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The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

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In this pioneering examination of the scientific principles behind success, a leading researcher reveals the surprising ways in which we can turn achievement into success. Too often, accomplishment does not equate to success. We did the work but didn't get the promotion; we played hard but weren't recognized; we had the idea but didn't get the credit. We've always been told In this pioneering examination of the scientific principles behind success, a leading researcher reveals the surprising ways in which we can turn achievement into success. Too often, accomplishment does not equate to success. We did the work but didn't get the promotion; we played hard but weren't recognized; we had the idea but didn't get the credit. We've always been told that talent and a strong work ethic are the key to getting ahead, but in today's world these efforts rarely translate into tangible results. Recognizing this disconnect, Laszlo Barabasi, one of the world's leading experts on the science of networks, uncovers what success really is: a collective phenomenon based on the thoughts and praise of those around you. In The Formula, Barabasi highlights the vital importance of community respect and appreciation when connecting performance to recognition--the elusive link between performance and success. By leveraging the power of big data and historic case studies, Barabasi reveals the unspoken rules behind who truly gets ahead and why, and outlines the twelve laws that govern this phenomenon and how we can use them to our own advantage. Unveiling the scientific principles that drive success, this trailblazing book offers a new understanding of the very foundation of how people excel in today's society.


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In this pioneering examination of the scientific principles behind success, a leading researcher reveals the surprising ways in which we can turn achievement into success. Too often, accomplishment does not equate to success. We did the work but didn't get the promotion; we played hard but weren't recognized; we had the idea but didn't get the credit. We've always been told In this pioneering examination of the scientific principles behind success, a leading researcher reveals the surprising ways in which we can turn achievement into success. Too often, accomplishment does not equate to success. We did the work but didn't get the promotion; we played hard but weren't recognized; we had the idea but didn't get the credit. We've always been told that talent and a strong work ethic are the key to getting ahead, but in today's world these efforts rarely translate into tangible results. Recognizing this disconnect, Laszlo Barabasi, one of the world's leading experts on the science of networks, uncovers what success really is: a collective phenomenon based on the thoughts and praise of those around you. In The Formula, Barabasi highlights the vital importance of community respect and appreciation when connecting performance to recognition--the elusive link between performance and success. By leveraging the power of big data and historic case studies, Barabasi reveals the unspoken rules behind who truly gets ahead and why, and outlines the twelve laws that govern this phenomenon and how we can use them to our own advantage. Unveiling the scientific principles that drive success, this trailblazing book offers a new understanding of the very foundation of how people excel in today's society.

30 review for The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

  1. 5 out of 5

    Devika

    It's really interesting to see a theoretical physicist's take on success through the lens of network sciences. And I'm incredibly impressed at how easily palatable this book is for anyone. Written like a web of different stories, this book is very hard to put down. However, I'm not too convinced about the 'laws' and the 'formula'. He has looked at many fields, and deciphered some (obvious) trends [i.e. networking amplifies success] and some seemingly rash generalisations [i.e. constant/unchangea It's really interesting to see a theoretical physicist's take on success through the lens of network sciences. And I'm incredibly impressed at how easily palatable this book is for anyone. Written like a web of different stories, this book is very hard to put down. However, I'm not too convinced about the 'laws' and the 'formula'. He has looked at many fields, and deciphered some (obvious) trends [i.e. networking amplifies success] and some seemingly rash generalisations [i.e. constant/unchangeable inherent talents]. The basis of all these laws is his empirical research, but he does not mention anything about the methodology of the research. It's like hearing a chef say, "Oh I just threw in all these great ingredients and et voila!". But how were these ingredients weighted? His analysis is a bit salty for my taste. I wonder if it's a classic case of "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". A particularly striking conclusion that he draws is how every human being has a constant 'Q factor' or ability to translate an idea into a discovery. This, according to Barabasi, means that our abilities in life our predetermined. So it's a matter of being persistent at encountering a good idea to work on. Here I would beg to differ. One's talent is not a has-been. If honed by the right mentors, one can bring forth tremendous potential. In fact, many 'superstars' in their respective fields were written off in early stages of their lives. Yet they worked hard enough to turn their lives, and their fields, around. Barabasi's research here seems to only focus on academics and their citations. Scholarly ability might be a given, but can this truly apply as an irrefutable law in every area of life? Being such a quick read, this is worth a glance. But, not sure of the merit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Laing

