Alex Banayan is an interesting kid. Through his naivete and ambition, he pursued an idea that he came up with with his friends: what if there was a university that had the best professors? Elon Musk for science, Bill Gates for business, Jane Gooddall for science?
Fast forward a couple years through a lot of mistakes and failures, he has published a book on how he was able to meet with some of the most famous celebrities, influencers, and entrepreneurs. How can an average person accomplish that? This book gives an exclusive peek into the skillset of networking and reaching out to the best, something that there’s little content about.
Here are my book summary notes.
There are three doors to get into the club or exclusive event: the front door, which blocks most people thanks to a bouncer, a side door for those rich and privileged, and a third door you can sneak in through. Successful people use the third door.
Throughout the book, Alex mentions a behavior he calls the flinch. The flinch is when you freeze up and don’t do anything when the successful person you want to talk to you that person is right in front of you. The flinch reminds me of how I freeze sometimes when I want to approach a woman or that time I could’ve talked to Gary Vaynerchuk. After years of work, I usually end up approaching eventually after working up the courage for five to ten minutes. The issue is that by then, sometimes the girl is already gone. Each time Alex had to flinch during his story, he managed to overcome it by blurting out anything he could to the person he was talking to, even if it was ridiculous or annoying. Sometimes, what he said backfired and to rob the person the right way, but he still got his for indoor usually and got somewhere. One time sometimes, what he said backfired and then rub the person the right way, but he still got his for indoor usually ends got somewhere. One time, He screwed up by waiting to long and only saying hi and asking the name of one of the founders of Google to verify it was him. The man said yes, stood there, and left shortly. Alex will do better in the future if he polishes up what he says. But by blurting something out, he gets farther than people who say nothing.
Persistence is key to reaching successful people. He emailed Tim and his assistant over thirty times and seized an opportunity to talk to him at a conference. But there is a fine line between persistence and annoying someone. Don’t do it too often.
Alex admits that he didn’t learn this lesson with Tim Ferriss because he still got an interview with Tim. He had to learn it with Warren Buffett, when he eventually got blacklisted by Buffett’s team After reaching out over 30 times. Alex says it was failure that finally forced him to learn the lesson. Life will keep beating you over the head with a lesson until you learn it.
Alex’s biggest mistake was not considering whether he was behaving like a person that people would enjoy being interviewed by or get any value out of. Instead, he was just being persistent to the point of being a nuisance.
A key to meeting a successful person is having that inside person who is willing to stake their reputation to get you into a venue or set you up to be connected with someone. His guidance counselor was the inside person who got him into his school’s charity event to meet Steven Spielberg. The COO of a charity that he met volunteering was the inside person who helped him get messages sent to Tim Ferriss since Tim was on the board of that specific charity.
Tim Ferriss recommends borrowing authority / credibility. He volunteered for an Entrepreneur’s association to meet entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. He also recommends getting on publications by doing Q&A’s or interviewing people and posting about it online.
Tim also has a script he uses for cold emailing busy, successful, famous people that works:
The first line addresses that they’re busy and the email will take 60 seconds or less to read.
The second and third paragraphs are short and explain your credibility and a question they can answer quickly.
The email wraps up by saying that you don’t expect a reply, but even a tiny reply would make your day.
Alex pitched a TON of people and got tons of rejection, but eventually got an interview with Sugar Ray Leonard, one of the world’s most successful boxers. Sugar Ray taught him that everyone has a hidden resource of energy to draw from when they think they’ve used up all their energy and want to give up. You must draw from that energy reserve to persevere and win. Sugar always wanted to do whatever it takes to be a champion and he drew from that well.
There was this dude Elliott who was already networking and working with tons of Olympians, influencers, celebrities, billionaires, you name it. He was this young man who had found a way to provide value to these people even though he had nothing. This man did a lot of work to create secret summits for these people to attend. Alex found out about Elliott and through chance, Elliott took him in as his mentor.
Elliott taught him:
When what you want is in front of you, grab it. (Many people flinch or hesitate.)
Never ever ask to take a photo. You are seen as another fan rather than an equal if you do.
Always carry a pen and take notes in meetings. It stands out more and more as things become more digital.
Don’t gawk over celebrities. Be cool. Walk into a room like you have been there before. To be treated like a peer, act like one. Fans ask for pictures, peers shake hands.
Never use a phone in a meeting because it is rude, even if you are taking notes.
Mystery makes history. Keep people guessing. People who are changing the world don’t post about it on social media, so don’t do that. The people you want to impress on social media aren’t the ones you should care about impressing.
Adventures only happen to the adventurous.
It never feels like there is a tipping point. You only see it in hindsight. Every move you make is incremental towards success.
Most importantly, never go back on your word in any relationship. If you break trust, you’re done for. It takes years to build a reputation and seconds to ruin it.
Everyone has experiences, some choose to turn them into stories. Elliott told Alex to always tell his story of how he hacked a game show to fund his mission because it commands attention, something Alex didn’t initially think was worth sharing.
Bite off more than you can chew. You can learn to chew later.
The best solution for nervousness is immediate action.
Do it whenever you have an idea that starts with “I wonder if…”
Elliott also used borrowed credibility immensely to succeed. His first summit series meeting was a side project. He cold called CEOs of top businesses and offered to finance a ski trip where they all met. He didn’t have $30,000 to spend, which is what it cost, so he charged his credit card. The next event he did, he cold called companies to sponsor it so it was paid for.
Another time, Elliott paid $4,000 he didn’t have to go to a high-profile tennis charity event. He met many wealthy CEO’s, including a Director of Goldman Sachs who was interested in sponsoring his next Summit Series once it was mentioned. Instead, Elliott said they’d get free sponsorship if he let him use Goldman’s logo as a sponsor on the website. Elliott cold called other sponsors and told them that it’s very hard to sponsor his event since spots were limited and big names like Goldman has signed on. He told them to get serious. This credibility helped him close big sponsors.
As you can see, Elliott loses money in the short-term, but uses that investment to get a much higher pay off in the long-term. His method requires courage, salesmanship, and networking ability.
Elliott is also great at finding out what people want to turn a no into a yes. For his DC Summit, he couldn’t get a keynote speaker because everyone was busy. So he thought bigger and tried to get Bill Clinton onboard. Bill said no until Elliott made the summit a fundraiser for Bill’s charity. He tried to get Russell Simmons to come, but he said no until Elliott got Bill confirmed and offered Russell the chance to introduce Bill. With these two people confirmed, he turned Ted Turner’s no into a yes. With Ted Turner confirmed, he got another man to change his mind by allowing him to moderate a Q&A with Ted.
I don’t think this ability is natural to most people, and I would definitely have to work hard at it to get even close to Elliott’s level. I believe it depends on each confirmation of attendance to be locked into place. Everything is built on something else, so like a game of Jenga, you have to make sure something doesn’t nothing is unstable, especially the most important, initial people who confirm.
Always keep a pipeline going. Never focus on getting one person to do something for you. That way, if one person says no, you always have 30 more you were working on. Also, you increase your chances someone will say yes because you are adding more factors that you aren’t aware of outside of your control that could play in your favor.
An example would be Elliott responding to Alex’s pitch. Unbeknownst to Alex, Elliott had resolved at the start of the year to mentor one person. Because of this goal that Alex was unaware of and couldn’t control, Elliott said yes when Alex reached out to him.
Sometimes, people just never ask and that’s why they don’t get opportunities.
Alex got to shadow Tony Hsieh by asking him in person. But some Zappos employees who had worked there for years told him that it was their dream to shadow Tony and asked him how he managed to get it. Alex asked Tony why he wouldn’t let people shadow him and Tony said he would love to but no one asks.
Alex also learned from Tony that it’s sometimes okay to do things for egotistical reasons. Alex marveled at Tony when he admitted that he wrote his book Delivering Happiness partially for his own ego since he wanted to be a published, best-selling author. Alex was not brought up to believe ego was good. His family taught him that ego was always bad.
Sometimes, you have to use your own style rather than copy best practices from the most successful people because what makes you unique helps you compete. You can’t out-Amazon Amazon. You can’t out-Ferriss Tim Ferriss. They are unique in their own ways and have resources and unique abilities that you don’t have.
People won’t always meet with you for your reasons. But if you can find another angle that positions the meeting in a way valuable to them, they’ll meet. Warren Buffett couldn’t get meetings with businessmen to sell them stocks, so he re-positioned the meeting as a way to save them money on taxes and he was welcomed.
Alex met Larry King by chance shopping for groceries. He chased after him after freezing and asked to meet for lunch. When Larry said yes and speed walked away, Alex shouted after him, “What time?” multiple times when he tried to drive off until he said “9.” I didnt like this approach of asking and harassing because it is not appreciated. His naivete and persistence drove him in spite of his mistakes.
Alex showed up the next day at Larry’s studio at nine and waved at Larry. He waited one hour until Larry walked passed him and Alex shouted after him. Larry asked what he wanted and Alex said he just honestly wanted some tips on interviewing which opened Larry up and he started giving tips. This was a great move in my opinion because it appealed to Larrys passion of interviewing since he had interviews over 50,000 people and appealed to his compassion to help someone else interested in pursuing his unique professional and to his ego of being an expert. He should’ve lead with this when they first met.
Larry taught Alex that you shouldn’t copy the styles of how successful interviewers do it (Larry asks simple questions others want to ask and Oprah adds a ton of enthusiasm) because it won’t work for you. Instead, find out why they so it that way. And the reason they do what interviewers do is because that’s what makes them the most comfortable, which helps makes the guest the most comfortable, which makes for the best interviews.
Larry said he would do the same thing he did when he was young to get his foot in the door. He would knock on doors of radio stations asking for a job. He says that although technology has changed, human nature has not. People like a human touch, which they get by seeing someone in person, rather than seeing emails from strangers in their inbox. A human still makes the hiring decisions.
Alex asked and asked everyone he could who had leverage to help him get to successful people. Well I don’t like this approach that just taking value, it does have one clear benefit. Some of the people he asked, who were offering gate keepers or volunteers, appreciated his ambition, mission, and enthusiasm. Therefore, quite a few times, they helped him when they were in allowed to. Many times, they started their sentence with, “I shouldn’t be telling you this…”
One time, a manager of the volunteers program at his college alerted him to Steven Spielberg showing up wing she shouldn’t have. Another time, a volunteer at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting told him how he had a much better chance of asking one buffet a question by entering the lottery tickets at the back of the stadium, which had a lot less entries.
Interestingly, this was the exact method that Tim Ferriss, his role model, identified on his own to ask Buffett a question. By chance, Alex locked out even further by bringing five of his friends along and having them enter the lottery is well. Four people one, including him, which led him ask four questions.
Alex learned that not everything people tell you is true, even from seemingly established, connected people. He met a man from Summit Series Who claim to have worked for warren Buffett for seven years. Alex hang around this man a lot and cards Alex hung around this man a lot got mentoring advice from him. When Alex brought up a lesson that this man had supposedly said he learned from buffet to buffet at the shareholder meeting, buffet remarked that he never said yes. It turns out this man had lied about it. All this time, this man had been telling him that he couldn’t relate Alexs message directly to Buffett because thatch would be giving Alex a fish rather than teaching Alex how to fish. Instead, he had told Alex to do a lot of cheesy stuff like mail a shoe to buffet and say in the letter that he’s just trying to get his foot in the door and flying to Omaha and walking around four days to catch him shopping for groceries or in front of his house. She kept failing but this mentor of his kept telling him to persist and how some inventors feel thousands of times before succeed. This man lied to his girlfriend and him about working directly with Buffett.
When Buffett said he had not said what Alex mentioned, Alex fumed afterwards thinking Buffett lied until his friend pointed out maybe it was the man who told him the story that lied. That man’s girlfriend got suspicious too and called Buffetts assistant to find out this man had never directly worked with Buffett.
Alex realized that he was at fault to because he wasn’t transparent when talking to this man. He had an agenda and only befriended him to get to Buffett. When he asked for an introduction in front of this man’s girlfriend, this man was tempted to lie. Dishonesty breeds more dishonesty.
Alex admits himself that he came from the Buzzfeed listicle generation. Therefore, he was surprised when he didn’t get the straightforward, listed answers the way he wanted when he asked Warren Buffett and Bill Gates questions. In fact, he thought something was wrong with them, and that they were dodging questions based on their answers. He never considered that maybe he was the one that was not listening until years later. Once he did, he understood the wisdom of Bill’s words. For instance, Alex kept pressing Gates for his top secret negotiating tactics, but Gates kept telling Alex that it’s more important to be someone good that people know and trust so they want to do business with you.
Alex learned from Steve Wozniak that you should define success on your own terms. Steve wouldnt be as happy working as a corporate executive in a big company even if I made him more money. He prefers staying at engineer and inventing new stuff. He gave me a lot of money to his fellow coworkers out of his own pocket because they deserve it when Apple was going.
Alex learn from pitbull the rapper that key to success is to always be learning no matter how successful you have become. The second you stop learning and I think you were too good for is when you start to fade. Pitbull was willing to be in town and get coffee for Carlos Slim Junior despite already becoming a Grammy winning international rapper. When he was trying to break out of the Miami seem to a national scene, people had a very hard time. He was able to finally break through by intensely studying some of the national musicians, like Lady Gaga, and reinventing his music.
Alex learned from Jessica alba that life isn’t fair by far compared to if you are a white male, but you can make it easier by finding people who will help support you and the team rather than trying to do it alone and getting better at how unfair life is.
Maya Angelou was physically abused and raped as a young girl. Yeah she did not let that define her and she went on to become an activist, and world impacting rider. Alex learn from Maya that the key to finding the rainbow in the clouds is to learn from and respect the people who came before you who went through tough or tougher times. There are plenty of people who by example have gone through even worse stuff than you and achieved greatness. You can learn a lot from them.
Alex got an email introduction to Mark Zuckerberg Srouji little of Microsoft. Zuckerberg said he would be willing to meet with Alex for a few minutes if you have time at start up school, and annual start up conference. But the event organizer didn’t believe Alex, and accused him of forging the email. Alex tried numerous times two convinced organizer over email, but he failed. He tried to catch Mark Zuckerberg at the events, but the organizer can’t him and kicked him out, seeing that she checked with the head of security in the head of the Mark’s PR team, and there is no indication of Alex being connected with Mark. Alex wanted to argue with the organizer but he didn’t want any trouble. He restrain from emailing to you or Mark again because Aaliyah told him not to because it would be overselling. Never oversell. After the event, she’ll do told him that if you had emailed it to you ahead of time, she would have been able to talk to the event organizer and prove Alex was legit. Later on, Alex tried many times to reach Mark through deep connections, including through the head of marketing on Facebook that you met and other direct contacts of Mark. He failed. Looking back, he realize he never had a solid strategy. Mark had any agreed to talk to him for a few minutes. He would have been better off forming a strong connection with Facebook‘s head of staffing and explaining the mission rather than trying to get a couple minutes with Marc. That said, he never felt closure with this one because he was given a direct introduction and this should’ve been close.
My Book Review & what Alex did right and wrong
Leveraging borrowed credibility was mentioned a lot in the book. But be careful when you’re doing anything with because it can crumble and destroy your reputation if you build everything on a pillar of sand. I heard a story in the I Love Marketing podcast about a sleazy up and coming marketer who tried to build a virtual summit by getting all these high profile marketers to come on board by lying. This man pitched others by telling them that a highly sought after authority had confirmed he would attend, when in reality, this man only said he’d think about it. When it was found out that the first authority wasn’t going to attend, all the others fell through, and it tarnished this man’s reputation.
