Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Feature Book Review: Zero to One by Peter Thiel (Billionaire) ピーター・ティール : ゼロ・トゥ・ワン― (億万長者)

This book will make you rethink where modern technology is going, and how it will change any future society. This is not what I expected. More of interest to any reader is how we the people, will change in a more positive way via technology. Maybe I thought this would be a simple one way message by a billionaire. I was wrong. It is a deep reflexion of observations from various startups. It is a great list of notes on AI, Cryptocurrencies, the Internet of things IOT, or any other new technology we are seeing emerge, often driven by mobile phones.

The author Peter Thiel, is trying to enlighten the reader with what he has seen so far, and suspects is coming in the future as well. He is not making a more expected case of "this is what I know, listen to me, because I know the way forward". It is not a rich guy talking about himself and his world views.

For some reason, I opened this book with some prejudice, and was surprised by the neutral opinions that may help many trying to know what could happen in the future. The author is a special person, a rare talent for original thinking, and it shows in many of his observations. He knows that out of the box thinking is a rare thing. He understands that great ideas are not easy to come by. Personal drive and ambition vary with every individual. There is no formula for easy success. Not much can easily be repeated.

One of the most interesting points in the book is that skill sets need to match. A very talented person who can come up with a great idea, is often not the best person to grow it to its full potential. This should not be seen as negative. The founder of Groupon, who no longer runs the firm he founded, is a good example. To have conceived of a concept and brought it to market, is a great accomplishment. 

Taking it to IPO or any other market dominance is only secondary. Great managers can manage and grow businesses. However, those same managers cannot usually come up with the original idea in the first place. It is a different skill set. It would not be reasonable to think that all CEO startup creators can do everything A-Z. That just does not happen often and should not even be expected. Just being of that high performance level is all that should be looked for, nothing more. I never considered this more realistic view of personal abilities. I guess I needed a reality check on any start up CEO's skill set.

The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:

1) There is a clear pattern of personality types working hard that keep being successful, it is never pure luck. Every CEO often has many, but often not all, of the same basic traits needed to succeed.

2) The people, the team or the management are what drives long term success never a single product. Products and features can come and go from a solid team and keeps moving forward.

3) Facebook had many non-believers before its IPO. The original concept was able to pivot into mobile and never looked back. This was due to the executive team. 

The best thing about this unique set of observations, is that they are building blocks that can help all businesses. It can help anybody figure out where technology may be going, and the business chances that will result. It also gives a lot of insight into how to really take on any new business, define its goals, and complete a mission that counts. Being realistic in life and business, is what you get a true sense of from Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal. Originality is appreciated for its rarity. The title Zero to One explains this well. 

Coming up with a real innovation changes the economic game with concrete value. You go from nothing (zero), to something (one). A second imitator, never comes close to bringing the same impact to the same economy a second time. At best, they can seem to be 1.1 in full impact. You could say that Google represents this. Many people around the world now have better access to information from Google, the world's economy is better today and has improved from Zero to One. Bing and many other search engines, have not had the same life changing impact, only a fraction more at best. A true "game changer" is significant, an incremental improvement is not. This is just one of many examples that I learned from in this book. It turned out to be a great surprise. Highly Recommended!

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