Jeff Lerner Review by Micaela

Review by Micaela

Finding the right mentor in your field is critical but can be difficult. Here's how you do it.

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I’m going to go out on a limb here…

...and say what I’m talking about today is one of the most valuable things you can invest your time (and money if you want to) in for yourself AND your business.

Finding the right mentor changed everything for me.

To this day, they continue to help me grow, challenge myself, and gain a fresher perspective I could never find elsewhere.

They are so important if you want to take your life and business to the next levels.

So, what does a mentor look like? What boxes do they need to tick? Where do you find them? How do you connect with them? Why do you need one?


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Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Peter Thiel (Author), Blake Masters (Author, Narrator), Random House Audio (Publisher)

4.6 out of 5 stars

11,549 ratings

#1 Best Seller in Starting a Business

Every single moment in business is only once in a lifetime.

A new Bill Gates will not build an operating system. the next Larry Page or Sergey Brin will not develop an internet search engine. The future Mark Zuckerberg won't create a social network. If you're replicating these men and not taking lessons from their work.

It's much easier to duplicate a model instead of creating something entirely fresh: doing something that we know how accomplish takes us one step further and then adds an element of something that is familiar. When we make something completely new, we move from zero to one. The process of creating is unique, as is the moment when it is created, and the outcome is unusual and new.

Progression is a result of the monopoly of power and it is not competition.

If you can do something that isn't been done before and can achieve it more effectively than anyone else, then you've got an exclusive right - and each company is successful precisely because it's an exclusive one. However, the more you engage in competition and the more you are identical to the rest of us. From the games of formal education to the obsession of corporate executives of outdoing competitors and destroying the profits of individuals, businesses and the entire society.

Zero To One is about building businesses that can create new products and services. It is based on what Peter Thiel has learned directly as co-founder at PayPal along with Palantir and later as an investor in a variety of startups that include Facebook as well as SpaceX. The most effective method Thiel has observed is that successful individuals find worth in the unexpected They do this by analyzing business using fundamental principles rather than formulas. What do you think Mark do? Question: What valuable company is there no one developing?

Konstantinos Papakonstantinou

5.0 out of 5 stars

The 4 minutes that will help you decide if this book is for you

Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2015

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The first time I read the book, I didn't find it extremely insightful or cohesive. But the second time around it made a whole lot more sense. It's like all these connections started firing up. It's truly a great book with contrarian thinking and insights that make you pause. This video highlights some of these key concepts and hopefully will help you make the connections the first time around. It's part of a larger effort to create a completely-free library of compelling books in a handcrafted video format - check it out at and enjoy!

586 people found this helpful


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Rob Galbraith

5.0 out of 5 stars

A life-changing read

Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2020

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This book has been on my Kindle for years and I had heard great things about it, but never took the time to read it until finishing Alexandra Wolfe's book Valley Of The Gods about the Thiel Fellowship (which is worth a read). I was a bit skeptical owing to Peter Thiel, who is tremendously successful but also a famed contrarian with different political leanings from mine. However, after reading this book, I can say it is one of the top 3 most impactful books I have ever read. As an economics major who has worked in corporate America in the financial services sector for 20+ years, Thiel's description of our economy and society is compelling. His insights into how to create something of true value where nothing previously existed - 0 to 1 - are tremendously valuable, particularly in comparison with most of us who work towards improving what already exists - going from 1 to n. Standard economic theory has been solely tested over the past 25 years with the tech book and Great Financial Crisis as well as globalization and our turbulent times and politics today. Although written in 2014 based on lectures by Thiel at Stanford University in #012, the book remains highly relevant in 2020 and really foreshadows much of what has happened over the last 5 years. Simple, quick and easily accessible, my copy is marked up with tons highlights and notes. You won't regret making the investment in time reading this book, but be prepared to be challenged and bring an open mind to refining your own views, regardless of whether you wholeheartedly agree or disagree with Thiel.

14 people found this helpful


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5.0 out of 5 stars

A great book for microcap investors

Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2016

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Have you ever read an article or book that defined something that you’ve abstractly believed for years? When you read it you let out an affirmative mental “aha!”. I had one of these moments recently when I read Zero to One by Peter Thiel. This book helped shape and better define my investment strategy.

Far too often I see a microcap company’s investor presentation start off with some enormous addressable market ($20 billion, $100 billion, etc) and what follows is “If we just capture 2%….”. This has always annoyed me because in many ways the worst thing an undercapitalized public microcap can do is try to attack a huge highly competitive market.

In Zero to One, Peter Thiel talks about how small emerging companies/and investors need to take the opposite approach. In simple terms, aim for monopoly, competition is for losers. Monopolies have far greater profits, pricing power, and ability to think long-term. For small companies like microcaps to be a monopoly they need to focus on dominating a small market that is expanding, and then further grow into other complimentary markets. “Capitalism is premised on the accumulation of capital, but under perfect competition all profits get competed away.” When a company dominates a market (large or small) it is much more profitable and valuable then one owning 1% of a large competitive market.

When I look back at some of the best microcap performers they too had this characteristic of dominating a small market that is expanding rapidly. These companies normally have high organic growth rates, profitability, and pricing power. These powerhouse businesses can fund high rates of growth from internal cash flows. Their market leadership and profitability allows them to make longer-term strategic decisions that provide an even wider moat.

54 people found this helpful


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D. House

5.0 out of 5 stars

Will become a classic on how to build a remarkable (not ordinary) new enterprise.

Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2017

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This is an excellent book. Not many people can be entrepreneurs, but I believe this book could inspire many and it can certainly guide one to a more open-minded approach. Peter Thiel shows us that unconventional thinking (i.e. zero to one), is absolutely required to succeed with a new business. Conventional thinking (for instance that competition is unavoidable (if you have something proprietary a la apple, it IS AVOIDABLE) , that competition is wonderful and necessary {but actually it is NOT}), is the linear approach (go from 1 to 1.1). Conventional means copy others and when you do that you have to compete mainly by cutting prices. The leading businesses truly innovate (and everyone else follows or stay behind). I started reading a library copy but realized I want to own it because I have to read it slowly many times like a good wine. The copy that I received is in great condition; good deal, thanks!

26 people found this helpful


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Matthew Morine


5.0 out of 5 stars

A Needed Book for All Organizations

Reviewed in the United States on October 10, 2016

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As a minister, I am always looking for interesting business books that can translate into the world of ministry and congregation. Sometimes great books appear, but sometimes these books do not translate well. This book caused me to think deeply about the role of church, and how can we create a future through the church. There are books about running a congregation, and this book causes you to think through the future of your congregation. Let me say it quickly, this is a great book to read. The book is full of wisdom in leading an organization to the future. One must remember that we are leading congregations that will be alive and growing in the next century if it exists. Here is some wisdom from the book. "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." "Each company was obsessed with defeating its rivals, precisely because there were no substantive differences to focus on. Amid all the tactical questions— Who could price chewy dog toys most aggressively? Who could create the best Super Bowl ads?— these companies totally lost sight of the wider question of whether the online pet supply market was the right space to be in. Winning is better than losing, but everybody loses when the war isn’t one worth fighting." When I think through this question, and think through what is happening in the churches of Christ, I wonder about the wisdom of following after the community church movement to create vitality within our congregations. On a practical measure, this strategy seems like falling into the trap that Thiel is warning us about. Instead of this approach, perhaps, simple, discipleship, and going back to the bible is something that people will love more than another Christian concert on Sunday morning. Here is another quote. "As you craft a plan to expand to adjacent markets, don’t disrupt: avoid competition as much as possible." Think about this approach in your evangelism. Think back about Saddleback Sam, this is something that was taking place, but than apply this to your context. Instead of an approach of a shotgun, where is the rifle opportunity to reach people in your congregation with the gospel? Here is another. "Actually, a huge board will exercise no effective oversight at all; it merely provides cover for whatever microdictator actually runs the organization. If you want that kind of free rein from your board, blow it up to giant size. If you want an effective board, keep it small." Now apply this to your situation within an eldership. Think through this one too. "However, anyone who doesn’t own stock options or draw a regular salary from your company is fundamentally misaligned. At the margin, they’ll be biased to claim value in the near term, not help you create more in the future." When we let the right people have too much influence in a congregation, without skin in the game ideals, we are stopping the progress of a congregation. There is much more I could share, but this book really got me thinking about the future of church. It might help you too.

