Book Reviews

The Third Door by Alex Banayan -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

33. The Third Door - Alex Banayan

Get it on Amazon

Rating: 6/10

Date of reading: 11th – 15th of October, 2018

Description: The best question you can ask a successful person isn’t how they made it in their life, but what would their course of action be if they were in your particular position. Alex Banayan wanted an answer to that question, but he never found those pieces of information anywhere. So he decided to find the successful people he admired and asked them that answer. Oh, in the meantime he recorded the answers in what was the most successful business book of 2018 – The Third Door.

 

My notes:

 

STEP 1
DITCH THE LINE

 

“We entered a long corridor lined with hundreds of books. “He’s read every one,” she said.” ( :15)

“”Hey, there,” Bill Gates said, his smile lifting his eyebrows. “Come on in…”” ( :15)

“THREE YEARS EARLIER, MY FRESHMAN DORM ROOM” ( :16)

“When I received my admissions letter from USC, my mom told me I couldn’t attend because we couldn’t afford it. Although my family wasn’t poor and I grew up in Beverly Hills, like many families, we lived a double life. While we lived in a nice neighborhood, my parents had to take out a second mortgage to cover the bills. We went on vacations, yet there were times when I’d see notices on our front door saying our gas was going to be cut off.” ( :16)

“Then I thought about the guy I’d met the prior weekend. He’d graduated from USC a year earlier with a math degree. He used to sit at a desk just like Ricky’s, spitting out numbers just like him, and now he was scooping ice cream a few miles from campus. I was beginning to realize that a college degree no longer came with guarantees. I turned over to the textbooks. Studying is the last thing I want to do. I rolled onto my back. But my parents sacrificed everything so that studying would be the only thing I have to do” ( :17)

“The Price Is Right for even thirty seconds and has heard the announcer say “COME ON DOWN!” knows the contestants are colorfully dressed and have wild personalities that fill the television screen. The show makes it seem like the contestants are randomly selected from the audience—but at around 4:00 a.m., as I’d Googled “how to get on The Price Is Right,” I discovered it was far from random. A producer interviews each audience member and picks the wildest ones. If the producer likes you, he puts your name on a list that’s given to an undercover producer who observes you from afar. If the undercover producer puts a check mark by your name, you’re called on stage. It wasn’t luck: there was a system.” ( :20)

“Hey, my name’s Alex, I’m from LA and I’m a premed at USC!” “Premed? You’re probably always studying. How do you have time to watch The Price Is Right?” “The…what? Oh! Is that where I am?” He didn’t even give a pity laugh.” ( :21)

“”Hey, my name’s Alex, I’m from LA and I’m a premed at USC!” “Premed? You’re probably always studying. How do you have time to watch The Price Is Right?” “The…what? Oh! Is that where I am?” He didn’t even give a pity laugh. I needed to redeem myself. In one of the business books I’d read, the author said that physical contact speeds up a relationship. I had an idea. I had to touch Stan. “Stan, Stan, come over here! I want to make a secret handshake with you!” He rolled his eyes. “Stan! Come on!” He stepped forward and we slapped hands. “Dude, you’re doing it all wrong,” I said. “How old are you?” Stan chuckled and I showed him how to pound it and blow it up. He laughed some more, wished me luck, and walked away. He didn’t wink to his assistant. She didn’t write anything on the clipboard. Just like that, it was over.” ( :21)

“He squinted. Now I really didn’t know what to say. I took a big breath, looked at him with every bit of intensity I could muster, and said, “STAN, I’M AN AVID SCARF COLLECTOR, I HAVE 362 OF THEM IN MY DORM ROOM, AND I’M MISSING THAT ONE! WHERE DID YOU GET IT?” The tension shattered and Stan burst into laughter.” ( :21)

“He flashed a smile and turned to his assistant. She scribbled something on the clipboard.” ( :22)

“”ALEX BANAYAN, COME ON DOWN!”” ( :23)

“”Mom, I’m sorry, but you just have to trust me.” “If you’re not going to be a doctor,” she said, “what are you going to do with your life?” “I don’t know.” “What are you planning to do with a business degree?” “I don’t know.” “So how are you going to support yourself?” “I don’t know!” “You’re right: you don’t know! You don’t know anything. You don’t know what it’s like in the real world. You don’t know what it’s like to have to start over in a new country with nothing. What I do know is that if you become a doctor, if you can save people, you can do that anywhere. Going on an adventure is not a career. You can’t get this time back.”” ( :29)

“”Your mom wants a life for you that we never had. In a revolution, they can take your money, they can take your business—but if you’re a doctor, they can’t take away what you know.” ( :29)

 

STEP 2
RUN DOWN THE ALLEY

 

“Many times the hardest part about achieving a dream isn’t actually achieving it—it’s stepping through your fear of the unknown when you don’t have a plan.” ( :34)

“I did just that. I pored over a six-hundred-page biography by day and watched his movies by night. Finally, the day arrived. I swung open my closet, threw on my only suit, and headed out.” ( :35)

“Just ten feet in front of me, standing shoulder to shoulder, were Steven Spielberg, Star Wars director George Lucas, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, and actor Jack Black. I’d walked in nervous, but now I was in a full panic.” ( :35)

“I called it The Flinch.” ( :35)

“I was terrified of rejection and mortified of making mistakes.” ( :36)

“Spielberg walked up to the gate, threw a hand in the air, and said Hey Scotty!— and the guard just waved back.” ( :36)

“They spoke for a while. When Silvers found out Spielberg was an aspiring director, he wrote him a three-day pass. Spielberg came for the next three days, and on the fourth, he showed up again, this time dressed in a suit and carrying his dad’s briefcase. Spielberg walked up to the gate, threw a hand in the air, and said Hey Scotty!— and the guard just waved back. For the next three months, Spielberg arrived at the gate, waved, and walked right through.” ( :36)

“”Yes, I think it’s that goddamn important. If you don’t look at this, somebody else will.” After Sid Sheinberg watched Amblin’, he asked to meet Spielberg immediately. Spielberg rushed over to the Universal lot and Sheinberg offered him a seven-year contract on the spot. And that’s how Steven Spielberg became the youngest major studio director in Hollywood history.” ( :37)

“1. Jump off the tour bus. 2.Find an Inside Man. 3.Ask for his or her help to bring you in.” ( :37)

“”Uh, excuse me, Mr. Spielberg. My name’s Alex and I’m a student at USC. Can I…can I ask you a quick question as you head to your car?” He stopped walking and swung his head over his shoulder, his eyebrows shooting over” ( :37)

“his metal-framed glasses. He lifted his arms in the air. He gave me a hug. “I’ve been on a college campus for hours and you’re the first student I’ve seen all day! I’d love to hear your question.”” ( :38)

“”Go make this happen,” he said. “Go out and get your other interviews. Then come back to me and we’ll see what we can do.”” ( :38)

“”You know,” he said, holding my gaze, “there’s something about you that tells me you’re actually going to make this happen. I believe in you. I believe you can do this.”” ( :38)

“The opening scene was of Tim Ferriss competing in the Tango World Championships. The next page had Ferriss racing motorcycles in Europe, kickboxing in Thailand, and scuba diving off a private island in Panama.” ( :40)

“Two pages later I discovered a line that almost made me scream “yes!” out loud: “If you picked up this book, chances are that you don’t want to sit behind a desk until you are 62.”” ( :40)

“What is the opposite of happiness? Sadness? No. Just as love and hate are two sides of the same coin, so are happiness and sadness…The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of” ( :40)

“happiness is—here’s the clincher—boredom.” ( :41)

“instructions, I shed forty pounds over the course of the summer. Bye-bye, Fatty Banayan. My family was shocked and jumped headfirst on the Tim Ferriss bandwagon too. My dad lost twenty pounds; my mom, fifty pounds; my cousin, sixty.” ( :41)

“10% of all author royalties are donated to educational not-for-profits, including DonorsChoose.org Wait a minute…DonorsChoose… I had my Inside Man.” ( :41)

“Evernote Conference: Register Now | The Evernote Trunk Conference will feature bestselling authors Tim Ferriss and Guy Kawasaki, and sessions for developers and users.” ( :42)

“Perhaps 99 percent of the world hasn’t heard his name. But to a certain niche, and probably everyone at this event, Tim Ferriss is bigger than Oprah Winfrey.” ( :42)

“”Oh,” he said, stepping back. He glanced at the card. “Awesome! How do you know DonorsChoose? I’m on their advisory board.” Ah, you don’t say. The Flinch released its grip and I told Ferriss about the mission. I said I hoped to interview everyone from Bill Gates and Lady Gaga to Larry King and Tim Ferriss. “Very funny,” he said at the mention of his name. “I’m serious.”” ( :43)

“But after I got home, days turned into weeks, and there was no word from Tim Ferriss. What I wasn’t aware of was that Ferriss had replied to my original interview request a month earlier, telling the DonorsChoose CEO, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I guess the CEO didn’t have the heart to break the news to me, so I wouldn’t learn this until years later.” ( :43)

“I continued emailing Ferriss’ assistant, hoping to get an answer. Business books claimed persistence is the key to success, so I kept writing email after email, sending a total of thirty-one messages. When brief emails didn’t get a response, I sent a nineparagraph message. I wrote another telling Ferriss’ assistant that doing an interview with me “would be one of the best investments of an hour Tim’s ever made.” I tried to remain upbeat and grateful, ending every email with “Thanks in advance!” But no matter how thoughtfully I tried to word my messages, they fell flat. Eventually I received an email from Ferriss’ right-hand man saying his boss wouldn’t be doing the interview anytime soon, if at all. I couldn’t understand where I’d gone wrong. Ferriss had squeezed my shoulder. I had my Inside Man. If I can’t get to Tim Ferriss, how the hell am I going to get to Bill Gates?” ( :43)

“Ferriss’ assistant, hoping something would change. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, Ferriss said yes. And not only did he say yes, but he wanted to do the interview by phone the next day. I practically leapt into the air, yelling, “Persistence! It works!”” ( :43)

“One of the other executives asked him, “So you’re not going to stop bothering us until we give you a job, huh?” “Sure,” Ferriss told him, “if you want to put it that way.” He got the job—and, naturally, in sales.” ( :44)

“”It’s important to note,” Ferriss told me, “that I was never rude. I also didn’t push the density. It’s not like I emailed him six times a week.”” ( :44)

“”If you sense someone getting annoyed, you need to back off.” Jab. “You need to be polite and deferential and recognize that, if you’re emailing someone like that, you should have your hat in hand.” Jab. “There’s a fine line between being persistent and being a hassle.” Uppercut.” ( :44)

“”Hi, I’m Tim Ferriss, recent college graduate,” he could say, “I’m Tim Ferriss, an event producer with the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs.”” ( :44)

“That legitimacy made a big difference.” ( :45)

“Dear So-and-So, I know you’re really busy and that you get a lot of emails, so this will only take sixty seconds to read. [Here is where you say who you are: add one or two lines that establish your credibility.] [Here is where you ask your very specific question.] I totally understand if you’re too busy to respond, but even a oneor two-line reply would really make my day. All the best, Tim” ( :45)

“He told me to never email someone and ask to “jump on the phone,” “get coffee,” or “pick your brain.” “Put your question right in the email,” he said. “It might be as simple as, ‘I’d like to discuss a relationship of some type that could take this-and-this form.” ( :45)

“He told me to never email someone and ask to “jump on the phone,” “get coffee,” or “pick your brain.” “Put your question right in the email,” he said. “It might be as simple as, ‘I’d like to discuss a relationship of some type that could take this-and-this form. Would you be willing to discuss it? I think a phone call might be faster, but if you prefer, I could throw a couple of questions your way via email.'” ( :45)

“‘ Thanks in advance!’ It’s annoying and entitled. Do the opposite and say, ‘I know you’re super busy, so if you can’t respond, I totally understand.'” ( :45)

“”Qi Lu.” The name was pronounced Chee Loo and I’d never heard of him. While I was grateful for Stefan’s help, I figured I hadn’t explained the mission well enough to him.” ( :47)

“Qi Lu grew up in a rural village outside of Shanghai, China, with no running water or electricity. The village was so poor that people suffered deformities from malnutrition. There were hundreds of kids, but only one schoolteacher. At age twenty-seven, Qi Lu was making the most money he’d ever earned—seven dollars a month. Fast-forward twenty years: he’s president of online services at Microsoft.” ( :48)

“”In some ways,” Qi said, “you can say God is fair to everybody. The question is: Will you use God’s gift the best you possibly can?”” ( :48)

“At one point, he was down to a single hour a night. He forced himself awake with ice-cold showers, but he wasn’t able to sustain it. Eventually he found that the least sleep he could optimally function on was four hours a night. To this day, he hasn’t slept in since.” ( :48)

