Competition is for losers.
“In perfect competition, a business is so focused on today’s margins that it can’t possibly plan for a long-term future. Only one thing can allow a business to transcend the daily brute struggle for survival: monopoly profits.”
Peter Thiel. “Zero to One”
I am a former libertarian. My worldview was simple – give people freedom and let them organise their lives. Markets are the aggregate of human enterprise, and competition between firms will lower prices and increase innovation – a perfect equilibrium.
I was such a romantic!
Until I listened to Peter Thiel, he is known as the co-founder of Paypal (along with Elon Musk), his ideas about the world, namely mimetic theory, are less known. Mimetic theory is complicated (I struggle to understand most of it), but it’s core claim: all human desires are imitative.
As David Perell explains in his outstanding essay:
“Mimetic conflict emerges when two people desire the same, scarce resource. Like lions in a cage, we mirror our enemies, fight because of our sameness, and ascend status hierarchies instead of providing value for society. Only by observing others do we learn how and what to desire. Our Mimetic nature is simultaneously our biggest strength and biggest weakness. When it goes right, imitation is a shortcut to learning. But when it spirals out of control, Mimetic imitation leads to envy, violence, and bitter, ever-escalating violence.”
Thiel took mimetic theory and applied to his businesses and concluded that competition is a distraction. The goal of a company is to become a monopoly. Competition forces firms to choose short term benefits (revenue) without having a long-term strategy. Monopolies dictate their terms and their process as they have no competition.
Profits enable monopolies to make long term plans and finance ambitious projects. History is a story of successive monopolies replacing old ones. Firms who compete, scratch around for survival.
This idea has floored me.
Instead of my content competing with everyone else’s content, I can create a personal monopoly. It is not an ordinary monopoly in terms of size and power, but a personal monopoly in understanding the intersection of my skills, interests, and personality. As I wrote yesterday, I genuinely believe that the ideas in your head can make you wealthy. Systematising those ideas into content that provides value to others is the key to build a personal monopoly.
Six steps I took on my path to creating my personal monopoly on Youtube:
- I found my niche right at the beginning (South Africa political analysis)
- I publish a video every single weekday.
- I have four years of analysis from my guests on the Renegade Report (my former podcast) that I recycle into my daily research.
- I have an exceptional team working with me so that I can focus on creating the content.
- I have an extensive network with exciting guests to lean on for potential interviews and scoops.
If any potential competitor wants to create videos about politics in South Africa, I hope that they’ll realise that competing with my content will be a difficult task. Instead of competing with future competitors, I am building barriers and moats for others to traverse.
Whether my strategy will work is unknown, but the goal is there.
So, how are you building your personal monopoly?