Alex made the same mistake of lying to get interviews with successful people out of desperation and to save face when his interview with Bill Gates fell through. He had promised his publisher and family that the Chief of Staff at Microsoft would give him the interview once he got a book deal and took a semester off school to do so, which was horrific for his parents who didn’t want him to drop out. The Chief of Staff just said congrats and didn’t respond to Alex’s three follow up emails the three weeks after once he got the book deal. To hide the shame and out of despair, he lied to Elliott and said it was only a matter of time until the interview was guaranteed and pulled every string he had to get interviews with more successful people. He got Elliott to give him contacts of head of PR and managers or family members of Lady Gaga, Warren Buffett, and Bill Clinton. He got people he met at Summit Series to connect him with similar officials of Oprah and family of Warren Buffett. He figured if he could get Warren, he can get Gates, since they were best friends.
At this point in the book, I disliked Alex the most because he was being deceitful, which isn’t conducive to long-term success, nor is it nice. Also, I didn’t like it because he was being short-term and transactional, asking for people he just met to do stuff for him. He got as far as he did through a combination of hard work, massive luck meeting the right people, and having a mission that appeared selfless and value-driven, which helped entice people to help him.
His naivete and beliefs about how easy it was going to be helped him make progress. It also helped that every friend or person from Summit Series he asked to review his pitch said it was perfect and a great idea. But he got a log of rejection. He got his message to the final gatekeeper or the person he’d like to interview, but it would often end with a No. These people probably didn’t see much value they’d get out of it and get hit up all the time for interviews of the sort. I know Warren Buffett does since I’m a huge fan of his and know what people will do to ask questions they think are unique but are actually commonly asked. Alex has much to learn about delivering tremendous value first without expectations, and maybe eventually asking for something. I’m surprised Elliott didn’t impart this given the success he’s had.
Alex’s honesty with his emotions and behavior, despite it being embarrassing, is what prevented the book from feeling flat or simplistic. I am appreciative and respectful that he was willing to share his emotions and be honest with himself, which will take him far. For example, for many of his interviews, he notes moments of fear or embarrassment, and admits behaving in ways that weren’t ideal. At the start of Steve Wozniak’s interview, Steve says “I don’t know why you’re interviewing me. I’m not some mogul…” Alex admits he felt like Steve was testing him and he didn’t know what to do, so he stuffed food in his face.
His volunteer events at USC and his cold email with Elliott seeded the possibility to tap into the resources Elliott had created with Summit Series and to get connections to reach out to most successful people he wanted to talk to. That said, he did do a lot of cold-emailing, most of which didn’t work.
I did like that he was courageous and honest enough to admit in his book he made a mistake by lying to save face.
I can also relate to how risk-averse and illogical his Persian family is as an Asian American. His whole family blew up at him and argued for days when Elliott invited him to go on a trip the next day to London. His family was overly fearful and distrusted Elliott, scared his son would get hurt or killed since he’d never flown overseas. When Alex logically reasoned that the worst that can happen is that he didn’t meet Elliott and London and flew back, they were still emotional and against it. His grandma made him swear on her life that he would finish college. His parents worked very hard and sacrificed to pay for an expensive tuition they couldn’t afford. When they heard he didn’t want to be a doctor, they flipped out as if he had done something horribly wrong and acted like the world was over and he was crazy, asking rhetorically what he could possibly do if he didn’t want to (something I’m familiar with). This was unfair. Many Asian parents place unreasonable expectations on their children, expecting their children to cross enormous hurdles to do something they hate simply because they themselves sacrificed so much for their child. The truth is that becoming a doctor requires a good amount of passion, talent, intelligent, an extreme amount of work and dedication, something most people are naturally suited for.
Finally, his family flipped out again when Alex did his research and asked to take a semester leave off from college to write his book proposal — not drop out, just a semester of absence — even though USC gives you a seven year window to return. They argued for days, jumping to the worst case scenario that he would never return to school based on his nature, and the book deal idea would flop, marking him as a 30 year old college drop out. It was shocking how little his family cared about the progress and evidence he’d already had with talking to successful people. They didn’t seem to place any faith that he could actually interview Bill Gates and many other successful people. Each of these family arguments seemed so unreasonable, emotional, anxiety-filled, frustrating, and cultural yet relatable and real.
