A Coffee Cup of Knowledge….. A Monopoly of One

The process of life-long learning requires that we move beyond what we personally know and maximize what we can learn from others. I do much of this through reading.  In sharing some highlight passages and sources from my personal library of over 2,000 books, my objective is to offer something of interest, utility and inspiration that may add to your thought process.                                                                                                                                                                                   – Bill Dinnebeil

Quick Hits:

In order to “win a man to your cause,” Lincoln explained, you must first reach his heart, “the great high road to his reason.”-  Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2006-12-08). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (p. 168). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

My persuasive bias, as I am sure is true for many, is that facts, logic and reason should win the day.  Lincoln reminds us that persuasion is often grounded in appeal to the emotion, a vested starting point for the party being persuaded.

The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.  –Thiel, Peter; Masters, Blake (2014-09-16). Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (p. 22). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

In his discussion of venture capital start-ups, the conforming tendency to think as the group limits the ability to do something truly different.  Isolating yourself from the pull of the crowd provides space to think on your own.

But sometimes our managers misfire. The usual cause of failure is that they start with the answer they want and then work backwards to find a supporting rationale. Of course, the process is subconscious; that’s what makes it so dangerous.  – Warren Buffet, Letters to Shareholders

It is easy to be blinded by the love of our own opinions.  Rather than objectively letting facts lead us to a conclusion, we are convinced we know the answer, skillfully justifying to fit our desired result.

A Monopoly of One:

 A definite view, by contrast, favors firm convictions. Instead of pursuing many-sided mediocrity and calling it “well-roundedness,” a definite person determines the one best thing to do and then does it. Instead of working tirelessly to make herself indistinguishable, she strives to be great at something substantive— to be a monopoly of one. –  Thiel, Peter; Masters, Blake (2014-09-16). Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (p. 62). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.  Blog 2/16

Most of us are burdened by a multitude of objectives which compete for our focus, time and energy.  In many ways we are caught up in the “thick of thin things”, a mile wide and an inch deep in our approach, leading to the mediocrity suggested by Thiel.  Isolating that “one best thing to do” and being great at it offers the best chance for differentiation in a competitive market.