“If people around you don’t think what you’re doing is a bit strange, maybe it’s not strange enough.” — Patrick Collison
Patrick Collison (@patrickc) is chief executive officer and co-founder of Stripe, a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet.
After experiencing firsthand how difficult it was to set up an online business, Patrick and his brother John started Stripe in 2010. Their goal was to make accepting payments on the internet simpler and more inclusive. Today, Stripe powers millions of online businesses around the world.
Prior to Stripe, Patrick co-founded Auctomatic, which was acquired by Live Current Media for $5 million in March 2008. In 2016, he was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship by President Obama. Originally from Limerick, Ireland, Patrick now lives in San Francisco where Stripe is headquartered.
Also, as you can tell from seeing just a selected segment of his reading list shared in the show notes below, he’s one of the most well-read people I know. Please enjoy!
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Want to hear my interview with one of the founders of Duolingo? — Listen to my interview with Luis Von Ahn, the co-founder of Duolingo, in which we discuss what 2-3 books and resources he’d recommend to entrepreneurs, language learning tips, early mentors and key lessons learned, and how to recruit and vet technical talent (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Patrick Collison:
- Choice Selections from Patrick’s Reading List:
- The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon
- The MindñBody Problem by Jonathan Westphal
- Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger by Charles T. Munger
- Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and His Astonishing Exploratorium by K.C. Cole
- Hard Landing: The Epic Contest for Power and Profits That Plunged the Airlines into Chaos by Thomas Petzinger Jr.
- The Dream Machine by M. Mitchell Waldrop
- Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos
- If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens … WHERE IS EVERYBODY?: Seventy-Five Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life by Stephen Webb
- The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch
- The Paris Review Interviews, I: 16 Celebrated Interviews by Philip Gourevitch and The Paris Review
- Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas by Seymour Papert
- Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China by Philip P. Pan
- Democracy in America: Abridged Edition by Alexis de Tocqueville
- Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern by Douglas Hofstadter
- Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns
- Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn by Richard W. Hamming
- A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, and Shlomo Angel
- Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp by Peter Norvig
- Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy by Nick Bostrom
- Y Combinator
- The Untold Story of Stripe, the Secretive $20 Bn Startup Driving Apple, Amazon, and Facebook by Stephen Armstrong, Wired UK
- Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University
- Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future Edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer
- ARPANET and the Origins of the Internet, DARPA
- Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
- Xerox PARC
- What is Brownian Motion?, The Fuse School
- “We Cannot Predict the Future, But We Can Invent It” by Garson O’Toole, Quote Investigator
- Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FAANG), Wikipedia
- Introducing Open Salaries at Buffer: Our Transparent Formula and All Individual Salaries by Joel Gascoigne, Buffer
- What is Holacracy?, holacracy.org
- Holacracy and Self-Organization, Zappos Insights
- Medium Drops Holacracy: How We Dealt with Their Challenges at Springest in the past Three Years by Ruben Timmerman, Medium
- A Collection of Paul Graham’s Essays
- Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham
- Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule by Paul Graham
- Do Things That Don’t Scale by Paul Graham
- Hacker News
- Exploring Python Using GDB by Evan Broder, Stripe
- How Did Stripe Come Up With Its Name? by Greg Brockman, Stripe CTO, on Quora
- Hedonic Treadmill by James Chen, Investopedia
- The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Live Current Media
- “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
- Lough Derg House and The Lake Cafe
- Surely the Smartest Redhead in Ireland — at 16 by Miriam Lord, The Independent, Ireland
- ISO 9000 Series of Standards, ASQ
- The Advice I’d Give Past Me by Patrick Collison
