So Good They Can't Ignore You

So Good They Can't Ignore You

Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

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Cal Newport's clearly-written manifesto flies in the face of conventional wisdom by suggesting that it should be a person's talent and skill - and not necessarily their passion - that determines their career path.
Publisher: New York : Business Plus, Grand Central Publishing, 2012
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781455509126
Branch Call Number: 650.1 NEW 2019-08
Characteristics: xxi, 273 pages ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: So good they cannot ignore you


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Apr 06, 2019

I agree with much said: career capital, deliberate practice, etc. These are very good thoughts. "What colour is your parachute?" never work for me... Yet, I would like more serious data to support any of the claims. Five anecdotes is not enough... And instead of the book, it should be an article...

kristina_rad Jan 12, 2019

What a title! This book crushes the perspective that you should follow your passion in order to discover the work you love. Then it goes into some strategies on how to do the work and eventually end up loving what you do. I enjoyed the interviews that Newport conducted with folks that end up loving what they do and their unique journey of getting to that point.

My biggest take away was the importance of stretching yourself beyond your comforts. Often people think that their passion work is going to be easy once they discover the passion. The research shows that it has to be challenging and a stretch and this effort leads to a feeling of reward. This book is filled with loads of actionable content!

Sep 01, 2016

Meh. It certainly had some information to back up its propositions but it was also mostly stuff I've heard before. Repetitive. That said, I do believe the "follow your dreams" thing is not the way to live your average life.

Jul 18, 2016

This is a really good book with a clear roadmap with examples from life of how to create a job you love. It's not a quick and easy solution, but seems to be solid. I have been sharing what I've learned here with my high school daughter.

Jan 16, 2016

A great book for anyone dissatisfied with their job or struggling to "find their passion." Details ways to improve your skills and discover satisfaction in everyday jobs. Somewhat repetitive, but a must read for anyone ready to quit their job.

Nov 08, 2014

So Good They Can't Ignore You is written like an academic essay for people with short attention spans and bad recall. I found the constant recaps every eight pages or so to be incredibly annoying. So negative 10 points for writing style.

However, as someone who has chafed against the "Follow your passion" advice for the past 8 years (because it failed me, and it failed everyone I know, and it's vague and meaningless), I agreed with the basic concepts of this book. I don't think it's ground-breaking or eye-opening at all: this is stuff I learned in middle school and high school, through extracurricular activities and peer leadership positions. I bet you did, too, and if you read this you'll go "Well, yeah, of COURSE."

Here's the entire book, sans examples and recaps:
Get really good at something through mindful, dedicated practice (seeking and integrating critique/feedback, and pushing the boundaries of your comfort and capabilities).
Then you'll be skilled enough to attract career options, autonomy, and control and THAT will make you love what you do.
Be careful you don't try to leverage your skill set for a better position, before your skill set has the value to do this (you'll know it has value when other people start pursuing you for your skill set).
You'll figure out your mission in life only by pursuing the cutting edge of your career, in incremental steps. If this pursuit gets other people to notice you, then it's a success.

Of course, there are some holes here (like, what's cutting edge for someone not in a science? and How do you pick which skill set you dedicate yourself to, especially when so many jobs are becoming obsolete- just guess which has market viability? )
But for someone who has been disillusioned with the concept that loving something will make you good at it, a desirable hire, or make it enjoyable for you, this book is just common sense.

I can't say I recommend it for anyone UNLESS you're frustrated by your shitty job *and* don't know what you want to do with your career. It will make you realize that you just need to knuckle down and not expect career happiness yet. It's a great antithesis to What Color is Your Parachute, and reading those back to back gives interesting perspective.

Sep 08, 2013

Cal Newport provides an excellent - contrarian opinion and argument against the standard line that you must follow your passions and work at what you are passionate about. Instead, his advice backed by a very solid logical argument is to work at something to become a craftsman - and after becoming very good at it - then in most cases it will evolve from being a job, into a career, then calling - and ultimately into your passion.


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Feb 17, 2020

Career Capital: A description of the skills you have that are rare and valuable to the working world. This is the key currency for creating work you love. 

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