders. I said, Well, Debbie, though, isn’t it true that at the shareholders meeting, people in the audience can ask questions to Warren Buffett? You know, during the q&a portion, she goes Alex, Alex, Alex. Look, I know what you’re thinking, just, it’s not possible. There’s 30,000 people there only about 30. You get to ask questions, your odds are one in 1000. I wouldn’t get your hopes up. What Debbie doesn’t know about me is I am the king of hopes up. So I ended up going with my five, you know, childhood best friends with file to Omaha, Nebraska. You know, we’re staying at the Motel Six, all six of us in one room. And we go to Warren Buffett’s shareholders meeting. And we end up sort of without a plan, but we just had this philosophy of just like the price is right, there must be a way. And sure enough, we find out a loophole in Warren Buffett’s lottery system and added the six of us we entered this lottery system. And even though our odds are one 1000 Out of the six of us forego winning lottery tickets, and that’s how you ask your questions to Warren Buffett in front of 30,000 people. You’re good.
Scott D Clary 49:49
You’re good at this. You’re very good at this.
Alex Banayan 49:51
I appreciate that. It also was a train. It was a disaster was a train crash. In a way what did you What You asked him. So this is the thing about Warren Buffett, he is a, he’s a very clever foe.
Scott D Clary 50:05
So he is getting that way. Very clever man.
Alex Banayan 50:09
So I thought I was really clever, like hacking his shareholders meeting and asking him the question. He caught on very quickly to what was happening to the point where by the time my fourth friend went up to the microphone with my like, questions that were like, extremely researched, and premeditated, and I had them printed out on cards, and I handed them out to my friend. At the time, my fourth friend went up to the microphone, Warren Buffett just looks at my friend and says, you know, I think this is a good point to end the meeting, thank you, everyone, and just shuts off the microphone. So, you know, I’ve never, I’ve never sat down with a guy at this point, I, I will never know if he if that was just the craziest coincidence of all time. But he was catching on to the point where even when I was asking him some of my other questions. He was very dodgy with the answers. And one of the most important lessons I learned from this experience is by complete random, different path, I ended up getting the interview with Bill Gates through a different way. And right around that same time, about a few months later, and when I did the interview with Bill Gates, the interview and so well, that Bill Gates, his chief of staff said, Look, Alex, that was phenomenal. We love what you’re doing. We love the mission, we love that you’re trying to help you know, the next generation of entrepreneurs. So how can we help you? And I was like, God, I have a lot of ways you can help. So I like show them my list of people I wanted to interview. And sure enough, you know, they look at Warren Buffet, they go, Oh, Bill and Lauren are best friends. That’s easy. When I’ll just put in that call tomorrow. I’m like, Oh, my God, this is amazing. I’ll never know exactly what happened. But I get an email from Bill Gates chief of staff about a week later. And the email says, Dear Alex, please no more contact to Warren’s office. Thank you, really. And in that moment, it dawned on me, not only was the answer Stone, no. I had gotten myself blacklisted. And every business book talks about the value of persistence. But I’ve ever seen a business book ever tell you about the dangers of over persistence, where you can knock on the door so many times, the person who said locks the door and calls the police. And I had always assumed persistence is about knocking on a door 100 times. It wasn’t till that moment, I realized that persistence is actually about knocking on 100 different doors. And I had to learn the hard way that it’s possible to be so over persistent. It’s possible to dig yourself into such a deep hole that even Bill Gates can pull you out. Another good lesson.
Scott D Clary 53:02
Yeah, that’s, that’s very interesting. So that’s so even when his even when his chief of staff reached out, it was at this point, though, it was like you’d already reach out a lot. So I’m assuming Yeah,
Alex Banayan 53:13
this after eight months of pounding, I’m happy with your horses, meaning I had really that’s a really screw.
Scott D Clary 53:22
That’s funny. Well live and learn. I mean, you got a lot of pretty damn good interviews. So I’d say, I’d say you did. All right. All right. So what do you what do you want to, you know, after after creating the third door, the concept the book, what what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to impart on the world? And I asked this because you said yourself, if somebody doesn’t want to believe there’s a workaround or doesn’t want to maybe step outside that line for the club, you can’t help them. So what do you want to impart on the world knowing that it’s going to take a person to have some self awareness to take that first step out of line anyways?
