Very few people share your signature themes (in fact, there are over thirty-three million possible combinations of the top five, so the chances of your [sic] meeting your perfect match are infinitesimal).

Time to put that WordPress-style LaTeX to the test!

If, as the author says, the order of your top five themes doesn’t matter, then the number of ways to choose five from a group of thirty-four is equal to

$\binom{34}{5} = \frac{34!}{29! 5!} = \frac{34 * 33 * 32 * 31 * 30}{5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1} = 278256$

The author probably multiplied the final answer by 5! = 120 (278,256 * 120 = 33,390,270), which is the number of possible ways the five themes can be arranged in a hierarchy once they have been chosen.

I would have suggested using both numbers- the smaller, then the larger- to better emphasize the point and retain the high ground. Notice the non sequitor between “sharing” themes and “possible combinations”. Am I being anal, or is the author inflating his rhetorical point by a factor of 120?

The book was pretty informative, but this wasn’t the only time it played loose with numbers. Consider this gem from the introduction:

Globally, only 20 percent of employees working in the large organizations we surveyed feel that their strengths are in play every day…

Alarming though it is to learn that most organizations operate at 20 percent capacity, this discovery actually represents a tremendous opportunity for great organizations.

Ibid.
(Emphasis mine)

I’ll leave the criticism of that one as an exercise for the reader.