Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Zero to One

Zero to One by Peter Thiel is a nice read.

(Yes - if I sit down to write a book review - the book has to be worth it - and usually good - so most of my book reviews are about good books.You can stop here if that's the information you seek.)

Where this book scores is in contrarian thoughts and contrarian questions that make you think.

It starts with a four big lessons learned from the 90s dot-com crash that is, Make incremental advances, Stay lean and flexible, Improve on the competition and Focus on product, not sales. Just as you warm up to it, he says, the opposite rules are more correct - which are:

It is better to risk boldness than triviality.
A bad plan is better than no plan.
Competitive markets destroy profits.
Sales matters just as much as products.

And finally leaves with a simple definition of contrarianism - it is not to oppose the crowd (or follow a smaller or newer or older crowd) but to think for yourself.

"All happy companies are different" - this chapter starts with a question: What valuable company is nobody building? This question is harder than it looks - he says - and no I won't spoil it by revealing the next few lines.

In a further chapter - he says, disruption for the sake of disruption does not take a company anywhere. Rather than position oneself as a 'disruptor' of an existing business, why not focus on the act of creation itself?

And the book being a lot about startups - there are very good takeaways on founding partners, recruiting the right people, power law, AI, green tech and a few more compelling questions.

My personal takeaways - One - Differentiating between vertical/intensive progress and horizontal or extensive progress. Technology advancement is the former while globalisation is the latter. This is a very compelling and eyeopening argument.

And two - which the author says is his favourite interview question: "What important truth do very few people agree with you on?"

And finally the third - which starts with a verse from LOTR

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began

Life is a long journey; the road marked out by the steps of previous travellers has no end in sight. But later on in the tale, another verse appears:

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the moon or to the sun

The road does not have to be infinite after all. Take the hidden paths.[Excerpt]

Read more to find out!

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