Success And Luck Book Summary By Robert H. Frank

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Success and Luck (2016) is an extraordinary book.

It looks at the important role that luck has on our economy, or in other words, the successes and failures of our society.

Written as a manifesto, this book presents an unconventional view of the influence that luck can have on us, even if we don't realize it.

The author encourages us to think differently about luck- not to ignore its potential impact- so we can thrive and reach full potentials with life.

Through compelling anecdotes and data-driven analysis, Success and Luck helps strip away some of our illusions surrounding hard work, risk taking, and the merit of success.

It provides us with a unique perspective on how we can take good advantage of luck when it comes our way!

Success And Luck Book

Book Name: Success and Luck (Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy)

Author(s): Robert H. Frank

Rating: 3.5/5

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

Categories: Economics

Author Bio

Robert Frank is a highly regarded economist and the Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics at Cornell University.

He's been writing his "Economic View" column for the New York Times since an early age.

Additionally he has written many books with his most popular ones being The Economic Naturalist, The Winner-Take-All Society, and Under the Influence.

He recently released his latest book: Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy which has been highly acclaimed by both readers and critics alike.

The Role Of Luck In Success: How Good Fortune May Drive The Economy

Luck In Success

When we think of the most successful people in our society, we often assume that their success is due to hard work, dedication and excellent ideas.

But what if there’s something else playing a role in the successes of today’s entrepreneurs? What if luck had more to do with it than people are giving it credit for?

The concept of luck has long been overlooked when it comes to analyzing economic fortunes, but the truth is that luck can play a major role determining success.

It may be that talent and skill are still important factors in achieving success but they are not always sufficient on their own.

A strong tailwind can be just as critical to winning a race as having well-toned muscles, as one ambitious engineer discovered when his career took an unfortunate turn.

And then there’s the example of pianos being mass produced overseas rather than locally – pushing established makers out of business despite the craftsmanship and skills required to make them.

It’s time for us to take another look at economic fortunes of today and give more weight to luck in assessing who succeeds and who fails.

Luck Plays A Greater Role In Economic Success Than Acknowledged: The Myth Of Meritocracy And Its Repercussions

Luck plays a larger role in achieving economic success than most of us realize.

This point is made clear through the story of Robert Frank, who had a life-threatening medical emergency while playing tennis one day – and miraculously survived due to the fact that an ambulance happened to be nearby when he fell.

It was simply luck that saved his life.

This idea extends beyond Frank’s individual narrative and can be seen in the greater context of economics as well.

For every successful person there are many more who have the same ambition and skill, yet never find wealth or success – this discrepancy is largely down to chance or luck.

Whether it’s where you’re born, the talent you possess, or certain opportunities you’re afforded – luck can greatly aid those who are already ahead and leave others behind.

Ultimately, if we maintain that meritocracy — those successful people must have worked hard for it — then this perpetuates a system where a few lucky few benefit while everyone else suffers; further entrenching inequality and injustice within society.

Luck plays a demonstrably greater role in economic success than our popular thinking acknowledges and it’s time we take this into account.

The Power Of Luck: How Chance Events Can Help Propel Us To Success

Paul Lazarsfeld’s study in the 1940s highlighted an interesting phenomenon – often, outcomes are predetermined by chance, not destiny.

He found that even though the research had actually revealed that city soldiers fared better in military life than those from rural areas, people still chose to believe the fake results.

This ability to make history fit into a predefined story is known as hindsight bias and it can prevent us from realizing how much luck plays a role in success.

A magnificent career is often determined by a series of lucky breaks.

Bill Gates is certainly brilliant, but he also had the good fortune of having access to computer terminals while attending Lakeside Prep, which gave him early exposure to programming and set him up for success.

Even seemingly arbitrary things like birth months can have an effect on eventual achievement – June, July or August babies tend to be amongst the youngest students in their class which may leave them feeling less confident and impede their progress as they grow older.

It’s important not to discount hard work and persistence – it does pay off after all.

But there are always chance factors which play a part in shaping our path to success and it’s crucial to recognize this since you could be missing out on opportunities you didn’t know were available due to luck!

The Power Of Luck: How A Little Bit Can Translate To World-Changing Success

World-Changing Success

When it comes to success in life, it’s often said that skill and talent are the most important factors.

However, as illustrated by the eighteenth century example of buying a piano, a little bit of luck can go a long way when trying to get ahead.

Just think of all the pianos made by local makers being eclipsed by those from manufacturers all over the world–access to better resources gives certain businesses an unbeatable advantage.

This concept has been further expanded upon in today’s digital age.

Companies can now compete on a global level thanks to improved technology.

This means that businesses with even just a slight edge will be able to dominate over others; sometimes this edge is entirely up to chance.

