Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – by Peter Thiel

What do you believe is true that almost nobody else believes is true? This is the question that the contrarian entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel poses at the beginning of his book, Zero to One. It’s a question especially important for startup founders to answer. In this book, Thiel himself answers it in the most compelling of ways—by taking his readers on a journey through his brilliant (and Girardian) mind.

Peter Thiel Poses

Oddly, Thiel never once mentions René Girard by name in this entire book. Yet it is soaked through with mimetic theory.

Chapter 3 is where Thiel lays out his “Competition is for Losers” philosophy, which he articulated in an excellent lecture (link above) to students at Stanford. He speaks about the destructive power of rivalry and competition and the importance of striving to be a monopoly business. The business version of the “truth” question that he opens the book with is simply: what valuable company is nobody building?

Competition is for Losers

In perhaps the most Girardian chapter in the entire book, the last chapter (titled “The Founder’s Paradox”) explains why so many startup founders fall on an inversed normal distribution curve—in other words, most successful founders fall way outside the “norms” of society—and for this reason they are most easily worshipped and scapegoated.

Zero to One is an excellent book for any entrepreneur to read and one of the only practical resources out there for applied mimetic theory.

Check out Zero to One on Amazon.