The Third Door

If anything keeps me awake at night and still leaves me energized, it’s reading success stories. Having had a fascination for knowing how people made it big, I could easily connect with author Alex Banayan who interviewed some of the most successful people for his book. He calls it the definitive quest for exploring the mindset of successful people, I call it a chronicle of the journey of choices made by them. 



Author : Alex Banayan
Originally Published : 2018
Publication : Currency, Illustrated Edition
Pages : 320
Genre(s) :-
Non-Fiction, Self Help, Business

After all, success (or life in general) is nothing but a series of choices we make at every given moment in life. Alex developed a fascination to understand just how people launched their careers that went on to redefine the way we live.

Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Larry King, Maya Angelou, Steve Wozniak, Jane Goodall, Jessica Alba, Quincy Jones are some of the people Banayan interviewed over the course of a seven year sojourn to find the third door. Metaphorically, it symbolizes the third alternative after you’ve ditched the first two- the conventional ‘wait till your turn comes’, and the second door that opens for the privileged few, like on a platter. The third door needs to be found, banged, peeped through and created to gain entry into the world of success. That’s the same one most successful people make their entry through.

Alex’s life is the quintessential American youth story that begins with a restless youth at college, unsure about how life would shape but damn sure it will. It is his deep quest to know how people make it big (assuming he does not think it’s all by chance), that takes him to know Spielberg.

How people really launch their careers

Spielberg came to Universal Studios with a dream to make films and being rejected from film school. He dropped off the tour bus and managed to forge friendship with an insider, thus making way for a stealth three month stay on the campus. Luckily, he found someone who trusted him and put him through to the right people and thus was launched his career. Sounds simple? Not if you’re firstly not a terrific film maker.

Take Qi Lu, the President of online services at Microsoft. Born in a small village near Shanghai that didn’t even provide a square meal, he had a realization that if needed to make it big, he must move out and get education. That’s how he moved to university, got his degree and landed his job. But the best part is that Qi learned to cut down on his sleep in order to make the most of the 24 hours everyone had. Qi is known to work faster than anyone else. 4 hours of sleep cut amounted to two whole months of added productivity per year which he used to write research papers and read more books. So when opportunity came in the form of an American professor on campus, Qi was ready with his preparation that earned him a full scholarship at Carnegie Mellon. And it was meeting Qi that led Alex to gain an interview with Bill Gates.

Reading Alex’s book is nothing short of reading a thriller with its fast pace and the happenings around. How else would you describe a nineteen-year-old pursuing his dream, knocking doors, pestering people with emails and calls and leaping when it was the right thing to do. At times I felt I was reading a book by Dan Brown. Take for instance his pursuit to find a publisher for his yet unwritten book because Bill Gates wanted to know it before he agreed to meet. And boy he manages to get one just in time. If you read the book from the eyes of a twenty-something Alex, you will be fascinated to know how Paul Allen and Bill Gates sold their first software when they had none when they pitched. Or how Jane Goodall managed to work with the world’s greatest paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. Just the very task accomplished of meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, Pitbull, Quincy Jones or Lady Gaga and showing the deepest interest in them and their secret to success gives you enough Goosebumps. You know what youth can do to you and now you know what a possessed youth can do.

Key takeaways-

  1. Apart from what Alex tells us, my key takeaway is that if you seek, you will find. Just be prepared to bring heaven and earth together for that
  2. There are conventional ways to achieve your dreams and then there is privilege, but for those who have neither, there’s always the third door that opens only when you bang it, thrash it and make it happen
  3. All successful people don’t have it easy; it is only when they become successful that their journey seems so.
  4. Most people encounter hurdles, only those who endure and who find a way to overcome, manage to make it big

Why I recommend this book

Because it makes for a thrilling read. I love people who work hard to achieve their dreams. In fact, I love people who dream big. This book is a must read to know about the third doors of all these famous people, and also for the one that Alex Banayan banged and opened without being disheartened by rejections. In a world where the young value privilege and aren’t prepared to grind it out in the big bad world, it’s an eye opener that you need to pursue your dreams come what may. Simply being talented or having the conviction is not enough, you need to work towards channelizing that zeal in the right way.

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