I had to get past my knee-jerk aversion to Peter Thiel’s chest-thumping style before I could truly appreciate the brilliance of Zero to One. I stuck it out though, and I’m glad I did. There’s a lot of bravadoes, but there’s also a lot of wisdom in his words—even if you aren’t a Silicon Valley capitalist.
The magnificence of entrepreneurship—of all creative endeavors—is the idea of creating something from nothing. And that’s precisely his point: creating a game-changing company means going from zero to one—from nothing to something, instead of going from something to a slightly better something. In other words, differentiation is the key to company success, and he’s “in your face” about it. (I found myself cheering at this point, and many others.)
Shamefully, I admit: Zero to One is also a book of quotable soundbites. I can’t recall the last time I encountered so many brilliant, bold one-liners. I found myself smiling—applauding, in fact—and making a mental note to jot them down. Equally enjoyable? His willingness to skewer corporate sacred cows and meaningless “MBA-speak.” Like this tired construct: disruption.
Disruption, he says, has been devalued to “a self-congratulatory buzzword for anything posing as something trendy and new.”
There is a tremendous amount to be gained from this book, aside from powerful quotes. It’s a book with insights to be digested and applied—to oneself and to one’s company.
Like this uncomfortable truth:
“Look around. If you don’t see any salespeople, you’re the salesperson.”
Zero to one is a spirited read. Not every idea is fresh—there’s a lot of common knowledge for those in the business of business. But the ‘ahas’ outweigh the ‘ho hums’ by a plentiful factor. This book will find a home on my bookshelf.