Book Review: Zero to One

I’m reading a lot more physical books these days. I’m still reading a lot of online content but I’m taking more time to sit with bound paper book in effort to change things up a bit. For me, this is helping with being a little more contemplative about what I read.

One of my favorite reads since this change has been Zero To One by Peter Theil. This is undoubtedly a good book for anyone in any business affected

As someone who has spent a career in the marketing industry, I found it’s  central point to be fascinating. After spending my career helping clients position themselves in relationship to one another, Theil argues that this may be the wrong way to think about a business opportunity in the first place. Most business that are competing directly with one another eventually fail or are only modestly successful. Also, most businesses are all trying to get from step one to step two and make incremental improvements. Theil thinks this dynamic can end up being a race to the bottom of cost-cutting competition.

Instead, entrepreneurs should be thinking about how to define a whole new category like his startup PayPal did. These businesses start from nothing and define a whole new category. They go from zero to 1.

As providers of marketing services, this is not our typical client. The reason we are often hired is to help our clients stand out in a crowded market. But it is a good reminder that we should be careful not to position our clients as the same as the other guy but a cheaper. This is indeed a race to the bottom. And unless your client is Walmart, Amazon or a Chinese manufacturer, not one they likely to win long term.

Theil’s book also contains a lot of discussion on running a business. One of my favorite takes is your team is all on the bus or not. You can’t be half on the bus. Your whole team all has to be completely on board with managements vision or you’re in for a rough ride. Just about everyone has been in an organization with a few naysayers. I worked at a startup where a team member just had to argue the opposite side on every single decision. It was just his mindset. This can be damaging to an organization’s success. He wasn’t on the bus and likely never will be on any bus.

Well worth the read if you’ve looking for another book to add to the stack. And it has the bonus of being short and to the point.

Posted on: January 16, 2018, by :