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Why Does Peter Thiel Support Donald Trump? Because He Wants to Save the World…

election-613132_1920So why does Peter Thiel support Donald Trump?

When I read headlines saying that Silicon Valley is baffled by his actions, I am baffled by their reactions.

It should be clear that there’s more going on here than meets the eye – though sometimes I wonder if Trump knows that…

Peter Thiel, for those of you who don’t know, is a brilliant billionaire tech tycoon who helped found PayPal and Palantir and who has his investment fingers in many other businesses.

As a tech-savvy, forward-thinking gay man – who has some unconventional ideas about technology, capitalism, economics, and the world we live in – he’s one of the last people you’d expect to see speaking in favor of a Trump presidency.

Yet that’s exactly what he did at the RNC, claiming that the economy and the government are “broken” and that he supports “people who are building new things.”

Donald Trump, he says, is a “builder…and it’s time to rebuild America.”

But…come on.

Donald Trump?

Really?

Donald Trump? That Guy?

man-845847_1280Trump openly:

After watching a BBC special pointing out that the USA’s demographics are shifting – and that white people will be a minority in a few decades – I felt that Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” might actually be a subliminal message, “Make America White Again.”

The New York Times came up with a better one: “Make America Hate Again.”

But I’ll try to avoid ranting about Trump.

Critical Thinking About the System

Attacking Trump’s rhetoric is easy and everyone does it.

That is too simple.

It feeds his flames and avoids more important questions that would uncover the machinery underlying the current system, like:

  • Why has a simple-minded salesperson – who simply repeats his target audience’s desires right back to them, like any good salesperson – become so successful financially (despite 4 bankruptcies) and made it this far in the electoral process, and what is it in his rhetoric that resonates with such a large demographic of Americans?
  • Why are we being forced to choose between a salesperson and someone who’s being legally accosted by the FBI right now?
  • Why do people regard him as a “marketing genius,” when in fact he has simply mastered the basics of salesmanship that have been expounded, extrapolated, and explored by great salesmen for the past 100 years?
  • Why does a smart, forward-thinking tech billionaire like Peter Thiel support Trump?

Why Peter Thiel Supports Trump (Take Nothing at Face Value)

chess-433071_1920Peter Thiel is a businessman who thinks strategically about his aims, so there is certainly more to his endorsement than we heard in his RNC speech.

There are a few possible reasons why Thiel might support Trump:

  • Thiel plans to replace Trump with an artificially intelligent, Trump-shaped robot after the election
  • He actually does believe in and support Trump
  • He sees this as an opportunity to take the administrative office from the political families who have been running the office for decades
  • He sees a dire situation, thinks Trump will win, and wants to influence the little guy when he gets into office
  • He wants to run for president in a few years and sees Trump as his best bet for changing and getting into the political game

I could only wish that this last one were true – we would be much better off with a smart “builder” like Thiel than anyone else who has run in a very, very long time. If this were the tech tycoon’s plan, then he’s probably setting himself up now as the rescuer who will fix up the country after Hillary or Donald inevitably make things worse during the next term.

But I doubt Thiel wants to be president (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Although, come to think of it, Mark Cuban, another famous billionaire who made big bucks in the tech industry, had said he’d been open to running for president…

Either Thiel plans to run for president in a few years (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) or…

Thiel Supports Trump Because He Thinks Trump Will Implode the Government, Which Will Make Room for Innovation … And a New Monopoly

gears-1236578_1920That’s pretty similar to what this guy at Business Insider said, but I can’t seem to find that article any more…

To find hints of Thiel’s real thinking, look past his RNC speech:

  • Thiel believes that innovation is driven by monopolistic companies, not by competition. According to Thiel, the ideas we use to discuss capitalism are based on models that are outdated and obsolete. Competitive businesses involve towards static equilibrium, and spend their money trying to outdo one another. They have no cash left over to innovate and create. A monopoly, however, is free to charge what it wants, then use those profits to drive innovation. Google is a perfect example of a monopoly in today’s economy. AT&T used to be one, as did IBM and Microsoft.
  • Innovation is at odds with competition and globalization…or they are at least perpendicular to one another. In one talk, Thiel used Japan as an example to demonstrate the difference between the two: since the time of the Meiji Restoration, the country has globalized but not innovated…that is, Japan copied the rest of the world. As a result, this island nation, which is smaller than California, has become a major world superpower. In the 80s, though, they ran out of stuff to copy and their previously explosive economic growth stagnated.
  • Technology and innovation are, for all intents and purposes, the same. Technology, he says, isn’t just limited to computers and software. This has been the most recent, most explosive area of innovation, in part due to the lack of regulation in this sector, which is a brand new industry. Other types of technology could also innovate and grow, but there are a variety of financial, regulatory, and other hurdles to overcome in those sectors – for instance, Elon Musk went to extreme lengths to overcome institutional, technical, regulatory, financial, and other obstacles in the preexisting aerospace industry in order to innovate with SpaceX. Not to mention Tesla.
  • Thiel runs Palantir, a secretive software company that tells the future. Well, fortune-telling may be a bit of a misnomer, but it does offer big data solutions that are used by big organizations, from governments to spy agencies to big name brands. Palantir is financially backed by the CIA and Thiel’s own venture capital company, among others. Supposedly, Palantir is valued at $20 billion and earned $1.7 billion in revenues in 2015. Some have suggested that Thiel’s support of Trump is a move to secure more government revenue for his company.