“”It’s like driving a car,” Qi told me. “If you always drive at sixty-five miles per hour, it doesn’t wear and tear the car that much. But if you speed up and slam the brakes often, that wears the engine down.”” ( :48)

“day, six days a week. And Stefan Weitz had told me that the word around Microsoft was that Qi works twice as fast as everyone else. They call it “Qi Time.” Qi Time seemed like a fanatical, even unhealthy lifestyle.” ( :48)

“”In China,” he said, “if you wanted to go to the United States, you had to take two tests. The fees to take them were sixty dollars. My salary each month, I think, was equivalent to seven dollars.” That was eight months’ salary just to take the entrance exams.” ( :49)

“Qi hadn’t just done some research—he’d published five papers. That’s the power of Qi Time. It enabled him to be the most prepared person in the room.” ( :49)

“Qi explained his financial constraints and the professor said he would waive the sixtydollar qualification tests. Qi applied, and months later, a letter arrived. Carnegie Mellon offered him a full scholarship.” ( :49)

“If it hadn’t rained that Sunday night, Qi would have been home with his family, wouldn’t have met the professor, and none of this would have happened. At the same time, there was nothing coincidental about Qi having published those five research papers. I asked Qi about luck, and he said he believes it isn’t completely random.” ( :49)

“Qi was promoted to head the company’s next major initiative: Yahoo Search. That turned out to be another home run, but Qi didn’t slow down. In addition to taking on more engineering projects, Qi spent his weekends holed up in a library, reading stacks of books about leadership and management. I realized Qi Time wasn’t just about sleeping less. It was about sacrifice—sacrificing short-term pleasure for long-term gain. In just eight years at Yahoo, Qi became an executive vice president, overseeing more than three thousand engineers.” ( :50)

“Qi decided the ten-year mark would be a good time to finally take a break. During Qi’s last week at Yahoo, his staff handed out T-shirts at his going-away party that read: “I worked with Qi. Did you?”” ( :50)

“As Qi told me about working through the nights to create the Bing search engine, a weird feeling sank into my stomach. My thoughts began to wander, and then a distant memory flashed in my mind. I was five years old.” ( :50)

“”By the way,” he said, “thank you for doing what you’re doing. What’s motivating you to go on your mission is, in some ways, similar to what motivates me. Every minute of every day, it’s about empowering people to know more, do more, and be more. I think what you’re doing, in many ways, is a great example of that.” ( :50)

“”Yes, you absolutely should have a chance to talk to him. I’ll mention your book to him.” “Maybe I could write an email?” Qi smiled. “I would be happy to forward it to him.”” ( :51)

“Qi wasn’t born on Qi Time—he chose to do it.” ( :52)

“As the days of fall dragged on, I felt more and more despondent, each rejection beating away at my self-worth.” ( :53)

“As the days of fall dragged on, I felt more and more despondent, each rejection beating away at my self-worth. Getting up before sunrise morning after morning, just to get rejected, felt like I was lying on a road so a truck could run me over, reverse, then run me over some more.” ( :53)

“After attending his book signing and getting pushed aside by security, I used the Tim Ferriss cold-email template to reach out to someone who did public relations work for Sugar Ray. We met and she became my Inside Man. I wrote Sugar Ray a letter explaining that I was nineteen, and after reading his autobiography, I sensed his advice was exactly what my generation needed. As soon as my Inside Man passed along the note, Sugar Ray invited me to his house.” ( :53)

“Six years later, his older brother urged him to give boxing another try. Ray returned to the gym and got beat up again. This time, though, he decided to stay with it. He was younger, shorter, skinnier, and less experienced than the other boys, so he realized he needed an edge.” ( :54)

“As the yellow bus pulled to the curb, the other kids stepped on, but Ray held back. He threw his backpack on the bus, tightened his shoelaces, and as the bus drove away, he chased after it, running behind it all the way to school. That afternoon, he ran behind the bus again all the way home. He did it the next day as well. And the next. He ran in the heat, the rain, the snow—some days were so cold that ice froze on his face. He chased the school bus day after day after day.” ( :54)

“I didn’t have the experience,” Sugar Ray told me, “but I had the heart, the discipline, and the desire.”” ( :54)

“The only way he could win was by stepping through the strike zone of The Hitman’s right hand. That was crazy to begin with, but without being able to fully see out of his left eye, it was practically suicide. Sugar Ray’s trainer crouched in front of him and looked him square on. “You’re blowing it now, son. You’re blowing it.”” ( :55)

“”You may have the heart—you keep fighting, you keep fighting, you keep fighting—but your mind is saying, ‘Man, forget this. I don’t need this.’ The head and the heart aren’t going together; but they have to go together. It all has to connect. Everything has to connect to reach that level, that pinnacle. “You may have a desire, a wish, a dream—but it’s got to be more than that—you’ve got to want it to the point that it hurts. Most people never reach that point. They never tap into what I call the Hidden Reservoir, your hidden reserve of strength. We all have it. When they say a mother lifted up a car off a trapped child, that’s that power.”” ( :55)

“pure, concentrated adrenaline. He shot off twentyfive consecutive punches and The Hitman flew into the ropes, dropped to the floor, and then stumbled up. Ray sprinted after him. The Hitman stumbled back again but the bell saved him. When the next round began, Ray ran out in overdrive again and pummeled Hearns with a blizzard of punches to the head. Then, with just a minute to go in the fourteenth round, The Hitman went limp into the ropes. The referee stopped the fight. Ray was the undisputed champion of the world.” ( :55)

 

STEP 3
FIND YOUR INSIDE MAN

 

“”So, you want to interview Bill, huh?” On the line was Bill Gates’ Chief of Staff. Stefan Weitz, my Inside Man at Microsoft, had managed to arrange the call. To preserve the Chief of Staff’s privacy, I’ll leave his name out” ( :58)

“”I love what you’re doing,” the Chief of Staff said. “I love your initiative. I love that you’re doing this to help others and I’d love to support this”—just hearing that made me feel like I was 99 percent there—”but, the thing is, you’re only about five percent there. I just can’t take this to Bill. You don’t have enough momentum.” Momentum?” ( :58)

“Part networking, part TED, part extreme sports, these invitation-only events have become the epicenter of social entrepreneurship. And along the way, Summit Series had raised over $1.5 million for not-for-profits.” ( :59)

“There were images of Elliott Bisnow living on a beach in Costa Rica and on a houseboat in Amsterdam. In all the photos, he wore T-shirts and jeans and had a scruffy beard and thick brown hair.” ( :59)

“”Dream Mentors” across the top. On the first line, I wrote: “Elliott Bisnow.”” ( :60)

“Hi Mr. Bisnow, My name is Alex and I’m a sophomore at USC. I know this is pretty out-of-the-blue, but I’m a big fan of yours and I could really use your advice on a project I’m working on. I know you’re really busy and that you get a lot of emails, so this will only take sixty seconds to read. My story is that I’m a nineteen-year-old who is writing a book with the hope of changing the dynamic of my generation. The book will feature some of the world’s most successful people and will focus on what they were doing early on in their careers to get to where they are today. I’m truly humbled by the people who have already jumped on board for this mission—from Microsoft president Qi Lu to author Tim Ferriss. I’m determined to combine the greats from the older generation along with the new generation, and integrate their wisdom and practical advice into one book that changes people’s lives. Like you say, “make no small plans” 🙂 Mr. Bisnow, being nineteen years old and pursuing my vision does have some obstacles, so it would be unbelievably helpful to get some guidance from you on the topic of: How did you effectively bring all these luminaries together behind a single vision? You did it masterfully with your first ski trip in 2008, and you’ve continued to do it better and better as the years have gone on. I’m sure you’re really busy, but if there is any chance we can connect so I can soak up some guidance, that would mean the world to me. If you’d like, I could field some specific questions your way” ( :60)

“via email, we can talk via telephone for a few minutes, or if your schedule permits, I’d love to meet you either at a coffee shop, or…if the planets align…at the world-famous Summit House 🙂 I totally understand if you’re too busy to respond, but even a oneor two-line reply would really make my day. Dreaming big, Alex” ( :61)

“spent thirty minutes searching online for his email address, but I couldn’t find it. Three hours later, I still had nothing. So I typed out my five best guesses of what it could be and put them all in the “To:” field. I prayed to God, and to the holy spirit of the TimFerriss-cold-email, that it would work. Twenty-four hours later, Elliott replied: great email r u in LA tomorrow or thurs?” ( :61)

“Elliott replied right back: can u meet me at 8am in long beach on thurs in the lobby of the renaissance hotel? sorry to make u come so far, i am at a conference here and u should read “when I stop talking you’ll know I’m dead” and get to the part about the star of ardaban before we meet, maybe it’s a chapter or two in…u will love the book” ( :61)

“I’d noticed at USC during fraternity rush that students gravitated toward people they looked similar to, which made me think that the more you look like the other person, the easier it is to strike up a friendship. So I spent some time that morning wondering what Elliott would wear. I put on blue jeans, a green V-neck shirt, and brown TOMS shoes, because I’d read that the founder of TOMS went to Summit events.” ( :62)

“”Did you read the ‘Star of Ardaban’ chapter? Did you even open the book yet? Or can you not even handle reading two chapters on a day’s notice?” “I read it,” I said, “and I finished the whole book.” Elliott finally looked up. He put his phone away.” ( :63)

“”Two weeks. And then it took another three hours just trying to find your email address.” “Yeah, man. I did that kind of stuff all the time.”” ( :63)

“He checked the time on his phone. “Listen,” he said. “I only expected this to last thirty minutes. But maybe— Wait, don’t you have class today?” “I’m all good. What do you have in mind?” “Well, if you want, you can stick around for a bit and sit in on my next meeting.” “That sounds amazing.”” ( :63)

“”Okay, cool,” he said. “But first, we need ground rules. These five things aren’t just for today. They’re for the rest of your life.” He locked his eyes onto mine. “Write these down.”” ( :64)

“”Rule number one: Never use your phone in a meeting. I don’t care if you’re just taking notes.” ( :64)

“”Rule number two: Act like you belong. Walk into a room like you’ve been there before. Don’t gawk over celebrities. Be cool. Be calm. And never, ever ask someone for a picture” ( :64)

“”Speaking of pictures, rule number three: Mystery makes history. When you’re doing cool shit, don’t post pictures of it on Facebook.” ( :64)

“”Now, rule number four,” he said, slowly stressing each word, “this rule is the most important. If you break it”—he moved his hand across his neck in a slicing motion —”you’re done. “If you break my trust, you’re finished. Never, ever go back on your word. If I tell you something in confidence, you need to be a vault. What goes in does not come out. This goes for your relationships with everyone from this day forward. If you act like a vault, people will treat you like a vault. It will take years to build your reputation, but seconds to ruin it. Understood?”” ( :64)

“”Uh, oh yeah. Here’s a last one: Adventures only happen to the adventurous.”” ( :64)

“”Ready to play with the big boys?” I nodded. “By the way,” he added, looking me up and down, “nice TOMS.”” ( :64)

BAM BAM BAM PRAVILA!!! (note on p.64)

 

“Elliott barely spoke about himself. Finally, at what seemed like the last 10 percent of the meeting, Elliott shared his story: “The city of my dreams didn’t exist, so I’m setting out to build it.” He was buying the largest private ski mountain in North America in a city called Eden, Utah, and creating a small, residential community on the backside of the mountain for entrepreneurs, artists, and activists. Then just as she was hooked, Elliott ended the conversation. He gave her a hug and she headed off.” ( :65)

“smoothly as the first. I was mesmerized by how Elliott controlled their interaction. I didn’t want to take my eyes off him, yet I kept sneaking looks at my watch. I had to be on the road within the hour.” ( :65)

“We crossed the street to the Westin hotel, which wasn’t just any hotel. This week it was the main lodging of the TED conference, one of the most exclusive gatherings in the world. We made our way to the lobby restaurant. It was intimate, no more than fifteen tables. Classical music played in the background, accented by the chimes of tiny spoons against porcelain cups.” ( :65)

“instantly: Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. His book Delivering Happiness was still on the top row of my bookshelf.” ( :65)

“instantly: Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. His book Delivering Happiness was still on the top row of my bookshelf. Elliott continued walking. “You see that guy over there,” he whispered to me. “That’s Larry Page, the CEO of Google. That guy to your left is Reid Hoffman. He’s the founder of LinkedIn. Now look over there. The table in the far back—the guy with the glasses, he created Gmail. On your right, in the blue running shorts, that’s Chad. He’s the cofounder of YouTube.”” ( :65)

“Elliott’s guests arrived. First came Franck, the cofounder of Startup Weekend, one of the world’s largest entrepreneurial organizations; then Brad, the cofounder of Groupon, which at the time was valued at thirteen billion dollars. The three of them chatted.” ( :65)

