Sign up FAST! Login

Peter Thiel, Chess, Luck, and Startups

Stashed in: Startups, Luck!, Peter Thiel, @vkhosla, Awesome, Chess, talent, Startups

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Peter Thiel says Talent matters; there is more to success than luck.

Jonathan Wai of Duke University writes:

In chess, talent clearly matters.

In business and life, both talent and luck matter.

From his lecture You Are Not A Lottery Ticket, Thiel said that “when we know that someone successful is skilled, we tend to discount that or not talk about it. There’s always a large role for luck. No one is allowed to show how he actually controlled everything.”

In his lecture If You Build It, Will They Come? Thiel explained that "since the best people tend to make the best companies, the founders or one or two key senior people at any multimillion-dollar company should probably spend between 25 percent and 33 percent of their time identifying and attracting talent.”

Take away lesson: Some people hold more value and control more resources than you realize. Invest your time in finding those talented people for your organization.


"by saying you're lucky, you never have to expend the energy or time explaining how you did it" :)

It's a good way to avoid explaining what you did.

But I suspect that some startup people really are lucky.

Chess masters, on the other hand, are rarely lucky.



Best Advice For Entrepreneurs

VK: I think the single, most important fact about doing a startup is being clear about your vision and not let it get distorted by what pundits and experts tell you. But the second most important thing is finding the right team, and that’s really, really hard, because people tend to look for people around them and so it’s the person who they happen to know as opposed to the best possible person they can find…You know, I was relentless, took a lot of time, I used to say when I was starting my first company, I was more of a glorified recruiter than a CEO or a founder. I really spent well over 50% of my time recruiting, and I encourage all entrepreneurs to try and do that.

Interacting with people -- not just recruiting but also listening and working together -- is the most important thing the leaders of a company can do.

It takes patience, especially the listening part, because people hear what they want to hear, and it's up to the communicator to make sure what is communicated, is actually heard.