When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now most futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known and being praised; ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, explaining and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer. In retrospect, all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called, “licking the earth.”
Inventors As Poets
An invention has some of the characteristics of a poem. Standing alone, by itself, it has no value; that is, no value of a financial sort. This does not mean that inventions—or poems—have no value. It is said that a poet may derive real joy out of making a poem, even if it is never published, even if he does not recite it to his friends, even if it is not a very good poem. No doubt one has to be a poet to understand this. In the same way an inventor can derive real satisfaction out of making an invention, even if he never expects to make a nickel out of it, even if he knows it is a bit foolish, provided he feels it involves ingenuity and insight. An inventor invents because he cannot help it, and also because he gets quiet fun out of doing so. Sometimes he even makes money at it, but not by himself. One has to be an inventor to understand this.
Price / Value
I look at the gap between the entry price and the price in a scenario in which most of the positive assumptions don’t pan out as expected. The ingredients of successful investing lie in locating gaps between current expectations and future likely performance which provide me favourable odds as an investor…The prediction of earnings per share is mainly science and partly art. But prediction of price-to-earnings ratio is an art, with very little science. It is a chemistry that can be mastered only by experience…I have learnt that in investing decisions, all factors are numerators but the denominator is only one which is price/value, for it is ultimately the price or value at which you buy/sell shares which determines not only your profit/gains but also the very important aspect of the risk that you take. At a value, I am a buyer of everything, including the most hated companies. What you are buying is important, but it is more important at what price/value you are buying.
When the ultimate perfection is attained, the body and limbs perform by themselves what is assigned to them to do with no interference from the mind.
Harnessing Unfair Advantages
Always work on problems for which you possess an unfair advantage.
Finance As An Invisible Productivity Subsidy
A large financial services industry can only thrive by aggressively extracting capital from industries with poor economics, and investing in industries with better economics. So the size of the financial sector is, among other things, a measure of the invisible productivity subsidy from asset allocation.
Freedom Degenerates Without Responsibleness
Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.
Science Is The Exploration Of Mysteries
The public has a distorted view of science because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries.
An Order Of Magnitude
As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic advantage. Anything less than an order of magnitude better will probably be perceived as a marginal improvement and will be hard to sell, especially in an already crowded market.
– Peter Thiel, Zero To One