Five important trends related to the distance products are shipped listed at the end of the "Peak Travel**spoiler alert** Useful notes from the book:
Five important trends related to the distance products are shipped listed at the end of the "Peak Travel" chapter: 1&2. Higher wages in China make it possible for it to be cost-effective for the U.S. to start making things itself again (with the help of technology). 3. Emergence of 3-d printing could completely eliminate the need to for around-the-world shipping of many products 4. Crowdsourcing apps such as ridesharing, etc. that could eliminate the need for car ownership without needing to completely rebuild infrastructure 5. Driverless cars - dedicates all of Ch12 to explaining the implications to a world full of driverless cars - virtually no accidents, no need for parking, highly efficient travel without traffic jams, no car ownership (compares the two models of the future, Google's model (computer only) vs. car-makers (supplementing human driving with AI help)).
Ch13 "The Next Door" is all about possible options for the future to address current transportation problems. Filled with several ideas about how to address some of the contradictions that currently exist within our transportation system - such as the desire to have products shipped right to our door, but hating to deal with delivery trucks on the road. Some ideas: -Creating more pedestrian friendly spaces to avoid forcing walkers/bikers in areas where they are openly competing with cars. e.g., The closing off of Times Square in NYC. -Make shorter-term transportation plans because technology and traveling behavior change so quickly (e.g., ride services and driverless cars) -Use tolls to regulate driving behavior - it would cost more to drive during peak hours (congestion pricing) -Use variable pricing for road use - trucks should cost more given the increased damage they do to the roads -Persuade businesses to time shift start and quit times for employees -Convert traffic lights to traffic circles - safer and faster because drivers don't have to stop completely (20% faster) -Mass transit should focus on existing infrastructure instead of building light rail systems from scratch (e.g., make buses a priority travel system - special faster lanes buses would be allowed to take - express transit lanes) -The last mile problem (getting from main roads to door-to-door) is a problem for public transportation, but ride-share services combined with shuttle or bus-share services might solve this problem in the future. -For goods shipping, use carpool lanes for exclusive truck use to reduce congestion -As far as global warming issues go, the inevitable solution is a switch to more renewable energy sources, but also reducing the number of miles traveled by our goods - currently the price of fossil fuels (on the environment especially) is subsidized by the government -Culturally, changing the lack of social norms for walking and biking could be hugely beneficial (statistics about American's walking: in 1980 5.6% commuted to work by foot, in 2012 2.8% - we walk about 2.5 miles a day, which is about half what a healthy person should cover, and is about half of what the average Australian or Swiss citizen does - Amish men (represent American 150 years ago) walk about 9 miles a day. Countries with higher daily steps have lower obesity rates.
Basic chapter summaries:
Ch1 - Morning Alarm - all the parts of his iPhone and how far they traveled Ch2 - The Ghost in the Can - the incredible uses of aluminum, how it is in everything now, and how it gets transported from beginning to end (most useful recycled product) Ch3 - Morning Brew - detailed look at how far his coffee travels to get to him Ch4 - Four airliners a Week - the danger of driving cars and how unfazed most people are by the level of risk (compared to if 4 airliners a week crashed) Ch5 - Friday the 13th - following how many fatal crashes happen in a single day and the psychology behind why drivers make mistakes Ch6 - Pizza, Ports and Valentines - introduction to the port system and how much coordination must take place to allow a place like Dominoes to deliver a pizza on time Ch7 - The Ladies of Logistics - the development of the busiest ports - LA and Long Beach and how they handled the logistics of shipping and the development of the infrastructure needed for it Ch8 - Angels Gate - detailed description of cargo traffic controllers who regulate order in which ships come into port and how backed up they get when problems occur Ch9 - The Ballet in Motion - details of how container ships work, pilots that bring them into harbor, etc. Ch10 - The Last Mile - description of UPS service and how it gets packages the last mile of shipping to customer's door - includes assessment of obstacles building up for future shipping needs Ch11 - Peak Travel - traffic engineer's assessment of future of transportation and how dire infrastructure problems are in U.S. if things continue in current direct Ch12 - Robots in Paradise - the curent status of driverless cars and what the future could look like Ch13 - The Next Door - ideas for solving transportation now and in the future
**spoiler alert** -Basic thesis of book is that it is much more difficult to go from 0 to 1 than from 1 to 2. Starting with a truly new idea is much m**spoiler alert** -Basic thesis of book is that it is much more difficult to go from 0 to 1 than from 1 to 2. Starting with a truly new idea is much more impactful than an incremental improvement of an old idea.
Chapter 1: The difference between horizontal progress/globalization and vertical progress/technological innovation (doing new things). The latter is needed to solve problems challenging our future.
Chapter 2: The reason the 90's tech bubble happened and which companies survived it and why.
