Peter Thiel's Interview Question

Weekly I/O#78


Peter Thiel's interview question: What very important truth do very few people agree with you on?

Book: Zero to One

In the book, Thiel mentioned the question he likes to ask when interviewing others: What very important truth do very few people agree with you on?

This straightforward question is challenging in two aspects. Intellectually, you need critical thinking to have insight against the knowledge everyone is taught in school and, by definition, agreed upon. Psychologically, you need courage to say something that might be unpopular.

He thinks typical answers like "Our educational system is broken," "America is exceptional," and "There is no God" are bad because many people already agree with them. A good answer should take the form of "Most people believe in x, but the truth is the opposite of x."

Here is his answer to his own question:

"My own answer to the contrarian question is that most people think the future of the world will be defined by globalization, but the truth is that technology matters more. Without technological change, if China doubles its energy production over the next two decades, it will also double its air pollution. If every one of India's hundreds of millions of households were to live the way Americans already do— using only today's tools— the result would be environmentally catastrophic. Spreading old ways to create wealth around the world will result in devastation, not riches. In a world of scarce resources, globalization without new technology is unsustainable."

What's your answer? Welcome to trade with me.


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