18 people found this helpful


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Michael J. Kerrigan

5.0 out of 5 stars

Creating Value by Questioning Conventional Thinking

Reviewed in the United States on October 25, 2017

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There are many excellent reasons to purchase and enjoy Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, Notes on Startups.

For starters, going from zero to one or intensive (vertical) progress means doing new things. Vertical progress is harder to imagine because it requires doing something no one else has done. In short, doing new things is wiser than copying things that work. Thiel is best in questioning conventional thinking for he advises a start up must question received ideas and rethink business from scratch.

Two conventional beliefs Thiel asks us to question are monopolies and competition. “Creative monopoly means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creator. Competition mean no profits for anybody, no meaningful differentiation, and a struggle for survival…. The more we compete, the less we gain."

The book offers entrepreneurs many lessons learned but the best suggestion I offer is if you have little time but make sure you read chapter seven, Follow the Money. In my opinion, this chapters offers the key to successful venture capitalists by understanding the Pareto Principle, which Thiel explains as the "power law of venture capital," so named because exponential equations describe severely unequal distributions i.e. the 80 /20 rule.

What a refreshing read teaching us how to create value.

10 people found this helpful


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Umer Vakil

5.0 out of 5 stars

Concise and Clear. Great Insights with special illustrations for abstract concepts.

Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2018

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There are two primary things that I learned from this book, among many smaller lessons. First, it made me reinterpret conventional theories about how the marketplace works - how technology is more important than globalization since globalization simply multiplies the existing benefits of technology - which is unsustainable in a scare resource world, whereas technology is the actual driver of wealth creation - creating ways to innovate new products and services to find optimal uses for existing resources. This is an important thought to keep in your mind when hearing the endless benefits when the buzzword globalization is mentioned.

It also fundamentally shaped my view on the Economics 101 theory of perfect competition being the ideal state for an economy where the consumer benefits and the quality of the product is maximized when individual firms enter the market. Thiel brings up the important point that in the long run this trend eventually means that no firm makes an economic profit. He provides the alternative of the innovative monopoly that has the ability to raise money and make long term profits to innovate - a point interesting absent in generic economic textbooks that describe monopolies as entities that utilize their market position to impose predatory pricing.

Apart from these two broad and macro insights - he offers a lot of practical advise that come as a corollary from his POV on competition. This advise is basically: don't focus on competition, focus on innovation - the history of firms show that competitive wars often lead to destruction of both parties, especially when a third, more innovative party joins the frey and overtakes both. Competitive parties also lose out when focusing on other firms in the market and ignoring where the market itself is going - the prime example as online pet food sales firms in the late 90s.

The other piece of practical advise is how to strategically invest in firms as a venture capital or investment company by correctly identifying the probability distributions that successful firms follow. That is, that the success of large firms usually depend on extreme power laws - with the winner takes all effects being MUCH larger than what people normally interpret them to be.

Apart from all his general advise and general musings, he communicates his points through (non-generic or textbookish) illustrations, especially when dealing with very abstract ideas - with incredible clarity in a way that cannot adequately be captured by words alone.

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Herve Lebret

5.0 out of 5 stars

Thiel has more wise things to teach you than just crazy though brilliant visions.

Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2015

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I have been reading Thiel‘s Zero to One in the last days. And after a compilation of his class notes last year, here are a few more comments. His book is as good as his notes but some readers may be puzzled. It’s not a book about how to build start-ups. (For this read Horowitz or Blank) “This book offers no formula for success. The paradox of teaching entrepreneurship is that such a formula necessarily cannot exist; because every innovation is new and unique, no authority can prescribe in concrete terms how to be innovative. Indeed, the single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.” [Page 2]

Thiel is a strong believer in exceptional achievements, in innovation just like in art or science. “The entrepreneurs who stuck with Silicon Valley learned four big lessons from the dot-com crash that still guide business thinking today:

1. Make incremental advances

2. Stay lean and flexible

3. Improve on the competition

4. Focus on products, not sales.

These lessons have become dogma in the startup world. (…) And yet the opposite principles are probably more correct:

1. It is better to risk boldness than trivaility

2. A bad plan is better than no plan

3. Competitive markets destroy profits

4. Sales matters just as much as product.“

[Pages 20-21]

There is one point where I disagree with Thiel. Though I tend to be convinced by his argument that monopoly is good and competition is bad – read Thiel with care for the subtlety of his arguments – I do not think he is right when he writes [page 33]: “Monopolies drive progress because the promise of years or even decades of monopoly profits provides a powerful incentive to innovate”. I prefer Levine and Boldrin. Now I do believe that established players are displaced by new players – not competitors – who innovate when the champions who have become dinosaurs stop being creative.

Thiel does not believe in luck. “You are not a lottery ticket” and I agree that you can minimize uncertainty by carefully planning and probably by adapting too. He still quotes [page 59] Buffett who considers himself “a member of the lucky sperm club and a winner of the ovarian lottery”. He also quotes Bezos with his “incredible planetary alignment” (which has not much to do with luck either). According to Thiel. success is never accidental.

I also like his piece about founders: “Bad decisions made early on – if you choose the wrong partners or hire the wrong people, for example – are very hard to correct after they are made. It may take a crisis on the order of bankruptcy before anybody will even try to correct them. As a founder your first job is to get the first things right, because you cannot build a great company on a flawed foundation. When you start something, the first and most crucial decision you make is whom to start it with. Choosing a co-founder is like getting married, and founder conflict is just as ugly as divorce. Optimism abounds at the start of every relationship. It’s unromantic to think soberly about what could go wrong, so people don’t. But if the founders develop irreconcilable differences, the company becomes the victim.” [page 108]

Ands now about sales: “In engineering a solution either works or fails. [Sales is different]. This strikes engineers as trivial if not fundamentally dishonest. They know they 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 miss is that it takes hard work to makes sales look easy. Sales is hidden. All salesmen are actors: their priority is persuasion, not sincerity. That’s why the word “salesman” can be a slur and the used car dealer is our archetype of shadiness. But we react negatively to awkward, obvious salesmen – that is, the bad ones. There’s a wide range of sales ability: there are many gradations between novices, experts and masters. […] Like acting, sales works best when hidden. This explains why almost everyone whose job involves distribution – whether they’re in sales, marketing, or advertising – has a job title that has nothing to do with those things: account executive, bus. dev, but also investment banker, politician. There’s a reason for these re-descriptions: none of us wants to be reminded when we’re being sold. […] The engineer’s grail is a product great enough that “it sells itself”. But anyone who would actually say this about a real product must be lying: either he’s delusional (lying to himself) or he’s selling something (and thereby contradicting himself). […] It’s better to think of distribution as something essential to the design of your product. 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.” [Pages 128-130] And if you do not like it said this way, watch HBO’s Silicon Valley episode 15… I may come with more comments when I am finished with this great book.