    I generally steer clear of books with titles like this one, but Barabási is a well-regarded network scientist, so I thought he might have substantive ideas on what drives success. It turns out he does, and they are quite easy to summarize. Generally, ‘success’ just means the achievement of a goal. But in this book, Barabási uses the word to mean something more specific: “the rewards we earn from the communities we belong to.” In particular, this type of success is distinct from performance, in th I generally steer clear of books with titles like this one, but Barabási is a well-regarded network scientist, so I thought he might have substantive ideas on what drives success. It turns out he does, and they are quite easy to summarize. Generally, ‘success’ just means the achievement of a goal. But in this book, Barabási uses the word to mean something more specific: “the rewards we earn from the communities we belong to.” In particular, this type of success is distinct from performance, in that performance is about what you can do, whereas success is about how you are recognized for what you can do. The book devotes one chapter to each of what Barabási calls the universal laws of success: 1. Performance drives success, but when performance can't be measured, networks drive success. 2. Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded. 3. Previous success x fitness = future success. 4. While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the group's achievements. 5. With persistence success can come at any time. Barabási emphasizes that these laws are not recommendations per se, but rather they are claims about a phenomenon. They are meant to help us reason about how social status flows through networks and accrues to individuals within them. That being said, the laws have clear implications for what a person should do if they are seeking success, so after each law I share what I think those implications are. The universal laws of success 1. Performance drives success, but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success. In domains where performance is easy to measure, like in athletics or games, networks don’t count for much. If you can beat Magnus Carlsen at chess or beat Tiger Woods at golf, it doesn’t matter who you know; you’ll get plenty of recognition. But in domains where performance is harder or even impossible to measure, like in the arts, in academics, and in most professions, performance only gets you so far. If you have ever seen a virtuosic street-performing musician and wondered why they weren’t world famous, it’s probably because music isn’t a game with strict rules and unambiguous scores. The harder it is to rank people directly by their skill or by the quality of their contributions, the more their differences in success will be caused by their network: who they know and how well they are liked. Lessons - In domains where performance is easy to measure, focus on improving your performance. - In domains where performance is hard to measure, focus on providing something of value to the relevant community. 2. Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded. Usain Bolt is only a few milliseconds faster than the second fastest sprinter in the world, but he is vastly more famous. Not only that, but Bolt is at most about 2x faster than me, and I’m just a random guy off the street. Mathematically, performance and success are different beasts: the former is about bell curves, while the latter is about long tails. Lessons - Hitting a plateau in performance does not imply hitting a plateau in success. - Unless you have the potential to be the best of the best performers, don't seek success in domains where performance is easy to measure. 3. Previous success x fitness = future success. In network dynamics, an individual’s ‘fitness’ is like their stickiness—how easily they retain the attention and positive regard of others who encounter them. At a conference, your fitness is defined by how good an impression you make during smalltalk at a poster session. On the internet, your fitness is defined by the appeal of your website or your profile—how you describe yourself, the visual style you project, and your recent activity. Of course, fitness doesn’t count for much in the short term if you don’t encounter many people. The other factor that matters in predicting future success is how much success you have already achieved. In a 1999 paper, Barabási and his colleague Réka Albert coined the term preferential attachment to describe how wealth or credit ‘attaches’ itself to people according to how much they already have, causing a rich-get-richer effect. When you observe an individual’s rise to fame in a network, it often starts slow because the compounding effects of their fitness aren’t obvious until after many rounds of multiplication. Lessons - Be patient. - Increase your fitness. - Have as many encounters as possible, especially with influential nodes in your network. 4. While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the group’s achievements. The members of a team have a good understanding of who contributed what, but this information is usually inaccessible to outside observers. Observers will therefore assign credit using heuristics—giving it to, say, the person who is most vocal, or the most senior, or whose outputs were most visible, or whose past experience is most consistent with this type of work. Imagine if I were to study under Barabási and co-author a paper with him. Even if I did most of the work, the scientific community would think of it as Barabási’s new paper, not mine, because this would be their first time hearing my name. Lessons - Speak up. - Work on things that are visible. - Build a specific reputation for the thing you want to be recognized for. 5. With persistence success can come at any time. Success often results from breakthrough innovations and creative achievements, so people often speculate on the causes of such achievements. In particular, it is assumed that creativity is strongly related to a person’s age, and that it is at its peak during the early stages of their career. If you believe this, you might think that if you’re past your prime, you might as well not even try. Barabási’s research suggests a different model: age predicts productivity, and productivity predicts creative success. In other words, each project completed has a similar probability of being a breakout hit, but because people tend to complete more projects early in their careers, this is when they most commonly achieve success. This means that there’s no reason to be fatalistic about having missed your opportunity; the key is to keep producing. Lessons - Keep producing good work. - Don't second-guess yourself because of your age. Core takeaways To summarize the lessons from all of Barabási's laws, the path to success is simple: - Patiently produce a large volume of work in public. - Build relationships and provide value to your community. - Craft your image so that when people encounter you, they want to keep you in their circle.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mario Tomic

    Very interesting read on the topic of success! I'm a fan of such literature, so when I saw this book come out, I was very excited to read it. The author and his group of network scientists looked at data on what leads to success across a variety of fields including arts, science, sports, and business. It was very interesting to then see different pathways to becoming successful in each domain. What I like the most about this book is that it draws conclusions based on studies and data compared to Very interesting read on the topic of success! I'm a fan of such literature, so when I saw this book come out, I was very excited to read it. The author and his group of network scientists looked at data on what leads to success across a variety of fields including arts, science, sports, and business. It was very interesting to then see different pathways to becoming successful in each domain. What I like the most about this book is that it draws conclusions based on studies and data compared to most other "life success" books which are primarily based on anecdotes and motivational speaking. Not to say that this book doesn't have great stories, it certainly has a few that I could relate to. If you're someone who reads "success literature" regularly, I believe you will enjoy this book. It's been an insightful read, and I recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Piotr Szymański