- Asperger/Autism Spectrum Fact Sheet, The Asperger/Autism Network
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Patrick’s Recommended People List
- Patrick’s Recommended Twitter Reading List
- Keeping Up with the Kardashians
- Happiness and Life Satisfaction by Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser, Our World in Data
- Are the Amish Unhappy? Super Happy? Just Meh? by Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex
- These Are the World’s Happiest Places by Dan Buettner, National Geographic
- “Gross National Happiness Is a Lie”: Oakland’s Bhutanese Refugees Speak Out by Jason Ditzian, The Bold Italic
- How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region by Joe Studwell
- How the World Works by James Fallows, The Atlantic
- History of Japan in Nine Minutes by Bill Wurtz
- How to be More Productive by Using the “Eisenhower Box” by James Clear
- Earning Your Stripes: Patrick Collison on The Knowledge Project podcast with Shane Parrish
- Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step by Edward de Bono
- Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
- “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman
- The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey
- You and Your Research by Richard R. Hamming
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- What does Chris Sacca have to say about Patrick Collison? [06:03]
- For the well-read Patrick, what makes a book particularly great? What titles get recommended and gifted most? [09:37]
- Why The Dream Machine by M. Mitchell Waldrop has a special place on Patrick’s bookshelf (which lends further insight into how he vets his reading list). [13:53]
- On the importance of giving ideas — whether they’re wrapped up in books or companies — time to fail before venerating them as innovations, and not writing off an idea you might tackle uniquely just because someone else has already tried it in a different way. [20:44]
- When beginning Stripe, what did Patrick and his brother, co-founder John, know when entering a seemingly saturated market that nobody else knew? [28:50]
- What does Y Combinator’s Paul Graham mean when he uses the term Collison installation, and what decisions were made in Stripe’s early days that — in retrospect — turned out to be really important? [35:04]
- The tendency of many startups to overvalue PR and marketing, the siren song of high praise, and the shocking shortage of good software from companies that should — but don’t — understand its importance for driving organic traction in today’s marketplace. [46:32]
- The future of your company is probably not going to hinge entirely on the first name that you give it — as Patrick demonstrates by telling us how SlashDevSlashFinance, Inc. became Stripe. [51:22]
- A day early on when Stripe hit a hurdle, how it was overcome, and how this affected Patrick on a personal level. [58:07]
- What did the conversation between the Collison brothers look like that day? Was there anything that trained them to develop the appropriate mindset to deal with these sorts of problems on a regular basis? [1:03:44]
- Does having such supportive parents make the sometimes odd courses Patrick and John chart for themselves easier to navigate? [1:08:27]
- Patrick fills us in on the kind of upbringing he and his brothers had in rural Ireland as “free-range” children, and how their parents cultivated their curiosity — from including them in dinner conversations with other adults to camping all over Europe to finding a local monk to teach Patrick ancient Greek when he expressed a passing interest in learning it. [1:14:44]
- Some wise advice from Patrick about developing your own worldview — even if you don’t happen to fall within the “prime” years between 10 and 20 — and heuristics you can use to help. [1:26:06]
- Patrick’s recommended people lists. [1:34:37]
- Why is Patrick so fascinated by economic history and development economics? [1:37:09]
- How does one gauge perceived economic progress against happiness? Or put another way, why are a lot of Ethiopians generally happy until they get television sets? [1:40:30]
- What levers does Patrick think we might we pull to better equalize happiness around the world? [1:47:08]
- What progressive strides has South Korea made in a relatively short period of time that might serve as an example to currently troubled areas looking forward to their own development? [1:53:28]
- Suggestions Patrick has for people who are trying to increase the speed of their decision-making process, and concepts and books that have been helpful to me. [1:58:20]
- When I’m agitated about any number of things, “What would Matt Mullenweg say?” is a question I often ask myself. Members of your close peer group can be helpful to your decision-making process even if they’re not physically around to ask. [2:06:37]
