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A few weeks ago I found myself graduated from college and asking myself a question that author Alex Banayan and so many others know all too well: “What do I want to do with my life?” That question led Banayan on a seven-year journey to uncover how some of the world’s most successful people launched their careers, and me to pre-order his book The Third Door.

When the book arrived on my doorstep I didn’t hesitate to dive right in. And I wasn’t disappointed. I’d come across the book while scrolling through my Instagram one night. Apparently, unknowingly to me, I already followed Alex, but I didn’t know who he was. He had posted about the pre-orders so I decided to indulge and read the description. As soon as I read that description, I thought this book would be exactly what I needed. I was right.

No one usually tells this side of the story. It was both eye-opening and reassuring to read the stories of how people like Steven Spielberg, Lady Gaga, and Bill Gates launched their careers. Seventy percent of the way through his journey, Alex created an analogy that sums up how many successful people launch their careers. The Third Door.

“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.”

– Alex Banayan

Five Big Take Aways From the Third Door

Pick Up the Phone

When Bill Gates was 19 years old, MITS released the world’s first minicomputer kit. With his best friend Paul Allen, Bill set out to sell software to run it. But when it came to picking up the phone to follow up, Bill handed the phone to Paul. “‘No, you do it!’ Paul said. ‘You’re better at this kind of thing.’ ‘I’m not going to call,’ Bill shot back. ‘You call.’” Finally, they compromised Bill called but said he was Paul. Eight weeks later, Bill and Paul finished their software and closed their first deal. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

Jump at the Opportunity

During his journey, Alex faced a myriad of obstacles, but when an opportunity presented itself, he took it. Alex came up with the idea for his book as a freshman in college when he was bored with his premed courses. The night before a big biology final, a friend approached him about free tickets to the Price Is Right. The show filmed not far from campus. Alex was struck with an idea. What if he won the price is right? Then he could fund his book. Alex studied all night. Hacked his way on to the show. And went on to win himself a sailboat which then he sold to fund his mission. Jump at your opportunities.

Live Exponentially

Most people live linear lives: “‘they go to college, get an internship, graduate, land a job, get a promotion, save up for vacation each year, work toward their next promotion, and they just do that their whole lives.’” These are words Elliott Bisnow, who at age 25 founded the Summit Series to bring together young entrepreneurs, told Banayan. Bisnow’s mentality for life is different. He believes in living an exponential life. This resonated strongly with me. Successful people skip steps, they don’t settle for the linear life. It’s okay to skip steps, but you have to want it. Do you want it?

Don’t Compromise Your Happiness

There are a lot of people who deem Steve Wozniak less successful than his counterpart, Steve Jobs. But after reading the chapter where Alex interviewed Wozniak, you might re-think that sentiment. Did you know Wozniak asked Steve to cap his job at engineer? He could have managed people and rose up the ranks, but he believed that wouldn’t make him as happy as being in the trenches doing what he loved, engineering. What makes you happy?

Making Your Choice

The common theme among all of these people? They made a choice. And not just any choice. Their choice. The made a decision for themselves to pick up the phone, own their happiness, and take the Third Door. They took control of their own lives and made the choice to make their dreams happen. Make your choice.

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