    I remember talking with Albert Barabasi in a hotel restaurant in Seoul about success and he told me about this book explaining a story about how Einstein became famous, the story that concludes this book. That's why I immediately bought the book at an airport once I saw it featured in a bookshop. I practically finished the book over the ORD-WRO flight, with just a few pages left for home. It is written in a clear, engaging way, a set of narratives that set ground and explain laws governing succes I remember talking with Albert Barabasi in a hotel restaurant in Seoul about success and he told me about this book explaining a story about how Einstein became famous, the story that concludes this book. That's why I immediately bought the book at an airport once I saw it featured in a bookshop. I practically finished the book over the ORD-WRO flight, with just a few pages left for home. It is written in a clear, engaging way, a set of narratives that set ground and explain laws governing success different researchers found in various datasets. It starts with a new take on success: not our performance but how people perceive our performance. While of course questions can be asked how well a certain data set is representative of real-world phenomena, what about survivor bias, or are these, mostly western examples replicable in other places, the laws are laid out clearly and argued convincingly. There's a lot of food for thought. The book share a coherent, personal narrative, relating the laws of success to each other and does great job explaining how to use these laws to improve your actions and likelihood of success. You will want to make a lot of notes while reading, I highly recommend buying an ebook and reading it on a kindle.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    There is no formula for success and this boom certainly doesn’t offer one. What it does do is to consolidate some interesting research on successful people. The main thesis is that in most realms of success, there’s no outer limit so successful people can gain all the accolades and even more and it’s not even close to being proportional to how good they are. One depressing point is that success isn’t really about merit but about what those in your audience believe to be good. I was surprised that There is no formula for success and this boom certainly doesn’t offer one. What it does do is to consolidate some interesting research on successful people. The main thesis is that in most realms of success, there’s no outer limit so successful people can gain all the accolades and even more and it’s not even close to being proportional to how good they are. One depressing point is that success isn’t really about merit but about what those in your audience believe to be good. I was surprised that the author didn’t make the obvious point that because success is so subjective and because it’s a judgement made by a group of insiders, that it’s always going to be more difficult for outsiders to gain those success points. He also doesn’t offer ways that one might overcome these dynamics—either as a striver to success or as an in-group.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    A remarkable and empowering read, and very much unlike anything I’ve picked up before on the topic. As Barabasi says early on, it’s not a self-help book, but a science book in which the topic of study is success. It’s 100% about following the data rather than relying on anecdotes. Expect some mind-shifting insights about how humans actually reward work or ignore it. I’ve already used a couple of its lessons to shift how I market myself and my consulting. Incredibly insightful.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Esposo

    A pretty good summary on recent network theoretic work with respect to the notion of career success, mostly in the field of academia, but some extensions in business. The books high-level findings are simple to state: 1. Career success is proportional not only to what one does but also one's position in the topology of their professional network 2. The process of preferential-attachment with respect to credit-assignment on citations-network results in a "feedback" effect on success, but also if A pretty good summary on recent network theoretic work with respect to the notion of career success, mostly in the field of academia, but some extensions in business. The books high-level findings are simple to state: 1. Career success is proportional not only to what one does but also one's position in the topology of their professional network 2. The process of preferential-attachment with respect to credit-assignment on citations-network results in a "feedback" effect on success, but also if credit-assignment misattributes true credit, this will increase the difference between the true value of work and perception, which because of the nature of the phenomenon could be an outsized (nonlinear) difference 3. Ones potential productive capacity, the "Q factor", is invariant up to a person's entire life. Thus, the differential observed in productive output at earlier life vs. later life in most biographical data of eminent individuals seems to more appropriately be attributed to the frequency of attempted output vs a "rusting mind". Of all the findings the author claims, the last would probably be most surprising, especially in the technical fields, where much folk-wisdom has stated the early 40s is the latest, one could be truly innovative, with the age of 30 often being quoted by many throughout history. What Barabasi is saying is that structural life events, related to age, like family development, age-related disease, and other age-related time-sinks, account for most of the dearth in observation for innovation in older cohorts. Its something that is plausible, but the author does not provide much detail in the book on how they concluded this methodologically. I presume it's some kind of regression, but more detail on this part would have been welcomed in the text. The real problem with the book is that much of the wisdom Barabasi discovers with his techniques are fairly obvious. Especially all the bits about non-credited people of eminence, who for one reason or another were never lauded by society. This is the kind of game undergraduates play who are learning a field deeply for the first time. For me, it was late night conversations touting the greatness of Michael Faraday, both from a biographical standpoint and a impact standpoint. And observing how wrong history has been for never giving that person the due they deserved. Or maybe a cat-fight between two physics students on whether Einstein should be given so much claim when people in modern times barely know about Isaac Newton etc. A lot of his conclusions are just a fancier way of saying "it's not what you know, but who". Ironically, despite its name, there's not really any useful "formula" one can plug in various career control-variables in, and get some meaningful output that can improve one's career/output from, outside the vague notion of "keep on trying, and never give up". Barabasi does organize his case and the evidence nicely though. The two cases that struck me the most were Douglas Prasher, a PhD from Ohio State, and Albert Einstein. Prasher was a sad case, he was unjustly not included in the 2008 Nobel Prize in biology, despite the fact that the seminal work celebrated that year, was produced by him. For his case, it can be traced back to a string of bad luck. Prior to being rediscovered, a journalist found him working as a used-car salesman. The other case, Einstein, was used several times in the book. One as an example how age does not preclude amazing technical work, specifically citing the EPR paper he helped author at the twilight of his career, which is probably the most cited paper he's ever written because of its direct application to quantum information. Which is also an example of the unexpected effects one's work can have many decades after the work was completed, as I doubt the notion of a quantum computer ever entered any of the EPR-author's minds in the late 1930s. Another use of Einstein was to use him as an example of misattribution, specifically that his fame in the US occurred because the NYT journalist that covered his arrival in America misattributed why there were so many people showed up at the dock of his ship. Instead of wanting to meet Einstein, they were actually waiting to see Chaim Weitzman, a prominent Zionist, but because the non-Jewish journalist did not recognize this individual, but did recognize Einstein, they attributed all the pomp and circumstance to him, which started his entry to popular fame in American media. Maybe, it seems like a strongly path-dependent phenomena Barabasi is describing, but from my memory preferential-attachment does result to exactly that sort of phenomena, so the data probably backs Barabasi up on this fact. After reading the book, I was surprised that Barabasi also didn't leverage the example of Yitang Zhang, who a few years ago, in very advanced age, was discovered to have resolved a tremendously difficult mathematics problem, and could be used as an example of a strong mind, who was poorly connected, and had a relatively mediocre career until recently because of that fact. Another recent example could also be Grigori Perlman, who was discovered by the mathematics community much earlier than Zhang, but who've since seemed to have gone back into obscurity because of his lack of social connection. Overall, not a bad book. Someone who is decently-read in network science, maybe taken a course, MOOC, or read another book on it (or a researcher in the field), you might find it all old-hat, also there's very little practical career advice here you wouldn't get in any business book on networking, except if you needed a mathematical argument for it, perhaps this provides that? Get it on sale

