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Deep Dive #22 Alex Banayan on the Third Door, Storytelling and Sending Cold Emails

Alex Banayan is the author of best-selling book The Third Door which documents his seven-year search to uncover the definitive mindset of exponential growth and success.

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

During this research, he interviewed some of the most innovative figures of the past few decades including Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Warren Buffett, Tim Ferriss, Jessica Alba and many more. In our conversation we dive deeper into some of Alexโ€™s experiences in meeting his interviewees, why stories are the key to every book and, of course, how the Third Door analogy came into existence.

Here are some of the highlights from our discussion:

Successful people all seem to treat life like getting into a nightclub where there is always three ways in. There's the main entrance where most people queue around the block hoping to get in, then there's the second door which is the VIP entrance. School and society make us think that those are the only two ways in. But there is always a Third Door โ€“ there's always another way in โ€“ from Bill Gates to Steven Spielberg, thereโ€™s always another way in.

Stories are at the heart of everything that we do. Human beings choose the story that feels right to them from books to politics to their own lives. People have always governed through stories for centuries โ€“ it's a way to understand the world and operate in the world.

Storytelling and writing are not the same. You can be an expert writer but be more of a facts-based journalist or you can be a narrative storyteller who does that through writing.

If you want to tell a better story, these are 5 things that you want to focus on:

  • Origin: Origin means wherever the story begins. The mistake that people make is they try to spice up the origin โ€“ what you want to do is show your struggle and the vulnerability of your origin.
  • Intention: Intention is the stakes about why the story matters.
  • Conflict: Conflict isnโ€™t about creating conflict but rather trying to shine a light on the moments of conflict in the story that you are telling.
  • Transformation: For transformation, how can you up the level of contrast from who the main character is at the start of the story and who the character is at the end of the story?
  • A Message that Matters: The message that matters is less about storytelling and more about humanity and the power behind the story. The key thing to think about is what message do you want to pass on?

If you are sending cold emails, if you just tell the truth in an honest way, there are a lot of people who want to help. For many successful people there is a desire to give back โ€“ when they see someone who is genuine, they want to help. If you keep reaching your hand out, someone will reach back.

Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.