In fact I have... and here are a few more comments, less about entrepreneurship than about social issues. Whatever the reputation of Thiel in Silicon Valley as a possible Libertarian, there were a couple of topics he addresses very convincingly. He is not a pure Contrarian. He disagrees with mainstream fashion in a very serious manner. Here are a couple of examples:

– The machine will not replace humankind

Yes computers have made impressive progress in the recent decades, but not to the point of replacing mankind. He shows very convincingly through the cases of Paypal and Palantir [pages 144-148] that computers cannot solve automatically tough issues but are only (excellent and critical) complements to human beings. Even the Google experiment of recognizing cats “seems impressive – until you remember that an average four-year-old can do it flawlessly” [page 143]. He finishes his chapter about Man and Machine this way: “But even if strong AI is a real possibility rather than an imponderable mystery, it won’t happen anytime soon: replacement by computers is a worry for the 22nd century. Indefinite fears about the far future shouldn’t stop us from making definite plans today. Luddites claim that we shouldn’t build the computers that might replace people someday; crazed futurists argue that we should. These two positions are mutually exclusive but they are not exhaustive: there is room in between for sane people to build a vastly better world in the decades ahead. As we find new ways to use computers, they won’t just get better at the kinds of things people already do: they’ll help us to do what was previously unimaginable” [pages 150-151]. You will not be surprised I prefer this to Kurweil views.

– Greentech was a bubble and it was obvious from day 1.

I was always puzzled with greentech/cleantech. Why are people so excited about the promise to solve an important problem when we do not have any solution. Thiel is far tougher. First he shows the obvious: it was a bubble. Then he analyzes this industry through his “zero to one” arguments.

“Most cleantech companies crashed because they neglected one or more of the seven questions that every business must answer:

– Engineering: can you create a breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?

– Timing: is now the right time to start your particular business?

– Monopoly: are you starting with a big share of a small market?

– People: do you have the right team?

– Distribution: do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?

– Durability: will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?

– Secret: have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

If you do not have answers to these questions, you’ll run into lots of “bad luck” and your business will fail. If you nail all seven, you’ll master fortune and succeed. Even getting five or six correct might work. But the striking thing about the cleantech bubble was that people were starting companies with zero good answers – and that meant hoping for a miracle” [page 154]. What’s next? Fintech?

8 people found this helpful


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Brad Revell

5.0 out of 5 stars

Great read and very relevant to entrepreneurs!

Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2017

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This book has been on my list for the last couple of years and comes highly recommended. Unfortunately I haven't got around to it and must admit I wasn't interested in reading it given Thiel's involvement in politics during the 2016 Presidential Election. With that being said I did get into it early in 2017.

Wow, what a book it was though! The stories and lessons from Thiel were refreshing with so many tidbits, ideas and approaches to entrepreneurship enabling you to take your business from zero to one.

Many of us dream of building billion dollar businesses and Thiel believes it is possible. It does comes with luck and timing which are both hard in this day and age. What he does provide though is a number of factors, questions and considerations that one can work through and think about when generating a business plan with the vision of building a idea for a product and service.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those wanting to start a business or just to get a feel of what it would be like to be an entrepreneur. It is written by a billionaire who has successfully built two major corporations and has likewise invested in very successful organisations (namely Facebook).

Three key takeaways from the book:

1. Monopolists can think about things other than making money; non-monopolists cannot. Monopolists have four key advantages: 1. Proprietary technology, 2. Network Effect, 3. Economies of Scale and 4. Branding.

2. The biggest secret of a VC Fund is that it's best investment outperforms all other investments combined. Interesting fact but it makes sense given the results of IPOs over the last 10 - 15 years.

3. Every great business is built around a secret that is hidden from the outside. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world and when you share that secret the recipient becomes your co-conspirator.

7 people found this helpful


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Jordan Mezoff

5.0 out of 5 stars

Surpassed Expectations

Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2018

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This was more than a self-congratulatory guide through how Peter Thiel became successful, like seemingly so many other books from successful people. This seems to take a very real and genuine look into how Peter Thiel views the world (obviously through his own words), the same worldview that allowed him to start and invest in very successful companies as well as make billions in the process.