“Elliott put his fork down. “Hold on. You’re telling me that we’ve been together for over two hours now and you never told me that you funded your entire adventure by hacking a game show?” I shrugged. “You idiot!” he said.” ( :66)

“”Never again will you sit in a meeting with someone and not tell them that. Your mission is nice, but this story tells me more about who you are than anything else you could possibly say. This story commands attention.” ( :66)

“”Everybody has experiences in their lives,” he added. “Some choose to make them into stories.”” ( :66)

“Despite my stutters, by the end the dynamic of the table had changed. The cofounder of Groupon cut me off. “That’s…incredible.” He spoke to me for the rest of breakfast, sharing his stories and advice, then giving me his email address and telling me to stay in touch.” ( :66)

“secretary picked up, and with an overwhelming sense of urgency I blurted, “Patch me through to the dean.” For some reason, she did. The business school’s associate dean—not the film school dean who had stopped me with Spielberg—answered the phone.” ( :66)

“. I need to explain to you where I’m standing right now. Within ten feet of me is…” and I went on to list everyone in my vicinity. “I don’t need to explain to you how rare of an opportunity this is. Now, I have an accounting final in an hour, and I would have to leave right this second to get to campus on time. I can’t make this decision —you have to make this decision. And I need an answer within thirty seconds.” She didn’t respond. After thirty seconds, I asked if she was still there.” ( :66)

“Banayan. I need to explain to you where I’m standing right now. Within ten feet of me is…” and I went on to list everyone in my vicinity. “I don’t need to explain to you how rare of an opportunity this is. Now, I have an accounting final in an hour, and I would have to leave right this second to get to campus on time. I can’t make this decision —you have to make this decision. And I need an answer within thirty seconds.” She didn’t respond. After thirty seconds, I asked if she was still there. “You didn’t hear this from me,” she said, “but email your professor tomorrow morning” ( :66)

“saying your flight from San Francisco to LA was delayed, you had no control over the matter, and that’s why you missed the final.” Click. She hung up.” ( :67)

“I returned to the table, breakfast continued and the energy kept building. The cofounder of Groupon invited me to visit him in Chicago. Then Reid Hoffman stopped by our table. Eventually, Elliott’s two guests left and I sat there, looking around the restaurant, taking it all in. “Hey, big shot,” Elliott whispered. “You want to interview a tech mogul, don’t you? There’s the CEO of Google, twenty feet away from you. This is your chance. Go talk to him. Let’s see what you got.” A wave of panic washed over me. “If you want it,” Elliott said, “there it is.”” ( :67)

“Page was drying his hands. I had to say something. “Uh, you’re Larry Page, right?” “Yes.” My face went blank. Page looked at me, confused, and then walked out. And that was that. I dragged my feet back to the breakfast table where Elliott was waiting. I slumped in my seat.” ( :67)

“”What happened?” he asked. “Uh…well…” “You’ve got a lot to learn.”” ( :68)

“Adventures Only Happen to the Adventurous” ( :69)

“CHAPTER TEN Adventures Only Happen to the Adventurous B ill Gates’ Chief of Staff had said I needed a publishing deal, so I set out to get one. I began Googling and it didn’t take long to learn the basics. First you write a book proposal, which you use to attract a literary agent, who then secures a publisher. blog post I read stressed that you can’t land a deal with a major publisher without a literary agent, so the way I saw it was: no agent, no Bill Gates.” ( :69)

“He said to buy twenty books similar to the one I wanted to write, study the acknowledgments, and make notes of whom the authors thanked as their agents.” ( :69)

“Each rejection stung more than the last. One day, as I racked my mind wondering what I was doing wrong, my phone buzzed on my desk. It was a text from Elliott. Just seeing his name made me immediately grab my phone. I’m in LA…come hang for a bit” ( :70)

“”My Price Is Right money is low. I don’t have enough cash for flights and hotels and all that.” “Get your plane tickets and I’ll cover the rest.” I ran out of excuses. “Great,” he said. “You’re coming with us.”” ( :71)

“”He’ll text you when you land? You are insane! I don’t have the energy for this. You’re not going.” “Mom, I’ve thought it through. Worst-case scenario is he ditches me. I’ll just book a return ticket and I’ll have wasted my Price Is Right money. But the best-case scenario is maybe he’ll become my mentor.”” ( :72)

“”So,” I said to Elliott, “this is what it’s like being an entrepreneur?” “Not in the slightest,” he replied. He told me he barely knew what the word “entrepreneur” meant when he started college. The concept first clicked during his freshman year. Elliott was walking down his dorm room hall when he saw steam creeping out from under a doorway. He stumbled in and saw that his friend had converted his room into a makeshift T-shirt factory.” ( :74)

“”Hi! I’d like to sell you some advertising. Who should I talk to?” “Sorry, we’re not interested.” Click. He dialed the next one. “Hi, who buys your advertising?” “Oh, our marketing director.” “Oh, great! I’d love to talk to them.” “Sorry, not interested.” Click. Elliott called another. “Hi, who’s your marketing director?” “Sarah Smith.” “Oh, can I talk to her?” “No.” Click. Elliott made a note to call her back. A week later, he called again in his most professional voice and said, “Hello, this is Elliott Bisnow for Sarah Smith, please.” “One second,” and he was patched right through.” ( :75)

“Elliott finally booked his first sales meeting at the D.C. office of Jones Lang LaSalle, a large real estate firm. Elliott had once heard that if you present three pricing options and make the first option too expensive and the third unappealing, people often choose the middle one. So he made a gold, silver, and bronze package, with silver being ten ads for $6,000. There was no science behind his pricing. It just sounded right. Elliott went to the meeting and made his pitch. Sure enough, the man said, “We’d like to go with…the silver package.” Now Elliot had no idea what to do.” ( :75)

“lliott said, trying to sound professional. “So, just to make sure, how do you most feel comfortable with the follow-up? What do you like to see when you’re a new client of someone?” “Well, they send me an insertion order.”” ( :75)

“”Absolutely,” Elliott said. He wrote down send insertion order and Googled it when he got home.” ( :76)

“phones every day that summer, selling thirty thousand dollars’ worth of ads. He made 20 percent commission, which put $6,000 in his pocket. After returning to college for his junior year, he woke up at five o’clock every morning to sell ads. Through sheer practice, he became a cold-calling expert. He made twenty-thousand-dollar sales, fifty-thousand-dollar sales, and a few hundred-thousand-dollar sales. He took a semester off from school, then another, eventually dropping out. During the early years of his company, Bisnow Media, Elliott went on to sell a million dollars’ worth of ads.” ( :76)

“Immediate action was at the core of Elliott’s life. That, plus relentless hard work, added up over time. Just ten years after Elliott sold his first ad, he and his dad would sell Bisnow Media to a private equity firm for fifty million dollars in cash.” ( :76)

“He rallied the founders of CollegeHumor, TOMS Shoes, Thrillist, and more than a dozen other entrepreneurs, and they all went skiing for a weekend on Elliott’s dime. Elliott even paid for their flights. Of course, he didn’t actually have that kind of money, so he put the $30,000 cost of the trip on a credit card and gave himself until the end of the month to pay it off.” ( :76)

“Elliott cold-called companies and asked if they wanted to sponsor a conference of twenty of the greatest young entrepreneurs in America—and they said yes.” ( :76)

“”This is what you don’t understand,” Elliott told me. “You probably think everyone loves your story because you were on a game show. But what your story is about isn’t as important as how you tell it.” It was now two hours past midnight. I was watching Elliott mingle with the other people at our table. In my business classes we were taught to be professional with new” ( :78)

“contacts. Exchange business cards, email rather than text. Elliott did the opposite.” ( :79)

“This was his first time taking a meeting outside of an office. When Elliott greeted the client, the man looked at him and shook his head. “Elliott, take off your jacket. Take it off. Now take off your tie. Roll up your sleeves. Grab a seat.” Elliott had reserved a table in the corner. The client said they weren’t sitting there. He led Elliott to the bar. “Ma’am, we’d like two orders of cheesy fries and a beer.” “I thought we’re having a business meeting,” Elliott said. “Relax. So, tell me about yourself.”” ( :79)

“After an hour of getting to know each other, the man put down his drink and said, “All right, what do you want to sell me?” “Well,” Elliott said, “I’d love you to do this, this, and this, at this price.” “Well, I’d like to do it at this price, and I’d like to do it like this. Will that work?” “Could we change this a little?” “Absolutely,” the man said. “Does that sound good?” “Sounds great.” They shook hands and closed a sixteen-thousand-dollar deal. They hung out for another hour, and then as they were getting up from the bar, the man looked at Elliott and said, “Kid, that’s how you do business.”” ( :79)

BAM BAM BAM!!! (note on p.79)

 

“Elliott stopped walking. He looked me in the eyes, but didn’t say a word. Then he just continued moving. Minutes later, Austin joined us in the room and we got ready to sleep. Elliott was in one bed, Austin in the other, and I was on a rollaway tucked next to the bathroom sink. I hit the lights. A bit later, I heard Elliott’s voice whispering. “Alex, you awake?” I was exhausted and not in the mood to talk, so I stayed quiet. Thirty seconds later, I heard him whispering to the other side of the room. “Austin?” Elliott said, with a smile I could hear through the dark. There was a rustle in the sheets. “Austin…he’s one of us.”” ( :80)

“CHAPTER THIRTEEN Exponential Life Tell him the Hamptons story,” Austin said, egging Elliott on. We were having lunch the following afternoon at a sidewalk café along Barcelona’s La Rambla, and surprisingly, feeling extremely well rested. Elliott had insisted we all get a full eight hours of sleep, do yoga in the morning, and get a few hours of work done before leaving the hotel. He didn’t drink or smoke, and he took conference calls while we walked the streets. His life was a lot more balanced behind the scenes than he made it seem.” ( :81)

“Elliott said he planned on staying in the Hamptons—which he actually hadn’t—but didn’t have a place to stay, prompting those he was talking with to say, “Oh, you should stay with me!” And Elliott innocently replied, “Gosh, I’d love to stay with you! That’s so kind. Thank you for offering.” By the end of his trip, one guy loaned Elliott his Aston Martin to drive around, he was sleeping in mansions, and watching Yankees games on TV with one of the owners of the team. “I was backpacking through the Hamptons,” Elliott told me, “and I was just in it. It” ( :81)

“turned into a three-week adventure.”” ( :82)

“he met a Goldman Sachs executive who said he might be able to get his firm to sponsor the second Summit event. Elliott told him Goldman didn’t even have to pay as long as Elliott could put the firm’s logo on the “sponsors” page of the event website. Elliott then called other companies and said, “Look, it’s almost impossible to get to be a sponsor of Summit right now. We’re working with very few companies, and our most recent client is Goldman Sachs, so if you want to be serious, let’s be serious. We’re only working with the best.” It was another example of Borrowed Credibility. That Goldman Sachs relationship enabled Elliott to lock in other sponsors, which led to a lot of the eventual success of Summit.” ( :82)

“As our lunch continued, one word kept coming back to me: “momentum.” How did Summit go from this small ski trip to being called “a gift to the United States” by President Clinton? I felt I was missing a piece of the puzzle, so I pressed Elliott about Summit’s early days.” ( :82)

“He assumed he could just figure it out. Yosi called a week later. “We’re set for the event. It’s on Friday.” “Which Friday?” Elliott asked. “Next Friday.” “That’s impossible, I’ll be in—” “And we need all of their Social Security numbers and names by Tuesday at noon. Bring thirty-five people.” “But how are we going to get people to say yes in just four days?” “Just tell them: When the White House calls, you answer.”” ( :82)

“Elliott called them up using his most official-sounding voice: “Hello, this is Elliott Bisnow from Summit Series. I have a mandate from the White House. I’m organizing a group on behalf of the Executive Office of the President and we’d like to have” ( :82)

“so and so there.”” ( :83)

“”Hello, it’s Elliott Bisnow for Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry. I need to speak to their assistant immediately.” He got through. “How can I help you?” “I’m calling on behalf of the president of the United States of America. The presence of Mr. Ryan and Mr. Lowry has been requested at the White House next Friday.” “Well, that’s very gracious of you, but that’s impossible. They’re doing a huge paid speaking engagement next Friday.” “Ma’am,” Elliott said, lowering his voice, “when the White House calls, you answer.” And just like that, he got them to cancel their paid speaking gig.” ( :83)

“o avoid looking like a fool in front of his new entrepreneur friends, Elliott cold-called the White House offices, spreading a whisper campaign among the senior administration that they weren’t invited to this “exclusive” event—so they would reflexively demand to be there. Elliott told them, “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but all the leading young entrepreneurs in America are coming to the White House, and everybody who’s anybody was invited.”” ( :83)

“”What I’m about to tell you,” Elliott told me, “ninety-nine percent of people in the world will never understand.” For the first time all week, it was just the two of us. Elliott had told Austin he wanted to” ( :83)

