What’s your secret?
In his book Zero To One, Peter Thiel asks the question “What one thing do you know that no one else in the world knows? What’s your secret?”
The answer to that question is the secret to starting a successful company.
What Thiel is suggesting is there are things in this world you observe, intuitively know and understand more than anyone else. By peeling apart those layers and understanding where there could be value creation you will find the golden nugget. Then it’s as simple as creating a new company, building the product and releasing it to the world.
What he is also illustrating here is that success comes from ingenuity and uniqueness, not copying others. The world doesn’t need another anonymous messaging app or social network.
It needs your secret.
Do you realize there are things only you know about the world? Most likely there things you continually notice about your everyday life, the city you live in or the technology you use that keep bugging you. There are problems you continually encounter where you might be wishing someone fixes them. Do you maybe see a better way to do them? Do you keep getting frustrated at the same places and times each day? There might be something you can do about it…
Once we come to grips with the magnitude of this reality starting a company becomes a lot different. You now realize each and every one of us have the ability to create successful companies. All it takes is a little focus and observation of the world around you, and then having the fortitude to create a scalable solution.
Today, think about what might not ever be created if you don’t build it?
The headline is true, except for the fact that if I was actually sitting in the Stanford CS 183 class, I would hear Peter Thiel’s voice, not Siri’s.
Yet, I can’t help but smile at the fact that I can highlight any amount of text, sit back, and have my phone read it to me. It’s awesome!
I am aware this functionality can be found in other downloadable apps and is not the first time I could have text to speech. But baked into iOS makes it that much easier and fluid. Just take this as a brief step-back from technology and realize how cool our world of mobile technology has become.
It’s how I have been consuming most of the class notes Blake Masters has graciously been posting on his blog. I am sure (although an afterthought to him) it’s been quite the traffic spike for his blog. These class notes are indeed long reads and when I don’t feel like reading, I just highlight and listen.
How to get Siri to read to you:
1. Have an iPhone 4S
2. Hold finger and highlight any content
3. Select speak.
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.