  8. 5 out of 5

    Siah

    Basically the most successful scientists, according to this research, are those who “socialize” their work the way Kim Kardashian advertises her next fraudulent diet pill.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book is required reading for anyone with an ounce of ambition or desire to explore their fullest potential. Every kid should have it, and so should every parent, to help advise their kids on strategies for success based on network science and evidence gathered across multiple fields (tennis, science, warfare) and even species (chickens). "By recognizing that there's more to success than simple performance, we can assist hopeful up-and-comers with an arsenal of practical strategies," wrote Ba This book is required reading for anyone with an ounce of ambition or desire to explore their fullest potential. Every kid should have it, and so should every parent, to help advise their kids on strategies for success based on network science and evidence gathered across multiple fields (tennis, science, warfare) and even species (chickens). "By recognizing that there's more to success than simple performance, we can assist hopeful up-and-comers with an arsenal of practical strategies," wrote Barabasi, which explains the entire premise of the book -- success is not just about hard work and building skills, though it is definitely crucial. Success is also about leveraging one's networks, learning with whom to collaborate or when it's time to strike it out on one's own, keeping at it, and also simply being at the right place at the right time. It would be good enough to walk away with those lessons except that the case studies the writer mentions have been so fascinating to learn about and truly drive home the point. I can't say enough good things about this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chadi Raheb

    * chance= right time & right place * related background = preferential attachment * network, network, network @Bplus: https://castbox.fm/vd/198799241 * chance= right time & right place * related background = preferential attachment * network, network, network @Bplus: https://castbox.fm/vd/198799241

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shitiz Srivastava

    Rarely does comes a book which makes an impact on your mind as this book does. Recently there has been a plethora of books which relies on statistical data, quotes, sayings and university level research for conveying their ideas. Some do it forcefully and some try to convince you. The formula by Albert Laszlo Barabasi is one such book which gives you everything in the name of knowledge and rules but leaves it on your own understanding to apply it on your life or not. The book does not try to plea Rarely does comes a book which makes an impact on your mind as this book does. Recently there has been a plethora of books which relies on statistical data, quotes, sayings and university level research for conveying their ideas. Some do it forcefully and some try to convince you. The formula by Albert Laszlo Barabasi is one such book which gives you everything in the name of knowledge and rules but leaves it on your own understanding to apply it on your life or not. The book does not try to please you and hits straight at the point. Albert is a network scientist turned author who has done a tremendous amount of research for the book and it is evident from his writing. He tells you about the factors that contribute to one's success, sometimes they depend on the individual and sometimes they don't. He gives a nice example about wine that it is very easy to separate a bad wine from a good wine but even the best judge of wine couldn't differentiate between two extremely good wines and can't tell which one is best with absolute surety. As one moves up the ladder of success, success becomes more easy for him but getting down from the ladder of success is easy too. The book is an excellent read for those who think that success is a one rule process and hard work is the only key but statistically it is not so. It will tell you five rules that are actually define and have made people successful but this is by no means a success guide book. This book analyzes successful people and tells you the reason for their success and if that helps you, better for you. Mustread highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dan Connors

    There are tons of books out there about success, but this is the first one I ever read that tries to take a scientific look at it. Barabasi's specialty is something called network science, which I never knew existed, and he looks at how networks respond to events. The author presents 5 laws that are based in scientific research, each of which presents how big success can happen for some and not for others. Why are some works of art considered priceless masterpieces and others considered garage s There are tons of books out there about success, but this is the first one I ever read that tries to take a scientific look at it. Barabasi's specialty is something called network science, which I never knew existed, and he looks at how networks respond to events. The author presents 5 laws that are based in scientific research, each of which presents how big success can happen for some and not for others. Why are some works of art considered priceless masterpieces and others considered garage sale fodder? Why is some wine thousands of dollars and others $5? The answer depends on what can be measured empirically and what cannot. Where opinion rules, in things like American Idol competitions, it is networks that make the difference. Success breeds success and once people latch onto something even a tiny bit, preferential attachment takes over and causes a snowball effect that explains why Adam Sandler movies keep getting made. There's some good material here about teams, succeeding at any age, and striking out on your own so you don't lose credit to others. All backed up by science. I still think luck has a lot to do with big success, and any advantage we can pull to get away from the pack makes it easier to be noticed. Here on Goodreads, we look for 4 or 5 star reviews. Out there in the world people look for signs of success, and rely on networks to clue them in. Building those networks and working with them appears to be the best shot at success, both large and small. And if you want something new to play with, check out the Pantheon Project- a huge database of famous people ranked by impact. Great book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Blossom Turner

