Contrarian Thinking

I was talking to a prospective partner today and in talking about start-up investing, he brought up the concept of ‘contrarian thinking’ came up. I had come across the concept previously, but couldn’t remember where (I later realised I had read it in Peter Thiel’s book Zero To One). So I was asked if there was something I believed in that no-one else did. The question caught me off guard which is no surprise as subsequent research shows it is a very difficult question, especially in direct conversations (vs a written response in a job application situation).

Whilst I couldn’t come up with a appropriate response, I promised to email across something (hopefully) coherent later. As the risk of being controversial (sorry), below is what I shared:

  • Participation awards for kids/adults who don’t win a race/task are not that helpful! You either win or lose
  • In most cases, people always have choices in most situations e.g. you fail, so what do you do next?
  • Whether you like or loathe him, Trump is very very talented and a game-changer e.g. pre-office wealth, use of Twitter to bypass govt process, connect with base etc
  • In 2010-11, I was what in hindsight is called ‘directionally correct’ with my first start-up, The Social Experiences Club. To make it successful, we had to take a contrarian view to the prevailing thinking. I, along with co-founders, believed that EVERYONE would be using smart phones to discover/search/book local experiences in their city (very few VCs, angels, experts and not enough customers agreed!). In 2015 the business sold as couldn’t scale further and raise Series A. In 2016, Airbnb launched their experiences offer and have sold millions of experiences since…

For those interested in reading more about this style of thinking, I suggest you start here with this video and transcript of Peter Thiel discussing it in detail.

 

 

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