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So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love [Kindle Edition]

Cal Newport
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $26.00
Kindle Price: $10.67
You Save: $15.33 (59%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed -- preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work -- but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.

After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers.

Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before.
In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.

With a title taken from the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to "be so good they can't ignore you," Cal Newport's clearly written manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone fretting about what to do with their life, or frustrated by their current job situation and eager to find a fresh new way to take control of their livelihood. He provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love.
SO GOOD THEY CAN'T IGNORE YOU will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Stop worrying about what you feel like doing (and what the world owes you) and instead, start creating something meaningful and then give it to the world. Cal really delivers with this one."

--Seth Godin, author, Linchpin

"Entrepreneurial professionals must develop a competitive advantage by building valuable skills. This book offers advice based on research and reality--not meaningless platitudes-- on how to invest in yourself in order to stand out from the crowd. An important guide to starting up a remarkable career."

--Reid Hoffman, co-founder & chairman of LinkedIn and co-author of the bestselling The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

"Do what you love and the money will follow' sounds like great advice -- until it's time to get a job and disillusionment quickly sets in. Cal Newport ably demonstrates how the quest for 'passion' can corrode job satisfaction. If all he accomplished with this book was to turn conventional wisdom on its head, that would be interesting enough. But he goes further -- offering advice and examples that will help you bypass the disillusionment and get right to work building skills that matter."

--Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

"This book changed my mind. It has moved me from 'find your passion, so that you can be useful' to 'be useful so that you can find your passion.' That is a big flip, but it's more honest, and that is why I am giving each of my three young adult children a copy of this unorthodox guide."

--Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick, WIRED magazine



"First book in years I read twice, to make sure I got it. Brilliant counter-intuitive career insights. Powerful new ideas that have already changed the way I think of my own career, and the advice I give others."

--Derek Sivers, founder, CD Baby

"Written in an optimistic and accessible tone, with clear logic and no-nonsense advice, this work is useful reading for anyone new to the job market and striving to find a path or for those who have been struggling to find meaning in their current careers."

--Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Cal Newport, Ph.D., lives in Washington, D.C., where he is a writer and an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He also runs the popular website Study Hacks: Decoding Patterns of Success. This is his fourth book.

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Product Details

  • File Size: 601 KB
  • Print Length: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (September 18, 2012)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0076DDBJ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,546 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
234 of 244 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't ignore this book September 19, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been following Cal Newport's ideas for a while now, so when I learned that he was coming out with a book, I pre-ordered it from Amazon. I was not disappointed. If you have a child or know someone in college who is trying to figure out what to do with their life, or even if you're north of fifty and still wonder what you'll be when you grow up, then this book is for you. So Good They Can't Ignore You, is so good that you shouldn't ignore it.

The central premise that sets this book apart from so much life advice that is out on the market is that following your passion is terrible advice. There are two main reasons for this: first, very few people at a young age know enough about life to choose something to be really passionate about, and even if they do, they are bound to be wrong. If Steve Jobs had followed his early passion, maybe he would have made a dent in the universe as a Buddhist monk.

Second, while most people would love to have a job that allows them to be creative, make an impact on the world, and have control over how they choose to spend their time, jobs like that are rare and valuable, and the only way to get something valuable is to offer something in return. And the only way to be in a position to do that is to master a difficult skill. Passion doesn't waive the laws of economics, and if it's not difficult it won't be rare. The book cites the example of Julia, who quit a secure job in advertising to pursue her passion of teaching yoga. Armed with a 4-week course, she quit her job, began teaching, and one year later was on food stamps. Here's a hint: if a four-week course is enough to allow you to set up shop, do you think you might have a little competition?
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198 of 221 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, bad execution September 15, 2012
By Diggy
Format:Hardcover
I really wanted to love this book. I have been reading Cal's blog since its inception and have read his "yellow" and "red" books many times over. When he started this idea on the blog, I thought it would be great. While the ingredients are there in this book, the execution, especially the writing, is beyond disappointing. Every point is belabored, and the exact same points are made in successive paragraphs and pages. It felt like a nail was being hammered into my brain. It was also very roundabout -- instead of striving to keep addressing his assumed critics in every chapter, he should just get his point across. While I did find the latter half of the book better than the first half, I felt as if I could get the necessary information from the chapter summaries.

