Competition is for losers. Avoiding Mimesis creates winners.

6 things you don’t want to hear from Peter Thiel.


It’s pretty well-known by now that Thiel is a big believer in Mimetic Theory. It’s about how people copy each other spontaneously, automatically, and unconsciously.

Thiel described human brains as “gigantic imitation machines.”

Mimetic Theory creates a cycle, in business as well as society in general, where competition “leads to social instability,” over and over again.

It’s the root of why Thiel says competition is for losers.

Here’s 6 lessons on competition and more from Paypal Mafia founder Peter Thiel.

1 - “All happy companies are different.”

Mimetic imitation creates a race to the bottom. The more differentiated a society, the more stable it is.

Monopoly is the ideal end-stage of every successful business.

2 - “You never want to be part of a popular trend”

This reminds me of how Jobs talked about technological windows. Once a technology is out of the innovation window, you’re too late.

It’s just companies fighting to be second-best.

Thiel says this mindset of following trends is everywhere. “There is something very odd about a society where the most talented people get all tracked toward the same elite colleges, subjects, and careers.”

Society discourages innovation.

3 - “Definite optimism works when you build the future.”

“The future will be better - and we know how to get there.”

Definite optimism is Thiel’s secret weapon. It’s not only about how we see the future, but what we do about it.

Thiel says we all need to be definite optimists. Set clearly defined goals and work towards them singlemindedly - like Elon.

4 - “Contrarians are mostly wrong”

… “but when they get it right, they get it really right.”

Jeff Bezos said “Peter Thiel is a contrarian, first and foremost. You just have to remember that contrarians are usually wrong,” He may see it as a negative, but Thiel considers it his greatest strength.

Seeing things from every angle gives him an edge - and leads to innovation.

5 - “Competition is for losers”

Thiel’s most controversial take, and my favorite. It’s why airlines generate more value but Google is “worth three times more than every U.S. airline combined.”

“The airlines compete with each other, but Google stands alone.”

The key is being the last breakthrough, not the first. We compete because it feels safer; competition is validating. But innovation is far more valuable. As Thiel reminds us, true progress is “neither automatic nor mechanistic; it is rare.

6 - “Live each day as if you would live forever.”

David Perell says “to Peter Thiel, short-term thinking is the essence of sin.”

“The hyperconnectivity of society [has] placed us in a ‘never-ending now’.” Escaping this cycle and learning to think long-term is the key to success.

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