Book Giveaway #61: Zero to One

Title: Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
Author(s): Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

The last post on Steve Jobs (Book Giveaway #60: The Man Who Thought Different (3/17/2020)) challenged us to push ourselves on our own Creativity and Innovation.

Probably, there are a few billion dollars worth of product ideas right in front of you. Or, closer, under your nose. But, why don’t you see it? Maybe because you are taking the world around you too much for granted. Your world is too familiar to you – seemingly without any surprises or secrets – there is no sense of wonder left. You do not think that your car can be fueled at your home (MyPetrolPump) or a gym would make sense without any equipment (Cult is disrupting Gym market without equipment) and, so on.

How to look at the world differently? Who better than Peter Thiel to help us. He co-founded Paypal in 1998, survived the 2001 Dot Com Bubble to build one of the earliest and most successful online payment company. There is an interesting fact – over a period of time, many Paypal co-founders and employees founded some of the most successful tech companies (worth more than a billion each) – collectively these people are called the “Paypal Mafia”.

It is said that MORE THAN the idea, it is THE TEAM that makes the difference in making a venture successful. Thus, this is a valuable lesson to learn. He explains his hiring philosophy in the 10th chapter “The Mechanics of Mafia”.

Though, you do need an idea to begin with. In the 1st chapter, his first poser is:

“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”

At the outset, he clarifies that you cannot copy from Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. You need to do your own unique thinking. Your own contrarian unique thinking. What are your disagreements with the people around you? What would you like to break? Rebel against?

He offers (through Thiel Fellowship) $100,000 to students (below age 23) to drop out of college to pursue independent research, project or venture. If you are above 23, you need to venture it out on your own. Some people think that commercial success is about superior intelligence, better luck or some divine karma. Get ready to have your beliefs shaken in the 6th chapter – “You Are Not A Lottery Ticket”.

What if you have a lot of ideas? Which idea to work upon? Many talk about the “First Mover Advantage”. Predictably, Thiel disagrees. His 5th Chapter “The Last Move Advantage” will give you insights on how to bake your cake and fully eat it too – that is, how to create a monopoly …..Oh yes, the law does not allow that….but, we are talking about rebelling, aren’t we?

Ready to take the law (or at least, your own creative future) in your own hands?


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