It was July 2006. Yahoo! had just offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion. Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first outside investor, thought the social network’s board of directors should at least consider the offer.

But Mark Zuckerberg walked into the board meeting and announced, “Okay, guys, this is just a formality, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. We’re obviously not going to sell here.’”


Why was a 22-year-old CEO so quick to disregard a billion dollar offer? To me, Zuckerberg’s brash action makes no sense.

But Peter Theil argues that, for an entrepreneur like Zuckerberg, it makes perfect sense. How come?

Thiel explains it in #15 below. That, and 26 other need-to-know concepts, are all direct quotes from Thiel’s new book coming out next week. But if you want to stay ahead of the game—and see how well your entrepreneur instincts stack up against Thiel’s—read the quotes here first.


27 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Needs To“Get” To Succeed

1. “Shallow men believe in luck…Strong men believe in cause and effect. [via Ralph Waldow Emerson].” 

2. “The best startups might be considered slightly less extreme kinds of cults. The biggest difference is that cults tend to be fanatically wrong about something important. People at a successful startup are fanatically right about something those outside it have missed.”

3. “Of the six people who started PayPal, four had built bombs in high school.”

4. “A startup is a team of people on a mission, and a good culture is just what that looks like on the inside.”

5. “If your product requires advertising or salespeople to sell it, it’s not good enough.” 

6. “It’s always a red flag when entrepreneurs talk about getting 1% of a $100 billion market. In practice, a large market will either lack a good starting point or it will be open to competition so it’s hard to ever reach that %1. And even if you do succeed at gaining a small foothold, you’ll have to be satisfied with keeping the lights on: cut-throat competition means your profits will be zero.”

7. “You’ve probably heard about “first mover advantage”…but moving first is a tactic, not a goal…It’s much better to be the last mover—that is, to make the last greatest development in a specific market and enjoy years or even decades of monopoly profits.”

8. “The most contentious question in business is whether success comes from luck or skill…Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey, and Elon Musk, have created several multibillion-dollar companies. If success was mostly a matter of luck, these types of serial entrepreneurs probably wouldn’t exist.”

9. “To a definite optimist, the future will be better that the present if he plans and works to make it better…To an indefinite optimist, the future will be better, but he doesn’t know how exactly, so he won’t make any specific plans.”

10. “Finance epitomizes indefinite thinking because it’s the only way to make money when you have no idea how to create wealth.”

11. “If they don’t go to law school, bright college graduates head to Wall Street precisely because they have no real plan for their careers.” 

12. “Would-be entrepreneurs are told that nothing can be known in advance: we’re supposed to listen to what customers say they want, make nothing more than a ‘minimum-viable-product,’ and iterate our way to success…Darwinism may be a fine theory in other contexts, but in startups, intelligent design works best.”

13. “Forget ‘minimal viable products’—ever since he started Apple in 1976, Jobs saw that you can change the world through careful planning, not by listening to focus group feedback or copying other’s success.”

14. “Long-term planning is often undervalued by our indefinite short-term world.”

15. “Founders only sell [their company] when they have no more concrete visions for the company, in which case the acquirer probably overpaid; definite founders with robust plans don’t sell, which means the offer wasn’t high enough. When Yahoo! offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion in July 2006, I thought we should at least consider it. But Mark Zuckerberg walked into the board meeting and announced: “Okay, guys, this is just a formality, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. We’re obviously not going to sell here.’”

16. “A startup is the largest endeavor over which you can have definite mastery. You can have agency not just over your own life, but over a small and important part of the world. It begins by rejecting the unjust tyranny of Chance. You are not a lottery ticket.”

17. “Once you think that you’re playing the lottery, you’ve already psychologically prepared yourself to lose.”

18. “Life is not a portfolio: not for a startup founder, and not for any other individual. An entrepreneur cannot ‘diversify’ herself: you cannot run dozens of companies at the same time and hope that one of them works out well.”

19. “Every university…seem[s] to reassure you that ‘it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it well.’ That is completely false. It does matter what you do. You should focus relentlessly at something you’re good at doing, but before that you must think hard about whether it will be valuable in the future.”

20. “Founders are important not because they are the only ones whose work has value, but rather because a great founder can bring out the best work from everybody at his company.”

21. “Apple’s value crucially depended on the singular vision of a particular person. This hints at the strange way in which the companies that create new technology often resemble feudal monarchies rather an organizations that are supposedly more ‘modern.’”

22. “[Bill] Gates embodied the founder archetype: he was simultaneously an awkward and nerdy college-dropout outsider and the world’s wealthiest insider. Did he choose his geeky eyeglasses strategically, to build up a distinctive persona? Or, in his incurable nerdiness, did his geek glasses choose him?”

23. “Every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot…Monopoly is the condition of every successful business.

24. “All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.” 

25. “Every monopoly is unique, but they usually share some combination of the following characteristics: proprietary technology, network effects, economies of scale, and brand.”

26. “Every startup is small at the start. Every monopoly dominates a large share of its market. Therefore, every startup should start with a very small market. Always err on the side of starting too small.”

27. “Everybody has a product to sell—no matter whether you’re an employee, a founder, or an investor. It’s true even if your company consists of just you and your computer. Look around. If you don’t see any salespeople, you’re the salesperson.”

This article is written by Alex Banayan


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