In my college days, my friends and I went clubbing every weekend. (Yes, Christians go to clubs.) We were snobs about it. We walked right up to the bouncers and avoided the line. They saw us coming, opened the velvet rope and we strode in. We used the Second Door.
In The Third Door, author Alex Banayan uses the nightclub analogy for life and success:
"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."
Banayan was an undergrad at USC and feeling more and more disgruntled about the path that was laid out before him, the path he was supposed to take to make his Persian immigrant parents proud. They expected nothing less than medical school, as they had worked hard and sacrificed for Alex to reach that goal – only that wasn't HIS goal. He was floundering, unmotivated and bored. Out of this struggle he discovered his mission.
At the library one day he took a study break. Wandering into the biography aisle, he pulled out a book about Bill Gates. He wondered how Bill Gates got to where he did. "How did he take his first steps up the mountain?" Thus began his search. Only when he couldn't find the answers he was looking for in any book, he decided to write one.
Banayan's mission became to write a book for his generation – the book he dreamed of reading. He sat with his friends and brainstormed the ideal university, where they could choose any professor to teach a variety of subjects. They came up with Bill Gates for business, Warren Buffett for finance, Lady Gaga for music, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Ferris and more. Banayan made a list and set out on his mission – to track down each of the names on his list, interview them, and write the book of his dreams. He thought it would take three months, a fun little summer project.
It took six years.
The Third Door is an easy read, funny and filled with advice and wisdom from some of the most successful people on the earth. It tracks Banayan's efforts to procure interviews with the best of the best, and he takes beating after beating but doesn't give up. It's his dedication to his mission, his earnestness and persistence that pays off most times. But not every time. The greatest lessons come from his biggest failures.
Banayan spends much of the book trying to get in front of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – to glean from them the Holy Grail, which he defines as the "secret to success." It doesn't come in the way he expects it. The journey ends up being more beneficial than the destination.
When I finished this book, late on a Wednesday night, I stood in my kitchen questioning my life. I've taken a linear path – college, job, marriage, kids. And that's okay. But what if I had read this book when I was 19? What possibilities had I missed? Was it too late? Are there new possibilities in front of me?
From the book I also picked up the importance of mentorship. I mentor several young ladies and I have mentors of my own. Banayan found mentors to help him with his mission, and it was unbelievable reading about how so many made effort after effort on his behalf. If you don't have a mentor, find one.
Alex Banayan completed his mission. He went through every possible Third Door and he published his dream book. Which left me wondering, what will he do next?
What will I do next?
For inspiration and laughs, pick up your copy of The Third Door here.
Visit Alex Banayan's web site here or on IG @alexbanayan.