The Success Equation
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The Success Equation

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  162 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Matt Asher
This books is about understanding how to disentangle luck and skill when evaluating performance, and the implications of making predictions in different environments. Lots to think about here, and the author does a good job of introducing a few ways to tease out skill from luck. Unfortunately, most of the interesting action happens in academic papers which are merely alluded to, so he gives conclusions and brief summaries of the studies, but doesn't show their inner workings. How do we know that...more
As someone interested in each of sports, business, and investing, I had high hopes for this book but ultimately found it lacking. The connections between the three are often tenuous, the chapters frequently repetitive (this book would have been better as a long essay), and the material often regurgitated from other authors (I've read Thinking Fast and Slow, some Taleb, and tons on sports analytics, so a lot in this book was repetitive).

The author does add some of his own analysis, specifically...more
Devyn Duffy
Oct 20, 2013 Devyn Duffy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in separating skill from luck
Recommended to Devyn by: Dan Gardner, Dr. Philip Tetlock
Good introductory book with a few ideas that were new to me. If the book has a main idea, it's an attempt to tease out the differences between skill and luck and then decide what to do based on the results. Mauboussin advises that when skill is predominant in a field, the best course of action is "deliberate practice" with feedback and coaching; when luck is predominant, he advises not to worry over results, because you have little or no control over them, and instead just focus on getting your...more
Tyson Strauser
Mike Mauboussin is one of my favorite authors. In THE SUCCESS EQUATION, he takes us on a ride through the math of sabermetricians, case studies of behavioral psychologists, and through his own investigations to show us that success is a product of the interplay between skill and luck.

The book offers a few new (to me) insights that are worth recalling:

The paradox of skill - in fields where skill is more important to the outcome, luck's role in determining the ultimate winner increases. And in fi...more
After the egotistical musings of Taleb (The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable) this book was a breath of fresh air. The author provides clear explanations of how intuition and practice mislead one when skill and luck are mixed, and what understandings from reality one can and cannot rely upon. All of this information is provided at an engaging pace without reverting to the gee-wiz tricks or over-simplification of the TED generation. If something like Taleb built your interest in th...more
Josh Maher
What a great book - there is a lot that investors of all types can learn from this book. Whether you are a money manager, invest your own account, invest in real estate... or more importantly invest in early stage companies - there is a lot that could be learned from understanding where skill and where luck come into play when looking at success. Refining the process of investing is incredibly undervalued for any investor as well as for operators, engineers, and most professions. If you want to...more
Pete Welter
The title "The Success Equation" may make this sound like yet another generic business book, but the reality is that is focuses on an area not often explicitly discussed: the balance of Skill vs. Luck. More precisely, Mauboussin examines the the skill-luck continuum from a variety of perspectives, from the statistical math to decision-making.

Most often when we speak of skill or luck, we are talking about the extremes of the spectrum. Chess champions or tennis players for skill. Casino games or p...more
A book with a few good ideas, but probably can be shortened by half and increase its impact. Success = skill plus luck. Variance (success) = variance (skill) + variance (luck). Chess is high skill dependent, investing is high luck dependent. But there is a paradox: when variance is low for skill, as in all the smart people become stock investors, most of the variance will come from luck...
I found that this book could have contained half as many pages and conveyed the central ideas of the author all the same. The Success Equation culled from work by Daniel Kahneman, Malcolm Gladwell, Nassim Taleb, and others to enable readers to differentiate luck from skill, incorporate statistics and Bayesian analysis effectively, and recognize reversion to the mean. I read this book in a day and think the information and be absorbed readily.

In short, luck occurs all the time all around us. We...more
Low rating despite agreeing with most of the author's facts as well as his conclusions. Whenever that is the case it's usually because I've already spent a lot of cognitive time exploring the same or closely-related ideas and topics. This often leads, as it does here, to disappointment when the author inevitably leaves out particular details that I personally believe are important, presenting nuanced and complex phenomena as more certain, uncomplicated, and predictable.'
It's still a recommend fr...more
Tracey Kreps
Unsurprisingly I quite enjoyed this book. The writing style is superb and creates an approachable framework for a largely statistical and/or quantitative based exercise. In fact, I wish this type of reading were pre-course required reading for statistics classes in order to provide the student with a useful framework for the educational effort they are about to begin.
Scott Bartley
Theres a lot more luck involved in success than most people want to believe. And ... The more refined the skill level of your competition, the more luck matters.

Like Akshay says : "Don't be fooled by randomness"
Phil Simon
I enjoyed this book because of a few reasons. First up, we like to think of successful people as doing something different, something right. While this is sometimes the case, often plain dumb luck drives their success. Ditto companies.

Mauboussin does a great job of weaving in statistical theory, a swath of examples, and the most influential psychological research. There's plenty of Kahneman, as to be expected. Bottom line: We're not as good as we think we are in separating luck from skill. This...more
Devin Partlow
This book definitely has some good info, but its all over the place. Either it needed to be longer or it needed to be split into 3 separate books so the info could be relayed thoroughly.

3.5 stars
Good to reads this book.
Katherine Collins
Are you convinced your kids are smarter than their SAT scores indicate? Are you frustrated that your obvious genius at work seems underappreciated? Do you have great 3-year investment returns but still wonder if you’ve “got it”? Then you must, must read this book. Here is a brief interview with some highlights:
Very interesting book - he kept the math simple but explained how events occur on a continuum of skill and luck, and how various sports and activities can be quantified by their components of skill and luck, and how some statistics are more meaningful (more skill than luck).

Lots of examples and the math is easy... good read for just about anyone interested in sports/investing/etc.
Vaibhav Gupta
An extremely interesting book trying to break down the role of skill and luck in life and puts a lot of events that happen around us in perspective. Interesting statistics and an innovative method of untangling the relationship between both. Provides insights as to how you could go ahead and try and improve your chances of being lucky.
Mad Hab
Very nice and interesting book.

However there is too much baseball there, i lived in US for two years, but could never learned baseball rules (actually never even tried). For someone not familiar with baseball, some parts of the book are annoying.
Except that, very useful book, must read
David Harper
Jan 04, 2014 David Harper marked it as to-read
Shelves: finance
shows up three times in this list
Helps one to think about defining the roles of skill versus luck in variety of fields.
Justin Johnson
There are other books which cover the same topic more eloquently and are more enjoyable to read. I didn't finish this book due to its rehashing of the same subject matter with a simpler vocabulary and grammatical structure.
Any book that brings up luck in regards to success is good by me. The fact that it ventures into basketball and sports is even better. It's important to think about success, and luck, and how outcomes can be different.
Julian Haigh
How to untangle Skill and Luck statistically and how to better interpret and think about relationships between the two. Valuable read, perfect for travel reading (if not bored too easily)
Spencer Thompson
Anyone who things about investing should read this book, yesterday.
Mills College Library
650.1 M447 2012
Interesting additionally for whose who are obsessed with the theory of "deliberate practice"
Nick Chomey
Nick Chomey marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2014
Sudnya marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2014
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Michael J. Mauboussin is Chief Investment Strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management. Prior to joining LMCM in 2004, Michael was a Managing Director and Chief U.S. Investment Strategist at Credit Suisse. Michael joined CS in 1992 as a packaged food industry analyst. He is a former president of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York and was repeatedly named to Institutional Investors All-America R

More about Michael J. Mauboussin...
More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places (Updated and Expanded) The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition

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