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3 Counterintuitive Ideas from Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Hey Readers,

May this year bring loads and loads of joy, new achievements, and a lot of new inspirations! Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! It’s a cold winter morning and just about to dawn and I can’t shake off Peter Thiel from my subconscious mind. It’s best to pen it down and let you know it can be the year to Question the Conventional Truth…at least that’s the message from Peter as well as successful businesses that are perhaps changing the world as we know it!

It’s such a joy to read Zero to One or study anything that Peter has touched! I wish I could go to Stanford and take his class but you know if beggars were horses, then who will ride? If you are an entrepreneurial soul like me then this book should be on your list to read! Written by the co-founder and CEO of PayPal, and first outside investor in Facebook as well as legendary investor and entrepreneur in Silicon, Peter Thiel. Things get even more interesting in the year, 2002 when he sold his unicorn, PayPal to eBay for a whopping $1.5 Billion. After the sale of PayPal, the original employees, whom Peter had hired and mentored went on to develop companies like LinkedIn, Instagram, Yelp, and YouTube. These billion-dollar companies have fundamentally changed the way we use the internet today! I mean I can’t think of a single day where I don’t open my LinkedIn or Instagram. I presume it’s the same with you, we are practically glued to these platforms for all good reason…that’s the power of these businesses! Well, like in LR class, based on the number of successful companies that Peter Thiel has influenced a groomed, it seems that he knows the secret to build a billion-dollar business as well as building a better future!

Why is Competition for Losers? …We always think competitions are for winners but today we will understand why is it the most myopic mindset that we are conditioned to believe! Know more about such counterintuitive takeaways from Peter Thiel! After reading Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One, I have discovered 3 counterintuitive ways to think about starting a business and building a better future.

Counterintuitive Idea 1 – Bet on a Contrarian Truth

This book talks much about questioning the convention and urging the readers to “Think Out of the Box”. Well, I am an HR by profession so it’s my forte to warm up before delving into any engagement program. Here are one questions for you for starters, try to answer the following question

“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” …it can be anything…

Ok…let’s get into the grove! Steve Jobs knew the truth about how we would use a smartphone in the future. I mean back then coming up with such an idea was more alienating than the COVID virus. Jokes apart, Jobs knew that we didn’t need or want a physical keyboard but almost everyone at that time disagreed with him. Furthermore, businesses like Uber and Airbnb bet on the contrarian truth that you and I would be willing to get in a stranger’s car or stay in a stranger’s house. Hey, there is more…I can’t leave this blog without mentioning Netflix, which by the way bets on the contrarian truth that most of us love to binge-watch movies and series. Essentially, the best answers to the contrarian question reveal a truth about how people will act in the future in ways they are either unwilling to admit right now or are just unaware of!

I know what you must be thinking…why to bet on contrarian truth at all…Well, it’s either that or your business is on the slow track to bankruptcy. Thiel says “All failed companies are the Same”. They failed to escape the competition. When you bet the business on contrarian truth you will dramatically increase your odds of avoiding competition! Mainly because most people will think you are crazy and ignore you long enough for you to build a significant lead in a particular market that will make it hard for anyone to catch you. But here is the word of caution, make sure you bet for contrarian truth whose time has come. So before starting a business, ask yourself, is my success dependent on out-working the competition or being courageous enough to bet on contrarian truth?

Counterintuitive Idea 2 – Mindset for Domination

If you want to start a big business, start by dominating a small market. If there is anything Amazon and Jeff Bezos taught us out of so many business takeaways is the idea of “Domination”.  Well, when Jeff started Amazon, he had the idea of creating an everything store but he didn’t start by building an everything store instead he focused on dominating a small niche market that niche market was online book sales. It was a great initial market to dominate because all books are of roughly the same size and shape. Moreover, book readers are a great target market because they are well-educated and typically have disposable income that they would be able to spend on future goods. This was the coolest idea that we now see booming to its glory as Amazon sells us everything! Since Jeff Bezos could dominate a small niche market, he could generate enough cash flow free of competition to help fund his expansion into the adjacent market like online CD and DVD sales and he had the infrastructure to dominate those markets. So, when starting your business don’t try to get 1% of the billion-dollar market instead try to get 80% of the million markets. Whoever is the first to dominate the most important segment of the market with viral potential will be the last mover in the whole market.

Counterintuitive Idea 3 – Strive to be a Monopoly

Might be thinking, the wait isn’t monopoly bad? Well yeah, monopolies that bully their competitors and take advantage of customers are practically evil. However, if you look around most of the monopolies today don’t act like that. Now, if a business case study is prepared for fresh MBA students, then it is easy to deduce that a monopoly is actually good for the world. Google has a search engine monopoly which allows them to generate so much profit that allows them to give back to society in a big way. If Google didn’t have this monopoly, do you think they would pursue projects like Free Internet for everyone and self-driving cars? When you establish a monopoly, you prevent the competition from eating away from profits and that ensures that you stay in business. If you aim for anything short of being a monopoly you are aiming to go out of business! Similarly, we can witness the brand behavior of other accomplished companies like Apple, Facebook, and Instagram. In order to be unique and establish a monopoly, you should start adding value to people’s lives that they feel associated with you!

Well, this book has more to offer than I can possibly encapsulate! I definitely recommend you give it a shot!


Bibliophile Parul


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Stronger Together!

Hey there, I'm Parul, working in one of the Big 4s of consulting! 💼

By day, I'm decoding the business matrix, but by night, I transform into a book ninja, stealthily navigating the worlds crafted by the greatest authors📚✨


What's the secret sauce to my consulting wizardry, you ask? It's the lessons learned from the pages of both leadership meetings, strategies and bestselling novels 😉


I'm not just crunching numbers; I'm crunching captivating narratives 💖

Buckle up for insights that transcend industries and a blog where business acumen meets the magic of storytelling


#ConsultantLife #BusinessAndBooks 🌟

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