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Dissecting Success

A new book attempts to provide a scientific explanation of the reasons and factors that lead to success

Success is the result of a journey that is not always linear, or even rational, but always culminates in the recognition, on the part of others, of what we’ve achieved or have become. This is true for everyone, from individual entrepreneurs to massive companies, from scientists to entertainers and from artists to businesspeople. That is one of the axioms found in the latest work by Albert-László Barabási, whose Italian translation hit the bookshelves just a few weeks ago. The Formula. The Universal Laws of Success may on first glance appear similar to the countless other books that have explored the subject, but this is a rather unique volume that stems from a lengthy research process, based on applying scientific methods (and mathematical models) to the investigation of human performance. Barabási is a world-renowned expert on network theory, and today serves as director of the Center for Complex Network Research (CCNR) at Northeastern University. This book stems precisely from his work at the CCNR where he analysed huge amounts of data and ultimately extrapolated five “laws” that determine the achievement of success.

The author begins his discussion by observing that very often, achieving a good result is not enough to achieve success. Barabási likewise notes that talent and a strong work ethic are important but, nevertheless, seldom produce tangible results. What ultimately defines “success” is the appreciation of others: public recognition of one’s hard-earned accomplishments. In other words, there is a link between the achieved outcome and the recognition of said outcome on the part of the community. This elusive link forms the very core of Barabási’s work. In five chapters he breaks down the five “universal” laws that propel businesses and individuals to the highest levels. What ultimately emerges is that success is built on a complex blend of performance and networks, of preferences and dissemination of information, of chance and perseverance. Barabási’s analysis isn’t merely theoretical, rather it touches on a vast number of examples from history, arts, sports and business. In just over 200 pages, we encounter figures as diverse as the Red Baron, Albert Einstein, Miles Davis, Marcel Duchamp and Tiger Woods, passing through Steve Jobs’ triumphal run at Apple and cases of companies like Kellogg’s, Amazon, Ferrari and more.

This is a gripping, well written and easy-to-read book that doesn’t just contain a series of precepts, but rather an engaging mix of thoughts and observations backed by a solid research methodology.

The Formula. The Universal Laws of Success

Albert-László Barabási

Einaudi, 2019

A new book attempts to provide a scientific explanation of the reasons and factors that lead to success

Success is the result of a journey that is not always linear, or even rational, but always culminates in the recognition, on the part of others, of what we’ve achieved or have become. This is true for everyone, from individual entrepreneurs to massive companies, from scientists to entertainers and from artists to businesspeople. That is one of the axioms found in the latest work by Albert-László Barabási, whose Italian translation hit the bookshelves just a few weeks ago. The Formula. The Universal Laws of Success may on first glance appear similar to the countless other books that have explored the subject, but this is a rather unique volume that stems from a lengthy research process, based on applying scientific methods (and mathematical models) to the investigation of human performance. Barabási is a world-renowned expert on network theory, and today serves as director of the Center for Complex Network Research (CCNR) at Northeastern University. This book stems precisely from his work at the CCNR where he analysed huge amounts of data and ultimately extrapolated five “laws” that determine the achievement of success.

The author begins his discussion by observing that very often, achieving a good result is not enough to achieve success. Barabási likewise notes that talent and a strong work ethic are important but, nevertheless, seldom produce tangible results. What ultimately defines “success” is the appreciation of others: public recognition of one’s hard-earned accomplishments. In other words, there is a link between the achieved outcome and the recognition of said outcome on the part of the community. This elusive link forms the very core of Barabási’s work. In five chapters he breaks down the five “universal” laws that propel businesses and individuals to the highest levels. What ultimately emerges is that success is built on a complex blend of performance and networks, of preferences and dissemination of information, of chance and perseverance. Barabási’s analysis isn’t merely theoretical, rather it touches on a vast number of examples from history, arts, sports and business. In just over 200 pages, we encounter figures as diverse as the Red Baron, Albert Einstein, Miles Davis, Marcel Duchamp and Tiger Woods, passing through Steve Jobs’ triumphal run at Apple and cases of companies like Kellogg’s, Amazon, Ferrari and more.

This is a gripping, well written and easy-to-read book that doesn’t just contain a series of precepts, but rather an engaging mix of thoughts and observations backed by a solid research methodology.

The Formula. The Universal Laws of Success

Albert-László Barabási

Einaudi, 2019