“talk to me one-on-one. We were standing on a rooftop lounge during sunset, looking out at the Manhattan skyline.” ( :84)

“linear life,” he continued. “They go to college, get an internship, graduate, land a job, get a promotion, save up for a vacation each year, work toward their next promotion, and they just do that their whole lives. Their lives move step by step, slowly and predictably.” ( :84)

“”You want that?” he asked. Every fiber in my body pulsed with yes. But Elliott didn’t wait for my answer. “All right, let’s get to the point,” he said. “You’re making a huge mistake.” “What?” “You’re not going to stay nineteen forever. You can’t live off game show money the rest of your life. You need to stop focusing all your time on getting these silly interviews. There needs to be a point in your life where you step it up. I think you’re ready. Quit your mission and come work for me.” I didn’t respond.” ( :84)

“There’s no money in writing. The money is in business. And I’m willing to give you a fastpass. Skip the line and join me at the front. It’s time for you to get in the game.” “Can I have some time to think about—” “What is there to think about? I’ll pay you more than you’d ever want. I’ll teach you more than you’d ever need to know. And I’ll take you more places than you ever thought existed.”” ( :84)

“”That’s seriously amazing,” I said, measuring my words, “but the mission is really important to me and—” “Fine. Email me the list of people you want to interview. I’ll get you all of them, we can get a ghostwriter to put it together, and you can start working for me next week.”” ( :84)

jesi li se prodao? (note on p.84)

 

“Elliott waited for my response, but no words came to me. “If you don’t take this,” he said, “you’re making the biggest mistake of your life. Tell me another time someone will offer you an opportunity like this. And you don’t have to climb up the ladder. I’ll take you under my wing and bring you to the top. Everything you dreamed about in your dorm room, I’ll give you right now. Stop chasing interviews, ditch the mission, and work with me. What do you say?”” ( :85)

“He had long hair and tattoos running up his arms. Within minutes, we were talking as if we’d known each other for years. The man told me stories about surfing in sharkinfested waters and we spoke for the rest of the hour. We exchanged info and agreed to meet again in LA. I later found out he was the lead singer of Incubus, the multiplatinum rock band. Another person joined our table, a former host of MTV’s TRL. Then another pulled up a seat, one of Barack Obama’s economic advisers. This was me just trying to eat some breakfast.” ( :87)

“National Poetry Slam champion. I dashed over to the volleyball game and one of the players on my team was the neuroscientist whose TED Talk I’d watched in biology class a year earlier.” ( :87)

“My mood later bounced back when I stepped outside and spotted a chalkboard listing the day’s activities. There was yoga, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, meditation, ATVing, and skydiving. I could attend a survival course with a wilderness expert or a writing workshop with a National Poetry Slam champion. I dashed over to the volleyball game and one of the players on my team was the neuroscientist whose TED Talk I’d watched in biology class a year earlier. Then I hopped on a trampoline and the woman who joined me was Miss USA 2009. I went over to the meditation circle and sitting to my left was a former NFL player, to my right a Native American shaman. I kept running around all afternoon feeling like Harry Potter on his first day at Hogwarts.” ( :87)

“”Hey, you,” she said. “Miki Agrawal.” She gave me a fist pound and then pointed to the men seated beside us. “This is my boy Jesse, this is my boy Ben, and this is my boyfriend Andrew.” I introduced myself and Miki sped on.” ( :88)

“”Alex, want to hear something crazy? I met Jesse playing pickup soccer in Central Park ten years ago. He was selling textbooks over the phone at the time, twenty-five cents a pop. I said he’s smarter than that and yelled at him to get his shit together. We hung out for a bit, but I literally haven’t seen Jesse since. Today I found out…he’s now an executive at Nike.” Miki gleamed as if she’d done it herself.” ( :88)

“Ben told stories about playing basketball with President Obama, streaking at a professional soccer game, helping deliver a baby, and going to Las Vegas and betting $250,000 on black. These adventures went on for years and became the MTV reality show The Buried Life, which then led to a bestselling book.” ( :88)

“”It hit me that you never know when your life will be over,” she said. “And I felt I would be an idiot to waste my days living out someone else’s life rather than living my own.” I felt like my body was the rope of a tug-of-war. Elliott’s offer was yanking on one side, Miki and Ben the other. Miki said that after that realization she quit her job and chased every interest she had. She worked her way onto a professional soccer team, wrote a movie script, and then opened an organic, gluten-free pizzeria in New York’s West Village. She was now starting a women’s underwear line called THINX and writing a book called Do Cool Shit.” ( :88)

“so I could land a book deal and get to Bill Gates. “So far,” I said, “every agent I’ve reached out to has said no.” “Dude, I’ll introduce you to my agent,” Ben said. “Talk to mine too!” Miki said. “She’ll love you!” “Are you kidding? That would be amaz—”” ( :89)

“”And just as Tim mentored me and holds a special place in my heart,” Elliott continued, “there is someone else here who is beginning to hold a similar spot. Just as I’d coldemailed Tim when I was starting out, this someone cold-emailed me.” I began to feel heat rising in my face. Elliott told the Price Is Right story better than I ever could. Then he pointed his glass at me. “That’s the kind of creativity we embrace here at Summit. That’s the kind of energy we empower here. That’s why I’ve taken Alex Banayan under my wing, and that’s why I’m proud to welcome him as the newest member of our community. To Alex!”” ( :89)

“If on Friday I felt like a pinball, on Saturday I was a magnet. “Are you the kid Elliott was talking about last night?” “Are you the one who hacked The Price Is Right?” “How long have you known Elliott?” “Are you two related?” “What’s the project you’re working on?” “What can I do to help?” Elliott not only brought me into a new world, he kicked down the doors.” ( :89)

“”I don’t think anyone can tell you what you should do,” Dan said. “It’s a hard decision. The only person who knows the right answer is you. But maybe I can share something that might help.”” ( :90)

“”You now have two lists,” he said. “On top of the list of five, write: ‘The Priority List.’ ” I scribbled it across. “All right,” he said. “Now over the list of twenty, write: ‘The Avoidance List.’ ” “Huh?” “That’s Mr. Buffett’s secret,” Dan said. “The key to accomplishing your top five priorities is to avoid the other twenty.”” ( :90)

“A wide smile spread across his face. “I love Summit,” I said. “And I’ve never had a mentor like you in my entire life. But at the same time, I don’t think I can live with myself doing two things half-assed. I need to do one thing right. And it has to be the mission.” Elliott’s jaw clenched. He slowly lowered his head, as if trying to suppress his anger. “You’re making a huge mistake,” he said. But then he stopped himself before saying anything else. He took a heavy breath and let his shoulders deflate. “If that’s what you have to do,” he said, “then that’s your decision—and I respect you even more for making it.” He put his hand on my shoulder. “And just know,” he added, “you always have a home here. I love you, man.”” ( :91)

nije se prodao (note on p.91)

 

“I bought a plane ticket to New York, and the next day, right before heading out, I ripped the list of agents off the storage closet wall so I could drop it in the trash. I don’t know why, but something within me said otherwise, so I folded the list and stuffed it in my pocket” ( :93)

“”Alex, take a seat,” Miki said, pointing to a couch. “Tell her about your book.” I made my pitch, spitting out every fact, statistic, and marketing idea I could, exactly like the authors I’d spoken to advised me. I spoke with all the passion I had, and by the end of the meeting, Miki told her agent that she had to work with me and her agent nodded. “This all sounds great!” she said. “Alex, send me your proposal. I’ll read it and get back to you as soon as I can.”” ( :93)

“”Don’t think of it,” she said. “When I was younger, a group of thirty-year-old entrepreneurs took me under their wing and did the same for me. This is how the world works. It’s the circle of life.”” ( :94)

“There was no response from Miki’s, but a few days later, Ben’s called. “Alex, I loved meeting you. And I think you’re great. But…” There’s always a but. “…but I don’t think we’re a fit. Though, I know someone here who might be.”” ( :94)

“And the dynamite wouldn’t stop detonating. The very next day, another author I knew introduced me to another agent at William Morris who also said yes on the spot. I booked a plane ticket to fly back to New York to meet the two William Morris agents in person. I didn’t understand why Miki’s agent hadn’t replied yet, because that seemed like a guaranteed yes too. Either way, now it was my turn to decide.” ( :94)

“There was an email from one of the William Morris agents, sent on behalf of both of them. It effectively said: Dear Alex,” ( :94)

“We regret to inform you that we have to rescind our offers. Apparently, both agents were brand-new, and because they both extended me offers, they met with their boss about how to handle the situation. The verdict was for both of them to drop me altogether—their boss decided I wasn’t worth the time.” ( :95)

“AMAZON.” Y OU CAN’T OUT-AMAZON Brandon paused to let the story sink in.” ( :95)

“”Don’t you get it?” he said. “You’re Walmart.” “What?” “Ever since you started looking for an agent, all you’ve done is copy other people’s strategies. You’ve been pitching these agents as if you have the same strengths Tim Ferriss has, but you don’t have the platform he has. You don’t have the credibility he has. Your circumstances are completely different. You can’t out-Ferriss Tim Ferriss.” Shit…he’s right.” ( :96)

“The hours crept by. Nothing I did would quiet my mind. At about three in the morning, I climbed out of bed and walked to the corner of the room. I found my crumpled list of agents. I opened it and stared at the name at the top of the list: the agent in San Francisco. Screw it. I have nothing to lose.” ( :96)

“But instead of saying the same thing I did to all the other agents, I just wrote about why I believed in the mission. I told her I was sick of the publishing industry and tired of playing games. I told her my story and then, for paragraph after paragraph, told her how I thought the two of us could change the world together. In the subject line, I wrote “my 3 a.m. stream of consciousness,” and as I reread the email, it felt like a teenage love letter, but I sent it anyway. I didn’t expect a response. A day later, she replied. “Call me.” I did, and she offered to be my agent on the spot.” ( :96)

“The following morning, I woke up on a couch at Miki’s friend’s house, the New Jersey sun flooding through the windows. On the other side of the room, I saw Miki talking to a man with a shaved head and a navy-blue Zappos T-shirt. I picked the crust out of my eyes. It was like seeing Santa on Christmas morning. Standing ten feet away from me, talking to Miki, was the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh. Deep breaths…deep breaths…” ( :97)

“”I want to be CEO of Zappos for a day.” Tony didn’t respond. He didn’t write my wish on his clipboard. He just stared at me. “Uh, you know,” I said, trying to explain myself, “like, I follow you around, see what a day in your life is like.” “Oh. You want to shadow me?” I nodded. Tony took a moment to think. “Okay…sure,” he said. “When do you want to do it?” “Well, it’s my twentieth birthday in a couple weeks, so how about then?” “Cool. And since it’s your birthday, we can do it for two days.”” ( :98)

“”Like for Delivering Happiness, I’m aware that deep down, there was definitely some vanity and ego at play. It’s nice to go to your mom and dad and tell them your book is number one on the New York Times bestseller list. So that was one motivation. Another was…”” ( :99)

“”Ego isn’t particularly healthy,” Tony continued, “but what’s worse is having it and lying to yourself that you don’t. Before you start thinking about marketing tactics, become selfaware of what’s motivating you below the surface. Don’t judge the motivations as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Just ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Choosing the right tactics becomes easy once you know your end goal.”” ( :99)

“”The first three months after your launch are the most important,” Tony said. “Because one of my end goals was for my book to become a bestseller, I spoke everywhere I could during those months: business conferences, college classes, wherever. I bought an RV, wrapped it with an image of the book cover, and spent three months living on the road. “Those three months were some of the most exhausting of my life,” he said, his voice deflating. “I was speaking all day and traveling all night. I was doing everything I could to spread the seeds. But even then, I couldn’t be everywhere at once. So I sent boxes of books to events and conferences, hoping the message would reach people. “Honestly,” he added, “I have no idea if those books were ever read. I don’t even know if that made a difference.” I have to tell him… But the spirit of Elliott was hanging over my shoulder: Don’t be an idiot. If you tell him, he’ll always see you as a fan.” ( :99)

“In that moment, though, I knew I had to be myself. “Tony,” I said, “during my freshman year of college, I was a volunteer at one of those business conferences you’d sent boxes of books to. I’d never heard your name before, and” ( :99)

kada promijenis zivot strancu pa se on pojavi na pragu tvoje kuce (note on p.100)

 

“I didn’t even know what Zappos was, but the event coordinators were handing out your book, so I took one home. A few months later, when I was going through one of the toughest times in my life, I picked up your book and couldn’t put it down. I read the whole thing that weekend. Reading about how you chased your dream, well, it made me feel like mine was possible. “If you didn’t send those books to that business conference,” I continued, my voice shaking, “I wouldn’t be doing what I do today. Tony, your book changed my life.” Everyone in the kitchen froze. Tony was just looking at me, silently. But the softening of his face, and the welling of his eyes, told me more than any words could’ve said.” ( :100)

