The Best Quotes from Zero to One by Peter Thiel

A curated list of the most insightful lines from Peter Thiel's brilliant book — Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

Three Focus Points

“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.”

“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.”

“If your product requires advertising or salespeople to sell it, it’s not good enough: technology is primarily about product development, not distribution.”

Reasons To Start Up

“In the most dysfunctional organizations, signaling that work is being done becomes a better strategy for career advancement than actually doing work (if this describes your company, you should quit now).”

“The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete.”

“The single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.”

“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.”

“If you’re less sensitive to social cues, you’re less likely to do the same things as everyone else around you.”

On Group-Think

“Madness is rare in individuals—but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule,”

“What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”

“All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”

On Investing

“Most of a tech company’s value will come at least 10 to 15 years in the future.”

“First, only invest in companies that have the potential to return the value of the entire fund.”

On Tactics

“The road doesn’t have to be infinite after all. Take the hidden paths.”

“If you’re deciding whether to bring someone on board, the decision is binary. Ken Kesey was right: you’re either on the bus or off the bus.”

“Unless you have perfectly conventional beliefs, it’s rarely a good idea to tell everybody everything that you know.”

On Fighting

“Anyone would fight for things that matter; true heroes take their personal honor so seriously they will fight for things that don’t matter.”

“Sometimes you do have to fight. Where that’s true, you should fight and win.”

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