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» entrepreneurship » My Favorite Ted Talk: Tai Lopez

My Favorite Ted Talk: Tai Lopez

Tai Lopez is an entrepreneur that’s been all around the world, seeking out knowledge from all walks of life. He is an advisor to 20 multi-million dollar companies, and so it seems only natural that he would do a TED Talk.

However, TED Talks are bloody LONG! His is approaching the 20-minute mark, and that’s one of the short ones!

Transcribed, it was over 3,500 words. That’s a lot of data to sort through!

Luckily, we’re here to do it for you.

It Begins

The first few paragraphs of speech are him expounding on what could happen if you had experts in some areas coaching you in how to do things. Learning the business from Bill Gates, the stock exchange from Warren Buffet, personal happiness from the Dali Lama, bodybuilding from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and charity working from Mother Theresa.

All of these examples are just him trying to instill in you the importance of having a mentor. He gives these examples to connect with you, to show you how your life could change if you had a great mentor.

He then uses this personal connection to move into explaining how mentors are “stronger than you can imagine in their ability to transform your life,” citing how his grandmother was inspired to go to California by a role model and mentor that rented a room in her house back in Berlin in the 1920s.

He explains that when he was 16, he wanted to find the good life: Aristotle’s definition consists of health, wealth, happiness, and love. Tai thought it would be too hard to find those things on his own, so he wrote a letter to the smartest person he knew to help him find those things.

His grandfather.

He wrote his grandfather and asked him to help him design his life.

Unfortunately for him, his grandfather responded that “The modern world is too complicated. You will never find all the answers from just one person. If you’re lucky, a handful of individuals along the way will point the way.”

A little more, fortunately, his grandfather had more of an answer than that. Seven days after his grandfather’s response came, a package full of books arrived at Tai’s door.

Inside was the 11 book series of “The Story of Civilization,” by Will and Ariel Durant. That was his way of giving Tai a hint: the way to find happiness is to see how the people who came before you found it. A lot of people say you have to go inward to find the truth, but Tai realized he had to look outward.

So, he started reading those books, writing down ‘mental shortcuts’ on notecards when he found them and traveling. Health, wealth, love, and happiness were too much to focus on at one time, so he decided just to focus on health and happiness for the time being.

1For years, he traveled all over the globe to visit people whenever he read about them making it in the making, making themselves happy, and saw for himself how he did it. He visited Joel Salatin’s sustainable agricultural farm for two years, and he spent two and a half years with the Amish to see what it was like.

However, only focusing on health and happiness meant he overlooked wealth. As you can imagine, he eventually ran out of money, and then he had to go back home and live with his mother in her mobile home in Clayton, North Carolina.

At that point, he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to do. Next, his car had literal rusting holes in the floor, and he had $47 to his name.

So he started asking around for help, and his Uncle helpfully told him he needed someone to show him how to make money.

So he found someone.

He opened the Yellow Pages to the finance section and found a full page ad for a Mike Steinback, and since he could afford a full page ad in the Yellow Pages, Tai figured this guy knew how to make money. He donned a too-big suit, had somebody drive him to Mike’s office, saw himself in, and asked Mike to teach him what he knew in return for free labor.

Mike accepted, and years later, Tai is an entrepreneur and investor.

He attributes all of his success to that mentor, Mike Steinback, and he finds that in the world around him, other people do too. He still travels, he still looks for mentors for himself; he reads a book a day, he writes.

And what he found is that mentors are everywhere. Albert Einstein had one, Jay-Z had one, Oprah Winfrey said she had two, and Gandhi had one. Alexander the Great had Aristotle, Bill Gates had Paul Allen, Warren Buffet had Benjamin Graham.

He goes on to describe what he calls the Mentor Rules.

The Mentor Rules

The Law of 33%

The first rule is the Law of 33%. He says you should divide up your life and spend 33% of your time mentoring someone else, 33% of your day around people that are your equals, and 33% of your time around people 10, 20 years ahead of you.

That last one is the one people forget about. They forget to find someone ahead of them, someone to mentor them. Someone that makes them uncomfortable since they’re just so much better than them.

The 10x Rule

He says that one should find mentor10 time further ahead than them; he calls it the 10x Rule. If you want to build a $1 million company, you have to find somebody with a $10 million company to teach you how.

And if you’re nervous about such a thing? Tai recounted a story about his friend, Frank, e-mailing people to mentor him. Much to his surprise, Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, the only man to own three companies worth $1 billion, wrote Frank back and had lunch with him.

Remember that these mentors are people, and they started in the same place you are. They remember what it’s like to be in your place.


His next rule is always to remain humble.

He recounted a story about Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, taking a trip down to Brazil and getting arrested.

Now, by that time he was already a billionaire, and 60-years-old. Obviously, a Brazilian jail cell is not the best place for a 60-year-old, so his host family rushed down and asked, “What the heck?”

They arrested him for crawling around on the floors of a store.

His host family turned to him and repeated the question.

Apparently, the founder of Walmart was trying to measure how wide the aisles were because he thought the Brazilian store-owners knew something he didn’t.


Right off the bat, he starts out with pointing out that Bill Gates started out his computer company at 12 and kept going for 31 years until he was a billionaire.

The media only shows us the success we reach at the end. They don’t show the grueling journey, the repetitive tasks, and the horrible work hours that went into that success

He then went on to recount a story that a real estate investor told him. The investor, a billionaire at the time of asking, got his start at 19 by visiting the offices of the top investor in his hometown every day for two and a half weeks.

17 times!

On the 17th time, the secretary that had turned him away each day felt sorry for him and told him to jump into the elevator when he left at the end of the day. He’d have four floors to convince the investor he was worth talking to.

At the end of those four floors, Tai’s friend had an invitation from the top investor to come with him on his private jet to Florida, to learn how the guy invested in hotels down there.

Years later, that 19-year-old is one of the wealthiest real estate investors in the world.


I know what you’re thinking. How can books be a rule?

Bear with me.

Books are hidden treasures. Some of the greatest mentors of history are no longer alive, so books are the only way to have them mentor you, after a fashion.

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, wrote a book on his deathbed that costs $5 to buy. How many people do you think have read it? How many businessmen do you think have read it?

Spoiler alert: not that many.

The modern education system has turned people off from books. Here are a few quick tricks to rewire your brain to read more.

  • Look at books like friends, not one-time things. Read them over and over
  • Pick only a few. 150 should do it. There are 130 million books in the world, and you can’t read that many, but you can reread 150 for the rest of your life.
  • Realize that sometimes; books only have one or two things that are worth reading. There’s a lot of useless fluff to pad books out, so learn to separate that from the meat of the matter.
  • Focus on one part at a time. Read a chapter and let it sink into your mind. Maybe you’ll find a revelation in words?

Stoic vs. Epicurean

“A nation is born stoic and dies epicurean,” Tai wrote down, from that first book set his grandfather gave him.

Stoics were people willing to sacrifice present pleasure for something better later, kind of like investors.

Epicureans live for now. They were consumers. They said, “You only live once.”

His last point is to become a stoic. Learn to sacrifice something good now for the something better later. Stop eating sugar for a week, walk to get groceries, do 100 push-ups, turn the air conditioning off, something.

Toughen up, he says.

In Closing

His basic tenets are:

  • Find a mentor, no matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re already experienced. There’s always someone to learn from
  • Be humble
  • Persevere
  • Read more
  • Toughen up.

You can learn all of the steps that have taken Tai to who is today from his the 67 steps video program.

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