• Peter Thiel
  • September 10, 2014
    Read, recorded or researched
Peter co-founded PayPal and Palantir. He was the first outside investor in Facebook and authored Zero to One, as well as How to Build the Future.

The Best Points

Peter Thiel
The Tim Ferriss Show


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Squeeze 10 years into 6 months

If you’re planning to do something with your life, if you have a 10-year plan of how to get there, you should ask: why can’t you do this in 6 months? Sometimes, you have to actually go through the complex, 10-year trajectory, but it’s at least worth asking whether that’s the story you’re telling yourself or whether that’s the reality.

Failure isn't a good teacher

I don’t think people learn much from failure. I think it ends up being quite damaging and demoralizing to people in the long run. My sense is that the death of every business is a tragedy.

Trends aren't your friends

Once you have a trend, you have many people doing it. And once you have many people doing something, you have lots of competition and little differentiation. You, generally, never want to be part of a popular trend. What I prefer over trends is a sense of mission. That you are working on a unique problem that people are not solving elsewhere.

The anti-lottery ticket approach

As an investor, once you say that there’s a small probability of a big payoff, a small number times big number normally equals a small number. Once you think in lottery ticket terms, you’ve already psyched yourself into writing checks without thinking and, therefore, losing money. Try the anti-lottery ticket approach, try to be concentrated, that forces you to have high levels of conviction before you write a check of any size. By doing that, I think you’ll do much better.

Convention isn't truth

What do people agree merely by convention, and what is the truth? Maybe the conventions are right, but maybe they’re not. We never want to let a convention be a shortcut for truth. We always need to ask: Is this true? And this is always what I get at with this indirect question; tell me something that’s true that very few people agree with you on.

The future is not always a clear thing. People can be uncertain about it. And when they’re uncertain about the future, they will try to find short cuts like looking at what other people say about the future. In the end, everyone ends up listening to everybody else.