Briefly, intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. The word intuition comes from Latin verb intueri which is usually translated as to look inside or to contemplate. Intuition is thus often conceived as a kind of inner perception, sometimes regarded as real lucidity or understanding. Cases of intuition are of a great diversity; however, processes by which they happen typically remain mostly unknown to the thinker, as opposed to the view of rational thinking.
In Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, written with Blake Masters, Peter Thiel suggests that the entrepreneurs who stuck with Silicon Valley learned four big lessons from the dot-com crash that still guide business thinking today:
1. Make incremental advances.
2. Stay lean and flexible.
3. Improve on the competition.
4. Focus on products, not sales.
“These lessons have become dogma in the start-up world; those who ignore them are presumed to invite the justified doom visited upon technology in the great crash of 2000. And yet the opposite principles are probably more correct.” Here they are:
1. It is better to risk boldness than triviality.
2. A bad plan is better than no plan.
3. Competitive markets destroy profits.
4. Sales matters just as much as profit.
He discusses each of the eight in Zero to One (Pages 20-22), a book I highly recommend to those willing and able to challenge what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as the “ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”
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Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor. He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002, defining a new era of fast and secure online commerce. In 2004 he made the first outside investment in Facebook, where he serves as a director. The same year he launched Palantir Technologies, a software company that harnesses computers to empower human analysts in fields like national security and global finance. He has provided early funding for LinkedIn, Yelp, and dozens of successful technology startups, many run by former colleagues who have been dubbed the “PayPal Mafia.” He is a partner at Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has funded companies like SpaceX and Airbnb. He started the Thiel Fellowship, which ignited a national debate by encouraging young people to put learning before schooling, and he leads the Thiel Foundation, which works to advance technological progress and long-term thinking about the future.