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So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love Hardcover – September 18, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455509124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455509126
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

This is a good book and a worthwhile read.
Regi John
Follow the guidelines to make smart decisions and don't get anxious, be patient and get so good they can't ignore you, and build a life and work you love.
Juan Castro
I also agree with Newport that it is also very important to develop capabilities, skills that will "trump passion in the quest for work you love."
Robert Morris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

239 of 249 people found the following review helpful By J. F. Malcolm on 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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201 of 224 people found the following review helpful By Diggy on September 15, 2012
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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98 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Jackson W Lord on 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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