    This book was a must read for a course I am taking, my right brain hurt. What could have been said in a tenth of the words was stretched out over a 474 page book. A dominant left brain individual would probably find it a fascinating read. That said, I finished it only because I follow through with all course requirements, but was disappointed that nothing new surfaced. Success is as we all know it to be, raw talent coupled with random luck, hard work, good networking and if you are lucky ... and This book was a must read for a course I am taking, my right brain hurt. What could have been said in a tenth of the words was stretched out over a 474 page book. A dominant left brain individual would probably find it a fascinating read. That said, I finished it only because I follow through with all course requirements, but was disappointed that nothing new surfaced. Success is as we all know it to be, raw talent coupled with random luck, hard work, good networking and if you are lucky ... and become successful, that success will breed more success. Not rocket science, but somehow this scientist tried to make it that and more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Orban

    It disclosed the universal laws of success in a truly scientific manner. :) It will empower us with tools how to help each other or how to help ourselves...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Well-intentioned author is a bit florid and disjointed in narrative, at times. Nonetheless, a fascinating read exploring why talent and performance alone are insufficient for success.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Cook

    Skews far more ‘pop’ than hard science. Makes for a smoother read, but also lends the feeling that the studies showcased were cherry-picked — basically little to no energy spent on competing viewpoints. A few of the “laws” are somewhat easy to nod along with without novelty (e.g. artist success is largely driven by network, wine judging is bs, success breeds more success), but interesting to see them borne out with statistical significance I guess. This review is kind of a wet noodle but I legitim Skews far more ‘pop’ than hard science. Makes for a smoother read, but also lends the feeling that the studies showcased were cherry-picked — basically little to no energy spent on competing viewpoints. A few of the “laws” are somewhat easy to nod along with without novelty (e.g. artist success is largely driven by network, wine judging is bs, success breeds more success), but interesting to see them borne out with statistical significance I guess. This review is kind of a wet noodle but I legitimately enjoyed the book and would recommend it. - - - - - Favorite passages: “The key distinction between the two men is that one was useful to his network and the other was not. The Red Baron’s success was about what was happening politically and socially during the war, not only about how many planes he shot down, or how vain he was, or how he felt about his accomplishments. We remember him today because he was once vital to the German propaganda machine. His reputation was left in the hands of those desperate for a hero to galvanize their spirit. The broad public, responding to the Red Baron’s performance, created a myth about him that served its purposes. In other words, the network found him useful and chose to amplify his success.” “High achievers continue to excel no matter what education a school offers. The Boston Latin students have that superior collective SAT score at graduation because the entrance exam selected the top performers to begin with. And they simply carried those abilities through high school. In other words, Boston Latin doesn’t make your daughter a better student. It’s your daughter who makes Boston Latin into the elite school it is... The single determinant of long-term success was derived from the best college a kid merely applied to, even if she didn’t get in. Meaning that if she applied to Harvard, got rejected, and went to Northeastern, her success was on a par with that of Harvard graduates who matched her SATs and high school grades. In other words, it’s performance and ambition—where she thinks she belongs—that determine your daughter’s success.” “For one, team members with high IQs didn’t do any better on collective intelligence tests than their lower-IQ peers. In fact, individual intelligence didn’t seem to matter much in the context of group performance. Neither did factors like the motivation level of group members or their individual satisfaction. What did matter was how the test takers communicated. First, teams tended to do well if individuals in the group had higher-than-average ability to read emotional cues. Second, groups where a few people dominated the conversation had a lower collective intelligence than those with more equality among group members. In other words, the best teams were those whose members shared discussion time and listened to one another. The third key factor was a fascinating offshoot of the other two: teams with female members had higher collective intelligence.” “Female economists pay an enormous penalty for collaborating. To be clear, men pay no price for collaborative work. They can work alone, in partnerships, or in groups, and their chances of tenure will remain the same. Women, on the other hand, collaborate at their own peril. From a tenure perspective, if you’re a female economist publishing with men, you might as well not publish at all.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    Never give up, never surrender This is a very good extension of some of the ideas in Thinking, Fast and Slow, but with a twist. The author is a solid researcher in network science. He tackles hard questions about how success is achieved, starting with how you would even measure it. His premise is that when performance quality cannot be objectively measured, the 'network' determines the value and thus the success of the performer. The writing is excellent and examples are wonderful, ranging from p Never give up, never surrender This is a very good extension of some of the ideas in Thinking, Fast and Slow, but with a twist. The author is a solid researcher in network science. He tackles hard questions about how success is achieved, starting with how you would even measure it. His premise is that when performance quality cannot be objectively measured, the 'network' determines the value and thus the success of the performer. The writing is excellent and examples are wonderful, ranging from personal stories about how his kid was accepted into college to why Einstein was so famous. This is the first book where I've seen the idea that performance is bounded: following something like a Gaussian distribution, combined with the idea that success follows a power law: like the distribution of wealth. There is a limit to how fast a human can run or how good a wine can be so there is a reason why wine and music competitions are so flawed and why nothing succeeds like success. I'll have to think about one of the author's assertions about our ability to turn an idea into a success. He says that it follows the equation: S = Q*R Where R is the value of the idea (there are good ideas and bad ones), and Q is your ability to 'execute'. By itself, this seems reasonable, but the author claims Q doesn't change over a career. He admits that the paper was rejected (at least once) because of this claim, and if I had been a reviewer I would have rejected it on this basis too. Maybe I am too influenced by Dweck Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, but I have a hard time believing any performance parameter is fixed and cannot be changed unless there is a physical limitation. On the other hand, I agree with his suggestion that if your 'Q' value continues to feel too low for too long, perhaps you should change your direction, regardless of your passion for the subject. One of the examples really made me smile. The author tells the story of John Fenn, who I met many times during my career as an analytical chemist. John was a great example of how you can have wild success at any age. Fenn invented one of the most important tools in analytical chemistry in 1984 at age 67 and was awarded the Nobel prize in 2002 at age 85.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rada

