The larger-than-life journey of an 18-year-old college freshman who set out from his dorm room to track down Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg, and dozens more of the world’s most successful people to uncover how they broke through and launched their careers.
The Third Door takes readers on an unprecedented adventure—from hacking Warren Buffett’s shareholders meeting to chasing Larry King through a grocery store to celebrating in a nightclub with Lady Gaga—as Alex Banayan travels from icon to icon, decoding their success.
After remarkable one-on-one interviews with Bill Gates, Maya Angelou, Steve Wozniak, Jane Goodall, Larry King, Jessica Alba, Pitbull, Tim Ferriss, Quincy Jones, and many more, Alex discovered the one key they have in common: they all took 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 99 percent of people wait in line, hoping to get in.
The Second Door: the VIP entrance, where the billionaires and celebrities 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.
FOUNDER OF MICROSOFT
Chapter 26: “The Holy Grail: Part II”BUSINESS
GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING MUSICIAN
Chapter 35: “Getting in the Game “MUSIC
MOST SUCCESSFUL INVESTOR IN HISTORY
Chapter 22: “The Shareholders Meeting”FINANCE
RENOWNED POET AND AUTHOR
Chapter 31: “Turning Darkness Into Light”LITERATURE
ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING DIRECTOR
Chapter 4: “The Spielberg Game”ENTERTAINMENT
AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS AND FOUNDER OF THE HONEST COMPANY
Chapter 32: “Sitting Down With Death”ENTREPRENEURSHIP
GRAMMY-AWARD WINNING RAPPER
Chapter 29: “Staying an Intern”MUSIC
Chapter 30: “The Collision”SCIENCE
HOST OF CNN’S LARRY KING LIVE
Chapter 23: “MR. KINGGG!”BROADCASTING
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK
Chapter 5: “Crouching in the Bathroom”ENTREPRENEURSHIP
LEGENDARY MUSIC, FILM AND TELEVISION PRODUCER
Chapter 34: “The Greatest Gift”ENTERTAINMENT
COFOUNDER OF APPLE
Chapter 28: “Redefining Success”TECHNOLOGY
We all face rejection. We’ve all felt the fear of starting something new.
Whether you’re a corporate executive, an ambitious startup founder, or a recent college graduate, this book is for anyone who wants the wisdom of the greats to supercharge their journey.
If you dream of learning under the wings of world-class mentors, achieving your biggest goals, or just transforming yourself into the person you’ve always imagined you could be, The Third Door gives you the tools you need so you can get what you want.
Founder of The Huffington Post and New York Times Bestselling Author of Thrive
“From redefining success with Steve Wozniak to staring death in the eyes with Jessica Alba, this book is packed with adventure, drama, and remarkable lessons the whole way through. Whether you‘re an executive or a recent college graduate, you’ll find inspiration and wisdom in The Third Door.”
New York Times Bestselling Author of When, Drive, and A Whole New Mind
“The Third Door is at once a spirited coming-of-age story and a hard-headed examination of what it takes to succeed at the highest levels. Alex Banayan has cracked the code of the world’s most successful people and shown he will soon join their ranks.”
HEAD OF MULTICULTURAL MARKETING AT GOOGLE
“An emotional roller coaster . . . I laughed. I cried. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time . . . Once every few decades a book comes along that defines a generation. The Third Door is it.”
GRAMMY-NOMINATED AND MULTIPLATINUM MUSICIAN
“Powerful . . . One of the best books of the year . . . After reading The Third Door, an uncontrollable shift happened in my life—I started to see the challenges in front of me as fun. This book not only gave me new tools to achieve my goals, but it also showed me how exciting it can be to tackle seemingly impossible obstacles. If you want to take your life to the next level, you have to read The Third Door.”
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE AND BIG POTENTIAL
“A treasure chest of wisdom . . . knowledge that can be used by anyone, anywhere, who wants to take their journey further . . . Banayan has become one of the most equipped guides to help you climb higher mountains in your life.”
New York Times bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
“A cinematic story full of drama, betrayal, and heartbreak. The Third Door takes you on a narrative adventure packed with life-changing lessons. Once you start reading, you can’t stop.”
Director of Marketing at Netflix
“Unlike any business book I’ve read. The Third Door is a thrill ride of hope, joy, ambition, and self-discovery. I cheered out loud, and at different points, tears trickled down my face . . . The Third Door motivated me turn up the volume in my life . . . A triumph.”
New York Times bestselling author of The Promise of a Pencil
“Banayan’s heart is poured into every page of this book. The Third Door is not only a guide to how the world’s most remarkable pioneers succeeded, but it’s also a magnificent story of one boy’s journey to achieve his dream. The Third Door drips with passion and emotion—and it’s a must-read for anyone wanting to turn their vision into a reality.”
