Some of the biggest differences in this world are hidden in plain sight.
For instance, the difference between wealthy…and really fucking wealthy ($1B) is kinda huge.
Imagine two stacks of dollar bills—one is one million dollar bills, the other is a billion.
The milli stack is 358 feet tall.
And the Billion dollar stack reaches into space (67 miles, which is 5 miles past the edge of the atmosphere).
Problem is, most of us aren’t able to internalize the massive difference between these two numbers.
On top of that, billionaires often have really good reasons to understate their wealth to the public. As John McAfee points out, every millionaire wants people to think they’re a billionaire, and every billionaire wants people to think they’re a millionaire.
Business models are another place where the differences are huge, but hidden.
Peter Thiel wrote a whole book about it. The premise: all great businesses operate from a monopoly position.
So just find the monopolies and invest, right?
Yes, but here’s where the plot thickens:
The monopoly folks will never admit to running a monopoly (smart), and the people that are competing themselves to death in a crowded market will spin a story that they’re special, in order to attract investor dollars or to stick their head in the sand (not smart).
So Luxottica will keep hush that they produce over 80% of this world’s eyewear (monopoly). And a random real estate office in Denver might say that they’re the only Denver firm that caters to divorced men (an illusion of a monopoly).
The differences are huge, but each side tells a story that meets somewhere in the middle.
Have you heard about that movie set in LA with a mockup of a private jet cabin? Clout-chasing “influencers” take photos inside it to make their followers think they can afford a Gulfstream jet for vacation.
Meanwhile, many powerful people use Twitter from anonymous profiles so they don’t draw attention around who they decide to follow. In a sense, flexing on social media is a reverse indicator of wealth.
Where else do we miss huge, critical differences between people and things around us?
Peter Thiels warns us to watch out for “The Something of Somewhere.” For instance, the “Harvard of North Dakota” is probably the nothing of nowhere. The “Uber of Orange Juice” is probably just orange juice.
Be careful out there.