When millions of competitors are vying for the same market share, one lucky result let them stand out among their peers and reap huge rewards accordingly.

Just like an athlete being propelled by an unexpected tailwind leading her to victory, many areas of success simply require some degree of luck so that one competitor rises above all else.

In winner-takes-all economies such as ours, these small successes quickly add up until they form insurmountable dominance in their respective field.

So don’t forget that when it comes down to achieving true success: A little bit of luck might well make all the difference!

We Underestimate The Role Of Luck In Success, Causing Us To Misjudge Our Abilities And Extol Unmerited Achievements

Luck plays a key role in success, but many of us don’t acknowledge or appreciate the role it plays.

Often, when assessing our accomplishments, we list off all of the hard work and determinations that went into our successes and forget about the luck involved.

This is due to something called the availability heuristic – which is when people give more importance to memories that are easily available by simply thinking about them.

Take this example – when it comes to employing for a prestigious university, there will always be luck involved in who gets accepted.

If a person tends to downplay the role of luck, they are likely not to put their all into studying as chances of entry may seem low anyway.

Additionally, this habit may lead to an overall lack of sympathy for those struggling with life’s hardships as we give too much credit to those perceived successes that appear effortless or easy due to having had good luck all along.

Therefore, it is essential that each and every one of us acknowledges and even appreciates the part that luck has played in our successes thus far.

Failure to do so can lead to some dangerous consequences both on an individual level and societal level alike!

We Must Spread The Rewards Of Good Fortune To Keep Our Society Lucky

Birkhaman Rai, a friendly, smart and creative person from the rural outskirts of Nepal demonstrates how fortune depends on where one is born.

If he had been born in a more developed nation, like the United States, the rewards and success that comes with it would be much more attainable.

For our society to continue to reap the benefits of this fortunate circumstance, it is essential that we share these financial rewards with others.

The infrastructure, education system and job opportunities we have in the US all contribute to its prosperity; thus, maintaining these common goods must be prioritized.

Unfortunately, current policies are neglecting such investments which can lead to ruined roads & bridges, underfunded public schools and way too much student debt.

Changing our mindset on wealth generation is key here–seeing that luck plays a huge role in individuals’ fortunes–so policy makers must encourage taxes on wealthiest members of our society so that people in lesser circumstances have access to similar blessings as well.

Doing this would create a fairer distribution of wealth and ensure stability for generations down the line.

A Progressive Consumption Tax Could Help Curb Wasteful Spending And Fund Collective Goods


Throw the most memorable wedding without spending an arm and a leg by utilizing a consumer tax.

In 1980, the average American wedding cost $11,000, while in 2014, it increased to $30,000.

This increase can be attributed to society’s spending habits being biased towards personal consumption rather than collective goods.

The wealthy are particularly guilty of this behavior; their excessive capital often bankrolling wasteful expenses that don’t actually produce any lasting value.

To combat this pattern of excessive spending by both the rich and the less-wealthy alike, a progressive consumption tax has been proposed.

This type of taxation will regulate how much households spend after investing and saving money; for example a family earning $100K but only saving $20K would have $80K subject to taxation.

The logic behind this type of taxation is twofold; firstly it would logically dampen people’s appetite for keeping up with their peers materially – without resulting in quality of life resentment or reductions in savings and investments – and secondly because many will still purchase goods within their means then the raised tax revenues could go towards funding collective services such as infrastructure maintenance, healthcare or education.

The Key To Success: Humility, Self-Awareness, And Collaboration

It is often assumed that when it comes to achieving success, self-promotion and individual effort are the most important things – but that’s not always the case.

Scott Forstall, Apple’s former Senior Vice President, was renowned as a great engineer and was predicted to be the company’s next CEO.

However, his arrogance and lack of humility led to his being fired in 2012.

This experience serves as an example of how important humility and collaboration are for getting ahead in life.

It may seem rational to promote yourself and your accomplishments first; however, more often than not success is achieved through working in teams with people who value the work of others.

To illustrate this point, The author ran an experiment by giving students two profiles about Harold Johnson: one where he took sole credit for his success and one where he acknowledged the help he received from other sources.

Not surprisingly, the students preferred the second Johnson profile since they ranked him higher on scales for kindness and trustworthiness.

So this goes to show that having a bit of humility and valuing team collaboration can go a long way when it comes to achieving success.

Don’t get too caught up in self-promotion; take time to celebrate the many lucky breaks you encounter on your journey – even if they don’t feel like they have direct impact on your goal!

Wrap Up

The overall conclusion of Success and Luck is that luck plays a major role in people’s success.

While hard work and dedication are essential, those lucky enough to be born in the right place or have the wind at their backs can still find the success they desire.

If we all recognize this, we should strive to bring in policies that make getting “lucky” even more likely, so that everyone has an equal chance at achieving greatness.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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