- In many cases, the only way you can have more complete information is to make what might be the wrong decision and then course correct. [2:10:18]
- Patrick recommends a few books that might help with decisional course correction — or reformatting the approach to make sure you’re not wasting time devising the best solutions imaginable for the wrong problems. [2:12:05]
- Parting thoughts. [2:16:41]
- John Collison
- Barack Obama
- Charlie Munger
- Frank Oppenheimer
- Chris Sacca
- Larry Page
- Paul Graham
- Marc Andreessen
- Neal Stephenson
- M. Mitchell Waldrop
- J.C.R. Licklider
- Bret Victor
- Alan Kay
- Evan Broder
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Laird Hamilton
- Lily Collison
- Denis Collison
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Abraham Lincoln
- Oscar Wilde
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- Tommy Collison
- Harsh Sikka
- Almighty Rello
- Graham Duncan
- John Arnold
- Stewart Brand
- Max Roser
- Scott Alexander
- Joe Studwell
- James Fallows
- Friedrich List
- Bboy Pocket
- Reid Hoffman
- Michael Nielsen
- Edward de Bono
- Matt Mullenweg
- W. Timothy Gallwey
- John Tukey
- Jocko Willink
- Cal Fussman
- Peter Attia
- Hamilton Morris
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25 Replies to “Patrick Collison — CEO of Stripe (#353)”
I simply can’t get enough of Tim Ferriss… I devour new episodes as soon as I see the notice in my inbox. Something funny though, I started to get discouraged a bit… Tim, you interview so many amazing successful people who have somehow “made it” (not to mention you, yourself), that I am starting to get depressed about not being like them 😉 Anyhow, enough whining, just wanted to thank you once again for the outstanding job you are doing. Happy Holidays!
No need to get depressed Milen. “Made it” and “Success” are relative terms and you can’t compare to guys like Patrick, etc. Do what makes YOU feel like you’re living a life worthwhile and keep growing…
Tony Robbins on more than one occasion has remarked that we are unhappy when we are not meeting our own expectations of our life- we can either change our expectations or change our strategy for achieving our expectations of our life.
Partway through, simply fantastic- I think their early lifestyle is similar to those Matthew Syed talks about in Bounce (the roots of remarkability are in childhood often times)- wanted to say re: your 4-Hr Workweek episode that there’s an Aussie blogger that started her business because of the book and she is currently making nearly $3 million a year. She might be worth a convo- Denise Duffield-Thomas ( she nearly broke a world record for weddings around the world with Mark, her husband (87 countries), has written three books, has a blog & online business model, fan of your book)
Finished the episode and was really gob-smacked by the realization that at some point in the last few years, I’ve stopped genuinely communicating with people I disagree with….. this episode is really significant in its message on that topic. Someone once said that everyone acts out of their own logic and are never driven to do ill. Even people whose actions we find objectionable have a positive aim in their own mind. I recognize that I glossed over Brene Brown’s last book release because it talks about how we demonize each other and how that is not serving us. Lots to live up to in this episode, thanks, Tim- always pressing to make yourself and us better. Merry Christmas
My curiosity is piqued just from the description… may have to play at 1/2 speed just to wrap my head around it. Thanks again Tim and Happy Holidays!
Loved this!! Great interview and guest 🙂 We use Stripe for our payments so had some real relevance. Thanks to both Tim and Patrick. Happy holidays! Aidan
I love seeing Irish people doing so well. Keep up the great work, Patrick – fair play.
Thanks Tim as always.
I am a “The Tim Ferriss Show” listener and have learned some insightful tips and tricks! Thank you for sharing the content.
Yesterday, while I was looking through episodes, I realized that you largely interview men over women. In fact, only 17% of podcasts from this year were solo interviews with women.
I know you interview experts. That said, I would guess that the population of experts (especially domnestically) is made up of more than 17% women.
I am writing to encourage you seek out more opportunities to learn from female experts, and in the process, expose them to the same platform of listeners from which your male interviewees benefit. Your podcast is strong. I think this shift could make it stronger.
You might enjoy Tim’s amazing and very diverse book, Tribe of Mentors!!!!
Thank you, Kate, well said.