I will admit that I had a few, though exceedingly limited, gripes with his point of view. His apparent disdain for things like globalization and incremental (rather than radical) improvement seem to unfairly discount how the value of adding more and more players to an increasingly better starting point can lead to the creation of even more of these singular start ups that can bring game changing innovation to reality. I also think his comments on how competition prohibits companies from enjoying economic profit, thus ultimately must be bad in the long-run, is based on what seems a faulty notion around the meaning of economic profit - it’s the ability to generate profitable returns that exceed their required risk-adjusted return (also known as ‘alpha’ in the financial markets space). That would mean there’s more than plenty of opportunities to profit in incremental improvements, but it is unlikely to do so in a way that exceeds the risk-adjusted return. Given the type of moonshot efforts he seems to support here, that would naturally seem to require these monopolistic margin / exponential growth characteristics he advocates.

Those minor gripes aside, I think he’s put together an amazing book on the principles and guidelines that are exceedingly valuable for creating large-scale, positive societal impacts and monetary value.


5.0 out of 5 stars

Thiel's Advice To The Next Generation Of Visionaries

Reviewed in the United States on November 26, 2016

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Thiel in "Zero To One" brings all his past experience, as entrepreneur, venture capitalist and visionary, together as he presents his thoughts and advice on how to build a better future and world.

Overall Thiel delivers well on his purpose. He cites past experience, reasearch, thought experiments, future projections and more as he makes his case for what it will take to build a better future and what it would likely look like. He's extremely articulate (thanks in part to his philosophy and law background), funny, insightful and almost never boring. I picked up the book once and didn't set it down until I was done reading all of it (it's that good).

With that being said though I'm not sure exactly who this book is for or even if it has a target audience. Theil himself says that the book is not meant to be a strict "do x and get y" (paraphrasing here). This is because often the best entrepreneurial ideas aren't achieved by sitting around and thinking I should start a company and then trying to find an idea. They come from people recognizing their is a real unmet need or opportunity in the world that is best achieved through entrepunurship. The best entrepreneurs are often "accidental" ones.

I feel one purpose, of the book, is to put some thoughts in the back of your mind that may come to use at a later time. Or if you already have a business, or have been pondering one, and need some self help in acheiveing that vision. It's also good for those that are intellectually stimulated and or are dreamers visoniarys themselves.

Ultimately though I feel, at least for Thiel himself, the book is like a letter to his younger self. If he could back to when he graduating high school or college and had his whole life ahead of him the advice he would give himself. So in some ways its more than just about entrepreneurship, there's a little self help advice mixed in with it all. Some advice in general... listen to people when they want to tell you what they wish they knew when they were your age. You can avoid alot of mistakes and mature faster that way.

I recommend this book and I feel most people can take something from it. And hopefully it will be puzzle piece in helping you push for your vision in the world.

5/5 Stars!


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Brett W.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Great insights

Reviewed in the United States on October 25, 2016

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I loved Peter Thiel's original way of thinking. This book shows how a contrarian viewpoint is an essential tool to building a great business. He also walks through other elements that are necessary to create a monopoly, which he argues is key if you want to escape the constant battlefield of a competitive market. He almost advocates against the typical lean startup strategy of improving product through iteration, improvisation and incremental improvement. He instead recommends that you design a product strategy with deliberate intention and planning (and capital), so that you can build a unique product that is 10x better than your competitors. Only in this way can you leapfrog ahead of your competition to become the dominant player in your market.

For a 150-page book, Peter Thiel packs in a lot of great ideas. I'm very glad I read the book, and would recommend it for any entrepreneur. Because his book probably applies best for entrepreneurs who have both significant experience in an industry and access to substantial capital, if you have less experience of fewer resources I'd recommend reading other books on entrepreneurship as well to get more viewpoints. This author's ideas might be hard to implement for a smaller company, but they will no doubt inspire you to think bigger.

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Rex Venatus

5.0 out of 5 stars

How to build a monopoly business 101 (7 steps required)

Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2017

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5 stars for originality. 2.5 stars for independence and objectivity. Overall 5 stars for utility and instruction.

Get the most out of this book by writing plenty of notes of your own after a critical examination of his points.

