Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
By: Peter Thiel
Virgin Books; 1st Edition (January 1, 2001)
I am not sure what I can say about Zero To One that has not already been said. This book is a classic. I mean, it was originally published over 20 years ago! In short, Thiel talks about entrepreneurship in a fresh and insightful way that makes me want to start a side project once a year. Encouragement to build a brand, seek network effects and economies of scale, harness proprietary technology, and avoid competition gives people a great starting point to success. Zero To One should be required reading in business school. (But don’t go to business school – that’s just me).
Two of my favorite quotes:
WHENEVER I INTERVIEW someone for a job, I like to ask this question: “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” This question sounds easy because it’s straightforward. Actually, it’s very hard to answer. It’s intellectually difficult because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is by definition agreed upon. And it’s psychologically difficult because anyone trying to answer must say something she knows to be unpopular. Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.
Tolstoy opens Anna Karenina by observing: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Business is the opposite. All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.