Tim & team, I’m a newer listener and first time commenter. When I reviewed the top 20 list for 2018, the absence of women made me curious (maybe it’s intentional and I have missed the overall vision of the show) and sad (we have much to learn from women too.) So wanted to leave a note, would love your take on this.
Just wanted to let you know I discovered your podcast a few weeks ago and I am completely hooked. I just bought the 4-Hour Work Week and I’m loving it already and (tactfully) planning my escape from the corporate hell that is ABC News. I get paid minimum wage to work about 80 hours a week.
I will say that I would love to see more of a mix of businesswomen on your podcast. I have been finding it much more difficult to come across business content written by and aimed at females, and that has felt a bit discouraging. i would love to see more of that on your show if possible.
Your work is truly life changing and I can’t thank you enough for everything that you do for the New Money community.
See my note to K, Tribe of Mentors, his last book, has business women like Marie Forleo featured, great book!
Enjoyed the discussion. When you were discussing economic history and development economics, I was reminded of the recent Jordan Peterson podcast with Bjorn Lomborg.
[Moderator: link removed.]
They discuss his UN Millenial goals study of effective ways to spend dollars to help the world. Exactly the questions you were asking. They get into a little climate change debate, but not the main point of the talk. Check it out.
Bjorn Lomborg and his research are fascinating, maybe a good guest for your show?
I note that your 5 Bullet Friday says you are interested in learning more about art this year. No better way than to take a classic bookbinding course at San Francisco Center for the Book or any of the other centers around the country or the world. I took my first course more than 10 years ago, was completely fascinated, and pursuing that interest has opened my eyes to design and history and to doors around the world ever since, in private homes and the backdoors of famous museums and libraries I would otherwise never have seen. The progress and fall of civilization of human kind is demonstrated in physical books and their contents, how they are treated and preserved, how they are revered, and disrespected and destroyed.
Just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge, experience and life with all people around the Globe!!!
You are indeed GREAT INSPIRATION and ROLE MODEL!!!
My heartfelt thank you for everything you are doing!
Wishing you all the best!
Decision Making at 1:59 is what was trying to do this week. When choosing a fear to work on this week, I started with the idea I visiti the same websites, so therefore exposed to the same ideas and news cycles. My description was: “Abandoning the familiar for faster pace news cycle” I am trying to visit new online communities (and still comment here), go to busier area of NYC, shortcut tasks to half the time such as time it takes me to write this) Definitely writing what he said as a finer understanding of this concept.
I have tweeted you about a running challenge I am doing
I am attempting to become quicker over 250m in just 2 weeks
My best time at the start was 36.9
I am aiming to get it down to 35 within two weeks
I need advice on how I can do it and if you have any hacks I would like to hear them
Tim, I don’t use twitter but wanted to share a quote that I just heard and thought you’d like:
This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong.
Wolfgang Pauli, on a paper submitted by a physicist colleague
Swiss (Austrian-born) physicist (1900 – 1958)
what an inspiring story!
loved it to the core
Tim, this was a great episode – thanks. Love what you do and eagerly anticpate the next episode. I was wondering if you’d considered doing an episode with an esteemed artist? A Jeff Koons or Ai Wei Wei? The life of artists are hard and I think that a lot can be learned about characater traits and entrepreuniarlism.
Keep riding the consistent wave.
Talk about gross domestic happiness being a slippery subject, I recall a researcher talking on the radio about how her research proved that children who play in vegetated areas as distinct from say car parks are more creative. Without defining creativity and how can you and even if you can how could it be quantified. I mean.
Such an odd playback. Tim was on 1x speed and Patrick was on 3x speed. How’d you do that?!?
This quote by Patrick – “If people around you don’t think what you’re doing is a bit strange, maybe it’s not strange enough” – is what’s inspired me to set up numerous online marketing projects that many thought were weird but are giving me great ROI.
I had not come across Patrick, and loved this episode – and seeing the simplicity of your personal site, Patrick. I keep not getting there…