About these notes

Aim for 0 to 1 improvements


  • Horizontal/extensive progress: Globalization. Taking an idea from 1 to n. Easier to imagine.
  • Vertical progress: Technology. Taking an idea from 0 to 1. Hard to imagine, since it requires doing something that no one has done before.

The only field that has improved dramatically since mid-20th century is computers and communications. There are plenty opportunities in many fields waiting to be uncovered. You need a contrarian view to find them: What valuable company is nobody building?

The most contrarian thing is not to oppose the crowd, but to think for yourself.

Ali Abdaal also had a video on this. He made the point that investing in equipment, knowledge, experiences, etc. that you have never done before gives you much more than marginally improving upon existing things.

If you already have an iPhone X and it works fine, buying an iPhone 14 would take you from 1 to 1.1. if your main reason for buying the phone is a better camera. You’re better off buying a camera instead. The quality of a professional camera is unmatched compared to the quality of iPhone 14.

Of course there are contradicting arguments to be made:

  • if you would end up not using the camera because it would be inconvenient to carry around, then obviously the new phone might be a better choice overall.
  • if you keep learning new tools instead of mastering the ones you know, you will never become productive. Principles for software engineers and other makers.

It might also be applied to productivity and business I guess. Learning a new tool that does a job you could previously just couldn’t do, might be better than improving your workflow with a tool that you are already quite acquainted with?


  • Zero to One, Peter Thiel

← back

Links to this note

Zero to One: Notes on Startups

Aim for 0 to 1 improvements - The dot-com bubble made people cautious of innovation and big thinking - Competition is usually bad for a business - Monopolies exaggerate their...