49 Quotes from Zero To One book by Peter Thiel

Hello friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - Zero to One by Peter Thiel.

Zero to One has been described as a book about how you can find singular ways to create new things.

Introduction Quotes

Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won't make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won't create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren't learning from them. - Zero to One, Introduction

Technology is miraculous because it allows us to do more with less, ratcheting up our fundamental capabilities to a higher level. - Zero to One, Introduction

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. - Zero to One, Introduction

Chapter 1-3 Quotes

Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius. - Zero to One, Chapter 1

No one can predict the future exactly, but we know two things: it's going to be different, and it must be rooted in today's world. - Zero to One, Chapter 1

If every one of India's hundreds of millions of households were to live the way Americans already do - using only today's tools - the result would be environmentally catastrophic. Spreading old ways to create wealth around the world will result in devastation, not riches. In a world of scarce resources, globalization without new technology is unsustainable. - Zero to One, Chapter 1

Dot-com mania was intense but short - 18 months of insanity from September 1998 to March 2000. It was a Silicon Valley gold rush: there was money everywhere, and no shortage of exuberant, often sketchy people to chase it. [...] But it's hard to blame people for dancing when the music was playing; irrationality was rational given that appending ".com" to your name could double your value overnight. - Zero to One, Chapter 2

If your product requires advertising or salespeople to sell it, it's not good enough - Zero to One, Chapter 2

The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself. - Zero to One, Chapter 2

creating value is not enoughCreating value is not enough - you also need to capture some of the value you create. - Zero to One, Chapter 3

The lesson for entrepreneurs is clear: if you want to create and capture lasting value, don't build an undifferentiated commodity business. - Zero to One, Chapter 3

Entrepreneurs are always biased to understate the scale of competition, but that is the biggest mistake a startup can make. The fatal temptation is to describe your market extremely narrowly so that you dominate it by definition. - Zero to One, Chapter 3

In the real world outside economic theory, every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot. [...] All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition. - Zero to One, Chapter 3

Chapter 4-6 Quotes

Winning is better than losing, but everybody loses when the war isn't one worth fighting. - Zero to One, Chapter 4

If you focus on near-term growth above all else, you miss the most important question you should be asking: will this business still be around a decade from now? - Zero to One, Chapter 5

As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic advantage. Anything less than an order of magnitude better will probably be perceived as a marginal improvement and will be hard to sell, especially in an already crowded market. - Zero to One, Chapter 5

Always err on the side of starting too small. The reason is simple: it's easier to dominate a small market than a large one. If you think your initial market might be too big, it almost certainly is. - Zero to One, Chapter 5

Sequencing markets correctly is underrated, and it takes discipline to expand gradually. The most successful companies make the core progression - to first dominate a specific niche and then scale to adjacent markets - a part of their founding narrative. - Zero to One, Chapter 5

Instead of pursuing many-sided mediocrity and calling it "well-roundedness," a definite person determines the one best thing to do and then does it. Instead of working tirelessly to make herself indistinguishable, she strives to be great at something substantive - to be a monopoly of one. - Zero to One, Chapter 6

Making small changes to things that already exist might lead you to a local maximum, but it won't help you find the global maximum. - Zero to One, Chapter 6

intelligent design works bestDarwinism may be a fine theory in other contexts, but in startups, intelligent design works best. - Zero to One, Chapter 6

A business with a good definite plan will always be underrated in a world where people see the future as random. - Zero to One, Chapter 6

Chapter 7-9 Quotes

Whenever you shift from the substance of a business to the financial question of whether or not it fits into a diversified hedging strategy, venture investing starts to look a lot like buying lottery tickets. And once you think that you're playing the lottery, you've already psychologically prepared yourself to lose. - Zero to One, Chapter 7

Life is not a portfolio: not for a startup founder, and not for any individual. An entrepreneur cannot "diversify" herself: you cannot run dozens of companies at the same time and then hope that one of them works out well. Less obvious but just as important, an individual cannot diversify his own life by keeping dozens of equally possible careers in ready reserve. - Zero to One, Chapter 7

You should focus relentlessly on something you're good at doing, but before that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future. - Zero to One, Chapter 7

Very few people take unorthodox ideas seriously today, and the mainstream sees that as a sign of progress. We can be glad that there are fewer crazy cults now, yet that gain has come at great cost: we have given up our sense of wonder at secrets left to be discovered. - Zero to One, Chapter 8