Elliott’s method of using money he doesn’t have to ratchet up to higher levels of pay off based on a network of high-profile people meeting is a gamble. It’s risky, and I don’t know if it’s worth the risk. Sometimes, it isn’t. Then again, Elliott also was a successful salesman before, building his family’s business to $50 million before Summit Series, and could make the money back if he ever screwed up, so keep that in mind if you were to try this.
I learned some good lessons from this book, so don’t take this review as too negative since you’ll see mostly critical stuff here. That’s because I inevitably gravitate what could’ve been better when I write reviews.
I love getting around successful people. There’s many benefits:
-social proof if you capture that moment on video, audio, or photo.
-You become better your self through osmosis of being around them.
-You can pick up golden nuggets on how to be successful you never would’ve thought of or picked up from an article or book if you ask the right questions. -You can collaborate with them to create something that will benefit each other’s careers.
Throughout the book, Alex glorified the interview with the successful person as the ultimate end goal as well as the tactics used to get there. But there’s much more to success than just meeting and spending a little time with someone who is very successful. When Alex talked about how Steven Spielberg hacked the networking game when Steven was young, he focused on the tactics and glossed over the deliverables that Steven brought to the table. Alex focused on how Steven rode on a tour bus and snuck off halfway during the tour to sneak around Universal Studios to network with executives until he met an inside man was impressed by his initiative and gave him a three-day pass to tour the studios.
Yes, it was impressive that Steven Continue to familiar with the security guard walking in confidently. Steven dressed up in a suit, slept in an office, showered in the bathroom, and change suits there. But the game didn’t end when he successfully met with executives. That was his gateway to becoming a world-renowned director. Unless your end goal is to become a Larry King or Ellen Degeneres or Joe Rogan. The meeting with the interview, while flashy and fun, is just a shot in the pan. It’s nice, but what now?
It was glossed over that Steven met his mentor there, and his mentor told him to stop schmoozing until he had a natural film or something to show people. It was only after Steven made a short film and started pitching it that he got successful and his first 7-year contract as a youngest director of all time. Alex focused on the power of having an inside man and getting a massive opportunity that those were just as hard working and talented if not more so than him through the power of His Network hacking. but that’s just one piece of the puzzle and if Stephen didn’t stop schmoozing and create an actual deliverable with a specific goal in mind to Showcase his skill, he may never have hit it off. Perhaps, Alex’s focus on just the networking tactics as the holy grail led to some of his downfall later in the book when it came to trying to get interviewed with certain celebrities.
But ultimately, it was nothing more than a 30 minute to 1-hour chat with a person. To argue his point, he viewed an interview with Bill Gates as the snowball needed to secure a book deal and social proof to land interviews with plenty of other successful people.
Still the aim of interviewing a famous, successful person as an end-goal seemed short-sighted and under-whelming. And that’s coming from me. someone who has dreamed of becoming a talk show host for a while.
Alex spent over three years to get his interview with Bill Gates and two more years to get to Lady Gaga. He faced rejection, no responses, great signs that turned into nothing, and dead ends. He learned that even if someone says that it’s likely or possible to occur if he accomplishes X, that doesn’t guarantee it’ll happen. He tried numerous paths to reach Bill when one ended.
It’s shockingly hard to get time with a successful person, and nowadays, it’s not always worth it. A lot of the information on how a successful person did it is available on the internet through videos or podcasts or in a book already. Unless you’re some master interviewer who has done a ton of research, you’ll likely not ask the right question to get some overlooked secret out of that person in the time you have.
Meeting or interviewing a super successful or famous person can only get you so far. They’re not going to give you a bunch of money in their bank account or their swanky mansion. At best, you’ll gain some knowledge and social proof, but that’ll only get you so far — and I’ve learned that the hard way given all the knowledge I’ve accumulated. At the end of the day, you have to go out there yourself and act to make your dreams happen — and these people can’t do that for you.
