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ISBN 9780393338393 Published Aug. 2011
W. W. Norton & Company
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Posted Nov. 9, 2012 3:53 a.m. by 800-ceo-read
Probability and percentages have been a hot topic this campaign season, as pollsters and poll watchers placed their bets on the numbers coming in and pundits argued that the numbers alone do not—cannot—reveal all. As polls trackers worked to hone their skill and perfect their formulas, pundits relied on their extensive experience in the field and gut feeling. So who was right, and why? Did it demonstrate a particular skill, or were they simply lucky?
How much of your accomplishments can you attribute to skill and how much to luck? And why does that matter? Michael Mauboussin believes that when we understand which factor dominated—skill or luck—it leads to better decision-making and improved performance.
The purpose of this book is to show you how you can understand the relative contributions of skill and luck and how to use that understanding in interpreting past results as well as making better decisions in the future. Ultimately, untangling skill and luck helps with the challenging task of prediction, and better predictions lead to greater success.
Many sports anecdotes populate the book, as the subtitle would sugest, but Mauboussin consistently relates those anecdotes and the statistics backing them to business, investing, and even nation-building. What is particularly eye-opening is how our own desire for a rational narrative colors our judgment of whether the eventual outcome derived from skill or luck.
We re-create events in the world by creating a narrative that is based on our own beliefs and goals. As a consequence, we often struggle to understand cause and effect, and especially the relative contributions of skill and luck in shaping the events we observe. … [W]e may make the mistake of drawing conclusions from samples that are too small. We may fail to consider all of the causes that might lead to particular events. We might test too much—so much, in fact, that we wind up finding causes where we're simply seeing the results of chance.
In Chapter 11, “The Art of Good Guesswork,” Mauboussin presents ten suggestions for applying what we’ve learned about luck and skill in the book to the real world, avoiding the pitfall of similar books that remain too theoretical. And at the end of the book, Mauboussin opens the curtain and reveals the rigorous attention to detail and extensive research behind the scenes he portrays—twenty pages of notes and fifteen pages of bibliography—that really grounds The Success Equation.
Don’t be discouraged however, because the book’s tone is engaging and its anecdotes relatable. If you liked Michael Lewis's Moneyball, with it’s mix of data and great storytelling, you’ll very much enjoy Michael Mauboussin’s Success Equation.
Posted Sept. 23, 2011 11:41 a.m. by dylan
In - 800 CEO Read Blog
➻ Only one of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time has been made into a movie before—The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, and that was a documentary. That all changes this weekend with the movie release of Moneyball. And while Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill certainly don't need my help promoting it here, I'm just too excited about this not to mention it. To get a good grasp of the movie outside of all the web ads, commercials and talk show appearances, I'll turn you over to Joe Posnanski, a man who practices sports writing as a fine art. After he wrote about Moneyball and The Ballad of Bill James, ("What would a formula for Bill James’ career look like? I’ve thought quite a lot about this and have finally came up with one:
(Cu * D) / (CoW) = Bill James") he moved onto Moneyball the Movie, writing:
[T]this, I think, was the great challenge of Moneyball—perhaps even the unwinnable challenge. They were making a movie largely about baseball statistics, for crying out loud, but they were making it with a star-studded Hollywood cast (Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt and Robin Wright ... ), a terrific director (Bennett Miller, who did Capote), and an incredible writing team (Aaron Sorkin wrote The Social Network and Steven Zaillian wrote Schindler’s List, among others). They were making a Brad Pitt movie without a love interest, a baseball movie without a climactic home run, a buddy movie about on-base percentage and a big Hollywood movie about a general manager who has never led his team to the World Series.
It’s no wonder that Michael Lewis himself never thought that Moneyball the movie could be made. “With The Blind Side,” he says about his last book-to-movie, “it was a no-brainer. I would say to the Hollywood people: ‘What took you so long?’ But I really never thought they could find a way to turn Moneyball into a movie.”
They did. And, I have to admit, seeing it was one of the strangest movie experiences of my life.
There’s [a] scene in Moneyball that I am quite sure is unlike anything that has ever appeared on screen, and in many ways encapsulates everything I think about the movie. In the scene, David Justice is at the plate. ... Justice plays a fairly substantial role in the movie—he is the old guy brought in to help the 2002 A’s replace Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon. And the scene is an artistic at-bat, with music playing in the background, with a voiceover—it is quite an impressive bit of moviemaking. There is some slow motion, the camera angle is striking, everything about the scene is as drawn out and carefully crafted as the light-crashing scene in The Natural or the final shot of Hoosiers.