If you think something hard is impossible, you'll never even start trying to achieve it. Belief in secrets is an effective truth. - Zero to One, Chapter 8

many more secrets left to findThere are many more secrets left to find, but they will yield only to relentless searchers. There is more to do in science, medicine, engineering, and in technology of all kinds. [...] But we will never learn any of these secrets unless we demand to know them and force ourselves to look. - Zero to One, Chapter 8

The best entrepreneurs know this: every great business is built around a secret that's hidden from the outside. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator. - Zero to One, Chapter 8

As a founder, your first job is to get the first things right, because you cannot build a great company on a flawed foundation. - Zero to One, Chapter 9

choosing a co-founderChoosing 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. - Zero to One, Chapter 9

If you want [...] free rein from your board, blow it up to giant size. If you want an effective board, keep it small. - Zero to One, Chapter 9

Cash is attractive. It offers pure optionality: once you get your paycheck, you can do anything you want with it. However, high cash compensation teaches workers to claim value from the company as it already exists instead of investing their time to create new value in the future. - Zero to One, Chapter 9

Stories of startup chefs becoming millionaires notwithstanding, people often find equity unattractive. It's not liquid like cash. It's tied to one specific company. And if that company doesn’t succeed, it's worthless. Equity is a powerful tool precisely because of these limitations. Anyone who prefers owning a part of your company to being paid in cash reveals a preference for the long term and a commitment to increasing your company's value in the future. - Zero to One, Chapter 9

Chapter 10-12 Quotes

No company has a culture; every company is a culture. A startup is a team of people on a mission, and a good culture is just what that looks like on the inside. - Zero to One, Chapter 10

Since time is your most valuable asset, it's odd to spend it working with people who don't envision any long-term future together. If you can't count durable relationships among the fruits of your time at work, you haven't invested your time well - even in purely financial terms. - Zero to One, Chapter 10

Don't fight the perk war. Anybody who would be more powerfully swayed by free laundry pickup or pet day care would be a bad addition to your team. Just cover the basics like health insurance and then promise what no others can: the opportunity to do irreplaceable work on a unique problem alongside great people. - Zero to One, Chapter 10

When a startup fails, we often imagine it succumbing to predatory rivals in a competitive ecosystem. But every company is also its own ecosystem, and factional strife makes it vulnerable to outside threats. Internal conflict is like an autoimmune disease: the technical cause of death may be pneumonia, but the real cause remains hidden from plain view. - Zero to One, Chapter 10

Advertising doesn't exist to make you buy a product right away; it exists to embed subtle impressions that will drive sales later. Anyone who can't acknowledge its likely effect on himself is doubly deceived. - Zero to One, Chapter 11

All salesmen are actors: their priority is persuasion, not sincerity. - Zero to One, Chapter 11

Like acting, sales works best when hidden. - Zero to One, Chapter 11

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. - Zero to One, Chapter 11

Humans and computers are not just more or less powerful than each other - they're categorically different. - Zero to One, Chapter 12

Watson, Deep Blue, and ever-better machine learning algorithms are cool. But the most valuable companies in the future won't ask what problems can be solved with computers alone. Instead, they'll ask: how can computers help humans solve hard problems? - Zero to One, Chapter 12

best problems to work onDoing something different is what's truly good for society - and it's also what allows a business to profit by monopolizing a new market. The best projects are likely to be overlooked, not trumpeted by a crowd; the best problems to work on are often the ones nobody else even tries to solve. - Zero to One, Chapter 13

Chapter 13-14 Quotes

An entrepreneur can't benefit from macro-scale insight unless his own plans begin at the micro-scale. - Zero to One, Chapter 13

A unique founder can make authoritative decisions, inspire strong personal loyalty, and plan ahead for decades. Paradoxically, impersonal bureaucracies staffed by trained professionals can last longer than any lifetime, but they usually act with short time horizons. - Zero to One, Chapter 14

The lesson for business is that we need founders. If anything, we should be more tolerant of founders who seem strange or extreme; we need unusual individuals to lead companies beyond mere incrementalism. - Zero to One, Chapter 14

The single greatest danger for a founder is to become so certain of his own myth that he loses his mind. But an equally insidious danger for every business is to lose all sense of myth and mistake disenchantment for wisdom. - Zero to One, Chapter 14

Cited Quotes

Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche, as quoted in Zero to One, Chapter 2

Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances. Strong men believe in cause and effect. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in Zero to One, Chapter 6

Victory awaits him who has everything in order - luck, people call it. - Roald Amundsen, as quoted in Zero to One, Chapter 6