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The Unfair Advantage - Book Summary, Key Takeaways - mindset-changing book

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New Contributor
Aug 22, 2021
Melbourne, Australia
Hey guys,


It's my first post after lurking for a while so I thought I'd give some info on a book I recently read and found pretty eye-opening (but maybe not to experienced Fastlaners)
It's called The Unfair Advantage by Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba.
Anyone who thinks 'hard work' is all it takes to make it or thinks luck is inconsequential (OR worse, thinks they're unlucky) should read this book.
Real eye-opener on what it takes to be successful in business and life.

Here's the TL;DR and key takeaways I got from the book:

TL;DR - The book in 4 bullet points​

  • Life isn't fair - but it’s not an excuse to have a victim mindset - instead we must equip ourselves with knowledge of the potential obstacles and shortcuts
  • An unfair advantage is a condition, asset or circumstance that puts you in a favourable business position (e.g. being tall in basketball, knowing someone at a company you're applying for a job at)
  • The key to success is working hard and smart (on things you are lucky/have unfair advantages in) - it is not just about hard work or getting lucky
  • There are five categories of unfair advantages - Money, Intelligence and insight, Location and luck, Education and expertise, Status

Key takeaways​

  • There are two leading, opposing narratives on how success/wealth is attained:
    • Luck - rich people got rich due to factors outside their control (luck, timing, natural talent and fate) - their success wasn’t earned (fatalism)
    • Hard work - rich people deserve their riches because they earned it through hard work (meritocracy)
  • The reality is in the middle of these two:
    • You can be unlucky and still successful (e.g. Oprah Winfrey was raised in a poor, traumatising, unstable household but still became wildly successful)
    • But hard work can't undo luck in all cases (e.g. if Warren Buffett was born black or a woman or in war-torn Iraq, no matter how much he worked, he wouldn't have the same opportunities/success he did)
  • The key to success is working hard and smart (on things you are lucky/have unfair advantages in)
  • An unfair advantage is a condition, asset or circumstance that puts you in a favourable business position
    • We ALL have unfair advantages
  • Examples of unfair advantages - being tall in basketball, being rich before starting a business, knowing someone at a company when applying for a job etc.
  • Properties of unfair advantages
    • Can’t be easily copied or bought
    • Unique to you
    • Build on each other and have a snowballing, multiplicative effect
    • For any early-stage startup, the startup's UA = sum of individual founders' UAs
      • This is why it's important to choose founders that complement your UAs
  • There are five categories of unfair advantages which comprise the MILES framework
    • Money- the capital you have/can easily raise
      • Money gives you a safety net, contingency and the power to scale (you need money to make money)
    • Intelligence and Insight- ‘book smarts’, social + emotional intelligence and creativity
      • Business isn't an exam - all aspects of intelligence are needed (not just 'book smarts')
      • Insight is required to find a need/problem in the market that can be solved
    • Location and Luck- being in the right place at the right time
      • A good location affects your vibe and makes it easier to make friends, find out business insights, have access to capital and better infrastructure
        • Note - location isn't just physical - it refers to your environment (which can be online)
      • Luck/timing is important - you don't want to be too early (i.e. VR) or too late (i.e. Bing)
        • To be more lucky - maximise your ability to seize chances, trust your intuition, expect to be lucky, turn bad luck into learning opportunities and take more action
    • Education and Expertise- formal schooling and your self-learning/gained knowledge
      • Education can be formal/informal - doesn't matter
      • Three main benefits from formal education - knowledge, network and signalling that comes with a degree
    • Status- social status (your network and connections) + your ‘personal brand’ (how you’re perceived) + your inner status (confidence and self-esteem)
      • Status is your perceived ability to add value
      • It's comprised of three types of capital - economic (i.e. wealth), cultural (i.e. social class/subculture) and social (i.e. who you know)
      • Note - inner status creates outer status because other people can pick up on it subtly
  • All unfair advantages can be double-edged swords
    • Lots of money can make you complacent, wasteful and less hungry to succeed
    • A lack of intelligence can mean being more humble and willing to ask questions and less overthinking
    • A good location costs money and being frequently lucky means you may not develop the skills needed to develop your startup when luck runs out
    • A lack of status (i.e. being an outsider) reveals powerful insights and enables you to stand out/be memorable
Planning on reading and summarising a business/growth based book every fortnight, so let me know if this was useful to you/how it could be better
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New Contributor
Aug 22, 2021
Melbourne, Australia
Been reading it through to approximately 35% so far, its a must read next to fastlane millionaire and the other mj books, thank you very much for the recommendation.
Yeah 100% - it's one of those red pill type books that you need to read before you waste your time and energy "working hard" while there's a better way to get ahead

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