Alex Banayan 54:11
You know, there’s a, there’s a story that I really love that I think about a lot. And it’s a story I read during my research about a teacher who’s teaching with a program Teach for America, and she was signed to a school in Baltimore, you know, really rough school, really rough part of town. And she’s assigned to maybe third or fourth grade. And she realizes these kids need some inspiration. So she says, All right, today, we’re all going to draw pictures of our biggest dream in life. You know what we want to be when we grow up. So as you pass on the papers and the crayons and other kids start coloring, except one boy sitting in the back of the class, no spaces stoic. He won’t touch a crayon, but about five insulators, I see his eyes light up, he starts coloring. And the teacher at the end of the day has gone to the papers and sees that this young boy read it, you know, drew a picture of a pizza delivery now. Teacher was very concerned. So the teacher called the mother that night and explained what had happened and the mother said that she wasn’t surprised. The mother explained that the only male figure in his life in This Boy’s Life who wasn’t in jail, or on drugs, was his uncle who delivers pizza. And what I learned from that story is that young people will always reach for the highest branch they believe is possible. They will always reach for the highest branch they believe is possible. So it’s our jobs. Whether it’s schools, families, or the business community at large, to illuminate more branches. That’s really my mission moving forward.
Scott D Clary 56:04
I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode, HubSpot. Now, the new year might have you thinking ahead to what you want out of your career. So when you think about your success story, what do you actually picture? Is it retiring early with a beautiful view of the skyline? Is it leaving a legacy with your name on it? Or maybe it’s helping influence and change some of the world’s most pressing issues? Whatever it is, writing your success story starts by working smart because when you work smart, your success story writes itself. A HubSpot CRM platform helps your marketing campaigns work harder and smarter. With intuitive visual workflows and bot builders, you can create scalable, automated campaigns across email, social media, web and chat so your customers hear your messages loud and clear. Are you tired of your content not adapting to mobile, making it difficult for your customers to absorb your message a HubSpot CRM platform optimizes your content for multiple devices so that you can reach your customers, wherever they are, which is just smart. Learn more about how you can transform your customer experience with a HubSpot email@example.com. I love that. Thank you. I appreciate that. That’s an amazing, that’s a beautiful story. You’re very good. You’re very good storyteller. I’m not I’m not blowing smoke. You’re a very good storyteller. Your analogies are, are strong. So thank you. Okay, I want to wrap this up with a few rapid fire questions just to pull us some insights from you. Before that, though, most importantly, where do people connect with you? What are the places people should go check out social website? Anything you want to drop?
Alex Banayan 57:35
Yeah. You know, if, if you like audio books, you know, the third doors on Audible and iTunes, if you’d like physical books, you know, obviously Amazon Barnes Noble ebooks, you know, wherever you like books. It’s there. And if you ended up listening to this and reading the book, because of it, let me know. You know, Instagram is at Alex Vinayan. by Twitter, same thing. I would love to just say thank you. And he read that.
Scott D Clary 58:03
Amazing. Okay, biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your personal professional life? What was that? Had you overcome it?
Alex Banayan 58:11
Biggest challenge probably when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in personal life, yeah, that was, that was definitely one of the hardest.
Scott D Clary 58:29
How did you not let that affect you? Even though it did it affect you? Even though it did? But how did
Alex Banayan 58:33
it didn’t affect me? How did that How did I manage it? With therapy. And with a book called when things fall apart by parent children. There was that was a single resource outside of a therapist, friends and family that I can point to
Scott D Clary 58:54
there’s been many people that have had an impact on your life, but if you had to pick one, who was it? And what
Alex Banayan 58:59
did they teach you? Who outside of family including family open ended you choose? Well, including families. You know, my mother’s an easy is that
Scott D Clary 59:09
either mother wife, father, you know, oh,
Alex Banayan 59:12
well when you when you do outside of family or outside relatives, then you start going to like business mentors and whatnot. And then friends. Just want to protect what Oh, go ahead. Well, you know, definitely with my mother. You know, she’s actually changed what I believe is possible. When my dad passed away seeing the way my mom not only like stayed afloat, but actually completely had a rebirth in some ways and allow herself to You know, one of the things that says in that book, when things fall apart is by allowing yourself to be completely destructed. Do you find the parts of yourself that are indestructible? I know my mom went through that. And I went through that and seeing her grow and heal and transform in her 50s. She’s just, you know, as light in my life.
Scott D Clary 1:00:31
You’ve now touched on this already, but I’ll ask anyways, a book or podcast you’d recommend people to check out. It could be what you just mentioned, or there could be others as well.
Alex Banayan 1:00:42
One of my favorite books in the past couple years is a book called Einstein in the rabbi. And the subtitle is called searching for the soul. The title is a bit like, misleading, but the subtitle really gets to what the book is about, which is really it’s about exploring what the soul is, and nurturing your connection with your soul and being able to listen to it. And I loved that book.
Scott D Clary 1:01:11
If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?
Alex Banayan 1:01:15
You’re gonna be fine. Relax, enjoy it, you’re gonna it’s gonna work out great. The 20 year old self would say you’re wrong. I need to be terrified in order for this to work. It always works. By the way, people say that to me today and I got little to you now.
Scott D Clary 1:01:45
And then last question, what does success mean to you?
Alex Banayan 1:01:57
At this point in my life it’s doing things in a way that I’m proud of. Helping people in a way that feels like it’s unique to my destiny and path in life and the love and the relationships that I’m able to have along the whole journey.