Incredibly Insightful Words From Peter Thiel’s CS183 Class, via Blake Masters

Here is an incredibly insightful thought from Peter Thiel on progress and innovation.

Teaching vertical progress or innovation is almost a contradiction in terms. Education is fundamentally about going from 1 to n. We observe, imitate, and repeat. Infants do not invent new languages; they learn existing ones. From early on, we learn by copying what has worked before.

That is insufficient for startups. Crossing T’s and dotting I’s will get you maybe 30% of the way there. (It’s certainly necessary to get incorporation right, for instance. And one can learn how to pitch VCs.) But at some point you have to go from 0 to 1—you have to do something important and do it right—and that can’t be taught. Channeling Tolstoy’s intro to Anna Karenina, all successful companies are different; they figured out the 0 to 1 problem in different ways. But all failed companies are the same; they botched the 0 to 1 problem.

What is he saying?

Peter is saying this doesn’t lead to innovation: “From early on, we learn by copying what has worked before.” Innovation cannot be taught and copying leads us nowhere.  Innovation is, by definition, creating the new…  Successful companies figure things out as they go, they learn from small insights early and often.  This is why no two successful companies are exactly the same, since they go from 0 to 1 in different ways.

Read more on Blake’s blog.

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