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The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  648 ratings  ·  88 reviews
"This is not just an important but an imperative project: to approach the problem of randomness and success using the state of the art scientific arsenal we have. Barabasi is the person."
--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the New York Times bestselling The Black Swan and Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at NYU

An international bestseller

In the bestsellin
Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
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M. You are correct. From the introduction:

"[A]s a scientist, I can’t measure individual fulfillment any more than I can assign a number to happiness.…more
You are correct. From the introduction:

"[A]s a scientist, I can’t measure individual fulfillment any more than I can assign a number to happiness. Private definitions of success are unique to each of us, so they’re invisible to our approach to big data."
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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  648 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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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
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
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Mario Tomic
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
Dan Connors
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books
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
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dori Ban
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scientific explanation of our intuitions on success.
Scott Wozniak
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

- 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'
Daniel Cook
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Phil Sykora
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barabasi is the man.

I'm so grateful to have read two phenomenal books back to back: David Epstein's Range and now Barabasi's The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success.

Both books have such fantastic, research-backed insights on how to improve performance, find the right career fit (Epstein calls it "match quality" while Barabasi calls it "fitness"), and improve your chances of success. I'd recommend both of them to just about anyone. I'm passionate about becoming better at anything, and I alread
Bryan Hairston II
This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read on success. As someone who loves self help books, it’s apparent there are things I often read in this genre that don’t truly explain how to achieve success but instead touch more on self motivation and hard work and changing your mindset.

While that is true to a sense, the author states how our success isn’t truly about us and our performance but rather it’s about the community and how the community perceives our performance. In other words, succ
Laws of success? No. Heuristics of success, yes.

This is, fundamentally, a calling card book for the author's research lab and professional network, and their (thinly cited) recent research. It's focused on fields where power law distributions rule, and fame and fortune are on offer for the winners.

All credit to the author for his diligence. The up front admission that internally measured success is out of reach of his team's methods serves the book well.

Two stars for being a fairly well written
Amber Machado
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great novel! Get ready to take notes! This novel gives the reader information to empower themselves in life! A definitely must read!
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this fascinating book Barabási demonstrates 5 basic laws of success they have discovered. While some of these are just common sense rules that often appear in other self-help books, what makes The Formula unique, is that here they are all scientifically proven by Barabási and his team, often using Big Data as a tool. The research methods used are briefly summarized in the book, but we also get the anecdotal reinforcement of them, which makes the book fun to read, and the laws easy to remember ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long held that if there can be a Wenckebach phenomenon there should be a Jeff’s Law. I have held this opinion since college, shortly after I learned about the second degree heart block above with such a funny name. I have yet to pick a finalist for ‘Jeff’s Law’ - though there have been many contenders - because as much as I hate to admit this, nothing seems to measure up. Ha! I don’t want to give my name and my law to just any little proviso, clause, article or subsection that comes along ...more
Ronit Konch
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic, world, science
The book is a summation of the author’s, who is a scientist, key research findings on success over the past one decade for a lay audience. He defines success as “the rewards we earn from the communities we belong to”. Success doesn’t mean performance but rather how a person’s performance is perceived by the community at large. He gives five laws underpinning success; ranging from the fact that it is not performance but networks which drive success, to the fact that while individual performance m ...more
Zarathustra Goertzel
Decent book. Expect numerous stories to illustrate points (so I hope you can read quickly).
(And ironically, given the book refers to mining of citations data, I don't think there are many references to the research mentioned in the book :p)

First off, external success is separated from internal success: thus the domain becomes one of networks, Mr. Preferential Attachment Barabási's specialty.

The book flirts around the trade-off between performance and popularity, most interested in the fuzzy midd
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Things I learned:
- the importance of networks in success
- you can only perform so much better, but you can get disproportionate levels of success
- knowledge breeds knowledge, skill breeds skill, and these lead to success breeds success
- previous success * fitness = future success
- individuals get credit for the groups success
- handpicking for talent has unintended consequences and is subpar to team building
- with persistence success can come at any time because hard work with skill wins
- your ch
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knowing of author's work I picked up the book to learn about practical applications of network science. Little did I know that I would be introduced to the science of success, a discipline I didn't even know existed. The book describes five laws of success and presents scientific evidence that support them. Despite the title that sounds wishy-washy, this a superbly written popular science book.
To summarise. Five laws of success described in The Formula are:
1. Performance drives success, but when
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Albert-László Barabási is a physicist, best known for his work in the research of network science. A Hungarian born native of Transylvania, he received his Masters in Theoretical Physics at the Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary and was awarded a Ph.D. three years later at Boston University. Barabási is the author of six books, including the forthcoming book "The Formula: The Science of Succes ...more
“Your success isn’t about you and your performance. It’s about us and how we perceive your performance.” 1 likes
“The First Law: Performance drives success,
but when performance can’t be measured,
networks drive success.”
More quotes…