Success: Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One


Success in your ears! We look at the audio books that can help you reach your dreams.

Audio books are perfect way of educating yourself further in the world of business – while you are cycling through the park, jogging on a treadmill or settling into bed at night, coaches are giving you their expert advice.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor that has certianly known success. He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2012. Masters’ notes on Thiel’s class Computer Science 183: Startup became an internet sensation.

Thiel’s book is subtitled ‘Notes on startups, or how to build the future’ – in it he asks the big questions on the road to success and answers them.

His first question is all about the challenge of the future. He asks: “What important truth do few people agree with you on? Answering this deceptively tricky question is the key to any future of progress–and to building a great business.” It seems to me a better start to the book might well have been his later chapter dedicated to foundations, which suggest that “the decisions you make today will govern what your business looks like from years now”. In short, every entrepreneur has to get a few things right from the start, including a caveat against short-term thinking. He believes “the most important lesson an entrepreneur can learn is to think big but start small”.

One intriguing title for a section is ‘Party Like It’s 1999’, dealing with the dogmas created after the dot-com crash. It certainly continues to haunt us. Thiel says: “The first step to thinking clearly is to question what we think we know about the past.”

He also takes on the tricky problem about how we view competition, seen by many the spur that gets them moving, becoming almost a lifestyle in itself. But he wonders if, in fact, it is holding us back, and suggests that the one key feature that enables companies to innovate is… good old-fashion happiness.

He goes on to handle questions as to whether success is about luck or skill, and how to adopt a more definite attitude and engineer a better future. He advises us to “follow the money” and it will “change your life”.

Other chapters are entitled ‘Secrets’, “learn to find them and see your fortune rise”; ‘The Mechanics of Mafia’, featuring “the PayPal Mafia”; ‘If You Build It, Will They Come?’, the strange conundrum that the best product does not always win; and, a very popular topic among entrepreneurs these, ‘Seeing Green’, “to-date it’s been a huge flop, as entrepreneurs neglected to answer the seven questions that every business must get right”.
Thiel says: “We cannot take for granted that the future will be better, and that means we have to work to build it now.”

It all appears that true success comes back to those foundations.