Peter Thiel is an intriguing, multi-dimensional person. Very smart, yet humble. That’s uncommon.
He has been a Wall Street lawyer, teacher, and venture capitalist. He founded of Confinity, later PayPal. He joined forces with Elon Musk’s online bank, X.com in 2000 and sold the company to EBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. He was the first outside investor in Facebook. He has used his money and skill since to build a formidable venture capital firm, participate in philanthropic efforts, be active in political causes, and live a successful life.
And he makes it look easy.
I knew of him before, but had not paid much attention. This YouTube video lead me to do some more research. It’s about 2 hours long. Peter Thiel and Dave Rubin. There are several other interviews and articles you might enjoy.
If you are thinking about starting a business, or are already running one, here are some of his thoughts:
“Startups operate on the principle that you need to work with other people to get stuff done, but you also need to stay small enough so that you actually can. Positively defined, a startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future. A new company’s most important strength is new thinking: even more important than nimbleness, small size affords space to think.”
Seven Questions every business must answer:
“Sequencing markets correctly is underrated, and it takes discipline to expand gradually. The most successful companies make the core progression—to first dominate a specific niche and then scale to adjacent markets—a part of their founding narrative.”
“Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances…. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
“The opposite ideas are not automatically true: you can’t escape the madness of crowds by dogmatically rejecting them. Instead ask yourself: how much of what you know about business is shaped by mistaken reactions to past mistakes? The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.”
“The Field of Dreams conceit is especially popular in Silicon Valley, where engineers are biased toward building cool stuff rather than selling it. But customers will not come just because you build it. You have to make that happen, and it’s harder than it looks.”
He has published a book. “Zero to One” It deals with startups, and a larger idea. “How to Build the Future”
The Atlantic, October 2021, has an article that covers a lot of ground. The Contrarian Peter Thiel is a very complex person.
“Grand visions inflate the bubble, so they should not be indulged. Anyone who claims to be able to do something great is suspect, and anyone who wants to change the world should be more humble. Small, incremental steps are the only safe path forward”
“The first step to thinking clearly is to question what we think we know about the past.”
“The future is simply the set of all moments yet to come. But what makes the future distinctive and important isn’t that it hasn’t happened yet, but rather that it will be a time when the world looks different from today.”
“The essential first step is to think for yourself. Only by seeing our world anew, as fresh and strange as it was to the ancients who saw it first, can we both re-create it and preserve it for the future.”
“The food pyramid that told us to eat low fat and enormous amounts of grains was probably more a product of lobbying by Big Food than real science; its chief impact has been to aggravate our obesity epidemic.”
Whether you are interested in business, politics, philanthropy, or ways to seek success, Peter Thiel is a worthy study.
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