Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Everybody wants the good life, but not everybody gets the good life, right? Imagine for a second if right now, today, how much more successful would you be if you just started a company 50/50 with Bill Gates as your business partner and he was using every trick of the trade that he used to build Microsoft into one of the biggest companies in the world? Imagine how much money you'd have in your bank account today - how much more money, I should say - if Warren Buffet was teaching you how to invest in the stock market, showing you what he used to build Berkshire Hathaway into a $140 billion company. Imagine how much happier you'd be today if the Dali Lama was your personal guide, showing you how to find fulfillment in life, in the little things that most people overlook. Imagine how healthy you'd be today if when you woke up, you went down to your gym, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was waiting there, who was your personal trainer, showing you how he built his body into the most fit body maybe ever, right? Imagine the change you'd be making in the world, the injustice you'd be solving today, if Mother Theresa and you were running a charity together and she was showing you what she learned on the streets of Calcutta, helping the poor, the sick, and the dying. Mentors have the power to do this in your life. I think everybody here recognizes the importance of a role model. But in the next few minutes, I'm going to show you how mentors are more powerful than you can possibly imagine in their ability to transform your life. It's interesting that I'm here in Luxembourg, because my grandmother was born not too far from here, in Berlin, Germany. She's 96 years old, by the way, and she said, "Tai, tell them hello." So, hello from my 96-year-old grandma. (Laughter) She said, "There was a role model, a mentor that I had when I was a little girl." She was born in 1918 in Berlin, and she said, "We had a renter in our house." Edith Knox, who was a famous piano player from California in the 1920s. She said, "Tai, this woman made such an impression on me." She rented a room for a summer, and she said, "Edith Knox wore pants." My grandma said, "I'd never seen a woman wear pants." Apparently, in Germany in the '20s, no women wore pants. And not just regular pants. She had an orange jumpsuit on. And then she'd play the piano, and Edith Knox, every hour, would stand on her head for exercise. My grandma was like 7 and she said, "Tai, I thought if that's how women are in California, one day I'm going to move to California." And sure enough, she ended up in California. That's part of the story of how my family ended up in California. I'm from California. I flew here. It took me 20 hours to get here, and I'm from Hollywood, specifically. So Hollywood, the "Land of Dreams." Or for most people, it's the land of broken dreams. Every year, 100,000 people move in and out of Hollywood. Some come to be movie stars, actors, singers, writers, comedians. Most go home empty-handed. So I live up in the Hills, and I'm surrounded by all these celebrities. I have one on my left, one on my right. I often think, "Why did these celebrities make it? What did they do differently that allowed them to make it?" Because in Hollywood, everybody wants something, but not everybody gets what they want. So I want to talk a little bit about that today. Because life is short. I think we all realize the sands of time quickly can slip by in your life. And you don't want to be old when you finally get the good life, or too old. Right? It's like the Dutch saying, "We're too soon old, too late smart." Steve Jobs said, "I didn't want to be be the richest man in the graveyard." And I realized this. I remember back, I was younger and Alan Nation, one of my mentors, he had told me, "Tai, what did you want to be when you were 16? That's the truest version of yourself. What did you want to be when you were 16?" And I remember at 16, I wanted to find the good life. Aristotle talks about eudaimonia, his definition of the good life. Health, wealth, happiness, love. All those things. I remember going, "It's too hard. How am I ever going to figure this out? There's so many hard questions. I'm 16. I got to figure out what college to go to, what religion I'm going to follow, who I'm going to marry, what politics, where to live, what career and path to pursue." And I had this idea. I was like, "I know the perfect idea." I'll find one person - I thought this was so genius, it turned out to not be so smart - But I'd find one person who had all the answers. So I wrote a letter. The smartest person I could think of was my grandfather. I wrote this letter: "Will you tell me how to design my life?" TED is about T-E-D. The "D" is about Design, the designed life. So I said, "Will you help me design my life?" And I was so excited. Four days later I got this letter back from my grandpa I read it and it said, "Sorry, Tai, I can't help you. The modern world's too complicated. You will never find all the answers from just one person. If you're lucky, a handful of people along the way will point the way." And I was like, "Ugh!" So much for my shortcut. But seven days later, a package came. It was books. My grandfather had a 20,000-book library, and he had sent me some old dusty ones. A 1,000-page volume. 