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.
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.
Group balance was shown by
Meanwhile, the best team of chickens increased production by 160%. The henpecked
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.
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.
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.
Isn’t it weird how we like things that others seem to like? It’s sad that authors sometimes write reviews on their own books pseudonymously. But sockpuppeting really works. What was more inspiring was the story that some teachers were falsely told that particular students were gifted after a standardized test. Then those students actually did score spectacularly at the end of the year. The teachers expected brilliance, so they encouraged it, and the students performed better as a response. That shows the power of positivity when it’s on both sides like that.
It does seem odd that we don’t like the best. We like the very good that lots of other people like too. We want nice things, but we still want to fit in.
Finding the Formula for Success is amazing. I was looking for that information.
I never understood how networks drove success when performance is immeasurable. This shows the hypocrisy of the art world. Just because a piece of art was made by someone famous does not mean its actually a better piece of art than art by an anonymous author. It is unfair and robs humanity of actually good art. But I guess we shouldn’t bemoan the author for highlighting this. We need to use it to our own advantage. Thanks for sharing. I really like your use of memes.
It is an interesting perspective for sure. Thanks for your comments. I’m glad that you like the memes.
I enjoy the design and layout of your website. It’s very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work!
Thank you! It is a theme.
Easy to read style. Nice summation
Those of us who try to be the best in our profession realize performance is difficult to measure in many cases. Unless you’re an athlete, measuring the performance of a lawyer, law student, or businessman is difficult. Many have excellent characteristics in addition to drawbacks.
What a wonderful book. The Formula distinguishes between performance and success and provides very useful insights for new companies or scientists on how to jumpstart their success. Intended for the lay reader rather than Dr. Barabasi’s colleagues in network theory, The Formula is well written and shows how the rules for success apply across disciplines and boundaries and how they can be managed to our benefit.
It’s an interesting book. Glad you liked the summary.
His laws apply to just about any field from shoemaker to an atomic physicist. If you want to be successful in life (and who doesn’t), you absolutely must read this book if you don’t want to be left in the dustbin of history.
Sounds like an interesting read. I hadn’t heard of The Formula, but I’m intrigued by the premise of using others to define success. In your summary, it seems like Barabasi is saying that much of success is based on marketing and public perception…definitely interested in this book, but not sure I completely agree with its perspective.
Hey Liz, it is pretty interesting. He definitely defines success from a perception-is-reality perspective. It’s not who is the best. It’s who gets credit for being the best. Personally, I would define success as happiness.
good take, Hamilton Lindley.
This book was mentioned in an article I was reading. I was intrigued by the story of Al Diaz and Jean-Michel Basquiat, two artists who worked together for a time and were of comparable talent. Yet Basquiat became an artistic superstar while Diaz is obscure. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi provides many fascinating stories like this in The Formula. Barabasi has spearheaded efforts to learn why some people become more successful than others and there do appear to be certain rules for success.
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 a success.
Spot on with this great writeup. I didn’t realize that data scientists compiled this type of information. It’s interesting to learn similar elements of people who have experienced success. And it explains why the best aren’t always appreciated for it. This article (and book) deserves more love. I hope that you find success in blogging, Hamilton!
It’s great to hear about all the things that bind success together, Hamilton Lindley. This was a good, fun read. I like how you vote on these using a number of hammers. Very engaging.
This is a real struggle of a network scientist trying to formulate an abstract subject like success. It is a tough job. Good read.
This was a fantastic read, Hamilton Lindley. I am going to start using my network to drive success because I’m in a field where performance is not easily measured. Thanks, man.
Luke, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi is a world-known scientist with immense contributions in network science. As a scientist specialized in computational genomics, I routinely perform network analyses and thus am quite familiar with his research, especially on biology and genomics.
The book delivered on my expectations and was a thoroughly enjoyable collection of stories of colleagues and their journeys to discovery.
I will be blunt. When I first read the title of Laszlo’s new book I was taken aback. Laws? Universal?
This formula for success sounds like a great way to concentrate on the ways to get better. Data science is just a fascinating field that I cannot get enough of.
Pingback: Hamilton Lindley – faizan
Daniel Pink made a fan out of me again. Timing is so important and makes a huge difference in our everyday lives and business.
By showing the scientific laws propelling success, this book offers incredible insights into the basic ways of how people get ahead. Highly recommend this book!
The fifth law is the one that gives me the most hope — that with persistence success can come at any time.
I’ve never thought about success not being about me and my performance. I guess that I’m just self-centered. Barabasi taught me that it’s about us and how others perceive my performance.
Breaking down success into a science makes this book much more persuasive to me.
