Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Zero to 1

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.This book is on my reading list for 2015.

For those that don't know, Peter Thiel made billions as co-founder of Paypal and Palantir. This book came from online notes taken by Masters for the CS183 class on startups taught by Thiel at Stanford University in Spring 2012.

Reviews of the book demonstrate some of the book's points.

Forbes: "Businesses succeed better when they differentiate rather than compete. Direct competition drains value as companies beat each other up. Differentiation creates value as companies charge more for desirable products and services that customers can’t get anywhere else. It’s the same principle that forms the basis of brand strategy. We’ve already seen many books on the subject, including 1981′s Positioning, by Jack Trout and Al Ries, and even classical writings on strategy by Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz."

The Atlantic: "It's refreshing to hear a techie extol the virtue of sales, and Thiel is good at explaining both why nerds hate marketers, and why the nerds are wrong. Nerds are skeptical of advertising, marketing, and sales, because they seem superficial," he writes. "They know their own jobs are hard, so when they look at salespeople laughing on the phone with a customer or going to two-hour lunches, they suspect that no real work is being done. If anything, people overestimate the relative difficulty of science and engineering, because the challenges of those fields are obvious. What nerds don't realize is that it also takes hard work to make sales look easy ... If you've invented something new but you haven't invented an effective way to sell it, you have a bad business—no matter how good the product."

One good summary on Medium.

7 questions for Businesses from the book.

I just joined a virtual book club. We just finished Jeff Walker's Launch Book and are working through INfluence right now, but Thiel's book is in my stack for holiday reading. It should be in yours too.

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