While the title is enticing and intriguing, I did not find “the formula” for success in this book :) That said, the book does a great job of
- differentiating critical aspects that are often conflated when talking about success and
- identifying the key aspects that influence success while arguing why all of these aspects are necessary.
I liked the book as it provides loads of real life examples and scientific experiments conducted by the author and others to support the author’s observations. Also, I liked that some of the observations that seem like folks wisdom are reinforced by the findings from experiments.
Definitely an interesting and quick read that will make you think :)
Now, here are few highlights from the book.
- Performance is controlled by individuals and success (i.e., fame, money, etc.) is controlled by others.
- “Success is a collective phenomenon rather than an individual one.”
- “Performance drives success, but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success.” Think of athletics (accurate concrete measurements) vs art (fuzzy abstract measurements).
- “It’s performance and ambition —where she thinks she belongs — that determine your daughter’s success.” The book makes a point about how schools do not solely determine the success of students after graduation.
- When humans are judging an aspect of a set of participants (e.g., people in interviews, musical performances, wine tasting), the closer the participants are to each other in terms of the judged aspect, the outcome is more random than we believe it to be.
- “Performance in bounded, but success is unbounded” (with some caveats). Think of a single human vs the collective. Think about how scale-free performance (e.g., golfing with network coverage) rakes is more success.
- “Lower-ranked players who never expected to stand a chance against Woods were rarely affected by his presence.”
- Success benefits from a kick start. Apparently, folks sockpuppet their success :)
- “Homing in on excellence is harder than we think.”
- “Exceptional fitness can defy social influence.”
- “The more ratings a product had, the more its final rating differed from its true fitness.” This is attributed to the influence of existing ratings on new ratings.
- “When a product has fitness and previous success, its long-term success is determined by fitness alone.”
- “There’s a sweet spot for team success: spontaneous contributions of a group’s diverse contributors, yet with the direction of a singular leader.” aka benevolent dictatorship.
- “Credit for teamwork isn’t based on performance. Credit is based on perception.”
- “Creativity itself has no age.”
- “With persistence, success can come at any time.”
- “Your chance of success has little to do with your age. It’s shaped by your willingness to try repeatedly for a breakthrough.”