Peter Thiel owns the Thiel Foundation and Founders Fund, and is actively encouraging young and daring people to drop out of school to found companies. If they fail in the end, they can always go back to school with "startup founder" in their resume. A noble endeavour, but readers are reminded to be aware of his agenda.

Also, Peter preaches from a perspective of the successful co-founder and CEO of PayPal. All his discourses and elaboration are tinged by his way of seeing the world. Is his narrative relevant to current macro and micro picture of startups and potential monopoly businesses? Caveat lector.

I for one, thinks Peter has a high level of believability due to his real world experience of venture capital and entrepreneurship, as well a demonstrably decent grasp of macroeconomics. Also, his points about business thinking rhymes with that of Clayton Christensen, the author of The Innovator's Dillema. And finally, if one were to rethink the concepts highlighted by Peter in the book using first principles reasoning, we can come to roughly the same conclusion as Peter, most of the time.

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5.0 out of 5 stars

Whatever you think of Peter Thiel now, this book is a great read

Reviewed in the United States on October 21, 2020

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I picked this book up in the summer of 2020 as I was considering a career change from management consulting to a startup. There was a section that deeply resonated with me where he talks about baby boomers steering towards jobs in banking, law, and consulting v. taking greater risks and breaking new ground.

Over any objections you have to Peter Thiel's political leanings, I think this book is a worthwhile read. His Randian worldview occasionally seeps into the pages of the book, but at it's core it's a book about how to build companies that will solve problems in radically new ways.


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5.0 out of 5 stars

Must read for people considering starting a tech start-up

Reviewed in the United States on May 14, 2017

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I read this because lots of super-successful people from Tools of Titans recommended it. It was a great decision. Lots of very straightforward, practical advice from someone who has been closely involved with or responsible for some majorly successful tech companies.

Many of the things he says run counter to some conventional "lean start-up" accepted wisdom. Given his pedigree and the success of the PayPal Mafia, I confide in him over them.

I am in the process of starting a tech start-up, and am incredibly happy I read this. If things go the way that I anticipate and hope, I plan on thanking Mr. Thiel one day for writing this book and inspiring me to take the course I did.

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Dave Stagner

5.0 out of 5 stars

One of the two great entrepreneur books from this year

Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2014

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This is one of two great entrepreneurship books I've read this year - the other is "The Hard Thing About Hard Things". Unlike that book, this one is invigorating, rather than unnerving. I found myself marking quotes all over, nodding in agreement not because the insights were so stunning, but because they were phrased so eloquently.

The big takeaway, and where I'd like to see this book make a pop-culture impact, is questioning the very nature of capitalism and monopolies. We're taught (and our politicians of all stripes praise) that competition is the ideal of capitalism. But as Thiel points out, there is no profit in a perfectly competitive market. Innovation doesn't come from relentlessly driving down costs to compete with other nearly identical businesses - if anything, that's bad for consumers rather than good. Following on this, 19th century style scarcity monopolies are a disease of a competitive market. But if the monopoly is due to product uniqueness or superiority rather than suppressing competition, then it's good for consumers and good for business. You get monopoly profits but without cheating anyone. And the cure for these monopolies as they become problematic is a new monopoly that kills off the old one by discovering new markets.

As for the rest, the Zero-to-One of real innovation - creating something that didn't exist before, rather than the one-to-n of refining existing products - is the real driver of economic growth and effective improvements to civilization. That's a fundamental point, one that should be part of our general economic dialogue. Society would be better if we acknowledged the truths in this book.

But, as Thiel asks... "What important truth do very few people agree with you on?" This is his answer.

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5.0 out of 5 stars

As Good As People Say

Reviewed in the United States on June 29, 2018

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This is one of those books that entrepreneurs and people in the startup world like to reference. I finally got around to reading it and see why it's so popular. His views on how competition kills companies and the implication that monopolies are needed for progress makes sense. It puts into perspective why really influential companies get big fast. Biggest lesson for young people is this - if you want to go the startup route, read this book in high school and absolutely find a trusted team of cofounders. It's virtually impossible to create a billion dollar company as an individual.