I have studied some successful people so much that there is almost no question I can ask some of them that I cant answer already with the internet or books about them. So why bother doing the work to reach out? If it is not for information, it becomes about networking, ego, or influencing how others think of you for your own feelings or to get money or a romantic relationship from them is that worth it? I can really only seeing building your network as worth it and if you want to do that, you cannot do it like Alex did by trying to get something out of everyone you talk to.
At the end of the book, Alex acknowledged that he no longer had a goal of interviewing more successful people and had finished that chapter of his life, so maybe he’s come to that conclusion as well.
One part of the book that could’ve been better was whether or not he took more semesters off or not. The book only mentioned that he took one semester off to interview people, which caused a huge fight with his family. He never addresses whether he took more time off, only implying he never graduated by mentioning a scene at the end when he apologized to his grandma for breaking the promise he made on her life to graduate college and get a masters. That lack of understanding removed some context about where he was in the timeline of his college life, which added confusion to the storytelling.
He sometimes left a bad a taste in the interviewee’s mouth or burned some bridges through persistence to get the interview — a lesson he’s learned and warned against. While he “won” in the short run with some interviews, there is more value in establishing a long-term, recurring relationship with these people so you can collaborate, create value, and have win-win relationships.
Alex’s first meeting with Elliott Bisnow confused me. Elliott seemed to be a young master networker who had brought together tons of the world’s top CEOs, including the founders of Zappos, Virgin, and Tom’s Shoes. Yet when they first met, Elliott told Alex to hold on for five minutes and sat texting on the phone in silence, which eventually turned into questions out of the blue about whether he was dropping out of school — which even threw Alex off. Maybe Alex exaggerated how long he had to wait and, yes, Elliott was the person in power who granted a meeting to Alex who was just a student at the time, but I found it perplexing he would do something so awkward and inconsiderate. Despite Elliott having achieved more, I wouldn’t expect someone with the charisma to bring together so many people to treat others as beneath them. Yes, maybe he had a really important text conversation with someone successful he had to attend to, but I’d expect him to handle it with more empathy and politely. He could’ve came in with a warm smile, apologized and explained with a few sentences why he had to text someone, and did so. Once he was done, he could’ve started with something to set the purpose of the meeting and start strong like, “Well, it’s wonderful to meet you. I’d love to know how I can help you as you requested in your email. But first, let me ask you … are you loving school or are you trying to drop out?” Instead, Alex painted the story like it was kinda awkward. Maybe the lesson is you don’t need to be a suave guy to achieve all this stuff.
Elliott still seemed like the mysterious version of Alex that I’d love to learn more about. The main takeaway is that this guy also came out of nowhere, found a way to provide massive value to high-value individuals, networked his way into these exclusive groups, made an unknown amount of money and a business from it, gave Alex the grace of mentorship, and sternly warned Alex that he would break off contact and that “this will end badly” if Alex chose to pursue writing his book rather than Elliot’s path of summits. Elliott arguably has some greater achievements and skills, but it was rather shrouded in mystery in the book. You just know that this kid is able to create these networking events where every person walking around is some hotshot or world champion. But how? What a unique individual. That’s hard to pull off correctly and consistently.
Also, I wonder if the initial pursuit of the “world-class” university got lost in the process. The book gives some tips from each of the people he interviewed. Was that the back-up plan in case the university idea never happened? The thing is there is masterclass.com, which probably gets a lot closer to that ideal. And then, there’s a few other books I read that do something similar, like Getting There by Gilian Zoe Segal, How to Lead by David Rubenstein, Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss, or biographies. The one hang-up with compilation books is that you get a finite amount of advice per individual that isn’t tailored to your unique situations. The amount of advice is often noticeably dictated by the varying, tiny amount of time they had with these individuals.
Nonetheless, it’s still valuable and worth absorbing every bit of it that relates to you. In this world of digital access, what’s the next level of value now that advice from successful people becomes more available?