Author Alex Banayan spends year helping people navigate COVID-19 pandemic

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Author Alex Banayan spends year helping people navigate COVID-19 pandemic

For over a year, hundreds of strangers from around the world "poured" into bestselling author Alex Banayan’s Zoom sessions looking for guidance on

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For over a year, hundreds of strangers from around the world “poured” into bestselling author Alex Banayan’s Zoom sessions looking for guidance on how to reignite their passions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They came from all walks of life – from the single mom in Denver, to the farmer in Nebraska who dialed in from a tractor to employees at Fortune 500 companies,

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Each one, Banayan told Fox News, had a vehement “desire to grow.” 

They were turning to him because of his book, “The Third Door,” in which Banayan – a college dropout – chronicles his seven-year quest to discover how the world’s most successful people cultivated their careers – often by taking unconventional routes. 

Alex Banayan, the author of "The Third Door."

Alex Banayan, the author of “The Third Door.”
(Paty Ventura)

Banayan had just finished an international book tour when the world came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly, he was hit with an onslaught of messages from his readers, many of whom were losing their jobs or seeing loved ones fall ill to COVID-19, he said. 

They were looking to the author for answers on how to navigate the tumultuous time, but Banayan struggled to help them. 

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The messages, thought heartfelt and vulnerable, seemed “almost unanswerable,” he said. 

“It’s hard to describe the feeling of despair when you genuinely want to help and you feel like there’s nothing you can do … all these people are looking to you for an answer that you don’t have,” he said. 

His mentor, New York Times bestselling author Cal Fussman, had a solution.

“Why don’t you just put a Zoom link out on the internet and help all of them?” Banayan recalled Fussman saying. “Even if you help one person through this process, it’s not any time lost.” 

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In May 2020, Banayan began hosting Third Door Mentor Sessions. They were free hour-long Zoom calls dedicated to helping people navigate their path during the pandemic, overcome obstacles and rediscover what makes them “come alive,” according to Banayan’s Instagram post. 

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For the first 15 minutes of each session, Banayan or one of his guests, like Fussman or co-founder of Summit Group Elliott Bisnow, would discuss a topic from finding one’s path to racism in corporate America to dealing with rejection. The rest of the hour was left for questions.  

Every day, hundreds of people from Romania, Nigeria, France, India, Australia and the U.S., continued to join the call. After some time, the participants not only became friends, but they also started helping each other. 

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At the end of each call, they “started like self-organizing and doing like their own versions of like little TED talks,” Banayan said.  

The sessions reminded him why he dropped out of the University of Southern California at 18 years old to try and interview dozens of household names from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. 

“I had this dream that if all these people came together … to share their best wisdom with the next generation, people can do so much more,” he said. 

After the book was published in 2018, Banayan spent several years sharing lessons that he honed while giving keynotes to help leadership teams across corporate America – from Apple, Google, Nike, IBM, Snapchat to Mastercard and Disney – cultivate more growth.

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He went on to earn several honors, including becoming the youngest bestselling business author in American history and being named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.

However, Third Door Mentor Sessions have been “one of the most fulfilling things” in his life, Banayan said. 

“What’s amazing about the mentor sessions was the tools didn’t solve their problems,” he said. “The tools and the lessons just created a space for them to believe they can solve their problems. And that’s what The Third Door is about too.”

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