Emmy-Nominated Host of National Geographic’s Origins and Brain Games
“My grandfather used to tell me: ‘If a problem has a solution, why worry?’ And it’s precisely that attitude of optimism and possibility that has so inspired me about Banayan’s The Third Door. He wasted little time worrying: ‘What if?’ He went for it. And that made all the difference.”
United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein (Ret.)
“As a Jewish mother, I don’t want my teenage kids to read this book and get any ideas about dropping out of school. However, as someone who has served as a senior diplomat, tech executive, and social innovation entrepreneur, I want to put it at the top of their reading list! The Third Door is required reading for anyone in today’s dynamic society who wants to learn success from the best.”
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF INCOGNITO, HOST OF PBS’ THE BRAIN, AND ADJUNCT PROFESSOR AT STANFORD
“A wild ride . . . Inspiring, hilarious, and insightful. Whenever you start to believe there’s no other way to solve your problem, let Alex Banayan inspire you to think bigger.”
Former Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education
“Alex Banayan was intent on creating his ‘dream university’—Bill Gates would teach business; Lady Gaga, music; Steven Spielberg, film; Jane Goodall, science—and that vision became a reality. This book proves that education is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and it’s made even more powerful when you take charge of your own learning.“
LEAD GUITARIST OF THE GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING ROCK BAND
“Equal parts badass and wise, The Third Door ushers you inside an epic journey of invention and determination. Banayan’s quest to discover the keys to the world’s most impossible doors unlocks the hidden power in each of us.”
Star of MTV’S THE BURIED LIFE and New York Times Bestselling Author
“Wild adventures. Incredible stories. Immensely practical advice. The Third Door has it all—and it’s exactly what our generation has been waiting for.”
New York Times bestselling author of Love is the Killer App
“In just a few hours of reading this book, Alex Banayan taught how to meet billionaires, leapfrog my associates, and achieve my dreams in record time. I’ve never read anything quite like this! Whether you are an entrepreneur or trying to jumpstart your career, The Third Door will open up your world of possibilities.”
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING CO-AUTHOR OF THE START-UP OF YOU
“Gripping stories . . . The Third Door is that rare book where the author lives the advice he’s sharing. Banayan redefines the meaning of entrepreneurial hustle and hard work. Prepare to be humbled—and inspired.”
Grammy-Award Winning Rapper and Music Producer
“Banayan’s hustle is insane. He crouched in bathrooms, chased people through grocery stores—he did whatever it took to make his dream happen. The extents he went through will inspire you to keep grinding on your path. If you are hungry to succeed, trust me: read The Third Door.”
Global Program Director for Growth and Strategic Partnerships at IBM
“The Third Door draws upon lessons from some of today’s most inspiring figures in business and popular culture, and by doing so provides a masterclass in innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative problem-solving across generations. It is a must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs and corporate leaders alike.”
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF DISCIPLINED DREAMING
“Banayan personifies creativity, hustle, and passion. He’s the embodiment of the next generation of entrepreneurial leader and The Third Door beautifully brings this mindset to life.”
Chief Innovation Officer of the Obama 2012 Presidential Campaign and Executive Director of Chicago Ideas
“A surprising combination of bildungsroman, spiritual journey, and caper comedy, The Third Door creates an opportunity for all of us to inspect what success means, what’s inspires us, and how we think about our paths through the world. The more we look beneath the audacity (and occasional absurdity) of Banayan’s journey, the more apparent the central truth of success is revealed in the profound commitment to cause and the capacity to outwork any obstacle.”
Director of West Coast Brand Experience at Nike
“Alex Banayan’s The Third Door was absolutely worth the wait! He perfectly captures amazing insights, while being funny and approachable. Banayan’s journey leaves you not only inspired, but also excited to pursue your dreams and define success in your own way.”
CEO OF CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL AND HOST OF PBS’ EARTH: A NEW WILD
“Engrossing . . . Brilliantly insightful. Applicable and useful. I found myself nodding in places and re-reading passages . . . Banayan demystifies the hardest and scariest thing many of us have to do to succeed.”
Founder of uBeam
“Whether Banayan knew it or not, the beautifully ironic thing about this book is that some of the most valuable insights into how to succeed came just as much from his own quest to write this book as it came from the wildly accomplished people he interviewed. From hacking The Price Is Right to commandeering Warren Buffett’s shareholders meeting, Banayan’s approach to solving problems is as hilarious as it is brilliant. Whether you’re an accomplished entrepreneur, an aspiring one, or an executive trying to get your employees to think outside the box, The Third Door is the way forward.”
