Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tools for Titans #12 : Failure is Overrated.

Today's section is a real treat to me for I have always been a big fan.

Peter Thiel is one of the members of the Paypal mafia and is the founder of Palantir, which in my opinion, is one of the most important new companies in the world because it employs data analytics to make the world a safer place. Peter Thiel is special because he came up with this brilliant idea to pay off top-performing undergraduates to drop out to start businesses. He is also famous for funding Hulk Hogan in a lawsuit to destroy Gawker ( for outing him as gay ) and amongst the first people to support Donald Trump in his bid for Presidency.

It is no surprise that Peter's section is chock-full of wisdom :

a) Failure is overrated, but more importantly, overdetermined.

It's actually good that folks in start-up world paint a more realistic picture about failure because failure is a tragedy that robs company founders of a good life and a youth which should have been lived more fully.

More valuable is the idea that failure overrate is that idea that failure tends to be overdetermined. It's too easy to reduce failure to just a few mistakes or reasons. Failure is often multi-dimensional and just because you did avoided a misstep from a failure in the past does not mean that you have avoided other missteps.

I love failure, only when other people fail. This led me to take a difficult Insolvency module which may cost me a better degree classification. ( Irony right ?)

b) Become less competitive to become more successful.

A large part of my own personal struggle is trying to live up to this ideal of becoming less competitive but more successful.

Admittedly, I am failing in this regard.

My portfolio bothers me even though its private. My law degree grades really irk me every semester even though it should not as I have my own portfolio of skills.

I really have no idea how I can make my kids see the big picture over things like the PSLE because even if we really want to break out of this cycle of KPIs for all Singapore citizens, its easier said than done. This is why I believe in portfolio building in lieu of paying expensive tuition expenses so that my kids can win/succeed in the future.

But this just means taking my competitiveness to a whole new level against other Singaporean parents.

Like Oberstgruppenfuhrer John Smith of A Man in the High Castle, I can't seem to beat the system.

c) Three questions for start-ups or individuals

As I am still interning in a start-up, this section has three questions every startup founder needs to ask himself.

But I think it can be generalised for an individual :

i) Do you have a large market share in a small market ? Are you a big fish in a small pond ?
ii) Do you have a secret that others do not know ? Do you have a special X factor that others don't ?
iii) Do you have a way not just to create but to deliver the product ? Can you act on your dreams ?

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