“As the day came to an end, I was heading out of the auditorium when a Zappos employee stopped me by the door. He said he saw me shadowing Tony the prior afternoon. The guy told me that he’d worked at Zappos for a few years and one of his biggest dreams was to shadow Tony. He asked how I got so lucky. The look in his eyes wasn’t new. I’d noticed a few other Zappos employees looking at me the same way the day before, as though they wanted to be in the position I was in. Later that evening, I went over to Tony and said goodbye, thanking him again for the past two days. “And, I know this might sound weird,” I said, “but why don’t you let your employees shadow you?” Tony looked at me blankly and said, “I’d be happy to—but no one ever asks.”” ( :101)

“”No one smart actually drops out of school,” he went on. “It’s a myth. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t drop out the way you think they did. Do some research. You’ll see” ( :102)

“what I’m talking about.”” ( :103)

“spring semester?” So that’s what Elliott was talking about. Ever since I’d watched The Social Network, I’d thought of Zuckerberg as a rebel who dropped out of school, threw his middle finger to the sky, and never looked back. The film never showed Zuckerberg doubting Facebook’s future. It never showed him cautiously debating taking one semester off.” ( :103)

“Headlines and movies make things seem black and white. But now I was realizing: the truth is never black and white. It’s gray. It’s all gray.” ( :103)

“If you want the whole story, you have to dig deeper. You can’t rely on headlines or tweets. Gray doesn’t fit in 140 characters.” ( :103)

“Maybe the hardest part about taking a risk isn’t whether to take it, it’s when to take it.” ( :103)

“But staying true to that promise wouldn’t be staying true to myself. When I’d said those words, I didn’t know where my life would lead. The advice I got at Summit from Dan Babcock came to mind: Success is a result of prioritizing your desires.” ( :105)

“The tension pulled at me. I called Elliott that night filled with fear and confusion, but his voice couldn’t have been more matter-of-fact. “I went through that same stuff with my parents,” he said. “But then I realized: Why the hell is school supposed to be one-size-fits-all? There’s a line from a Kanye song I heard years ago: Told ’em I finished school and I started my own business They say “Oh you graduated?” No, I decided I was finished.” ( :105)

“”You did school,” Elliott said. “Now it’s time for you to do you. It’s time for you to finish.”” ( :105)

 

STEP 4
TRUDGE THROUGH THE MUD

 

“storage closet and rewrote the book proposal as fast as I could. I didn’t talk to my friends. I didn’t see my family. I slept just three or four hours a night. When I would close my eyes, one image kept coming back to me as if it had been chiseled into the insides of my eyelids—my grandma, tears streaming down her face.” ( :107)

“My agent had told me rewriting the proposal would take thirty days. I finished in eight. When your back is against the wall, you learn what you’re capable of. I emailed her the 140-page document, prayed she could work her magic, and then, just eleven days after I’d turned in the leave-of-absence form—I got the publishing deal.” ( :107)

“”You didn’t,” he said. “No way. You’re lying.” “It really happened.” “Holy…shit. You did it! It worked! BRO, YOU ARE A SUPERSTAR!” I’d never heard Elliott talk to me like this before. “This is nuts!” he went on. “So what are you going to do next?” “Now it’s time to get my interview with Bill Gates.”” ( :107)

“Well, that’s fantastic news. Congratulations! I hit the down arrow, searching for the rest of his message. But that was it. Clearly my email strategy didn’t work, but I wasn’t deterred. I emailed the Chief of Staff again. A week passed. No response. I told myself he must not have seen my message, so I sent a third email. Another week passed. There was still no answer. I began to come to terms with what his silence meant. The answer was no. And not only was it no, but now the Chief of Staff wasn’t talking to me. The choir stopped singing, gathered their things, and slipped out the door.” ( :108)

“Again the answer was no. A third friend from Summit introduced me to Oprah’s PR team. When I explained the mission to them, they loved it and told me to write a letter addressed to Oprah. They passed it along to the first level in her PR chain and it was approved. The second and third level approved it too. Finally, it made it to Oprah’s desk and…her answer was no. My fear of failure had its hands around my neck, cutting off circulation to my brain. The only thing keeping me from suffocating was knowing I still had an ace up my sleeve. It was time to call Dan.” ( :109)

“”Alex,” he said, “this is…fantastic. Mr. Buffett will love it.” I remained quiet, hoping Dan would fill the silence by offering to call Buffett and push this through. “And you know what?” Dan said. I edged forward. “You should print two copies!” he said. “Mail one to his office and one to his home!” Dan’s girlfriend put down her mug and reached for the laptop. “Let me read it,” she said. After she finished, she looked at Dan. “Honey, this is wonderful. Why don’t you just email this to Warren directly?” “That would be life-changing,” I said. Dan’s eyes darted from the laptop to his girlfriend to me. He stayed silent, and then a moment later said, “You got it, Alex. Email me the letter and I’ll pass it along.” Dan’s girlfriend kissed him on the cheek. “And if that doesn’t work,” he added, “I’ll fly to Omaha with you and talk to Mr. Buffett myself! We’re going to make this happen, Alex. You’ll have this interview in no time.”” ( :110)

“”No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”” ( :112)

“”I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.”” ( :112)

“”This is the thing,” I told Corwin. “Although people won’t meet with you for the reason” ( :112)

“you want, that doesn’t mean they won’t meet at all. Just find another angle. Figure out what they need and use that as your way in.”” ( :113)

“When Buffett was about to graduate, he decided not to take a high-paying corporate job, which most MBAs did, but to try to work directly for Graham instead. Buffett asked Graham for a job, but Graham said no. Buffett then offered to work for free. Graham still said no. So Buffett went back to Omaha and worked as a stockbroker again. But he continued writing letters to Graham, visiting him in New York, and in Buffett’s own words, after two years of “pestering him,” Graham finally gave him a job.” ( :113)

“Grandpa Warren. I said the answer was three words: read the footnotes.” ( :113)

“tough question to Buffett about a public company. Buffett told him the answer was in an annual report he’d just read. The writer studied the report, but then called Buffett to complain there wasn’t an answer. “You didn’t read carefully,” Buffett said. “Look at footnote fourteen.” Sure enough, there it was. The writer was dumbfounded.” ( :113)

“When everyone else skims a report, Buffett is obsessively scouring the fine print, going above and beyond, studying every word, looking for clues. You don’t have to be born a genius to read the footnotes—it’s a choice. It’s a choice to put in the hours, go the extra mile, and do the things others aren’t willing to do. Reading the damn footnotes isn’t just a task on Buffett’s to-do list—it’s his outlook on life.”” ( :114)

“”Your note is sitting in Mr. Buffett’s personal inbox as we speak.” And, with those happy words, began the six most miserable months of my life.” ( :114)

“”Persistence—it’s a cliché, but it happens to work. The person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit. This is more important than intelligence, pedigree, even connections. Be dogged! Keep hitting that door until you bust it down!”” ( :116)

“”You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”” ( :116)

“”If you are going through hell, keep going.”” ( :116)

“I researched Buffett even more, woke up even earlier, and ran even faster. As hard as it is to admit, I wasn’t doing it just for Buffett anymore. I was doing it to prove to myself that they were all wrong—every girl who’d said she saw me as just a friend, every popular kid who’d made me feel invisible, every fraternity that’d turned me away.” ( :117)

“”You’ve got to stay in the fight. It’s going to get tough. You’re going to hear no. But you’ve got to keep pushing.”” ( :117)

“”I can,” Dan said, “but that wouldn’t be being a good mentor to you, Alex. This is just your ninth no. You’re not at the end of your rope yet.”” ( :120)

“I understood what he was saying, but it didn’t sound right to me. Dan had taught me about the Avoidance List: “Success is a result of prioritizing your desires.” Every business book I’d read said to persist; and Dan, who knew Buffett personally, said to go for it. Just because Elliott was my mentor didn’t mean he was always right. I booked my ticket.” ( :120)

“”Is it always this cold?” I asked the driver as I climbed in. “First time in Omaha, huh?” “How’d you know?” He laughed. “You’re a dummmmmmmb kid.” He grabbed a newspaper off the passenger seat, tossed it back, and it hit me in the face. The headline said tonight would be one of the worst snowstorms to hit Omaha in thirty years.” ( :121)

“I even doing here? I’d thought flying to Omaha would invigorate me, but as I looked around the empty room, it felt like every rejection Buffett had sent me was nailed to the walls. In that moment, I felt” ( :121)

“more alone than at any other point in my life.” ( :122)

“phone and scrolled through Facebook. There was a picture of my friends Kevin and Andre laughing together, hanging out at a party that night; a photo of my sisters Talia and Briana, smiling, having dinner at my favorite restaurant; an entire album with more than a hundred pictures, uploaded by the girl I’d had a crush on since the first day of college. I scrolled through the photos. She was studying abroad in Australia. Seeing her smiling on the beach, under the warm sun, reminded me of how cold and miserable I was. The worst part was I did this to myself. I chose this. I could’ve stayed in school. I could’ve been studying abroad and enjoying life. I left all that—for this?” ( :122)

“As the thoughts swirled, I saw a cockroach crawl across the carpet, coming inches from my nose. It grew blurry as it moved toward a crack in the wall, and I felt a tear trickle down my cheek. Sugar Ray had told me about the Hidden Reservoir, but I was no Sugar Ray. I had no Hidden Reservoir. I was out.” ( :122)

“”You’re not going to believe this,” Stefan said, “but I just got you an interview with Dean Kamen.” “Dean…who…?” I continued flipping through the channels. “Dean Kamen is my hero,” Stefan said. “Do me a favor. Look him up and then give me a call when you’ve finished.”” ( :123)

“Kamen tells his engineers that if they keep kissing frogs, eventually one will turn into a prince. So even when you’ve kissed dozens of frogs—and all you have as a” ( :123)

“result is a nasty taste in your mouth—Kamen says to keep kissing them, and eventually, you’ll find the prince.” ( :124)

“”I’ve had a lot of young people come to me expecting that somehow I could give them insights on how to succeed,” Kamen said. He lifted his gaze in thought. “Let’s say there’s a one-in-one-hundred chance you’re going to get something right. If you’re willing to do it more than a hundred times, you start to approach the probability that, eventually, you’re going to get it right. Call it luck. Call it tenacity. You will eventually get it if you exhaust all your efforts.”” ( :124)

“”Let me make it uglier,” he said. “You go home, you’ve kissed every frog, and you’ve got nothing but warts on your face. You’re lying in bed thinking, ‘I kissed every frog. I still don’t have a solution. And I don’t even know where the next frog is.’ “But then,” he continued, “you roll around in bed thinking, ‘You got into this because it’s a really big problem. You knew it would be hard. After all this time and effort, if you give up, it’s because you’re weak. You’ve lost your vision. You’ve lost your courage. Sooner or later there’s going to be an answer. The only reason you’re going to give up now is because you’re a coward.'” ( :124)

“”But then,” Kamen went on, “you roll around in bed some more and think, ‘Go ahead. Keep trying. You know why you’re going to do that? You’re stupid, you don’t learn from your mistakes, you have a big ego, you’re unwilling to change, you’re recalcitrant, you’re wasting your time, your resources, your energy, and your life. Anybody with half a brain would recognize it’s time to move on.’ ” “How do you decide?” I asked. “How do you decide when to keep fighting or when to” ( :124)

“cut your losses?” “I will give you my ugliest, worst answer…” he replied. I inched forward. Kamen looked up, took a deep breath, then locked eyes on mine. “…I don’t know.” I traveled thousands of miles to talk to one of the smartest people in the world and his answer is “I don’t know”?” ( :125)

nitko nema odgovor na pitanje kada odustati od necega a kada to tjerati do kraja – sjebano (note on p.125)

 

“”Look,” he said, “I’m not here to give you a road map. I’m here to tell you: this is what you should expect to see. If I gave you the map Lewis and Clark made, it would be pretty easy to get from here to the West Coast. That’s why everybody remembers the names Lewis and Clark and nobody remembers who read their map and took the trip the second time.” ( :125)

“If you’re not prepared for that stuff, that’s okay: don’t do it.” ( :125)

“If it’s not going to kill you, keep trudging through the mud.”” ( :125)

“”Here’s a big one: it’s better to prove it can’t be done than to exhaust the infinite number of ways to fail.”” ( :125)

“he’s doing is actually impossible. Does it contradict the laws of thermodynamics, Newtonian physics, or some other fundamental principle?” ( :125)

“He told me a story about the lack of science and technology education in American public schools. Most people claimed it was an education crisis, so they tried to solve it in the same old ways—updating curriculum, hiring more teachers—but nothing seemed to work. Kamen wondered what would happen if they asked the question differently. What if this wasn’t an education crisis, but a culture crisis? As soon as he reframed the problem, new frogs appeared.” ( :126)

