Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

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BlakeMastersThis week’s Hardcore MBA guest is a great example of the truth that you can succeed at anything, as long as you apply yourself, leverage your talents, and work hard. Blake Masters first rose to internet viral fame after blogging the comprehensive notes he took in Peter Thiel’s class on startup enterprises at Stanford University. It seems like a fairly minor thing, but Blake knew that the popularity of the online notes meant there would be demand for a published book on the topic, and he worked with Thiel himself to release Zero to One.

In this week’s podcast, Blake and I discuss:

  • The key idea of the ‘contrarian question’ – that is, identifying the things you know are of value, but which few others realise the value of yet.
  • The need to focus on niche markets in which your startup can dominate, rather than trying to compete in established industries.
  • And the way in which progress in technology is outstripping progress in other aspects of the world, giving us a distorted impression of how much needs to change.


I asked Blake if people often pitch ideas to him and Peter Thiel now that their book has become a best-seller. They do, he told me, “and now they’re even starting to use the kind of language that we were pushing in the book. In the past, people would sell their idea by saying they’re trying to enter a trillion dollar industry. If you become the biggest company in an industry that size, you’re on the same level as Google, and even if you become a relatively small company, you’re still gonna make a lot of money. But those industries already have established competition. So now people come to me and Peter and say, actually we’re going to focus on this very small niche market, we’re going to completely dominate it, and then we’ll start thinking about scaling up from there.”

Blake is one of those people that has a million ideas a minute and it seems like everything he says has a gold nugget in it – so take a listen to the podcast, and then if you feel like you missed anything, go back and listen to it again. You won’t regret it. When you’re finished, you can buy Zero to One from Amazon or via Blake’s own website.

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