The Third Door is about author Alex Banayan’s 5-year quest to interview famous people like Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Maya Angelou, Warren Buffett and Steve Wozniak in order to uncover their secrets to success.

How he “hacked” The Price is Right

Alex was a student with no money, so how could he spend time researching, traveling, and interviewing for months?  He “hacked” the TV show The Price is Right.

He was lucky to get an invite to the show from an acquaintance who couldn’t make it.  Then, he studied how to get selected to play.  And finally, he asked people at the show for tips on how to win.  And it worked!

A few years later he employed the same strategy to attend Warren Buffett’s annual conference and manage to ask 4 questions, when getting even 1 question in has a chance of 1 in 1,000.

Key insight

A common theme throughout the book is the value of mentors.  Cold calling and emailing simply don’t work… no matter how creative your approach.  Based on a mentor’s advice, Alex sent Warren Buffett’s assistant a shoe with a note “just trying to get my foot in the door”.

Such strategies are often hailed by sales professionals but ultimately their success rate is miniscule and only going down because everyone is employing the same tactics.

What really works?  Getting back to basics… meeting people in person.  Only then can they see that you’re genuine and start caring about helping you.

The big idea

After speaking with many of the greatest minds alive, Alex distilled their success into one common element: they didn’t follow the prescribed path but rather created their own shortcuts.  He came up with the analogy “The Third Door”.

You know when you go to a nightclub, there’s the main door where everyone has to wait in line.  Then there’s a second door for VIPs.  And then there are the hustlers who don’t want to wait.

They will go around the back and find their own way in.  They’ll knock on a door a hundred times or pry open a window and walk in through the kitchen.  That’s how every success story in the book became successful.


The book chronicles Alex’s struggles: even though he did succeed in meeting an impressive array of famous people, it never looked easy.  His mission was full of hard work, NO’s, constant rejection, and many mistakes.

By the end, he realized that success and failure aren’t really opposites but simply the result of trying – and that’s what matters the most: trying.  Alex made many mistakes in his quest but he often learned more from the mistakes, and they were the ones that changed him, matured him the most.