Owning your idealism

When candidates walk up for an interview, Peter Thiel often asks them, “Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.”

This question is very popular today, especially among startups. Thiel stated how the question often puts the interviewee in a spot. She is forced to express something about her world view that is unconventional. At the same time, she must be able to defend it when her interviewer challenges it. Essentially, Thiel is asking his candidate to explain ways in which she is idealistic.

The term “idealism” carries a negative connotation. An idealist is perceived as being impractical and rigid. Nevertheless, the idealist firmly believes in their world-view to be the truth. Entrepreneurs are idealists. They have a vision of the world that does not sense to people at large. This is why Thiel seeks them out for his ventures.

Thiel’s question is brilliant. It breaks down idealism into its rudiments, while shedding the baggage that the term carries. It also teaches us to treat our idealism differently – to try it and test it, but most importantly, to own it rather than throw it away.

Further reading: Peter Thiel’s interview with Forbes

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