AUTHOR OF THE GO-GIVER
“In this magnificent book we the reader have the honor of following and witnessing an ambitious, resourceful, and very clever young man turn into a wise, astute, and very successful young adult. The twists and turns, the joys and disappointments, the letdowns and, ultimately, the victories and final realizations read like a movie that grips you with both hands and won’t let go. The best part of all is the author’s growth, self-reflection, and self-discovery. What does it really take to be happy? You really will find the answer in these pages as Banayan and his cast of friends gladly show us the way. Buy copies of this book, both for yourself and your entire family. You’ll be glad you did. And so will they!”
Author of Philanthrocapitalism and former Business Editor of The Economist
“Whether you are just beginning your first act, or setting off on your twentieth, this may be the best and most thoroughly enjoyable career advice book you will ever read: fast moving, funny, big-hearted, and constantly insightful.”
FORMER CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER OF SALESFORCE AND FOUNDER OF BUDDY MEDIA
“I wish I had The Third Door when I was starting my first business. Thankfully, Banayan has delivered the book we’ve all been waiting for.”
Author of Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership
“Banayan’s incredible journey, told with wit, warmth, and wisdom, explores his own search for meaning through the personal stories of his heroes. An inspiring read for anyone looking to find their purpose.”
Columnist for The Washington Post and Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University
“A brilliant writer . . . I couldn’t stop reading once I started. The Third Door is a must-read for entrepreneurs.”
The day before his freshman year final exams, ALEX BANAYAN hacked The Price Is Right, won a sailboat, sold it, and used the prize money to fund his quest to learn from the world’s most successful people.
Since then, Banayan has been named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list and Business Insider’s “Most Powerful People Under 30.” He has contributed to Fast Company, the Washington Post, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch, and has been featured in major media including Fortune, Forbes, Businessweek, Bloomberg TV, Fox News, and CBS News.
An acclaimed keynote speaker, Banayan has presented the Third Door framework to business conferences and corporate leadership teams around the world, garnering standing ovations from Apple, Nike, IBM, Dell, MTV, Harvard, and countless others.
Alex has been featured in...
THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES PACKAGE
1. Exclusive 80-minute audio of New York Times bestselling author and Esquire magazine writer Cal Fussman interviewing Alex about the making of The Third Door
2. Exclusive 60-minute audio of how Alex tracked down Bill Gates, hacked The Price Is Right, and the biggest keys he’s learned about successful risk taking
3. Fifteen photo-quotes of the most inspiring lessons from The Third Door
THE ULTIMATE SUCCESS PACKAGE
Get everything in the Behind-the-Scenes package, plus:
1. Exclusive 60-minute audio of Alex interviewing TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie
2. Exclusive 50-minute audio of Alex interviewing AOL Founder Steve Case
3. Exclusive 40-minute audio of Alex interviewing bestselling author and education activists Michelle Rhee
4. Exclusive 80-minute video of Alex interviewing New York Times bestselling author and star of MTV’s The Buried Life Ben Nemtin about the actionable steps to achieve your biggest dreams
5. Exclusive 50-minute video of career coach Ashley Stahl interviewing Alex about the most practical, efficient, and straight forward ways to optimize your life and career
6. Twenty-page exclusive PDF of “The Thirty Daily Habits of Radically Successful People”
7. Ten-page exclusive PDF of “The Ultimate Success Reading List”
THE ALL-ACCESS PACKAGE
Get everything in the Behind-the-Scenes and Ultimate Success packages, plus:
1. Invite to a VIP Meet and Greet With Alex in Los Angeles*
2. Exclusive 2-Hour Online Q&A Session With Alex Where You Can Ask Your Questions Directly
3. Nine Limited-Edition Autographed Book Plates Signed By Alex
*Guests are responsible for their travel and accommodations
Schedule of Events Updated Weekly
Seven years in the making . . . and now it’s finally here.
The Third Door Book Tour will be coming to cities all across America—spanning eight months this spring, summer, and fall.
From intimate book signings to public events with surprise celebrity guests, check back here for weekly updates as we rollout new dates and appearances.
“When you change what you believe
is possible, you change
what becomes possible.” ALEX BANAYAN
“As the host and keynote speaker of our annual IBM Amplify conference, Alex Banayan’s passion was exactly what we needed to energize our corporation at such a pivotal time in our transformation.” IBM
“Alex Banayan is an unbelievable storyteller. He is thoughtful, engaging, and dynamic. Banayan represents the voice of entrepreneurship, the power of hustle, and the energy of unlimited potential.” APPLE
“When Banayan spoke at my department’s off-site, his energy was contagious, his stories were inspiring, and his ideas pushed my team’s leadership. If you’re looking for someone with insight and passion, then Banayan is your man.” NIKE
“Alex Banayan’s keynote and Q&A was one of the best our organization has ever had. It had people buzzing for months. Alex is a speaker with inspiring passion, unbelievable stories, and immensely practical lessons.” HARVARD VENTURES