Except this: In the scene, David Justice walks.
Yes: An ultra-dramatic movie scene in which our hero takes four balls, one a close pitch, and walks.
I'm really looking forward to this movie.
➻ Michael Lewis's Moneyball, the book the movie is based on, is all about innovation and the business of baseball, about taking the reevaluation of the basic metrics of baseball that people like Bill James had been working on for years and bringing that into the front office to determine what kind of a team to put on the field.
Publishing is going through a similar transition, with people like Richard Nash at Red Lemonade blowing up the status quo, reevaluating the metrics of the business and putting a new model into play. Seth Godin is trying something new with his Domino Project, as well. With his latest release, We Are All Weird, he's messing with the traditional print run. He explained the print run this week on the Domino Project Blog.
We only have 11,000 hardcover copies on sale at Amazon, with no plans to print more. ... Why limit the number printed?
Conventional publishing wisdom says that the first 10,000 copies are the hardest. In fact, you don’t make money until after that. The goal is to prime the pump and then, if you get lucky, sell millions and millions of hardcovers, day after day, year after year. That’s what pays the bills at all the large publishing houses.
The thing is, digital is better at infinity than paper ever will be. Digital is easy to keep in stock, easy to replenish, easy to connect with. Paper, on the other hand, benefits from scarcity. If you know that there are only a few books and then they’re gone, you’re more likely to hurry up, more likely to grab yours now, more likely to treasure it once you get it. And in a digital world, a book that’s not worth treasuring is not worth owning, is it?
So the bet I’m making is that the scarcity of the hardcover will help you decide to read it right now.
Now, There's obviously nothing to stop Seth from printing more hardcovers if there's enough demand and dollar signs in Amazon's eyes, but he's not planning any additional print runs and I think creating scarcity in this way while letting the digital release do the job of spreading the ideas more widely is an interesting idea to consider. Independent record labels have been doing small vinyl pressings like this for years, and while they'll never make billions doing so, it does seem to keep many of those enterprises going.
Method is one of those delightfully quirky entrepreneurial stories. In the late 1990s, two 24-year-old guys—an ad man and a climate researcher—take off on a ski weekend and decide that the home cleaning products industry is ripe for a shakeup. Never mind that it’s a mature, relatively stagnant market dominated by powerful brand names like Procter & Gamble and the Clorox Company. Never mind that everybody else is starting e-businesses. Never mind that they are two 24-year-old guys on a ski weekend talking about cleaning products. By 2010, their privately held company is generating annual revenues somewhere north of US$200 million; it counts major retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, and Auchan, among its accounts; and the big dogs are tracking it.
The book was chosen by Theodore Kinni, coauthor of Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, as part of s + b's Author's Choice series. To learn more, continue with the story about how method is Bottling Customer Experience.
➻ Caleb Melby posted an exclusive preview of Four Pages From The Zen Of Steve Jobs this week.
The Forbes-written, JESS3-designed book re-imagines Steve’s relationship with his friend and mentor, Kobun Chino Otogawa, a Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist priest.
The full 60-page book is scheduled to be released digitally later this year. Judging by the previews, it looks like something to look forward to.
➻ In honor of banned books week, a Mark Twain story was formally 'unbanned' at the Charlton Library in Massachusetts. Alison Flood of The Guardian explains:
Twain's comic short story told from the perspective of Eve was banned from Charlton Library in Massachusetts in 1906 after its trustees objected to illustrations of a naked Eve – or as the New York Times put it at the time, "her dresses are all cut Garden of Eden style". When Richard Whitehead became a trustee of the library in 2008, he stumbled across the century-old controversy and decided to track down a copy of the banned book, complete with illustrations.
"Knowing that Banned Book Week was coming up in September [he] proposed the idea of having an official 'unbanning' of the book," said the library's director Cheryl Hansen. "On Tuesday, September 20, 2011 the board of library trustees unanimously voted to unban Eve's Diary. I think that Mark Twain would be very pleased and I'm sure that he would have something humorous to say about it." At the time, Twain wrote in a letter that "the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me".
The article also tells the story of two other books that were unbanned this week, and provides a list of the most challenged books of 2010.
➻ Why? Innovation is A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under.