The one book I read in 2015 changed my life, well it didn’t, I don’t want to make grand proclamations here. It definitely changed my outlook on various things in life.
The book is Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. Translated in binary language as 0 to 1.
Zero To One by Peter Thiel | Try Amazon Kindle Unlimited for a FREE 30-Day Trial and Read Zero To One for FREE on any device
You see, making progress from zero to one could be construed in different ways. On one hand from making a giant leap from say a junior officer to C.E.O and on the other hand a kid learning to count from 0 to 1, from A to B, literally. It depends on how you want to look at it.
I followed Peter Thiel’s Startup classes at Stanford online in 2012 in bits, but in 2015, it’s when I went to read the summarized version and follow it up with videos of talks he had given.
It’s easy to claim and make vague platitudes, but if anything, I learnt the art of speaking up. Some wryly accuse my attitude of being bad and I shoot back that it’s in beta. In public beta.
After writing my last exams at university in May last year, I had to step out on a journey of being a prime mover. The one Ayn Rand talks about, the one who believes in themselves and knows that the world cannot convene a meeting to determine their value.
This is what I learnt.
1. Power Of Simple
Often, we think we have to move mountains, cross valleys and walk through creeks to get to the other side, in pursuit of pastures green.
Yet, our breakthroughs could possibly lie in our backyard but we just turn a blind eye and move on to do that ‘serious’ thing that has a higher earning potential.
It’s easy to attribute success to perseverance and grit but it’s only because there is a thin line that separates success from failure.
That single move that could earn you millions is the same that could send you straight to the pack of statistics and even become a warning for others to play it safe.
It takes hard work to see the outcome of every legitimate sacrifice or wrong choice made and this hard work swerves into an addiction that we can’t help but ruthlessly subject ourselves to. That we have to work hard and make it.
We pass on many ‘simple’ and small things which could have had our big breaks.
While I am not suggesting that diamonds can be picked from the surface, and I completely respect the hustle and the grind, sometimes the things we pass on as too obvious are those that will open the flood gates of success.
True story, for me, writing has always been that second class citizen but surprisingly, in 2014, it contributed the highest in meeting my bills. I could say it wasn’t for writing par by course, but rather speaking up, and sharing information people would find viable.
2. Social Media Ain't That Bad
Let’s face it, there is no shortage of extraordinary writing on Facebook and other social networking sites; from deep personal stories to compelling reportage.
It’s just absurd that we get subsumed in a torrent of banal chaff from gossip and hoax-plunged news that show pictorial evidence of some angel that fell in Philippines or wherever, or “touching” stories that demand a like or share or lest we’re castigated as the devil’s own. Such and more usually find their way to the top of the timelines.
Hey, I guess that’s democracy.
That’s the problem with algorithm ranking systems: shit floats, always.
But when you filter your circles, then you can use social media to the best. You reduce noise and while making the most of the signal. I was dismayed by James Altucher’s infamous claim that he alone, saved the global economy in 2009, and yet Obama had made a stocks market call at just about the same time James made that grand claim.
James himself shot back right at me on Quora. Of course, with the same claim, but I was excited that dialogue with a renown and celebrated figure kicked off just like that.
But maybe social media is unplugging us than it is connecting us.
In the foreseeable future, being off WhatsApp may as well be punishable by law. When I took an abrupt sabbatical off the instant messaging service from July to December in 2014, it was like I had been incarcerated in some penitentiary in the wild west.
I was soon forgotten and bereft. I didn’t care anyway, but it looks like it’s either criminal to ‘waste’ airtime calling people or the unwritten law has it bane to be off the messaging network.
Whatever it is. You’ll only and only be called by your debtors and you’ll also receive those “Dear Subscriber” messages should you go off that green vortex. It’s winter in these tropics.
3. "Feels" Are Good
But don’t be beholden by feelings. If it doesn’t make your nose twitch, or your hair stand, then you have a feelings’ problem, or you’re just not that interested.
The worst position, though, is to feel and keep quiet. I could quote a million dead people on this, and even allude apocryphally some smart quotes to Albert Einstein and the dumb ones to Donald Trump (and Tamale Mirundi), but still, it won’t help much.
Ya just gotta feel! (and) act proactively.
Often, watching a movie, listening to music, interacting with people, observing and immersing self in experiences should be just enough. We’re living in a generation where you can document how you’re feeling in real time. Perhaps call the concerned to action, or just raise awareness.
Feeling begets speaking up or doing. It gets so woven into one that it certainly feels intuitive. The thing is to never stop feeling.
I learnt much more than just the aforesaid, and it wasn’t because of what I read solely, but because of a host of other things. The bottom line, as by the title, is that one book I read among many, and it stood out. Elevated from zero, not to hero, but to one.
Cover Image, Book. | Daniel Wehner