Lessons Peter Thiel’s Zero To One Book Can Teach Us

This is my serious attempt to clean out my email box from my hospital stay. My emails have a lot of great knowledge from people. I’ve been holding out on all the information in my email. I want to keep the knowledge and clean my inbox. So I came up with the idea to write a blog post on these emails. Done and done. I won’t forget to delete either.

Photo Credit Goes To Bungie.net/Destiny The Video Game

One of Peter Thiel’s secrets was an early understanding of his skill set and what he should be doing, his “destiny” and not what everyone else wanted him to do. This list will make you think. Follow what the successful are doing. It’s the quickest path toward success. And yes, go read the book -Alesha

Takeaways from Zero To One

1. Peter Thiel’s advice to his younger self: “If you ever have to choose between status or substance, choose substance.” He says we will all face that choice and our tendency is to go with what will socially make us fit in (what the masses perceive as the right choice) but we should avoid this “social proof”.

2. Conventional wisdom leads to you competing for something worthless: “Elite students climb confidently until they reach a level of competition sufficiently intense to beat their dreams out of them. Higher education is the place where people who had big plans in high school get stuck in fierce rivalries with equally smart peers over conventional careers like management consulting and investment banking. For the privilege of being turned into conformists, students (or their families) pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in skyrocketing tuition that continues to outpace inflation. Why are we doing this to ourselves?”

3. Avoid extreme worldviews: “Extreme pessimists find no point in doing anything. And extreme optimists find no need to do anything. They both converge on doing nothing.”

4. The world’s getting better: In 1840 the average Swedish woman lived to 46. Now it’s risen to age 87. Life expectancy’s gone up 2.5 years per decade.

5. The modern education system is similar to the Church in the Dark Ages centuries ago: Peter compares it this way, “It had become a very corrupt institution. It was charging more and more for indulgences. People thought (In the 1500’s) they could only get saved by going to the Church, just like people today believe that salvation involves getting a college diploma. And if you don’t get a college diploma that you’re going to go to hell. I think my answer is, in some ways, like that of the reformers in the 16th century. it is the same disturbing answer — that you’re going to have to figure out your salvation on your own.

6. Why nerds seem to be so successful in life: Thiel observed how many big entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg have Asperger Syndrome (which makes them socially awkward but less sensitive to societal norms), “We need to ask, what is it about our society where those of us who do not suffer from Asperger’s are at some massive disadvantage because we will be talked out of our interesting, original, creative ideas before they are even fully formed?

7. The most important question you can ask yourself: “Tell me something that’s true that very few people agree with you on.” This is a very tricky question to answer. Try it. Remember that it has to be something that is true not something made up.

The reason this is such a vital thing to ask is that most big breakthroughs come from catching trends that the average human doesn’t have the vision or contrarian viewpoint to see.

For example, if you tell your friends your idea and they think there is no risk in doing it, then you are too late. You missed the trend.

8. Would he go to college again if he could do it all over?: “It’s possible I would do it again,” he said, but also that he would, “think about it much harder. I would ask questions, ‘Why am I doing this? Am I doing this just because I have good grades and test scores? And because I think it’s prestigious? Or am I doing this because I’m extremely passionate about practicing law? So I think there are good answers and there are bad answers and my, sort of, retrospective on my early 20s is that I was way too focused on the wrong answers at the time.

9. Seek no competition: “Most business books tell you how you should compete more effectively, and mine goes somewhat against the grain to tell you that you should not compete,” Thiel says, “Figure out something that nobody else is doing and look to create a monopoly in some area that’s been underdeveloped.

He goes on to say:

“Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

10. It’s not an education that you want, it’s knowledge: Peter explains, “I don’t like the word education because it is such an extraordinary abstraction. I’m very much in favor of learning. I’m much more skeptical of credentialing or the abstract called education. So there are all these granule questions. Like, what is it that you’re learning? Why are you learning it? Are you going to college because it’s a four year party? Is it a consumption decision? Is it an investment decision, where you’re investing in your future? Is it insurance? Or is a tournament, where you’re just beating other people? Are our elite universities really like Studio 54 where it’s like an exclusive night club?”

11. Being part of something new and exciting is the best way to control your life’s destiny: “A startup is the largest endeavor over which you can have definite mastery. You can have agency not just over your own life, but over a small and important part of the world. It begins by rejecting the unjust tyranny of chance. You are not a lottery ticket.”

Hello! I’m Alesha! I’m a musician, actress, entrepreneur and writer and recent hospital patient (I still can’t believe that is real). Follow on Twitter. If you like what I’m writing, give me a heart and share! :) I like hearts. Let me know what you want me to write! Click here!

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