    This is a great book on understanding the factors that play a role in success. I enjoyed the mix of insightful observations, interesting anecdotes, positive messages. Some of my own key takeaways - success is related to, but different from performance; success can be unlimited, while performance is limited - success leads to success; kick-starting is important - thus also a way to help others - success can happen at any time; some associate important discoveries with early careers, but that's only b This is a great book on understanding the factors that play a role in success. I enjoyed the mix of insightful observations, interesting anecdotes, positive messages. Some of my own key takeaways - success is related to, but different from performance; success can be unlimited, while performance is limited - success leads to success; kick-starting is important - thus also a way to help others - success can happen at any time; some associate important discoveries with early careers, but that's only because early careers tend to be more productive. Continued productivity leads to continued success. - success is shaped by one's willingness to try repeatedly for a breakthrough - interesting trivia: Einstein's fame (not performance) was largely do to a misunderstanding - NYT thought that 20000 people gathered to welcome Einstein when he arrived from Europe, but they in fact gathered to welcome someone else. - interesting metric: to put academic performance in economic terms, a citation is worth approx. $100K. For once, I am a billionaire :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad hosseini

    This is not a self-help book, this is what author says. He says this book is a “science help”, a framework that uses science to understand and orchestrate our outcomes. He defines success like this: Success is the rewards we earn from the communities we belong to. So based on this definition, author examines specific type of success; external and collective success. Authors provides so many stories and evidences for success laws but most of them don’t match with my mental model. So I couldn’t und This is not a self-help book, this is what author says. He says this book is a “science help”, a framework that uses science to understand and orchestrate our outcomes. He defines success like this: Success is the rewards we earn from the communities we belong to. So based on this definition, author examines specific type of success; external and collective success. Authors provides so many stories and evidences for success laws but most of them don’t match with my mental model. So I couldn’t understand them. I think maybe there were better ways to explain these laws. The success laws are these: The first law: Performance drives success, but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success. The second law: Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded. The third law: Previous success * fitness = future success The fourth law: While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the group’s achievements. The fifth law: With persistence success can come at every time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nadine

    I stumbled on this one as it was linked to another book I'd been listening to and I'm really glad I did. I nearly didn't start it, thinking it would be one of those self-help American style "you can do it if you want to do it" type books, but it was quite different. Barabási is a Hungarian immigrant who has done real scientific research into networks and success and crunched substantial volumes of data in his quest to understand what makes the difference between for instance a Nobel prize winner I stumbled on this one as it was linked to another book I'd been listening to and I'm really glad I did. I nearly didn't start it, thinking it would be one of those self-help American style "you can do it if you want to do it" type books, but it was quite different. Barabási is a Hungarian immigrant who has done real scientific research into networks and success and crunched substantial volumes of data in his quest to understand what makes the difference between for instance a Nobel prize winner and one of the other 50 co-authors on the papers that he wrote (I say he, because most Nobel winners are men, and he uncovers the reasons for this too - hint - if you're a woman, never collaborate in your research, you'll be shafted). It's a positive forward looking book and an enjoyable read / listen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Asmaa Mannasaheb

    A good read. Some good stories to support the laws. Would've been good if we were not just told about the laws but also how we can apply those laws to be successful. The stories do help in understanding how to implement the laws but a direct explanation would be good. Sometimes there's a lot of information in one chapter. Chapters are separated into different parts but not subtitled. Subtitled sections would've made it a little easier to follow through. It's not so hard without them, just that it A good read. Some good stories to support the laws. Would've been good if we were not just told about the laws but also how we can apply those laws to be successful. The stories do help in understanding how to implement the laws but a direct explanation would be good. Sometimes there's a lot of information in one chapter. Chapters are separated into different parts but not subtitled. Subtitled sections would've made it a little easier to follow through. It's not so hard without them, just that it would've been easier. Many things I came across in the book are interesting perspectives supported by deep research. It is a good read to get a scientific view on success and its different patterns.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    I was assigned to read this book for an upcoming writers conference, and it's absolutely fascinating. I was afraid that it would be too business-style for me, but I found it quite easy to read (though I'm still trying to fully understand his definition of "fitness"). I don't read business books or self-help books at all, but this one really captured my attention and held it. If you're at all curious about how to succeed in your field (or why people succeed), I recommend this book. I was assigned to read this book for an upcoming writers conference, and it's absolutely fascinating. I was afraid that it would be too business-style for me, but I found it quite easy to read (though I'm still trying to fully understand his definition of "fitness"). I don't read business books or self-help books at all, but this one really captured my attention and held it. If you're at all curious about how to succeed in your field (or why people succeed), I recommend this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dori Ban

    Scientific explanation of our intuitions on success.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hamilton Lindley

    Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is a network scientist. In this book, he uses data science to explain successful people. Measuring success depends on perspective. You may measure success by money. But your five-year-old measures success by your love. Are you a success if you die as a millionaire, alone? No. You don’t measure your own success. We do. The Red Baron vs. The Other Guy Performance determines success. But that performance depends on the audience. We do not recognize some of the best performers a Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is a network scientist. In this book, he uses data science to explain successful people. Measuring success depends on perspective. You may measure success by money. But your five-year-old measures success by your love. Are you a success if you die as a millionaire, alone? No. You don’t measure your own success. We do. The Red Baron vs. The Other Guy Performance determines success. But that performance depends on the audience. We do not recognize some of the best performers as a success. For example, we have all heard of the Red Baron. That Ace was so good that he painted his aircraft a bold red—daring anyone to shoot him down. A pilot with at least five dogfight victories is an Ace. And very few pilots were an Ace. The Red Baron had 80 dogfight victories. Nearly one hundred years after his death, he has hundreds of autobiographies, fights with Snoopy, and has a frozen pizza named after him. We believe that the Red Baron was the best fighter pilot of all time. But that’s wrong. He wasn’t even the best fighter pilot of World War I. The Other Guy was a better performer Rene Fonck, a Frenchman, had 142 dogfight victories during the First World War. That is a fantastic number—especially when 80 wins made the Red Baron a household name. Fonck was the best dogfighter. But we have not heard of him. We think of the Red Baron as a success while Rene Fonck remains an unknown. It is our perception versus reality. Success is about us. Why is our perception wrong? First, the Red Baron was outstanding. He performed to the outer limits. But what separated the two was that the Red Baron was better at using his network to make himself known. Once someone achieves success, it continues to snowball. Our perception is that the successful continue to be successful. These are LAWS. Not just principles. Barabasi explains that five “laws” exist for success. He uses the term “law” because his research revealed that these are not just characteristics of success. They are unchanging scientific laws just as constant as gravity. First Law: Performance Drives Success. But when performance is immeasurable, networks drive success. Tennis is all performance. Your network will not help you win a match. On the other end of the spectrum is art. Artists do not achieve success by performance alone. It is about networks. For example, a Campbell soup can is worth less than a dollar at the store. A Campbell soup can painted by Andy Warhol sold for more than $11 million in 1962. And you can’t even eat what is inside. Why is Warhol’s version worth so much? Because of the network that he leveraged. The Campbell soup can paintings are just a work of copyright infringement. Network in your niche. Barabasi tells the story of his first science convention. He asked his scientist hero, who he had never met before, to lunch. He said no. But that hero was available for dinner. The rest was history. Barabasi’s network exploded. He achieved success by leveraging his network. Second Law: Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded. There is little substantive difference at the top of any profession. For example, the difference between sprinters is in the hundredths of a second. The human body can only move so fast. But the rewards associated with being number one are immeasurable. The fastest person is Usain Bolt. He can run 28 miles per hour. Who is the second? Few people know. But he also runs 28 miles an hour. Seeing is believing A study of pianists reveals unbounded success. Participants were put into three groups. They were to determine who won a recorded piano competition by: (1) listening only; (2) listening and watching; and (3) watching only. Which of the three sets picked the winner? The people listening only, right? They purely heard the music. Wrong. It was the group that watched the performances with the sound off. Those who listened to the sound only did the worst. The winners did not just master the skill of playing the piano. They looked the part. All the pianists sounded similar. Third Law: Fitness times Previous Success = Future Success. Here, Barabasi uses quality and fitness interchangeably. This is one of the most frustrating laws. To be successful in the future, you need to be successful in the past. We like what others like People want things that other people like. Teenagers participated in a study involving music. First, users began the experiment by downloading a song they liked in the opening set. When a song is downloaded, it indicated that the music was liked by the listener. The number of downloads remained private. Later, the participants could vote on the songs they liked the most. Votes are seen by all the participants. So the most downloaded songs were also voted the most popular, right? Wrong. When users saw that a song was ranked by others as being good, they were more likely to rate that song as good too. People like what other people like, even if it is not as good. This even happened to teachers and students. Teachers were told (falsely) that certain students excelled at testing when they did not. Because the teachers expected brilliance, they got it. Those students actually did score brilliantly on the next standardized testing. The first performer does not win Barabasi next identifies that we rarely judge the first person fairly because we want to be fair to the later performers. So we artificially deflate the results of the first performer. Don’t be the first person interviewed. You do not want to be the first salesman. And you do not want to be the first figure skater on the rink. Fourth Law: While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive the credit for the group. Doug Prasher should have won a Nobel Prize. But he drives a courtesy van for a living. Prasher developed a glowing jellyfish protein used today to fight many diseases. But academia did not believe him when Prasher first presented it. And Prasher lacked the persistence to keep presenting his rejected discovery. So he quit science. But he did send his jellyfish protein materials to two other scientists instead of destroying them. Those scientists used Prasher’s unnoticed scientific research to get the Nobel Prize. It was all Prasher’s work. Perfect Group Barabasi describes a perfect group. An ideal team has (1) people who are friends of friends; (2) friends; and (3) women. Diversity is important because we see the world through different lenses. We all have different perspectives on how to attack a problem. And having different relationships creates a culture of collaboration. Balanced Group Group balance was shown by chicken farmer (and Purdue biologist), William Muir. He studied the productivity of egg-laying chickens on his farm. He had two sets of chickens: (1) the individual superstars; and (2) the best group. The superchickens should be a super-productive flock, right? Wrong. Among the nine in the superchicken group, only three were left alive. The rest were literally pecked to death. Those that were still alive are the featherless things shown below. Meanwhile, the best team of chickens increased production by 160%. The henpecked superchickens had nothing. This shows that a group requires balance, not a bunch of hotshots. A team will collapse without collaboration. So it is essential to create a fair playing field and keep the aggressive in check. The “superchickens” are on top. The best team is on the bottom. Fifth Law: Success can come at any time as long as we are persistent. Scientific circles believe that young scientists publish more breakthrough material. But Barabasi’s lab found that it is just because the older scientists are publishing fewer papers. Innovation appears to slow down because people stop trying, like Prasher above. If he could stomach being rejected a few more times, he would have won the Nobel Prize. Einstein Moment The book ends with the story of Einstein. He was not initially liked by Americans because he appeared elitist and snobby while he was a relative unknown across the pond. But when he came to America, things changed. He was greeted with throngs of onlookers in New York City. People adored him as he paraded down Fifth Avenue–stunning the media. When the press finally met Einstein, they found him affable, unassuming, and eager to teach in plain English. He was nothing like they expected. And now everywhere Einstein went, he was a celebrity. This meets the elements of the laws of success. But his debut in New York City was not really Einstein’s. He was simply on the boat with other famous people at the time promoting a new state of Israel. The press thought the people were there for Einstein, and that is how they reported it. But Einstein was prepared. The takeaway: be ready for your Einstein moment. Hammer Time This book is too focused on academia. More discussion on finding my network would be helpful. In academia, the network is other academics. But many occupations do not have that clear network. Overall, I give it four out of five hammers. Read this review on my blog! https://www.hamiltonlindley.org/perce...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    This books brings light to an area I've long realized was important but didn't have clarity on how it worked. He calls it "success" and by that means the recognition and respect of others for your work. Many, many books (and blogs and podcasts and speakers...) talk about how to get better at the skills of your work. That's important (and he covers that part in this book, too). But the other part of the equation is why some people get recognized for good work and others don't. This book have five This books brings light to an area I've long realized was important but didn't have clarity on how it worked. He calls it "success" and by that means the recognition and respect of others for your work. Many, many books (and blogs and podcasts and speakers...) talk about how to get better at the skills of your work. That's important (and he covers that part in this book, too). But the other part of the equation is why some people get recognized for good work and others don't. This book have five laws that outline how this actually works. It's the most useful and insightful treatment that I've ever heard or read on this. So, if you need others respect to succeed in your field then I HIGHLY recommend this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Arash