11 books. "The Story of Civilization," by Will and Ariel Durant. I was like, "1,000 pages? This is too much." But I see now, he was giving me a hint, I didn't understand it. There's this myth that you have to go inward to find truth. But the truth he was saying is you have to go outward. If you can download the consciousness, the mindset of people who have gone before you - the smartest, the wisest, the most intelligent, the most experienced people - then you will get what you want. And so I went on, and I started writing down note cards. I called them mental shortcuts. And I was reading these books. And then I started traveling. I went to 51 countries. I'd read a book and say, "Let me go visit this person in person." So I went to New Zealand and Australia, South America, Argentina, Ireland, all over the world. I was focused on those 4 things: health, wealth, love, and happiness. I decided to focus on health and happiness. I lived for two years with Joel Salatin on his famous sustainable agricultural organic farm. Then I spent 2 1/2 years with the Amish. No electricity, trying to see what was life when we lived in community. I made one mistake. I forgot about money. That's one of the things, so eventually, I ran out of money. I had to do the thing nobody wants to do, call my mom and be like, "Mom, I know I'm an adult, but I don't have any money. Do you mind if I come stay at home until I get back on my feet?" She had a mobile home in Clayton, North Carolina. I went and she said, "Sorry, Tai, I don't have a room for you, but you can sleep on this couch." So I remember laying there at night, like: "Did I mess up? Did I miss out on the good life? Here I am, I have no college degree. My skills? I could milk a cow with the Amish." That wasn't a very marketable skill. I remember I had like $47 in my bank account. I had a car, but it had holes in the floor. Somehow it had rusted through, and if you accidentally would put your foot down, it would chop your foot off. So I didn't want to drive it anywhere, or pick anybody up in that car. I remembered back to what my grandpa said, "Look outwards." So I started asking around: "Will somebody help me?" My uncle said: "You need somebody who'll show you how to make money." So I was like, "Great idea. I'm going to go find somebody." But I didn't have any gas money. I was stuck there at my mom's house. I had $40. I walked to the kitchen. That's what I could afford to do. I found the yellow pages and opened them up. I looked in the finance section and I found this guy. I said, "I'm going to visit this guy." So I got a suit out of the closet. It wasn't mine, it was too big. It looked weird on me. I don't know what I looked like when I showed up at that guy's house. I got somebody to drive me in, I showed up and Kathy, his secretary, opened the door and I walked back, and Mike Steinback, from the phone book, I walked up to him and I said, "Mike, you don't know me. If you show me what you know, - you must know a lot about money, if you can afford a full-page ad in the yellow pages - if you show me what you know I'll work for you for free." I'll never forget. He was sitting in this chair. He had a big mustache. He looked kind of like Tom Selick. He was sitting there, and he just rolled his chair towards me. And he said, "You know, Tai? I've been looking for someone like you for 20 years. Show up in the morning, I'll show you what I know." And sure enough, he did show me. And he began to mentor me on business. And now I'm an entrepreneur. I'm an investor. But I've continued on that path, traveling, finding mentors, reading. I read a book a day. I have a little book club, I write. And what I've found in my research is that I wasn't the abnormal path. Mentors - your ability to copy - is the biggest predictor of the success that you will have in life. As Picasso said, "Good artists copy, but great artists steal." Right? And I looked around, and it's interesting. Did you know Albert Einstein had a mentor? Every Thursday, he would have lunch with a mentor growing up. Jay-Z, the rapper, he had a mentor. Oprah Winfrey said she had two mentors. Gandhi had a mentor. Alexander, the Great, had Aristotle. Bill Gates had Paul Allen. Warren Buffet had Benjamin Graham. There's something here that most of us have missed out on. So I want to share with you some things that I've found, some specifics that you can do with mentors. The first rule, I call it the Mentor Rules. It's the Law of 33%. You should divide up your life and spend 33% of your time around people lower than you. You can mentor and help them. And they'll help you back by making you feel good about yourself. It's good to know somebody's doing worse than you. That's that 30%. Then you have 33% of people that are on your level. These become your friends, your peers. But that last 33% is what most people forget about. Those are people 10, 20 years ahead of you. They'll make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, but that's what you want, and remember you don't want to make the mistake most people make with mentors, finding somebody just a little bit better than them. You don't want to be the blind leading the blind. So I call it the 10x rule; find somebody ten times further ahead than you. If you want to learn how to grow a $1 million company, you have to find somebody who has a $10 million company. Don't be afraid to go to the top. In-person mentors are amazing. And you can get people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates. You'd be surprised! My friend Frank heard a talk. He's a director in Hollywood. He's like, "Tai, you won't believe this. I heard your talk and emailed some people. And Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, the only man to own three companies worth $1 billion wrote me back and we had lunch. You'd be surprised, because people remember. They remember their struggle, and they'll reach out and help you, too. Remember, everybody wants the good life, but not everybody's willing to follow these rules. You must follow these rules. Next, humility. One of my favorite stories in business, Sam Walton. He becomes the richest man in America. He starts Walmart, this big empire. And he takes a trip to São Paulo, Brazil. And when he's there, his host family gets a call from the police department. They're like, "Come bail out Sam Walton. He's in jail." By this time, he's an older guy. Billionaire. They rushed down.