Zero to One (by Peter Thiel) Summary - Chapter 8

The following is a summary of Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future. I do not claim to own any of the book's original work, the following is simply a bulleted summarization with a a few direct quotes. All copyrights and trademarks belong to their respective owners. Chapter 8 - Secrets:
  • There are many things we don’t yet understand
  • “Our contrarian Question: What valuable company is nobody building”
    • Every correct answer is a not yet discovered secret
  • Much of society believes that there are no hard secrets left
    • Thiel says this could be because there are no more geographic locations to discover
  • Four social trends have rooted out belief in secrets:
  1. Incrementalism: We are taught to proceed one step at a time, day by day etc.
    1. If we overachieve, its not on the test and we won’t get credit for it
    2. In exchange for doing exactly as asked you get all the credit (an A+)
  2. Aversion: People are scared to be wrong; secrets are unknown and could be wrong
  3. Complacency: Why search for unknown things if you can be comfortable where you are now?
  4. Flatness: As everyone gets more advanced (caught-up), people view the world as one market
    1. Basically the assumption that everything has been done
    2. No matter what you come up with, someone else has thought of it or tried it
      1. So it is not worth pursuing
  • The Case for Secrets
    • Need to try to find them
    • If one thinks something is impossible; one has to believe in secrets to find the truth
    • Spare capacity is all around us but often ignored
  • How to Find Secrets:
    • Two kinds of secrets:
      • Secrets about people
        • things people don't want to know or don't know about themselves
      • Secrets about nature
        • Exist all around us; undiscovered things about the physical world
    • Best place to look is where no one else is looking
      • “Are there any fields that matter that haven’t been standardized or institutionalized?”
  • What to do with Secrets - Should you tell anyone or keep it to yourself?:
    • Its rarely a good idea to tell everybody everything
    • Only tell whoever you need to and no more
      • There’s always a mean between telling nobody and everybody
      • every great business is built around secrets hidden from the masses
  If you've liked this summary, I highly recommend you get the full book here: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future < Previous Chapter | Overview | Next Chapter > - Alec Kriebel