I also have two qualms about the book:

1. It feels as if this book is posited to those who are in the position to create career capital, such as ivy league graduates, and not someone who is just trying to get by and can't leave their job of flipping burgers. How can people in less fortunate positions get the capital to be remarkable? I must admit, I have not thought long enough about this observation to flesh it out, but if anyone has thoughts on this, let me know.

2. Also, it seemed as if the majority of the subjects in the book did have passion to do something before they had the capital. While they did have a craftsmans approach, this seemed to be a necessary action to pursue what they were passionate about in the first place. In addition, in his caveat section for the method, it basically says that if you don't like the job and coworkers (more specifically, if they see it as useless or it can't help them get career capital), don't do it.
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93 of 103 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Decent points, very poorly argued September 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The basic premise of this book is thought-provoking and very relevant to so many of us struggling through career decisions. The primary point which Newport gets across is unambiguously true: finding a "passion" before setting off in your career is extremely difficult, and perhaps even counterproductive. Developing a very solid set of skills which are somewhat rare and valuable is the only way to position oneself into a meaningful job with any sort of autonomy and humanity. This is essential, especially in the competitive world we live in. And competency itself is related to self-satisfaction—perhaps even more so than any intrinsic interests we might have. Good points.

However, the book falls flat in almost every other aspect, from the explanations, to the real-world examples, to the relevancy for the vast majority of professional laborers sitting in cubicles today. This is not surprising given Newport's background in prestige and academics, and the quite unorthodox path he's taken. This issue follows through the entire book with example after example of people and their careers that can only be characterized as esoteric and extreme. The hyper-successful individuals he profiles as examples of people happy with their careers are starkly contrasted by the obvious hubris of those he interviews who are not. There is no middle ground, which is, unfortunately, the vast majority of us, who are neither ridiculously foolhardy nor overachievers to the extreme.

This book and its author smacks of the Tim Ferriss-style cure-all self-help trash which is all born out of an unrigorous, hyped-up, TED Talk-syle, fast-food intellectualism which is so tempting to consume in the blogging age. Beware of the hype, remember this book was written in less than 6 months, work hard, and find a job you don't hate for Christ's sake.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid book - challenged my passion based ideas!
Great fact based insight.
Published 4 days ago by H. M. Thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars a gem for finding fulfillment and career development
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to use their working days to greatest effect. It's is actionable, wise and unpretentious.
Published 5 days ago by simon holzapfel
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, relevant and actionable advice
Well written and easy to read.a must read for all kids . I'm hoping my kids will read it too.
Published 7 days ago by Happy Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent treatment and argument in favor of the Steve Martin (Comedian) premise.
Published 8 days ago by H. Tan
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost common sense, and laid out very well
Perhaps this book dosen't get readers go deep into academic litreature to prove its point, but I think thats on purpose. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Student
2.0 out of 5 stars A few good idea and very poor execution
I only made it halfway through this book before giving up. Also, I listened to the audiobook version. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Shawn McCullough
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical and pragmatic advice!
This book debunks the new-age mantra which preaches that the universe will reward all who "corageoualy pursue their passion" with their just rewards... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Frank Colon
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great read with a lot of good examples of successful people and their habits.
Published 13 days ago by Mostafa Lotfi
5.0 out of 5 stars With all the career help books out there, this ...
With all the career help books out there, this is one that makes the most sense. This is the book that I wish had been around when I was grappling with the question, "What... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Tracy Keibler
4.0 out of 5 stars An academic study of building "career capital".
The book "So Good They Can't Ignore You" is a perfect example of carving out a niche by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Matt F.
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