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Book review: “How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World: The Definitive Guide to Adapting and Succeeding in High-Performance Careers” by Neil Irwin and published June 2019. Irwin is a senior economic correspondent at The New York Times.

The book is a definite must for anyone looking to move up the career ladder. Irwin discusses the need to combine skills instead of focusing on a single skill, how big data can improve your job performance, and why working hard but not too hard is the key to results. He point outs how to survive technology changes without being pushed aside and losing your job. Irwin backups up his points with insights from Microsoft, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Jim Beam, etc.

Irwins states in the book introduction:

  • Chapters 1 -3 – explain how to become a desired professional
  • Chapter 4 and 5 – lessons from big data and management economics
  • Chapter 6 – 9 – 4 profound economic shifts explained
  • Book should increase your odds of having a long fulfilling career or series of careers

Here’s some select chapters and sub-chapters that should pique your interest in the book:

  • Rise of the glue people
  • Being a pareto-optimal employee
  • How to make yourself indispenable
  • The career lattice, tours of duty and the growth mindset
  • How big data can make you better
  • Listening to data, from the ballpark to the office park
  • The mystery of the miserable employees
  • What would you say you do here?
  • The strange math of productivity
  • Management as a technology and the big sort
  • Do you work at a winner, an aspirant or an afterthought?
  • How finding a job is like investing: growth, value and venture
  • When software ate the world and how to make sure it doesn’t eat you
  • Should I stay or should I go?
  • The culture deck and the meaning of loyalty
  • The end of loyalty
  • The price of honesty
  • What is a job anyway?
  • The pareto-optimal life

And here’s some lessons that Irwin discusses:

  • Work hard but not too hard
  • Meet one-on-one with employees
  • Always work on building your network within your organization

DBA team leads and managers or those aspiring to be in a CXO position will find the book a worthy read. You will find many examples of ways to improve your career chances of moving up the ladder. I give the book “How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World: The Definitive Guide to Adapting and Succeeding in High-Performance Careers” a thumbs up!

DBAs you know how to play win! Right?


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