“”Instead of getting frustrated by repeating the same old problem,” Kamen said, “reframe the question in a new way that is amenable to a different kind of solution.” A different kind of solution…” ( :126)

“Buffett to sit with me for a one-on-one interview. But what if I restated the problem? What if I just wanted Buffett to answer a few of my questions—no matter how or where he answered them? When you put it that way, there’s still one frog I haven’t kissed…” ( :126)

“”What do you mean?” She explained that the tickets aren’t put into a single bucket. They’re pulled individually from the different stations, creating about a dozen separate lotteries. The stations closest to the stage had thousands of entries. But the stations in the nosebleed section? Probably just a few. “That makes complete sense,” Ryan said. “The kind of people who’d sit in the front are probably the same people dying to ask questions. And the people sitting in the shadows probably don’t want any attention.”” ( :129)

“He went silent, the numbers flashing in his eyes. Then suddenly he yelled, “Station 8!”” ( :129)

“The volunteer announced the winners. Although we were told our odds were one in a thousand, out of the six of us—four got winning tickets.” ( :130)

“Munger got bored and played Words with Friends on a phone. When the show’s host asked them if they could do any better, Munger shot back, “We thought you’d never ask!” The cartoon billionaires leapt out of their chairs and danced to “Gangnam Style,” the Korean pop song that went viral the summer before, and the arena erupted with laughter. “OP, OP, OP…OPPA GANGNAM STYLE!” blasted through the speakers, yet the music could barely be heard over the cheers.” ( :130)

“”Hi, my name is Andre and I’m from California,” he said, his voice booming from hundreds of speakers, resounding around the arena. “During key events, like the Sanborn incident, when you were buying See’s, or when you were buying Berkshire stock—you” ( :131)

“persuaded people to sell you their shares when they really didn’t want to. What were your three keys in influencing people in those specific situations?”” ( :132)

“The See’s and Sanborn incidents had taken place nearly forty years ago, so they were probably some of the last things Buffett expected to hear. It became painfully obvious to me that by packing the question with so many details, and unknowingly wording it to sound like an accusation, I’d caused it to backfire. Thankfully, we still had three more questions. The cycle continued and eventually it was my turn. The volunteer examined my ticket and then motioned me to the microphone.” ( :132)

“”Hi, my name is Alex”—my echo boomeranged back at me with such force it almost knocked me off balance—”and I’m from Los Angeles. Mr. Buffett, I’ve heard that one of your ways of focusing your energy is that you write down the twenty-five things you want to achieve, choose the top five, and then avoid the bottom twenty. I’m really curious how you came up with this, and what other methods you have for prioritizing your desires?” “Well,” Buffett replied, chuckling, “I’m actually more curious about how you came up with it!”” ( :132)

“”If you have a coin flipping contest,” Buffett continued, “and you get 310 million orangutans out there and they all flip coins, and they flip them ten times, you’ll have 300,000 roughly that flipped [heads] ten times in a row successfully. And those orangutans will probably go around trying to attract a lot of money to back them in future coin flipping contests. “So it’s our job,” he went on, “when we hire somebody to manage money, to figure out whether they’ve been lucky coin flippers or whether they really know what they’re—”” ( :134)

“A voice cut Buffett off. “…when you had his problem, didn’t you scrape together about a hundred thousand dollars from your loving family?” It was Charlie Munger. “Yeah,” Buffett said. “Well, I hope they kept loving me after they gave me the money.” Buffett chuckled again.” ( :134)

“He said that the best way to raise money before you have a track record is to do it from people who already believe in you and trust you, because they’ve seen you do other things in the past. Those people can be family, friends, college professors, former bosses, or even the parents of your friends.” ( :134)

“Kevin began to squint. “How could Buffett say he doesn’t know about the Avoidance List?” I said, holding myself back from screaming. “I can’t believe Buffett would lie like that.” Kevin just looked at me and said, “What if it wasn’t Buffett who lied?”” ( :135)

“contacted Buffett’s assistant, who revealed that Dan never worked directly for Buffett. I couldn’t believe it. When I called Dan, he denied it—and then he suddenly asked if anyone else was on the call, listening to our conversation. I told him no, and when I asked him more about his background, the conversation filled with tension. He answered my questions, but the details didn’t add up. Dan hung up, and it was the last time we ever spoke.” ( :136)

“As we continued talking, the most inexplicable coincidence of my journey occurred. A black Lincoln with tinted windows pulled up to the curb and parked in front of us. The door swung open—and out came Larry King.” ( :137)

“He looked around. A dozen people were on the sidewalk, watching the scene unfold. Larry took a heavy breath, and then said in his gravelly Brooklyn voice, “Okay, okay, okay.” I said thank you as he clicked his seatbelt. Before he shut the door, I called out, “Wait, Mr. King. What time?” He looked at me—then slammed the door. “MR. KING!” I shouted through the glass. “WHAT TIME?” He turned on the engine. I was now standing in front of his car, flailing my arms in front of the windshield. “MRRRRR. KINGGGGGGG! WHAT TIIIIIME?” He glared at me, then at the crowd, and then shook his head and said, “Nine o’clock!” and then drove off.” ( :138)

“I lifted my hand. “Mr….Mr. King?” “WHAT IS IT?” he said. “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” A sharp, familiar pain shot through my chest. “Honestly,” I said in a depleted voice, “I just wanted some advice on how to interview people.” Then, a slow smile appeared on his face. It was as if his eyes were saying, “Why didn’t you say so before?”” ( :139)

“”The secret is: there is no secret,” Larry added. “There’s no trick to being yourself.” He checked his watch. “Listen kid, I really gotta go—” He looked me in the eye, then shook his head again as though debating something in his mind. He put a finger in my face and said, “All right. Monday! Nine o’clock! See ya’ here!”” ( :139)

“Larry told me that Cal Fussman was a writer at Esquire, where he’d interviewed Muhammad Ali, Mikhail Gorbachev, George Clooney, and dozens of other icons for the magazine’s “What I’ve Learned” column. Larry asked Cal to share some more interview advice with me.” ( :139)

“”I just knocked on doors,” Larry said. “There was this small station where I took a voice” ( :140)

“test and they said, ‘You sound pretty good. Next opening, you’ve got the job.’ So I hung around the station—I watched people read the news, I learned, I swept the floors—then one day, a guy quit on a Friday and they told me, ‘You start Monday morning!’ I stayed up all weekend, nervous as hell.”” ( :141)

“”Same thing,” Larry said. “I’d knock on doors. I’d knock on whatever doors I’d have to. There’d be many more places to knock. And look—nothing is new. We have the Internet, but nothing is new except the transmission. Human nature hasn’t changed.”” ( :141)

“It dawned on me that when Spielberg gave me that early encouragement, when Elliott took me to Europe, or when Larry finally invited me to breakfast—those moments happened only after I met them in person and looked them in the eye. Wait a minute…” ( :141)

“As I looked around, a wave of déjà vu washed over me. In the dining area twenty feet away was the table where I’d had my first meal with Elliott. That meeting with Elliott had taken place one year earlier, almost to the day. The timing was so eerie it felt like fate was smiling upon me.” ( :142)

“”Hi, Wendy. It’s Alex Banayan. I know we had this 10:15 appointment today, and I’m sure he’s really busy—I’m grateful he even gave me an appointment—but I just wanted to make sure everything is okay. It’s been thirty minutes now and he hasn’t showed up.” “What are you talking about?” she said. “He called me and said you didn’t show up.” “What?” Apparently, there were two lobby espresso bars, one at the hotel and one at the convention center, and I was at the wrong one.” ( :143)

“I looked closer, and that’s when I” ( :143)

“realized—this was Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of TED.” ( :144)

“”You want to know the secret to changing the world? Stop trying to change it. Do great work and let your work change the world.”” ( :144)

“”You want to know the secret to changing the world? Stop trying to change it. Do great work and let your work change the world.” “You won’t get anywhere significant in life until you come to the epiphany that you know nothing. You’re still too cocky. You think you can learn anything. You think you can speed up the process.” “How does one become successful? You’ll get the same answer if you ask that to any other older, wiser, and more successful person: you have to want to do it very, very badly.” “I don’t understand why people give speeches with slides. When you speak with slides, you become a caption. Never be a caption.” “I live my life by two mantras. One: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And two: most things don’t work out.”” ( :144)

“”Genius,” he said, “is the opposite of expectation. “Genius,” he repeated, looking at me with deep, knowing eyes, “is the opposite of expectation.” ERRH-ERRH-ERRH-ERRH!” ( :144)

“”Larry King,” he went on. “That must have been an interesting one.” As he was about to say the next name, an unexpected sensation overtook me and I cut him off. “It’s not about the names,” I said, my voice louder than I’d anticipated. He turned his head to me, bewildered.” ( :145)

“”It’s not about the names,” I repeated. “It’s not about the interviews. It’s about, well, I just believe that if all these leaders come together for one purpose—not to promote anything, not for press, but really, just to come together to share their wisdom with the next generation, I believe young people could do so much more—” “All right,” he said, slicing his hand up. “I’ve heard enough…” My whole body tensed. He looked at me, swung his hand down, and said, “…We’re in!”” ( :145)

 

STEP 5
TAKE THE THIRD DOOR

 

“On the other hand, he used his computer skills to help his high school automate the class schedules—and rigged the system to put himself in the classes with the best-looking girls. Now, that’s relatable.” ( :148)

“He grew Microsoft into the world’s most valuable company in 1998, making him the wealthiest person on the planet. To put that in perspective, Oprah Winfrey is incredibly rich; so are Mark Zuckerberg, Howard Schultz, Mark Cuban, Jack Dorsey, and Elon Musk. Well, at the time I was preparing for my interview, Bill Gates’ assets were worth more than all of theirs combined.” ( :149)

“Instead, he jumped over to new chessboards to take on even harder challenges—feeding the world’s poor, revolutionizing clean energy, stopping the spread of infectious disease, and bringing quality education to students in need.” ( :149)

“So I used the Tim Ferris cold-email template and Gladwell responded a day later.” ( :149)

“From: Malcolm Gladwell To: Alex Banayan Subject: RE: Mr. Gladwell—advice on Bill Gates interview? my advice? bill gates is the easiest person you will ever interview because he is exceedingly smart and direct and perceptive. make sure you have read widely and deeply about his life so you don’t waste his time. and then let him talk. he will take you in surprising directions if you let him. good luck!” ( :150)

“I guess even the person destined to be the world’s richest man suffered from The Flinch. Eventually, they came up with a compromise—Bill would call, but say he was Paul.” ( :150)

“”All right,” the founder said. “Let’s do it.” Paul took a breath, loaded the software, and…it worked. Paul and Bill closed the deal, signed the contract, and that’s how they sold their first piece of software.” ( :151)

“Although his talent for coding was remarkable, none of this would have happened if Gates hadn’t pushed through his fears in his dorm room, picked up the phone, and called MITS. It was his ability to do the hard, uncomfortable thing that made this opportunity possible.” ( :151)

“During the IBM negotiation, Gates knew he had to keep Microsoft’s source code secret, yet he also knew he couldn’t tell IBM not to take the source code because that was the very thing it was buying. Gates figured out what IBM was scared of—a major lawsuit—and used that to form a strategy. In the contract, he insisted on unlimited liability if IBM accidentally disclosed the source code. That meant if any employee even unknowingly leaked the code, Microsoft could sue IBM for perhaps billions. That scared IBM’s attorneys so much that the company chose not to even take the source code, which is exactly what Gates wanted. The lesson: figure out your opponent’s fears, then use them to your advantage.” ( :156)

“I tossed my notepad to the side. “What’s your most memorable, crazy, funny hustle story from early on?” Gates took a moment to think.” ( :157)

“Finally, they gave their verdict. “Answer is…”—dramatic pause—”…maybe.”” ( :158)

“The Chief of Staff eventually contacted Buffett’s office, and while I’ll never know what happened, the Chief of Staff then sent me the following email: Please no more calls to Warren’s office. Thanks…” ( :159)

“Though because Ferriss ultimately said yes, I took that as a win. It was only now, because Buffett ended in failure, that I was taking the time to reflect. Life will keep hitting you over the head with the same lesson until you listen.” ( :160)

“”You idiot. You asked that stupid question when we first met and I told you there is no tipping point. It’s all just little steps.” I fell silent. He had said that. “A tipping point only appears in hindsight,” Elliott added. “You don’t feel it when you’re in the trenches. Being an entrepreneur is about pushing, not tipping.”” ( :160)

“Dude, that’s the story of my life. They’re called bullshit no’s. I get them a thousand times a week. You just have to build a pipeline so when you get a bullshit no from one person, there’s still thirty others to work on. “You want to know why a pipeline works?” Elliott went on. “A year and a half ago, when” ( :160)

