Reading : Zero to One – Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future

WP_20141029_12_55_31_Pro 1“The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.”

What’s this about? “This book is about the questions you must ask and answer to succeed in the business of doing *new* things: (it) is not a manual or a record of knowledge but an exercise in thinking.”

Based on the author’s extensive real-world experiences as a co-founder of cutting-edge companies such as PayPal and Palantir and as an investor in many others, Zero to One is at its most basic level about how to think innovatively and build durable companies that create new, vastly superior things. But its scope is also abstracted to extend far beyond IT startup companies.

There are a number of important main themes. One of them is that globalisation largely involves copying existing things, which is like slowly moving from 1 to n. Creating new things such as breakthrough technologies, however, is a qualitatively distinct jump of going from 0 to 1 – from nonexistence to existence. It is these huge vertical leaps that propel human progress and prosperity, and they are indeed our only hope for long term survival given the increasing demands on our limited resources.

This book is a bold, punchy, compelling, eloquent and highly readable set of short essays that will rattle your preconceptions and seriously challenge your thinking.

A welcome breath of fresh air and inspiration in a modern world which is paralyzed by fears and consumed by reactions to past problems. by Amazon.

Winter Book Reading List

booksOver the next few winter months, I will be hopefully reading the following books and will post them as I do, on this blog as usual. So, this is the 2014 my Winter Reading Book List. The list is in alphabetical order and not the order I am reading them in, but I am currently reading, Fragile Empire and then Zero To On and then Superintelligence.

  1. A Rough Ride to the Future by James Lovelock
  2. Agent Storm: My Life Inside al-Qaeda by Morten Storm
  3. Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell in and Out of Love With Vladimir Putin by Ben Judah
  4. Pakistan’s Elite Secret Service: The ISI, Global Security and the War on Terror by Usama Butt
  5. Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War Hardcover by James Risen
  6. Stuka Pilot by Hans Ulrich Rudel
  7. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
  8. The End of Illness by David B. Agus
  9. The Peripheral by William Gibson
  10. Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Reading : Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell in and Out of Love With Vladimir Putin

putinFrom Kaliningrad on the Baltic to the Russian Far East, journalist Ben Judah has travelled throughout Russia and the former Soviet republics, conducting extensive interviews with President Vladimir Putin’s friends, foes and colleagues, government officials, business tycoons, mobsters, and ordinary Russian citizens. Fragile Empire is the fruit of Judah’s thorough research: a probing assessment of Putin’s rise to power and what it has meant for Russia and her people. Despite a propaganda programme intent on maintaining the cliche of stability, Putin’s regime was suddenly confronted in December 2011 by a highly public protest movement that told a different side of the story. Judah argues that Putinism has brought economic growth to Russia but also weaker institutions, and this contradiction leads to instability. The author explores both Putin’s successes and failed promises, taking into account the impact of a new middle class and a new generation, the Internet, social activism and globalization, on the president’s impending leadership crisis. Can Russia avoid the crisis of Putinism? Judah offers original and up-to-the-minute answers, by Amazon.