Lessons From PayPal Founder, Peter Thiel.

(and vice chairman of Facebook!)

Ronit Taleti
6 min readApr 14, 2020


Last week, I was researching Peter Thiel, who is pretty legit by the way. Little bit of a side-tangent about him:

He has done so much, and has been associated with many big companies. I mean, he co-founded PayPal, one of the biggest payment platforms with freaking Elon Musk!

He is the vice chairman of Facebook and was an angel investor too, putting in 500,000$ for a 10% share, and helped put the company at a valuation of 4.9$ million.

And he founded the Thiel Foundation, to help some new entrepreneurs that hope to make impacts in the world with a great new idea, and there is still so much I haven’t talked about, if you’d like to check that out, see his Wikipedia page.

Yeah, he is pretty awesome. He changed finance, and he is an entrepreneurial icon too, and that’s because of his thinking. He understands that, if you think the way everyone else does, you are taking the same paths they do.

He also would understand that anything can be an innovation. I mean, the person who came up with horse carriages would never have come up with cars. But someone else came and thought, how could we get around better than using a horse? And eventually we went from the horse to the car.

We are also going through the modern version of this with self driving cars. We saw the problems of cars, like crashes and unreliability of the driver, so we thought about how we could have a car drive itself, almost like an electric horse.

Peter Thiel is one of the greatest examples of entrepreneurship today, and here are some of his philosophies that he believes can help you on your journey to success.

Peter Thiel’s Philosophies For Success

There are three main philosophies that really resonated with myself, and which I want to put into effect in my life, and I hope that you can learn from them as I did.

Don’t Dwell On The Past

In my life, I constantly look back on things I did that I feel were wrong. Maybe it’s something I felt bad about doing or a mistake that I made. I also had interpreted this as not thinking about regrets more than you should.

Of course, if something really bad happened, it’s okay to think back and feel bad about it, or think about how you could fix a mistake, but it is also important not to let that hinder you. I think you shouldn’t focus on these things longer than you should, because you also need to move on and get things done, and especially you should use it as fuel. “This is something wrong I did, but I can improve”. I think I’m not really the type of person to dwell on the past myself, but thinking about the details, I do realize that sometimes I fail to recognize my mistakes.

Substance > Status

Essentially, this means that you should focus on making an impact and change, rather than wanting clout and fame. Of course, people want fame and want to work towards it, but generally a hope to make an impact of any kind is the best way to reach that goal. I think that making an impact is more important, and besides, in the process you probably would reach that goal too.

The reason PayPal was founded was to change the world of finance, and today it is one of the biggest companies and it has made fund transfers so much easier as well. But the goal with that wasn’t just to make something new that would bring him fame. It was to change the world of finance, it wasn’t a byproduct of the idea. The idea came from that vision. I don’t necessarily want to be famous or anything but I do relish attention, so I think in some situations this is important!

Be The Entrepreneur of Your Life

I kind of think this is a little different from something like take control of your life, because it has.. almost a different underlying meaning to me. I feel like it is about not just taking control of your life, but also about making your life meaningful and impactful.

Many great entrepreneurs’ lives, alive today or passed away, were impactful, or at least meaningful. I think this is a philosophy not just for success but for true satisfaction in your life. If your life was meaningful and/or you made a impact on your environment and the world around you, even with some regrets I think that would be a life fully lived. This resonated with me most, because my greatest fear is being forgotten. I know, it’s a bit selfish of a reason but I want to be able to make a positive impact on the world in the process.

How I Practiced These Philosophies (and how you can too!)

I would say just learning what these philosophies are is not nearly enough. Usually, creating action items is what cements learnings and allows you to internalize them. Advice: If you don’t already, when you learn something new, or have an insight, come up with some action items to act on them.

Anyways, these are the action items I created from his philosophies…

Don’t Dwell On The Past: Action Items

  • Be conscious of when you are dwelling on the past.
    One of the big things you should be doing if you want to practice this mindset is to be intentional about not doing it, and also being conscious of when you are, so you can snap out of it. I find that even just thinking about the past and realizing it helps you build that habit of not dwelling
  • Distract yourself.
    This is more about things like regrets, but if you find yourself dwelling on anything too much, I found that what works is doing something else I like. It’s okay to take a break and do something like play a game or take a walk but something else that also works well would be working on something you are passionate about that is also important or impactful. For me, I want to make a big impact using emerging tech, and I am currently deep in AI, so that would be great for me.

Substance > Status: Action Items

  • Find your vision/goal.
    The first step you should take if you are a person that is mostly seeking status, or even if you aren’t presently seeking any goal, is to find that goal. If you don’t have that goal, then any path you take will take you there. But having a goal and working towards it will bring you to that goal. So, find something you are passionate about, that can make an impact and work towards it.
  • Don’t care too much about what people think.
    Something interesting I’ve heard is that everyone has a billion dollar idea at some point. The thing is, often they will tell people and get shot down, usually out of love and worry that it could fail, but also because people might think it’s a bad idea. Not to say that you shouldn’t take criticism, but it is important to stay on the path you believe in if you really think it is a good idea. A semi-takeaway here would also be not telling everybody about an idea in the early days, because you probably haven’t fully fleshed it out yet.

Be The Entrepreneur of Your Life: Action Items

  • Take control of your life.
    This is on it’s own a mindset, but to be that entrepreneur it is important to have control of your own life. If you are aimless and don’t make decisions for yourself, this is going to be hard to achieve. I know that seems obvious to most, but I have met people who just go through life like this. It is very important that you have control over your decisions and can make change around you
  • Make your actions meaningful.
    If the actions you take are meaningful, they will usually turn out to have some impact. If you focus on making good choices that create impact, over time you can amass a big impact, of course assuming those choices are in pursuit of a goal.

Key Takeaways

  • Peter Thiel is an icon in entrepreneurship, as the co-founder of PayPal, angel investor and board member of Facebook, and the founder of the Thiel Foundation, among other things.
  • He has three main philosophies for success:
    Don’t Dwell On The Past
    Substance > Status
    And Being The Entrepreneur of Your Own Life
  • You should create action items to take to build these philosophies and any other learnings/insights you get generally. I left some above too.

If you enjoyed reading this article or have any suggestions or questions, let me know by leaving a comment below. You can find me on LinkedIn for my latest updates, or check out my latest projects on my website. See what I’m up to on my newsletter. Thanks for reading!



Ronit Taleti

I’m an avid 17-year old blogger interested in new and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and Virtual/Augmented Reality.