Why Quincy Jones Will Change Your Life: His New Book, His Greatest Lessons

Alex Banayan
5 min readApr 5, 2022

I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has told me that meeting Quincy Jones has changed their life. People have actually grabbed me by the arm and told me how a simple hello turned into a three-hour odyssey filled with awe and joy. These people insist that talking to Quincy even just once was transcendent, as if he can look into your being and rewire your circuitry. The stories always sound farfetched, even fantastical. I almost wouldn’t believe them, except for the fact that it’s happened to me.

I was twenty-four years old. I’d spent the last five years traveling the globe and interviewing some of the world’s most successful leaders, from Bill Gates to Lady Gaga to Maya Angelou. As my journey neared its end, it was an honor to schedule an interview with Quincy. But what neither he nor his team could have known was how much pain I was in at that time.

My parents’ marriage was in turmoil, my dad’s health was deteriorating, and in my work life, I’d recently had a meeting set with Mark Zuckerberg that I’d missed, and the details are far too embarrassing to go into now. On top of that, what started off as a twinge in my lower back began to worsen, to the point where crippling pain shot down my leg. I couldn’t walk without wincing. Doctors prescribed pills, injected me with steroids, yet nothing seemed to work. An orthopedic surgeon said if I didn’t have surgery soon, I might become paralyzed. That was the physical state I was in as I stepped down the cobblestone driveway into Quincy’s home.

As I walked through the front door, I forced a smile and mustered all the energy I could to ensure no one would notice my limp. I plopped down on the couch and Quincy soon entered. He asked where I was from. I said Los Angeles. He shook his head and asked where I was from. I said my parents were from Iran. He replied, “That’s what I thought.” Quincy then launched into story after story about his travels in Iran — he sucked me into the Quincy Jones Vortex — and my God, it is the happiest place on earth. I’d come with dozens of interview questions written out, yet over the course of our conversation, Quincy answered questions I didn’t even know to ask.

He recounted stories of the failures and mistakes he’d made early in his career. You would think that would put me at ease, but it made my body even tenser as it triggered all the painful memories of mistakes I’d recently made.

I felt like an overinflated tire, ready to burst.

It was as though Quincy could sense what was happening within me, because he gently put a hand on my shoulder.

“It’s all good, man,” he said. “That’s how you learn.”

It felt like Quincy had just hit a valve and all the excess pressure was rushing out.

“You have to get back up no matter how many times you get knocked down,” he told me. “There are some people who face defeat and retreat; who become cautious and afraid, who deal with fear instead of passion, and that’s not right. I know it seems complex, but it’s relatively simple. It’s: let go and let God.

“You can’t get an A if you’re afraid of getting an F,” he added. “Growth comes from mistakes. You have to cherish them, so you can learn from them. Your mistakes are your greatest gift.”

I let out a long breath and my body relaxed. From that point on, the conversation felt different.

Quincy took out a Bluetooth speaker and played music, and I slowly began dancing in my seat. He reached for his laptop and showed me videos of a cappella singers on YouTube. We flipped through a book of photos from Rio’s Carnival. He opened a blue folder and started reading me jokes, and as we both laughed I started telling him ones of my own. When the conversation came to a close, Quincy opened a drawer, took out a glistening silver bracelet, and put it on my wrist. On the cuff were images of a cross, a Star of David, the Buddha, and others. Inscribed on the bracelet were the words: We Are Love.

We said goodbye and I walked out to my car. It took me a minute to notice that I was now subtly dancing down the cobblestone. My limp had somehow disappeared. The smile on my face wasn’t forced and I felt lighter than I had all year. In the following days, not only was my back pain diminished but a new energy entered my life: One of possibility. My doctor scratched his head and chalked it up to chance. But deep down, I knew what had happened. This was the first time in my life that I learned that there are some ailments that pills cannot fix. What Quincy did was replenish my soul. He helped me let go of the pain and reminded me of the wonders of our world.

Today, Quincy just published a new book titled 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity, which compiles his best advice and lessons from his 88 years on the planet.

My wish to you, if you buy Quincy’s new book and embark on the journey of reading it, is that you find the same sense of transformation through Quincy’s words as I had. Whether you’re eighty or eighteen, in a boardroom or a dorm room, Quincy’s lessons transcend generations. Truth has a way of doing that. The stories in 12 Notes will remind you why we are here on this earth.

As you turn the books pages, you’ll laugh and learn and ponder. Though most of all, I hope you walk away from the book the same way I walked out of Quincy’s home that night — with a smile on your face, a nourished soul, and with feet that can’t help but dance.



Alex Banayan

Author of the #1 international bestseller THE THIRD DOOR • Youngest bestselling business author in American history