Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel is a polarizing but influential figure in Silicon Valley and beyond. As one of PayPal’s co-founders and Facebook’s first investors, Thiel has an impressive legacy. Now the billionaire entrepreneur is helping steer companies to success with his venture capital firm Founders Fund. In Zero to One, Thiel encourages startups to think long-term, and to focus on solving problems that nobody else is solving. Although his contrarian views might alienate many people, few can deny his impact on technology and business.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Zero to One by Peter Thiel


1) Competition is overrated

“Focusing on competition and out-doing others makes us lose sight of the bigger picture. We are so obsessed with competition in our culture that we have internalized it to our core, but it traps us from putting our efforts into more useful and productive places.”

We fail to recognize new opportunities when we only focus on our competition. If you do what everyone else is doing, then you won’t break new ground. Commit yourself to being different and pursuing your own unique path.

2) Think for yourself

“Detach yourself from society and culture. Take a step back and see the world anew. Everything is fresh, strange, and interesting. It’s by approaching things differently and with unique perspectives that we can hope to create amazing things.”

Humans are naturally inclined to imitate each other. But this tendency is detrimental to the success of companies. Become comfortable with contrarian thinking. Question the prevailing norms of society, culture, business and technology.

3) Start with a small market

“Always strive to start out with small market…Pick a market with few or no competitors and set out to dominate that space.”

It’s better to start small and dominate a niche market. In smaller markets, there is less competition and you have more opportunity to dominate that space. Once your company is established, you can expand out into other areas.

4) Make vertical progress

“If you take one typewriter and build 100, you have made horizontal progress. If you have a typewriter and build a word processor, you have made vertical progress.”

Vertical progress means innovating. If you create something original that society has never seen before, you are making vertical progress. Horizontal progress involves working on things that others are already doing.

5) Have a long-term vision

“Starting a business and then constantly evolving and adapting according to demand and metrics is not enough to take us from zero to one. You have to set out to do something original from the beginning, not seek to conform to the market’s fluctuating expectations.”

Peter Thiel believes that the ‘Lean Startup’ movement is overrated. Although adaptability is vital to the success of startups, founders should also be committed to a long-term vision. Entrepreneurs must find the balance in being flexible with their tactics but persistent with their vision.

Mastery by Robert Greene

Robert Greene is the renowned author of books such as The 48 Laws of Power and The 33 Strategies of War. In his book Mastery, Greene lays out the steps involved in mastering a skill . Greene himself is a master at synthesizing ideas and finding patterns. This book contains a great deal of research on both historical and modern figures.

Mastery by Robert Greene

Mastery by Robert Greene


1) Embrace your uniqueness

“You are born with a particular makeup and tendencies that mark you as a piece of fate. It is who you are to the core. Some people never become who they are; they stop trusting in themselves; they conform to the tastes of others, and they end up wearing a mask that hides their true nature. If you allow yourself to learn who you really are by paying attention to that voice and force within you, then you can become what you were fated to become – an individual, a Master.”

Instead of ignoring or suppressing our differences, we should embrace that which makes us unique. There is no one in the world exactly like you. So learn more about yourself and what sets you apart. In order to become a master, you must find the intersection between your natural strengths and potential opportunities.

2) be passionately curious

“Return to your childlike sense of wonder and endless curiosity about all things in order to stimulate your creative energy.”

Everything is interesting. Being curious makes you more engaged with the world. Your curiosity can lead you down new paths and spark original ideas.

3) Pursue an apprenticeship

“The goal of an apprenticeship is not money, a good position, a title, or a diploma, but rather the transformation of your mind and character—the first transformation on the way to mastery. You enter a career as an outsider. You are naïve and full of misconceptions about this new world. Your head is full of dreams and fantasies about the future. Your knowledge of the world is subjective, based on emotions, insecurities, and limited experience. Slowly, you will ground yourself in reality, in the objective world represented by the knowledge and skills that make people successful in it. You will learn how to work with others and handle criticism. In the process you will transform yourself from someone who is impatient and scattered into someone who is disciplined and focused, with a mind that can handle complexity. In the end, you will master yourself and all of your weaknesses.”

To truly master a skill, you should undergo an apprenticeship. Find a mentor and commit to years of training and practice. It takes patience and dedication to develop your abilities.

4) Suffer Fools Gladly

“You must also be able to suffer fools gladly, to deal with the many incompetent and foolish people who will cross your path. Getting angry at people’s foolishness will needlessly drain you of energy and desire.”

Everyone has an opinion. Often times, we have to deal with ignorant individuals who have no idea what they’re talking about. But you have to pick your battles. Don’t engage with everyone who has a problem with your pursuits. Prove people wrong through your actions and accomplishments.

5) Develop your Social Intelligence

“By moving past our usual self-absorption, we can learn to focus deeply on others, reading their behavior in the moment, seeing what motivates them, and discerning any manipulative tendencies. Navigating smoothly the social environment, we have more time and energy to focus on learning and acquiring skills.”

Most of us spend the majority of our lives in our own world. We live in our minds, constantly distracted by recurring thoughts and daydreams. But you must escape this tendency, and focus on those around you. By developing your social intelligence, you can get better at observing others and understanding if they intend to help you or harm you on your journey to mastery.