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Marianna G.

5.0 out of 5 stars

For anyone wanting to truly succeed in business and life...

Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2014

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Thiel reminds us what we’d learned in Economics 101 about competition and monopoly.

What I had found especially shocking, is a piece of data, Thiel shares when he writes about continued competition and the cost of ‘war’ among and between Bing vs. Google Search, Explorer vs. Chrome, and Office vs. Docs… then in January 2013, Apple coming along and overtaking them all. Apple’s was worth $500 billion while Google and Microsoft were $467 billion combined. However, only three years before, Microsoft and Google were each more valuable than Apple. Playing war game, they competed all their profits away and lost their dominance.

“The lesson for entrepreneurs is clear: if you want to create and capture lasting value, don't build an undifferentiated commodity business.”

In perfect competition, we don’t come up with new ideas, we don’t develop new products that are necessary to continue to develop and grow.

“Even our everyday language suggests we believe in kind of technological bed of history: the division of the world into the so-called developed and developing nations implies that "developed" world has already achieved the achievable, and that poorer nations just need to catch up.”

Thiel argues that technology (technology defined as any new and better way of doing things, not specific to IT) matters more and we need to focus on coming up with new things that do not exist today.

“Creative monopolies aren't just good for the rest of society; they're powerful engines for making it better.”

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Mark P. McDonald

5.0 out of 5 stars

A book that gives you new ways of thinking about the world

Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2014

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One of the best business books for 2014. Thiel shares the way he looks at the world without over pontificating his beliefs. People reading this book to understand the mind of an accomplished venture capitalist may be disappointed. There is not start-up or investment recipes in this book, rather you get a sense of how Thiel sees the world, which is in a different way.

Reading this book to understand those differneces and how they may change the way you think, is the highest and best use of your time. Highly recommended.


This book is Thiel telling you how he sees the world. The tone can be a bit dismissive, egotistical and illustrates some hubris, particularly as it comes to ideas related to founders and start up companies. Reader will have to look beyond that to see the ideas and frameworks behind the observations and assertions.

This book contains notes, thoughts and discussions of the world presented in a personal and first person view. This is not a policy book, or one filled with prescriptions or recommendations. Readers looking for that will find them selves saying so what to these discussions.

The discussion at the end The Founder's Paradox is perhaps the weakest part of the book as Thiel compares different types of founders and their fortunes. Thiel's respect and admiration for Tesla's Musk gets a little thick.


The book lets you look inside of his mind, to see the way someone thinks differently about a world we all think we understand. We do not need to think like Thiel, but we can benefit from testing our thoughts and plans against some of the ways you look at the world. Thiel's observations regarding seeing things as the union between two forces rather than the intersection was particularly powerful, as was observations about monopoly and size. These ideas and you ability to apply them make this a great book for business thinkers, strategists and leaders.

Chapters about competition, his analysis of the Green "bubble" and money are all well worth reading and considering.

Overall, Highly recommended particularly for strategists, executives and people looking to start something new. If you are stuck in old ways of thinking, then Zero to One will give you some thoughts to shake them loose.


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5.0 out of 5 stars

A great book on startups and corporate management by Peter Thiel

Reviewed in the United States on August 29, 2020

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I ordered this book ahead of its publication in September 2014 knowing Peter Thiel as a first venture backer of Facebook and founding financier of Palantir, the famous analytics company set to debut on NASDAQ. As a technology professional I had already read a lot of writings by Peter Thiel, but this book provides all of his insights in a textbook-like format. Thiel teaches at Stanford University and his teaching style conveys his innovative management thinking in a methodic way. It's very difficult to skim through management books and find solutions to your problems when you need the information at that moment. One of the reasons effective corporate managers tend to be methodic and process oriented to some extent is to be able to handle adversities without any aftereffects. Peter Thiel provides his audience that actionable and goal oriented management method. The goal here is to scale the operations of the companies and teams at the moment of their formation.