Sunday, December 14, 2014

Great new book: Zero to One by Peter Thiel

"Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar.  But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1.  The act of creation is singular, as is the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange."

"Unless they invest in the difficult task of creating new things, American companies will fail in the future no matter how big their profits remain today.  What happens when we've gained everything to be had from fine-tuning the old lines of business that we've inherited?  Unlikely as it sounds, the answer threatens to be far worse than the crisis of 2008.  Today's 'best practices' lead to dead ends; the best paths are new and untried."

Amen.  Peter Thiel has made a great contribution to entrepreneurship with his new book, Zero to One.  I highly recommend this for anyone building new companies.

We don't need more stuff.  We need new ways to solve real problems.  The subtitle here says it all.  'Notes on Startups, Or How To Build the Future'.

Among my favorite quotes:  "If you've invented something new but you haven't invented an effective way to sell it, you have a bad business - no matter how good the product."

The opening pages set the right tone in my opinion.

Zero to One, by Peter Thiel

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Business challenges - taking your work to higher ground

"My experience — and most architects would concur with this — is that the best projects come from a crappy budget, a challenging schedule, a difficult-if-not-impossible client, and a really bad site. That makes you take your game to the highest level."

Edward Kuharski is an accomplished architect who has worked in the trenches of great projects for many years.

Among Mr Kuharski's credits, "...on-site architect for the construction of American Players Theatre (APT) in 1980. He spent 28 years at Marshall Erdman & Associates in Madison, then founded Green Design Studio in 2009."

Mr Kuharski was recently hired by the nonprofit group Occupy Madison to design the site for the village of “tiny houses” for the homeless, the first such effort integrating this kind of project into a neighborhood setting anywhere in the country, maybe the world.

There is a link below to a good recent article about Mr. Kuharski's contributions to the tiny houses project, and where I'm sourcing these quotes.

I like his honesty about turning challenges into opportunities to do your best work.  No startup launches under ideal conditions.  Start.  Adapt.  Find higher ground.  Repeat.

My favorite quote from the piece is about the village of 'tiny houses' he helped plan and develop:  "I like to refer to it as Dane County’s third gated community. We decided to skip the golf course."

Know your Madisonian:  Edward Kuharski

Photo is a Bald Eagle taking off from a farm field in Columbia County, WI.