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  • 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.