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Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future


Zero to One

Peter Thiel



You can do work that the world already knows how to do and move from something to a slightly better something. That’s 0 to n.

Or you can take an old idea, squeeze the stuffing out of it, and come up with a business that nobody else has thought of. That’s 0 to 1.

According to Mr. Thiel, 0 to 1 is where all the cookies lie.

And this book is all about getting your hand in and out the jar without it becoming stuck.

What I took from reading it

A fair amount of pondering and chin stroking.

There’s a lot of hype about ‘disruption’, but Peter poses an interesting thought. Why disrupt and competitively sweat it out within a market, when you can carve out your own nook and ceremoniously starfish in all the space that it would allow?

And some further interesting musings on indefinite optimism vs. definite optimism. Most of us believe that we’ll get better and progress our careers. However, indefinite optimists, myself included, bimble along with no idea what said progression looks like, nor how it’s going to transpire. Yet, arguably, this planless meandering leaves you worse off and won’t actually get you to said promised land.

And, finally, Thiel’s tip for the future is to think about how computers can help humans solve hard problems. I expect a 30% cut if you come up with something 😉

Who should read this book

This book took me all of 90 minutes to read. If you’re even so much as vaguely interested in thinking up ideas for a new business, and you have 90 minutes going begging, you’d be doing yourself a favour by reading this book.

Where to Buy

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