Chapter 3: Innovation and unique technology that the market demands give you profitable monopoly power. Usually economists talk about some extent of monopoly power (e.g. patents) encourages innovation, but Thiel was looking at it from another perspective: that of an entrepreneur choosing which type of business to start. His answer is to choose one that makes differentiated products (that the market demands) and gives you monopoly power.
Chapter 4: Again, competition vs. monopoly. Traditional businesses provide similar products and compete by cutting prices/costs, advertising etc.; innovative businesses make products that no one else makes. He argues that going into a business that isn't a monopoly (a competitive market) is a recipe for disaster (and bad capitalism).
Chapter 5: What are the features of a business that can create and sustain monopoly power, growth and cash flow? 1. Unique technology (at least 10 times better than the existing alternative--otherwise it won't be noticed--or entirely new products). 2. Network externality - business ideas that will only work at scale (even though you have to start small). 3. Economies of scale - unlimited growth not constrained by physical overhead, personnel, etc. 4. Brand. How to create one? Start by monopolizing a small market (that needs to actually exist, unlike the market of British food in Palo Alto) through winning the most important group of users in this market, then expand in size or variety (i.e. into related markets). Don't focus on DISRUPTION; make the pie bigger instead of playing a zero sum game.
Chapter 6: Have a purpose, a vision and long-run planning, instead of a lean startup and minimum viable product to be driven by whatever comes up on the way. This is supposed to represent the idea of "definite optimism" - have specific plans and think big, rather than having vague plans that won't take you anywhere in particular.
Chapter 7: Power law. As a venture capitalist, don't simply pursue diversification; choose a few businesses to invest in and choose them carefully so all of them have great (expected) potential.
Chapter 8: All great business have "secrets". A world without secrets is boring, stagnated and has no room to improve upon. Our world is full of injustice and inefficiency, so it cannot be one without secrets. What prevent us from exploring these secrets are gradualism, risk aversion, inertia and belief in equilibrium ("flatness" or perfect efficiency of markets). Only those who see secrets can grasp hidden opportunities, lead to Scientific Revolutions and found businesses like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft etc. How to find secrets? Look where no one else does; choose the path less traveled. That's why it's (kinda) important to have contrarian views based on your own independent thinking.
Chapter 9: According to power law, there are a few things that are crucial to the entire business, e.g. its foundations. Make sure you choose founding partners who are really passionate about the business and you enjoy working together. (Stuff on the size of the board, stock as incentives etc.) You are not only trying to create new things at the founding stage of a startup; if you are successful, you should have created a business that stays creative.
Chapter 10: The company doesn't attract employees (or create a "culture") by providing benefits like free food, free laundry etc. It should attract employees by what it does and who the team are. A company should be its own culture. It should be like a cult (rather than a consulting firm with no loyalty or identity), but one that is not extreme. (In Chapter 8, the HP example shows that once a company is managed in the conservative "MBA" way to optimize for bureaucratic functioning, innovation dies.)
Chapter 11: Marketing is important. Marketing influences everyone, especially those who think they are not influenced. The best marketer doesn't look like one. Different ways of marketing, from viral marketing to complex sales. Make sure you have a viable marketing strategy for your product. It's great if your customers can market for you, e.g. through network externality (like PayPal).
Chapter 12: Humans and computers should be complements (e.g. PayPal fraud detection, Palantir helping intelligence experts) rather than substitutes. (Great idea, and makes sense in some way--there are things that one is good at while the other is not--but in practice they are also substitutes in many ways which have unfortunate implications for employment.)
Chapter 13: The failure of most clean technology firms was a business rather than political one. How Tesla succeeded while many others failed on 7 dimensions: engineering (breakthrough technology), timing, monopoly (start with big share of small market), personnel, marketing (have a way to deliver your product), sustainability (will your market position be defensible in 10/20 years?), secrets (have you identified unique opportunity that others don't see?). He also covers the fallacy of social entrepreneurship.
Chapter 14: Many (tech) entrepreneurs are "weird". Innovative tech companies are usually authoritarian with charismatic leaders like Steve Jobs. Society should be more tolerant of seemingly weird or extreme entrepreneurs, because we need extraordinary people to lead companies in order to avoid the slow progress of gradualism. However, GLADLY, Thiel also advises such leaders to remain cautious, not to over estimate their power or become "prime movers" of Ayn Rand who do not realize that their success relies on other people....more
Enjoyed the history of the Appalachian Trail and Bryson's humorous description of some of his experiences on it. It helps to know that he didn't complEnjoyed the history of the Appalachian Trail and Bryson's humorous description of some of his experiences on it. It helps to know that he didn't complete the whole trail before you begin reading so you won't find yourself disappointed part-way through. Some of his descriptions of the people and experiences were thoughtful, but sometimes he came off a little judgmental of Appalachian culture. I would recommend it to friends who were "hobby hikers" with dreams of taking hiking to the next level some day. ...more