    I was initially sceptical of this book because the title makes it seem like a dodgy self help book, but am pleased to report that is not the case. This book details a physicist-turned network scientists research into the conditions that bring about "success", in a captivating web of interwoven personal stories, illustrating historical anecdotes, and summaries of research done by his and other groups. His final takeaway that each project you put into the world buys you another success lotto ticke I was initially sceptical of this book because the title makes it seem like a dodgy self help book, but am pleased to report that is not the case. This book details a physicist-turned network scientists research into the conditions that bring about "success", in a captivating web of interwoven personal stories, illustrating historical anecdotes, and summaries of research done by his and other groups. His final takeaway that each project you put into the world buys you another success lotto ticket is a at once both common sense, and clearly absent from the forefront of the thinking of many (including myself) when thinking about the material path to success.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Duy Nguyen

    *3.5 rating The ideas in this book are interesting, although they are no huge "eye-openers". Coming from a technical background myself, I wish he had provided more details on the analysis methods and approaches rather than just providing the conclusions. Also, I am not sure how I feel about his constant Q-factor conclusion. In my view it is too overgeneralised, especially for something that is not (accurately) measurable. Overall good and fun read. *3.5 rating The ideas in this book are interesting, although they are no huge "eye-openers". Coming from a technical background myself, I wish he had provided more details on the analysis methods and approaches rather than just providing the conclusions. Also, I am not sure how I feel about his constant Q-factor conclusion. In my view it is too overgeneralised, especially for something that is not (accurately) measurable. Overall good and fun read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Arm P.

    The Universal Laws of Success (according to network science) 1.Performance drives success, but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success. 2.Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded. 3.Previous success × fitness = future success. 4.While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the group’s achievements. 5.With persistence success can come at any time.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    POSITIVES: - I liked how Barabási sharply differentiate between PERFORMANCE and SUCCESS. -The notion that "performance is bounded, success is not" is a good phrase to keep in mind. -I liked his explanation of how credit for work done by a group often goes to the most famous person in the group even if that person didn't do the most important work on any particular project. -His explanation of "Why it's never too late to be successful" was interesting. Basically his data shows that older people don' POSITIVES: - I liked how Barabási sharply differentiate between PERFORMANCE and SUCCESS. -The notion that "performance is bounded, success is not" is a good phrase to keep in mind. -I liked his explanation of how credit for work done by a group often goes to the most famous person in the group even if that person didn't do the most important work on any particular project. -His explanation of "Why it's never too late to be successful" was interesting. Basically his data shows that older people don't become less creative, they just end up doing fewer project because of burnout, being tired, or simply having other responsibilities. But when they do attempt a project they are just as likely to have a breakthrough as younger people. NEGATIVES: -In general I felt like his discussion was a bit simplistic and generic. It felt more like it was confirming what many people were thinking than saying surprising new things. -I think he tries a bit too hard to inflate the practical relevance of this research. I don't think most of this will change how people try to pursue success. CONCLUSION: I think for me the most important contribution of this book is that it provides evidence for being a little more skeptical of "successful" people. i.e. that "world famous" singer, writer, scientist, architect, dentist, etc. may not necessarily be that much better than her less famous colleagues, but they may be a beneficiary of some of these "network effects" that have made them a much bigger name than many of their contemporaries. I think this is kind of what my intuition told me anyway, but this research seems to back it up.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nopadol Rompho

    One of the best books, I've read this year. I love the way the author proposed the formula of success. It stems from all scientific researches, which took several years to accomplish. It also told us how we can succeed. I love it. One of the best books, I've read this year. I love the way the author proposed the formula of success. It stems from all scientific researches, which took several years to accomplish. It also told us how we can succeed. I love it.

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