So how do all these bullet points apply to the topic at hand?

Many people look at a Trump presidency and see chaos…or worse.

Here are some quotes from a piece in the New Yorker, as quoted by a piece on Slate, written about the ghostwriter of Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal:

The prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered…[Schwartz said,] “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization”…asked what he would call [a new book about Trump], he answered, “The Sociopath.”

Is it really possible that Thiel supports someone like Trump?

Or is the tech tycoon playing a different game?

All Good Monopolies … And Competitions … Come to an End

chess-603624_1920As Thiel has pointed out, competition results in stasis and old monopolies are out-innovated by newer monopolies. Trump, a a simple-minded salesperson, has somehow co-opted the Republican party and the election process.

Perhaps his very presence on the electoral stage signals the obsolescence of an old monopoly?

For instance, AT&T was replaced by a diversity of wireless providers. Microsoft replaced the IBM monopoly, and Microsoft is in turn being replaced by newer, more innovative monopolies.

A businessperson, like Trump or Thiel, might feel that businesses and governments are analogous processes.

Eventually, any monopolistic governmental structure, electoral competition, or economic machinery will become outdated and obsolete.

Then it will become replaced by a newer, more evolved monopoly.

If Trump gets elected, it will result in – at the very least – more division, conflict, and controversy than we are seeing right now.

In other words, Trump could cause so much havoc that we would have to wake up and restructure the system.

This would make room for innovation and growth.

Heck, maybe there is only one way to make the broken governmental engine work again…

Start banging on it with a Trump-shaped hammer and hope the world doesn’t end in nuclear war.

Business Books You Should Be Reading in 2016

Let’s cover a few core business books you should be reading in 2016…

On the last episode of Nathan’s Bookshelf, we got a taste of my more esoteric, literary, and poetic interests, with a dash of business books.

This time around, the focus is mostly on business books.

I’m a firm ongoing learner, who believes that people should always be improving their job skills and life skills.

I look at it like this: in a college course, they will typically have you read 1-3 books on a given topic…which are, by the way, often theoretical, abstract, and not practically useful.

So if you read a book a week, what kind of education are you giving yourself?

Anyways, enough pontificating.

books-933293_1920Here’s what I’ve been reading this past year:

  • No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits – Dan Kennedy’s non-politically correct guide to managing staff in your business. He makes a lot of fascinating points, in my opinion, but beware: ruthless means ruthless.
  • Making Them Believe – Another Dan Kennedy book, written with Chip Kessler. This book covers the life and the marketing takeaways of John Brinkley, a man who surgically implanted goat testicles as a cure for impotence.
  • Scaling Up – This book, by Verne Harnish, is a must-have for any business that experiences – or wants to experience – super-fast growth.
  • Ca$hvertising – This book is an epic guide to advertising. Copywriters and advertising professionals will probably know much of the material covered herein, but it’s still a good reference book. For those who aren’t immersed in advertising and marketing and want to learn more, it’s a must-have.
  • The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Shit Together – John Carlton’s first book (I think) is a must-have for anyone – and I mean anyone – who wants to improve their business skills. Most people probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s a killer copywriter who can teach you much about sales, young padawan. When linking to the book, I discovered that he has another book out, Simple Success Secrets No One Told You About, which I immediately downloaded … even though I haven’t read it yet, I recommend you do the same … that’s how good this guy is.
  • The Boron Letters – Gary Halbert has been called the world’s greatest copywriter. This book is a series of letters written by Halbert to his son, which cover everything from copywriting to marketing to life advice. A must-have for any business bookshelf.
  • Don’t Wear a Cowboy Hat Unless You Are a Cowboy… – Robert Bly is another one of the world’s most famous copywriters. He’s written dozens of books and his copywriting portfolio covers the gamut. Every businessperson should have at least a few of his books on their bookshelf.
  • The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene’s classic is another must-have for any business person – and any other person who wants to be successful in life and relationships.
  • Fanatical Prospecting – Jeb Blount knows how to sell. Like many of the authors listed here, he is an “old-school” salesperson who doesn’t spout the New Age nonsense that you see everywhere else online … which is often designed to steer you clear of prospecting, direct marketing, and sales.
  • New Sales. Simplified.  – Mike Weinberg, who did the foreward to Fanatical Prospecting, writes another great book on prospecting and new business development – that is, bringing new business in the door as opposed to harvesting the same clients and customers over and over. It’s geared towards the sales professional, but you should read it. It will clear many of the New Sales Age cobwebs out of your thinking.

There are plenty more books on my bookshelf from the past year, including many I haven’t gotten to yet.

But these are the business books that stand out.

What most of these books have in common is that the authors truly understand sales.

As I mentioned, many of today’s marketing and sales professionals subscribe to New Age beliefs: prospecting is dead, cold calling is dead, inbound marketing should replace outbound marketing, and so on.

The authors mentioned here contradict these false teachings and stand like a torch against the darkness.

In fact, when it really comes down to it, when you really think about it, and when you really dive deeply into your business, it’s clear that sales, prospecting, and new business development are the bottom line.