Boris Groysberg’s “Chasing Stars”: Book Review

Poor Ash’s Almanack > Book Reviews > Business

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (5/7) (solid for its category)

Per-Hour Learning Potential / Utility: ★★★★★ (5/7)

Readability: ★★★★★★ (6/7)

Challenge Level: 1/5 (None) | 504 pages officially (I don’t remember it being NEARLY that long)

Blurb/Description: we say we want team players, but we really worship superstars – and Boris Groysberg contends that, at least in the world of sell-side analysts, it’s the team that makes the star.  

Summary: Groysberg comes to a lot of interesting conclusions, but the question is whether II rankings for sell-side analysts actually have any validity… (sorry, Mike Mayo, you’re the exception to the rule.)

Highlights: the reason I like this book is the same reason I like The Halo Effect (Halo review + notes) so much – I am a natural storyteller, to an even greater extent than most people, I think, and I find it useful to occasionally remind myself that a lot of stories are bullshit.  It’s easy to craft the narrative around the superstar and ignore the contextual factors that contributed to said superstardom, but by taking the superstar out of the pond where (s)he’s king, you get to see who’s really who…

Obviously, I don’t think talent is a “myth,” nor do I buy into the Adam Grant mindset of the lone wolf being a myth (hey, I am a one-man shop, after all.)  But I still think that learning to consider your success within the context of your circumstances / opportunity set is extremely important – for example, what makes me a good small-cap investor might not translate (at all) to being a macro forecaster… and yet that is something lots of people seem to forget at some point.

Lowlights: The entire premise and methodology, given my negative bias toward the vast majority of sell-side analysts as a value investor.

Mental Model / ART Thinking Points: luck vs. skill, trait adaptivity / context-dependency, storytelling, fundamental attribution error, incentives

You should buy a copy of Chasing Stars if: you’re willing to look past your skepticism about a book premised on sell-side analysts, and want to read an analog of The Halo Effect focused more on the individual than the company.

Reading Tips: None.

Pairs Well With:

The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig (PAA review + N&A).  As discussed above, The Halo Effect is to company performance what this book is to individual performance.

“Exile on Wall Street” by Mike Mayo (PAA review).  Mike Mayo is one of the few sell-side analysts I really like.

Michael Mauboussin

“The Great A&P”

Reread Value: 2/5 (Low)


First Read: 2014

Last Read: 2014

Number of Times Read: 1


Review Date: summer 2017