“you first cold-emailed me asking for advice, you didn’t know that a month earlier I’d made it my New Year’s resolution to find someone to mentor.” I was stunned.” ( :161)

“You asked dozens of people, and because of an external factor you couldn’t have predicted, one of those things worked. You have no way of knowing what’s going on in the lives of the people in your pipeline. You can’t anticipate their mood or how generous they’re feeling. All you can do is control your effort.”” ( :161)

“”I can’t give you all the answers, but I’ll give you an example. For the Summit conference we organized in Washington, D.C., we couldn’t get a single person to give the main keynote. People were busy. Blake Mycoskie from TOMS said he couldn’t come. It was just a disaster. So we had to think bigger: Bill Clinton. And we had to think differently: we hosted a fundraiser for his foundation so he had to come. Once he was in, we called Russell Simmons—who had already said no—and we asked him if he could give the opening remarks for Bill Clinton, so now he said yes. Then we planned the event to coincide with Ted Turner’s travel schedule in D.C. Doing that, plus having Clinton confirmed, led to Ted Turner saying yes. Blake Mycoskie still told us he had other commitments, so we changed the request and asked him to moderate a Q and A with his hero, who we knew was Ted Turner. Boom. Now Blake was in. You just have to give people an offer they can’t refuse.” An idea was coming to me. “I wonder if—” “Yes.” “I was going to say, I wonder if—” “Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Whenever you wonder, the answer is yes. People don’t want to do small shit. You need to think bigger and think differently. Don’t ‘I wonder’ through life. Just make it happen.”” ( :161)

“Matt nodded. “School and society make you feel like those are the only two ways in. But over the past few years, I’ve realized 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,” Matt said, a smile spreading across his face. “That’s how I’ve lived my whole damn life.”” ( :162)

“Matt continued swiping—a photo of him at a golf tournament with Condoleezza Rice, skateboarding on a half-pipe with Tony Hawk, ringing the NASDAQ opening bell with Shaquille O’Neal, backstage at a show with Jay-Z, and then sitting on a couch with Nelson Mandela.” ( :163)

“I heard Elliott faintly whispering, “When it’s in front of you…make your move,” but when I glanced at him, his mouth wasn’t moving. The voice was in my head. “You know what?” I said. “I’ll actually be in San Diego next month. I could use a place to stay.” “Done,” Matt said. “We have a two-bedroom guesthouse. It’s all yours.”” ( :163)

“His words trailed as though he was baiting me for a response. It felt like he was testing me, but I didn’t know what to say, so I did the only thing I could think of—I stuffed an egg roll in my mouth.” ( :166)

“”Bingo,” Wozniak said. “I’m happy because I do what I want every day.” “Oh,” his wife said, laughing, “he does exactly what he wants.”” ( :166)

“One story took place before Apple was formed. Jobs was working at Atari and was assigned to create a video game. He knew Wozniak was a better engineer, so he made a deal: if Wozniak would create the game, they would split the seven-hundred-dollar pay. Wozniak was grateful for the opportunity and built the game. As soon as Jobs got paid, he gave his friend the three hundred and fifty dollars he had promised. Ten years later, Wozniak learned that Jobs hadn’t been paid seven hundred dollars for the game, but rather thousands of dollars. When the story broke in the news, Steve Jobs denied it, but even the CEO of Atari claimed it was true.” ( :166)

“Wozniak would fit in on the executive team. Jobs asked him what position he wanted. Wozniak knew that managing people and dealing with corporate politics were the last things he wanted to do. So he told Jobs he wanted his position capped at engineer. “Society tells you that success is getting the most powerful position possible,” Wozniak said. “But I asked myself: Is that what would make me happiest?”” ( :166)

“Wozniak were set to make more money than they ever imagined. Leading up to the public offering, Wozniak found out that Jobs had refused stock options to some of Apple’s earliest employees. To Wozniak, these people were family. They helped build the company. But Jobs refused to budge. So Wozniak took it” ( :166)

“upon himself and gifted some of his own shares to the early employees, so they all could share in the financial rewards. On the day the company went public, those early employees became millionaires.” ( :167)

“But the only thing that came to mind was: Who’s to say that Steve Jobs was more successful?” ( :167)

“If anyone saw me standing beside Armando, they probably would have recognized him by another name—the Grammy Award-winning rapper and musician Pitbull.” ( :168)

“pipeline was continuing to pay off. First had come Wozniak, now Pitbull, and just this morning I’d received another confirmation from Jane Goodall. The mission was starting to bear fruit and I couldn’t have been happier.” ( :168)

“”He just fucking gave it to me,” Pitbull said. “I never actually graduated high school. But I still went and got a photo studio to take my own graduation pictures. I took one smiling and another one with my middle finger up. Both photos are still hanging up at my abuela’s house.”” ( :169)

“He taught me that independent mindset. No one’s going to envision your vision the way you envision your vision.” ( :170)

“”The best thing I learned from Luther Campbell,” Pitbull said, “was that there’s nothing better than to be an intern in life. The best CEOs in business started out as interns. Because when you go from intern to CEO, no one can bullshit you. But all you can do is help them. ‘Look, I already did that job. I know exactly what it took to make that happen.’ “” ( :170)

“Pitbull said that although he became the biggest rapper in Miami, he had trouble breaking into the mainstream. His most successful single at the time peaked at thirty-two on the Billboard Hot 100. He wanted to hit number one. So he sought out new experts to collaborate with and learn from—music executives who worked with David Guetta, Flo Rida, and Chris Brown; songwriters who produced number one hits with Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears. “I’m constantly studying the game,” Pitbull said. After years of repositioning his sound and brand, he released the album Planet Pit, which not only earned him his first Grammy win, but also included a number one record.” ( :170)

“”Last month,” Pitbull said, breaking the silence, “I was walking into a meeting with Carlos Slim Jr. in Mexico. I told him, ‘I don’t really know what you guys got going on in your world, but I want to learn. Hey, I’ll intern for you.’ ” “Seriously?” “One hundred percent, papo. I told him, ‘I just want to be around you to see what you’re talking about, how you’re doing things. I don’t have a problem being down here for a month, getting doughnuts, making coffee, I don’t care.’ ” The look in Pitbull’s eyes made me feel like he wasn’t kidding. A part of me couldn’t believe it—here’s one of the most famous musicians in the world, who can headline Madison Square Garden, yet he seems dead serious about fetching coffee for Carlos Slim Jr.” ( :171)

“It’s about realizing that, if you want to continue being Mufasa, at the same time you have to keep being Simba.” ( :171)

“While his wife was pregnant, Leakey had an affair with a twenty-one-year-old woman who worked as an illustrator on his book. He took the woman on trips across Africa and Europe and they eventually began living together. Leakey’s wife filed for divorce and Leakey married his illustrator, moving with her back to Kenya. Then Leakey began another affair—this time with his assistant. Leakey’s second wife found out and he ended the affair, and his assistant moved to Uganda. Now Leakey’s office had an opening, and it was right around then when he got a call from Jane Goodall.” ( :173)

“He mentored her. She traveled with him on fossil-hunting expeditions. Then, just as Goodall felt her dream of studying the chimps was within her grasp, Leakey made sexual advances.” ( :173)

“I braced myself for an explosion of emotion. But Goodall replied softly, “I just expected that he would honor what I said. And he did.” Then she sat back, as if to say “end of story.” I’d expected dynamite, but there wasn’t even a spark. “How did that feel,” I asked, “right in that moment?”” ( :173)

“He never explicitly proposed anything; it was just the way he was, you know? But of course, I rejected it anyway. And he respected it because he was a decent person. He wasn’t a predator. “He just fell for my charms,” she added. “He wasn’t the only one either. So I’m kind of used to it.”” ( :173)

“Goodall’s findings rocked the scientific community and forever redefined the human-ape relationship. Since then, Goodall has continued her research, publishing thirty-three books, receiving more than fifty honorary degrees, and becoming a Dame of the British Empire and a Messenger of Peace of the United Nations.” ( :174)

“And then an unexpected thought entered my head…This is the first time I’ve ever left an interview and wanted to share what just happened with my sisters. I usually called my best friends or mentors, who I suddenly realized were all…male.” ( :174)

“As time wore on, she faced even more obstacles. She got pregnant at sixteen, worked as a prostitute and madam, and was a victim of domestic violence. At one point, a boyfriend drove her to a romantic spot by the bay, beat her with his fists, knocked her unconscious, and kept her captive for three days. These events, though, are not what define her. What defines Maya Angelou is how she turned darkness into light.” ( :178)

“Angelou won two Grammy Awards and was the second poet in American history, preceded only by Robert Frost, to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration.” ( :178)

“”Take as much as you can from those who went before you,” she added. “Those are the rainbows in your clouds. Whether they knew your name, or would never see your face,” ( :178)

“whatever they’ve done, it’s been for you.”” ( :179)

“‘ Every storm runs out of rain.'” ( :179)

“”A chef, when she or he prepares to go into the kitchen, has to remind herself that everyone in the world, who can, eats. And so preparing food is not a matter of some exoticism; everybody eats. However, to prepare it really well—when everybody eats some salt, some sugar, some meat if they can, or want to, some vegetables—the chef has to do it in a way that nobody has done it before. And so this is true when you are writing. “You realize everyone in the world who speaks, uses words. And so you have to take a few verbs, and some adverbs, some adjectives, nouns, and pronouns, and put them all together and make them bounce. It’s not a small matter. So you commend yourself for having the courage to try it. You see?”” ( :179)

“Nathaniel Hawthorne said: Easy reading is damn hard writing.” ( :179)

“Remember this,” she said. “I’d like you to write this down, please. Nathaniel Hawthorne said: Easy reading is damn hard writing. And that’s probably just as true the other way around; that is, easy writing is damn hard reading. Approach writing, approach whatever your job is, with admiration for yourself, and for those who did it before you. Become as familiar with your craft as it is possible to become.” ( :179)

“”Try to get out of the box,” she said. “Try to see that Taoism, the Chinese religion, works very well for the Chinese, so it may also work for you. Find all the wisdom that you can find. Find Confucius; find Aristotle; look at Martin Luther King; read Cesar Chávez; read. Read and say, ‘Oh, these are human beings just like me. Okay, this may not work for me, but I think I can use one portion of this.’ You see?” ( :180)

“Life is going to be short, no matter how long it is. You don’t have much time. Go to work.”” ( :180)

“As I turned a corner and approached Jessica Alba’s office, I reflected on the magnitude of what she’s accomplished. She’s the only person in Hollywood history to simultaneously be both a leading actress and the founder of a billion-dollar start-up. The Honest Company has grossed $300 million since its inception and her movies have grossed an estimated $1.9 billion worldwide.” ( :181)

“”My dad just got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” I blurted. The first time I had ever said those words, I couldn’t get them out without tearing. As weeks passed, I could say the words, but I didn’t believe it. Now I just felt numb. Through all my stages, the reactions I got were the same. Most people put their arms around me,” ( :182)

“saying everything was going to be okay; others gave me that kind, soft-spoken “I’m so sorry”—which left me totally unprepared for Alba’s response. She slapped her hand down on the couch and said, “Oh, shit. Fuck.”” ( :183)

“”It’s the craziest thing,” I said. “For my parents,” Alba replied, “I just had to say, ‘Look. If you guys want to be around to see your grandchildren graduate high school or get married, you need to figure it out. It’s not okay anymore. You have to do whatever it takes.’ So, they did.” Somehow her words made me feel less alone.” ( :183)

“”My grandmother recently found out she has diabetes,” Alba went on. “I’m sure she’s had it for a while, but she would never go to the doctor. She’s had strokes and all that, and they could have been diabetes-related strokes, but she won’t acknowledge it. So last night we were at dinner and my grandpa was giving her all this cake and ice cream. I was like, ‘She could literally have a seizure right now and go into a coma! What are you guys doing?’ They just don’t want to accept reality.”” ( :183)

“Many celebrities create businesses that are a reflection of their lives on the mountaintop. They create fragrances or clothing lines, but Alba created a business that’s a reflection of her lowest point. She tapped into her humanity. She created something that resonates with all people. That was her key to ascending her second mountaintop: to first go back down to her deepest valley.” ( :184)

“”It’s funny…because it’s so true,” she said. “If everyone could choose to be a white dude in America, born into a family that cares about his education, everyone would probably choose that, because it’s really much easier.”” ( :185)

“The obstacles women face just make for better businesses. Because in the end, we know how to deal with some shit. This man in the cartoon won’t be equipped, because you really only learn if you’ve gone through it.”” ( :185)

“and sixteen hours later, I got this: To: Alex Banayan (cc: Stefan Weitz) From: Qi Lu Subject: (no subject) Here is what I got back from Mark: Sure, please pass along my email address to him and I’ll try to find a few minutes to speak to him before I have to leave. I can’t promise I’ll have time but if I have a few minutes then I will meet him. His email address is *****​***** Best,” ( :186)

“Qi I knew exactly who I wanted to call first. “Holy…shit,” Elliott said. Elliott talked with a level of excitement that sounded like trumpets blasting the most triumphant song I’d ever heard. He advised me to write an email that wouldn’t require much on Zuckerberg’s part, so he could easily reply with “Sounds good.” Elliott helped draft the email and I sent it off. To: Mark Zuckerberg (cc: Qi Lu) From: Alex Banayan Subject: See you Saturday Hi Mark, Qi Lu told me about your reply and passed along your email address. Qi’s been like a guardian angel the past few years and I’m so grateful for him—and he’s said incredible things about you. I can pop by backstage after your speech at Startup School for a couple of minutes. If you end up not having time to talk, totally understand. Does that sound good? Either way, I really appreciate you and thanks for being such a big inspiration.” ( :187)

“That’s impossible. Wait…What if… I checked my spam folder: Viagra Viagra Viagra Mark Zuckerberg Viagra Viagra Viagra” ( :187)

“Even Gmail couldn’t believe Mark Zuckerberg would email me. To: Alex Banayan (cc: Qi Lu) From: Mark Zuckerberg Subject: RE: See you Saturday Good to meet you. Qi is a great person and I’m glad you got connected with him. I’ll try to make a few minutes for us to catch up after my Startup School talk on Saturday. I don’t have much time, but I’m looking forward to meeting you briefly.” ( :187)

“”Let’s cut to the point,” she said. “We know you forged that email. We contacted Mark’s PR team and they said they don’t have you on their list of approved meetings. We contacted Facebook’s security team and they said they have no record of you. And on top of all of that, we know that’s not even Mark’s real email address. If I were you, I would drop the act before you get yourself in serious trouble. Goodbye.”” ( :189)

“I’d researched his background before this interview, but now I was realizing how little I truly knew about the man. I already knew he’d been nominated for more Grammy Awards than any other music producer in history.” ( :193)

“produced The Color Purple with Steven Spielberg, which was nominated for ten Oscars.” ( :193)

“produced The Color Purple with Steven Spielberg, which was nominated for ten Oscars. In television, he created The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which was nominated for an Emmy. As a mentor, he helped launch the careers of Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey. Quincy Jones is undeniably one of the most important figures in the history of entertainment, and now he was asking me, “You got a pen?”” ( :193)

“(“Frank Gehry always says to me—he’s a Pisces too—he says, ‘If architecture is frozen music, then music must be liquid architecture.’ All great art is emotional architecture.”)” ( :193)

“”There’s a statute of limitations that’s expired on all childhood traumas. Fix your shit and get on with your life.”” ( :193)

“When he was fourteen, Quincy slipped into a club and met a blind teenager who was two years older. They hit it off and the older teen began to mentor Quincy. They became close friends. That blind teenager was Ray Charles. “I met McCartney when he was twenty-two; Elton John, seventeen; Mick Jagger; all those guys. I found Lesley Gore when she was sixteen.”” ( :194)

“Quincy had composed ten original songs for the iconic bandleader Count Basie. A music executive named Morris Levy called Quincy into his office to sign a publishing contract. The contract was on the table—and all of Levy’s cronies were behind him. “You can ask for anything you want,” he told Quincy, “but you’re only getting one percent.” “I signed the contract,” Quincy told me, “and before I walked out of his office, he owned all my shit.”” ( :194)

“”You have to cherish your mistakes,” he said. “You have to get back up no matter how many times you get knocked down. There are some people who face defeat and retreat; who become cautious and afraid, who deal with fear instead of passion, and that’s not right. I know it seems complex, but it’s relatively simple. It’s: let go and let God.” ( :195)

“Quincy was making me realize that I’d spent the past five years constantly looking up—up at the richest man in the world, up at the most successful investor, up at the most famous director. And now it was hitting me how badly I wanted to go wide—to travel and explore and absorb the magic of the far corners of the world. Quincy was instilling a new hunger in me. It felt like as one stage of my life was closing, a new one was beginning.” ( :195)

“Nat King Cole used to always tell me: ‘Quincy, your music can be no more or no less than you are as a human being.’ “” ( :195)

“”That’s what mistakes give you.”” ( :195)

“In a moment of clarity, it dawned on me that advice from Bill Gates was never my Holy Grail. My mistakes on my way to get to him were what changed me most.” ( :196)

“”You got it, man. You got it.” Before I could think of a response, he just looked at me and said, “You’re a beautiful, beautiful human being. Don’t ever change, motherfucker.”” ( :196)

“”The party is at capacity,” one said, stepping forward. “We’re with Gaga,” Matt replied. “She’s already inside. No one else is getting in.” There was a brief silence, then Matt stepped forward too. He said something into the guard’s ear. The guard hesitated—then stepped aside.” ( :197)

“The VIP platform was packed and a bouncer guarding the stairs said there was no way in. This time, Matt didn’t bother talking to the guard. We moved to the front of the platform, directly below where Lady Gaga was standing. “Hey, L.G.!” Matt yelled. She looked down and her face lit up. “Get up here!” “It’s too packed,” Matt replied. “They won’t—”” ( :197)

“”Get the fuck up here!”” ( :198)

“”Well,” Matt said, pointing at me, “he’s standing right here.” Gaga’s eyes widened—she turned to me, flung her arms up, and gave me a giant hug.” ( :198)

“Gaga’s first two albums had been blockbusters and catapulted her to the top of the music industry, but then, just in the past year, she had broken her hip, underwent emergency surgery, been confined to a wheelchair, and had to cancel twenty-five dates of her tour.” ( :198)

“Matt’s employee was in his late twenties. I knew he had studied business in college, and all I heard coming out of his mouth were buzzwords: “ARTPOP is about collaboration!” “Synergy!” “Connection!”” ( :199)

“An hour into their brainstorm, Matt looked at me, frustrated. “Don’t you have anything to contribute?” “Well…” I said, trying to hold myself back; but instead, almost uncontrollably, lessons I’d learned from my journey combusted with everything I’d read about Gaga and it all erupted from my mouth. “Art is emotional architecture, and if we view Gaga through that lens—her foundation, her wooden beams—it all traces back to her childhood. When she was a kid, she went to Catholic school and felt stifled. The nuns measured her skirt. They made her follow their rules. Now when Gaga wears dresses made out of meat, she’s still rebelling against those nuns!” “Everything Gaga stands for is creative rebellion!” Matt said. “Exactly! The founder of TED once told me, ‘Genius is the opposite of expectation,’ and now that makes perfect sense! Whether it’s her music or outfits, Gaga has always gone against expectations.” I jumped off the couch, feeling alive in a way I’d never felt before” ( :199)

“All of her art is the opposite of expectation. It only makes sense that if she was at the peak of Top 40, she had to do the opposite. ARTPOP wasn’t Gaga losing her touch. ARTPOP was Gaga being completely herself!”” ( :199)

“I kept going and going until I fell back on the couch to catch my breath. I looked up at Matt. “Congratulations,” he said. “You have twenty-four hours to write that up.”” ( :200)

“An hour later, my phone vibrated. It was a text from Matt. Home run. Everyone crying over here.” ( :201)

“”Alex,” she said, “sometimes…sometimes something is so deep inside you, you can’t express it yourself. For the first time, you expressed it for me in words. “And that Andy Warhol line,” she added, smiling and swirling her hand in the air. “Incredible.”” ( :201)

“ARTPOP is creative rebellion. I don’t play by the nuns’ rules. I make my own. #MonsterStyle #ARTPOP” ( :201)

“As I watched green liquid hurtling out of the woman’s mouth and splashing onto Gaga’s body, I cringed. Matt laughed. “Talk about the opposite of expectation, huh?”” ( :202)

“Matt sent me a screenshot of a text he had just received from Gaga: I don’t even know what to say. I’m so grateful for everything u guys have done. U really supported me and I had wings today because of u. Hope I made u and Alex proud. As I finished reading Gaga’s text, another popped up on my phone. A friend from USC invited me to a party on campus. The friends I’d started college with were in the final semester of their senior year, celebrating graduation. I felt like, in my own way, I was too.” ( :202)

“Dumbledore says, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” It’s our choices…far more than our abilities…” ( :202)

“While Qi Lu and Sugar Ray were both born with remarkable abilities, what made them stand out in my eyes were their choices. Qi Time was a choice. Chasing the school bus was a choice.” ( :203)

“”So, how did the interview go?” he asked. “It never happened,” I said. As I told him the story, my dad let out a big smile, and we headed home.” ( :203)

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

“Then my mom slowly stood up. She took the pill in her hand and then kicked off her” ( :205)

“shoes. She knelt down beside my dad, gently placing her hand on his. The moment my mom spoke—the moment her voice landed on my dad’s ears asking him to open his mouth—his mouth opened seamlessly. My dad not only took the pill, but he swallowed it easily. I began to sob, my chest plunging toward my knees. But I wasn’t crying out of sadness. Rather, I was crying about the beauty of it.” ( :206)

“”You swore on her life and broke the promise,” Cal said. “It needs to be said.” I was reluctant, but I still went to my grandma’s house one night to have the talk. We were halfway through dinner when I finally mustered the courage. “I don’t know if you remember,” I told her, “but years ago I swore to you I would finish college and get my master’s. I said jooneh man.”” ( :206)

“My grandma put down her fork. She looked at me silently, as if she’d been waiting years for me to say these words. “I broke the promise, and”—tears welled in my eyes—”I’m sorry.” The silence that followed made me feel even worse. Then my grandma said, “It’s…okay.” She took a heavy breath. “I hope…I hope…I hope… that I was the one who was wrong to have asked you to make that promise in the first place.”” ( :207)

“Elliott would call multiple times a day to check on my dad’s progress and how my family was holding up. As my dad’s condition worsened, Elliott flew to LA more often, visiting my dad and sitting with him under his orange tree in our backyard. Elliott and my dad bonded over that tree. Elliott made a website for the tree. His brother, Austin, wrote a song about the tree. His best friend, IN-Q, created a poem about the tree. Elliott made two-dozen baseball caps with a logo of MR. BANAY ORANGE TREE on the front. No AN’S matter how much pain my dad was in, each time he was under the orange tree with Elliott, he’d light up.” ( :207)

“On the fourth afternoon, I was sitting under the orange tree with my sisters, searching for a pocket of calm amid the chaos of emotions. As the sun began to set, my aunt came out and asked us to come to my dad’s bedside. At the exact moment I stepped inside, Elliott walked through the front door. He saw the look in my eyes and followed silently to my dad’s bedside. We all stood in a circle around my dad —me, my sisters, mom, aunt, uncle, and Elliott—and held hands. A minute later, my dad took his final breath.” ( :207)

“I began to worry, but I didn’t have much time to think because a rabbi came over to talk to my family. I couldn’t see what happened next, but I did hear the trunk of the hearse open and my dad’s casket being taken out. When I finally stepped onto the grass and looked out toward the processional, I saw my dad’s casket being carried by my best friends.” ( :208)

“It was as if my dad wanted to tell me, just a minute before he was set into the ground, that in life, there are friends, there are best friends—and then there are the best friends who carry your dad’s casket. Thank you to Kevin Hekmat, Andre Herd, Jojo Hakim, Ryan Nehoray, Brandon Hakim, and Corwin Garber, who’ve redefined the meaning of friendship, and who’ve proved that it truly is the most powerful force in the world. I love you guys like family. Because you are family.” ( :208)

“He adopted me into his family—obrigado, Gloria, Dylan, Keilah, and Bridgette—and his youngest daughter, Bridgette, is now my goddaughter, which is one of the greatest honors of my life. Cal, to say I’m incredibly grateful would be an understatement.” ( :208)

“I’m eternally grateful to my literary agent, Bonnie Solow, who thankfully didn’t think I was crazy when I sent that “my 3 a.m. stream of consciousness” email. Bonnie, you have understood the heart of the mission since our first phone call. You masterfully guided this dream from idea to publishing deal to the book that’s in our hands today.” ( :209)

“Below is a list of everyone who was interviewed for the mission, coordinated an interview, or tried to secure an interview. The massive size of this list is beautiful to me. It is the ultimate testament to what it took to make this book possible. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you:” ( :210)

“Where do we go from here? After my dad’s death, I became even more drawn to Quincy Jones’ advice to travel to the far corners of the world, soaking up the wisdom and beauty of different cultures. Over the past year, my best friends and I traveled to Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, India, Japan, South Africa, and now I’m writing this from Australia, where Kevin and I are scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. The interview with Quincy Jones changed my life because it changed what I wanted out of life. And I couldn’t be more grateful.” ( :213)


Check out more book notes at How I Read 90 Books In The Past 2 Years By Reading 20 Pages A Day

Interested in more book notes like these? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

Share life-long habits over:
error

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *