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NeilIrwin222 karma

Look, there is indeed a lot of snake oil out there in the business advice book genre, and others will have to judge whether I'm guilty of adding to that. But I tried hard to do a deep dive into the evidence, from academics and other researchers, and through case studies from major companies, of what it takes to succeed given the shifts that dominate the modern economy.

I'm not promising some One Easy Trick that will make you a success in your career. I make clear this stuff is hard, and to have a durable career it really will take hard work and expertise in addition to the traits I urge people to cultivate in the book.

NeilIrwin183 karma

I think about this a lot, and I'm not even that hostile to the financial sector in theory (in reality, of course, financialization of the economy has fueled a lot of problems). I do think that the era of higher capital standards and more intense regulation has taken some of the sheen off of jobs at the traditional Wall Street banks (the hours are still difficult, but there are fewer seven or eight figure paydays than there used to be), but at the same time the scale and appeal of private equity has taken off, and while some parts of the PE industry likely do create value by running companies better, other parts are more pure leverage plays that just stack on risks and extract resources for their investors and managers.

Apart from paying research physicists and engineers in the "real economy" (as opposed to financial economy) better, it seems to me that financial regulators viewing extreme compensation schemes warily is the only tool that might shift this equation. That and a significantly higher top marginal tax rate, I suppose.

NeilIrwin139 karma

So I know that this is meant as a trolly question, but here's the thing: Yes.

Not literally every journalist, and for some roles it's not really needed. But especially for someone starting out, having enough programming skills to be able to scrape some data from a website or analyze microdata of a large data set can be extremely valuable.

And even if you're not doing that kind of work, as I argue in the book a key to succeeding in modern organizations is being a "glue person," someone who can work effectively on teams with very different types of skills. So if you are a journalist who has only modest coding skills yourself, but those enable you to communicate and collaborate better with hardcore software developers, you're more likely to be able to succeed in building great products for your organization and have a more viable career.

NeilIrwin80 karma

I think networking turns so many people off because there is one particular type of it that really is offputting and hard for most of us. Walking into the cocktail hour of a conference, for example, and trying to approach random people and make smalltalk and develop relationships is hellish for a lot of people, and not just extreme introverts (I'm fairly extraverted and find that experience quite unpleasant, for one).

The good news is that I know of no evidence that that type of networking really is particularly useful for career advancement. But meanwhile, there are other forms of networking that are essential.

A quiet coffee with a person in your field who is at your level of seniority or maybe a tier or two up is likely to be far more valuable than approaching some big-time CEO or other very senior person after a panel discussion, for example.

NeilIrwin71 karma

It's a totally reasonable choice. The corporate lifestyle isn't for everybody—coming into an office every day, sitting through boring meetings, collaborating with colleagues and bosses. And there certainly exist pathways outside of the corporate world that can make for perfectly good careers.

But my argument is that the nature of modern technology is that much of the opportunity to build products that are competitive in the 21st century economy will come in large, technologically sophisticated firms. So this book is aimed at those who are able to make peace with that and wish to work within them.