Calibrate by David Waschbüsch from The Noun Project

Calibrate by David Waschbüsch from The Noun Project

Whether you’re creating an innovative mobile user interface or a brand new web series, competition in the creative industry is as stiff. Time and effort alone aren’t enough to gain a real competitive advantage.

Consider some of your favorite products, as stated in entrepreneur and tech investor Peter Thiel’s Zero to One:

  • PayPal is 10 times more easier to use than its closest substitute.
  • Facebook is 10 times more connected than its closest substitute.
  • Reddit is 10 times engaging to read than its closest substitute.

What do all of these wildly successful products have in common? Aside from having been invested in by Thiel himself, they’re all 10x better than their closest substitute in at least one category. When creating something of value that we want to be the best-in-class, whether its mobile design, or industrial design, Thiel suggests that we chase a higher standard of excellence:

“As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic advantage.”

This rule doesn’t have to stop at proprietary technology. For instance, do you want to be the best designer at your firm? Then be 10 times better than the others at using InDesign. Do you want your agency to be the best agency in your area? Then be 10 times better at following up with customers.

Anyone can make something marginally better. Very few can make it 10 times better.


  • coxy

    Why stop at 10 times? Why not be 20 times better at everything? I’m questioning the enthusiasm of the author. In fact; why stop at 20?! The world is your oyster. I like oysters.

    • TestifyTruth

      I like okra, and your point is valid; the world is my okra.

    • Hja!

      You’re so lazy man. If I have one of something, I’m well gonna multiply that thing by 45. You gotta put 450% into everything you do! Make it count!

    • Parvez Alam

      maximum enthusiasm is a welcome thing, but one should be also be realistic

  • Mukesh Gupta

    And if you do go in for a 10x change, there is a much better probability that you will be much more creative in your approach than if you were to try to be 10% better..

    • Parvez Alam

      so true..

  • BeeKaaay

    And if you’re 10x more qualified than your next competitor in the job market, you will be rejected for being overqualified and will not get the job. You will be told you are to starve.

    So this article does not apply to job-seekers.

  • Jess

    Paypal is 10x “more easier”?

    • Bill

      don’t need the word “more” because the “er” on easier takes care of that comparison – something is better, not more better

    • Parvez Alam

      Paypal is certainly not 10x easier… and twitter or tumblr is better than reddit

  • Parvez Alam

    great article! I always think and try to do my craft this way, set high expectation for myself (so am ahead of others), pursue excellence and be extremely passionate about what am going to create

  • egormmm

    Who is measure what is the best? What is rate? In my opinion autor meant, that you have to do all you best, but is it right way or not nobody knows. Only Market will appriciate.

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