I’ve never put it together before that there were universal laws of success that bound success together. This was an interesting read that I’ll have to buy online.
good to read the ideas that bind success together.
Greetings! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!
Perfect work you have done, this website is really cool with wonderful information.
It’s nearly impossible to find educated people about this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks
It is really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article.
I wanted to write a little comment to support you.
Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog?
My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would certainly benefit from some of the information you present here.Please let me know if this alright with you. Appreciate it!
Hi there, I read your blog on a regular basis. Your style is witty, keep it up!
You really make these universal laws for success seem easy.
I love it when people come together and share views. Great website, stick with it!
Informative article, just what I wanted to find.
this was a great way to learn ideas for making my life better. thanks for putting this together.
Whoa! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design.
Thanks a lot for sharing this with all people you actually understand what you are writing about!
Loving the information on this website. You have done outstanding job on the content.
Hello.This post was really remarkable, especially because I was thinking about the formula for success during the last couple of days.
The ideas that you illustrate with this article are helpful to me personally and professionally.
This article is amazing. I would like to see more posts like this.
I’m definitely intrigued by The Formula. I found it helpful and I’ll be reading it soon.
Enjoyed reading this, very good stuff.
Wow, superb blog structure! How long have you been blogging for?
I simply wanted to appreciate you again. I am not sure the things That I could possibly have done without the entire methods revealed
by you relating to that problem. It absolutely was an absolute frightening condition in my position, but understanding your well-written strategy you processed that made me to leap for delight. I will be grateful for this guidance as well as hope you comprehend what an amazing job you were getting into educating people using your website. I’m certain you have never come across all of us.
I simply couldn’t go away your site before telling you that I extremely enjoyed the usual information.
Good day! This post could not be written any better! The formula for success is a book I’ve got to read now.
I’m pretty pleased to uncover this website. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and i also have you bookmarked
to look at new information on your blog.
I need to to thank you for this good read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got you book-marked to check out new things you post…
Nice blog right here! Additionally your site quite a bit up very fast! What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your affiliate link for your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol.
I enjoy the efforts you have put in this.
Just what I was looking for, appreciate
it for posting.
I think this is among the most important information for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The site style is ideal, the articles is really great :D. Good job, cheers
Is this the last time that you have written on the Formula. I am interested in learning more
I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thanks, I’ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?
Thank you so much regarding giving us an update on this theme on your web page.
Please realise that if a new post becomes available or if any adjustments occur to the current write-up, I would want to consider reading more and knowing how to make good utilization of those strategies you reveal.
Thanks for your efforts and consideration of other people by making this website available.
Oh my goodness! Impressive article! Thank you So much, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don?t understand the reason why I cannot join it.Is there anyone else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!
Hello there, You’ve done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest
to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.
Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people consider worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effect, people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks
Thank you a lot for sharing this with all folks you really recognize what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also consult with my website =). We may have a hyperlink alternate agreement among us
Whoah this blog is fantastic I really like studying your posts. Stay up the good work! You realize, lots of people are searching round
for this information, you can help them greatly.
Right here is the right web site for anybody who really wants to understand this topic.
You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need to). You definitely put a new spin on a topic that’s been written about for many years.
Excellent stuff, just excellent!
I would like to take the opportunity of saying thanks to you for that professional guidance I have often enjoyed visiting your site. We’re looking forward to the commencement of my university research and the general prep would never have been complete without visiting your web blog. If I might be of any help to others, I would be pleased to help by means of what I have gained from here.
Your website, Hamilton Lindley, is great. I like studying your articles. Keep up the great
work! You realize, lots of people are benefiting from you.
Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my weblog thus i got here to return the favor?.I’m trying to in finding issues to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
Thank you for sharing with us, I think this website truly stands out :D.
Have you ever considered writing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.
Thanks for finally talking about The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success Book Review. Liked it!
Thanks for the marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back someday. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice morning!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Appreciate the recommendation. Will try it out.
Say, you got a nice article post. Great.
Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Appreciate it
This is a topic which is close to my heart… Thank you! Where are your contact details though?
It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!
It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.
I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future. Many thanks
all the time i used to read smaller articles or reviews which as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I am reading here.
Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your blog. You have some really great articles and I believe I would be good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love
to write some content for your blog. Please send me an e-mail if interested. Kudos!
Good blog post. I certainly love this website. Thanks!
Nice response in return of this difficulty with genuine arguments and telling the whole thing about that.
My spouse and I stumbled over here different web page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i’m flllowing you. Look forward to looking over your web page for a second time.
I blog quite often and I truly thank you for your content. Your article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.
Admiring the time and effort you put into your website and detailed information you provide. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.
Hello There. I discovered your blog using msn. That is a very well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your helpful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.