The Atlantic

It’s a Winner-Take-All World, Whether You Like It or Not

And a person needs to cultivate particular traits to be successful within it.
Source: John Kolesidis / Reuters

Not long ago, I reached out to a writer I respect, and posed the uncomfortable question authors find themselves forced to ask: Would she write a blurb—the endorsement you see on the back cover—for my new book about how a person can navigate a career in the winner-take-all economy of the 21st century?

She declined. She felt strongly that this winner-take-all dynamic needs to be fought, not embraced. She argued, in essence, that I should have devoted my labors to tearing down a system in which a handful of giant companies and the highly compensated people who work at them dominate the world economy, rather than teaching people how to game it.

She has a lot of company.

Leading Democratic candidates for president have made attacking big business, and the power it wields, central to their campaigns. Republicans are on board, at least as it pertains to the power of the big tech platforms such as Facebook and Google.

And among economists, the evidence keeps building that the concentration of major industries among a handful of firms might be connected to deep economic dysfunctions. Big dominant companies might focus more on defending what they have than on generating the kinds of innovations that drive economy-wide . And the rise of superstar firms is likely related to the rise of and the hollowing out of many local economies.

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