Success and Luck Book Summary - Success and Luck Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Success and Luck summary

Robert H. Frank

Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy

3.5 (138 ratings)
21 mins
Table of Contents

    Success and Luck
    summarized in 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Luck plays a greater role in economic success than we acknowledge.

    November, 2007. The author, Robert Frank, is locked in a fierce but friendly tennis match with a colleague. The two players volley back and forth when disaster strikes. Frank falls to the court in a state of acute cardiac arrest.

    On a normal day, it would take an ambulance several minutes to arrive at the scene – far too late to offer medical help. But, on this day, one happened to be just around the corner. It was pure luck, and that luck saved Frank’s life.

    Of course, these strokes of fortune happen all the time, for both good and ill. Freak accidents, happy coincidences, and other twists of fate shape our lives at every turn. Importantly, they also shape our economic outcomes.

    The key message is: Luck plays a greater role in economic success than we acknowledge.

    There’s an enduring myth in our society that those who achieve great economic success do so through hard work, dedication, and great ideas. This is meritocracy and it says that those who rise to the top deserve their position, power, and prestige. Meanwhile, those at the bottom also deserve their status because they didn’t try hard enough.

    But, there’s a problem with this logic. Sure, successful people usually work hard for their riches, but consider this: for every successful person there are thousands more who are just as talented and ambitious, yet never achieve great fortune. Why? Well, partly, it’s pure chance. At some point, the prosperous person got a lucky break and that helped their merit flourish into rewards.

    This luck can come in many forms. For instance, the circumstances you’re born into are completely down to chance, but have a huge impact on your trajectory in life. A person born to wealthy parents in a developed country has a much easier time gaining money and status than an equally talented person born into harder conditions. Even talent itself is down to luck – some people are born with it, while others are given more opportunities to develop it. Either way, if you have it, you’re lucky.

    Why is this important? 

    In our winner-takes-all society, those with resources tend to accumulate more and more while everyone else loses out. If we keep up the myth of meritocracy then the rewards will just keep going to a lucky few at the expense of everyone else. 

    Want to see all full key ideas from Success and Luck?

    Key ideas in Success and Luck

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Success and Luck about?

    Success and Luck (2016) presents an unconventional look at the role chance plays in our economy. This manifesto argues that a little luck matters a lot more than we think and that ignoring this reality is what keeps us from thriving.

    Who should read Success and Luck?

    • (Aspiring) business leaders
    • Government officials
    • People interested in the irrationality of human behavior

    About the Author

    Robert Frank is a world-renowned economist and the Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics at Cornell University. He regularly writes the “Economic View” column for the New York Times and has authored many books including The Economic Naturalist, The Winner-Take-All Society, and Under the Influence.

    Categories with Success and Luck

    Books like Success and Luck

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    26 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 5,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial