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

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  8,712 Ratings  ·  899 Reviews
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
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ebook, 288 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Business Plus (first published January 1st 2012)
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Emma Sea
Dec 20, 2012 Emma Sea rated it really liked it
For me this book is one of the few pop-psych/self-help books that actually holds relevance. Like the author I'm also an academic, however I've done an awesome job of running my career into the toilet. I've spent too many years to mention developing killer skills, but in the parts of the job that give me ZERO career capital. I am an amazing teacher. Truly. I have awards. I get letters from past students now working overseas, thanking me. I make a difference in the lives of young people. Guess wha ...more
Kressel Housman
I have rather mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the advice rang so true to my experience, I actually went to the author's website to contact him, only to discover that his wife just had their first child last week, so he's not available. On the negative side, though, the book pointed out all the mistakes I've made over the years, which has made me worry that at my age, it's already too late for me to ever have what he calls "a compelling career."

The thesis of the book is that followin
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Michelle
Feb 04, 2013 Michelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked up this book not so much because I'm at a career transition point (though that is in fact the case), but because I've followed Cal's student advice blog, Study Hacks, for a couple years now, and his pull-no-punches posts often give me lots to think about. His latest book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, challenges all the feel-good yada yada about following your passion popularized by Oprah and so many others. More significantly, it challenges the common assumption that we all have some ...more
Brent Mair
Apr 01, 2013 Brent Mair rated it it was ok
There is definitely the core of a five star book here. The book has an excellent title, good anecdotal stories, and some well researched points.

Unfortunately the book starts out with a bad premise, one that continues to get beaten down, something that Cal calls The Passion Hypothesis, which Cal throws out and beats up at every turn. This hypothesis is:
"The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches that passion."

From the st
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Molly
Sep 17, 2013 Molly rated it it was ok
I really like the basic premise of this book: that focusing on what you're good at is more satisfying in the long run than doing what you love (and hoping the money will follow). I still like that premise, and I think Cal Newport makes some excellent points in the first chapter or two. After chapter 1 I was prepared to give it five stars.

But as I kept going, I became increasingly annoyed with the predominantly male, affluent, probably white examples. In fact, of the (few) women mentioned in the
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Torbjörn
Sep 30, 2012 Torbjörn rated it liked it
There's some really good ideas here, and the thesis at large seems plausible.
It's engaging and fun. But it smells of retrospective coherence.
Clara
Apr 06, 2013 Clara rated it it was ok
Dr. Newport offers an abundance of prescient advice that has motivated me to focus on building skills and embrace the discomfort associated with pushing my limits.

Unfortunately, in his book "So Good They Can't Ignore You," Newport frames his advice in a disingenuous context -- he (perhaps willfully) misinterprets what I suspect a large number of people (including Steve Jobs) really meant when they use the phrase "follow your passion." Newport claims that "follow" implies identifying a pre-existi
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Christina Brown
Dec 04, 2012 Christina Brown rated it liked it
This book had a provocative title that I couldn't resist, but I was somewhat disappointed by the content. Cal asserts that the road to true career happiness is the steady development of rare and valuable skills that you can eventually cash in for things everyone wants in their work, like autonomy and a deep mission. I fully agree. And someone had to deflate the hype surrounding the passion theory. But the problem is that Cal never adequately addresses how the people he features in the book found ...more
Michael
Feb 20, 2013 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: money-business
Read this before you think about quitting, getting a degree, a new job (especially self-employment), or "following your bliss." The advice is particularly important in our current economic environment. Find work you can learn from ("build career capital," in Newport's terms) in order to take another step toward more desirable work. Use one foothold to reach the next, and have the humility to recognize that success takes time. Try to spend more time on activities that yield long-term rewards, rat ...more
Nefficus
Jun 13, 2013 Nefficus rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, business
I was torn about whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I settled on 4 because I believe the two key points of the first half of the book are compelling enough to encourage others to read it. The first point is that "follow your passion" is more often than not horrible career advice - instead, to find work you love, get really good at something (which can be really hard and not fun at times along the way). Following your passion tends to leave you disillusioned within 6-12 months at any job as ...more
Eric
Sep 20, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU is the latest book by Georgetown Professor Cal Newport, author of the Study Hacks blog. This is a tremendously valuable book for anyone who is looking not for a job, but a career that offers control, autonomy, and gives you a sense of fulfillment. SO GOOD gives you the step by step plan to achieve it.

The subtitle of this book reveals the author’s main theme: “Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” This is a unique idea that rejects the current pop
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Pamela
Jul 28, 2013 Pamela rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, and I think that Mr. Newport has a few good ideas, which I will get to in a moment. That said, this book was disappointing for the following reasons:

1. While Mr. Newport is no doubt skilled in mathematics (his chosen field), he lacks a basic understanding of English grammar. The book desperately needed an editor, as the following phrases appeared in print: "graduated highschool" "better understand this trickiness" and "real hard time", among other cringe-induci
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Ahmed
Apr 10, 2013 Ahmed rated it liked it
The short version of this book is: don't do something just because you're passionate about it, do it because you're both passionate and very, very good at it then you'll be successful.


The book in summary has 3 parts:
1- debunking the passions hypothesis. Yep its as boring is "debunking a hypothesis" sounds. This is the worst and most uninspiring part. He goes on, and on, and on for 30 pages saying that the advice "follow your passion is bad."

2- introducing main the passion mindset vs the craft
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Leah
Jun 22, 2013 Leah rated it it was ok
Newport is a persuasive guy, and he offers the sort of realist advice and impressive credentials to back up his claims. And, he has a history of being effective -- his productivity tips do help people, they are generally in accordance with classical principles of operant conditioning -- and the quora community loves him. But, I (obviously) don't agree with the thesis of his book. There's room for being good at what you do, but there's also plenty of room for caring about it. That is, I don't thi ...more
Ayeshah
May 15, 2016 Ayeshah rated it it was amazing
عشرة نجوم من خمسة! يا ربي هذي الكتب اللي تخليني أندم على كرمي الباذخ بالنجوم تقول قاعدة على بسطة

هذا الكتاب دمر قناعاتي عن النجاح و التميز -و انا التي كنت اعتبر نفسي صاحبة نظرة واقعية نوعاً للنجاح! ما هو سر النجاح؟ أن تعمل بما تحب؟ ان تعمل بموهبتك؟ ان تعمل شيئاً ذَا معنى ؟ باختصار هل تعتقد بأن النجاح هو ان تجري خلف شغفك؟

أبشر بالخيبة إذن! الحقيقة هي أن معظم الناس بلا شغف و لا مواهب او ملكات جبارة في جوانب معينة.. قد يكون لديهم استعداد و لكن بدون التدريب المتعمد [deliberate practice] فلا معنى لهذ
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Ashley Reid
"Don't do what you love. Learn to love what you do."
That is probably the best career advice I've heard.

Most books on career advice tell me to find a job using what I'm passionate about. Unfortunately for me there aren't many jobs that will pay me just to read whatever I want all day.

Learning to love what you do is much better advice if you ever want any job satisfaction.

This was a great book for most people, but especially for people who are fed up of the advice to let your passion lead you t
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Thomas Frank
Oct 01, 2014 Thomas Frank rated it it was amazing
Great read, and for most job-seekers I'd almost put this book down as essential. With all the toxic "follow your passion" advice being thrown around, people need to realize that when it comes to building a career, skills are more important.

The gist of this book can be gotten very quickly; in fact, the final chapter neatly summarizes pretty much everything. However, the rest of the book contains several case studies that are both inspiring and enlightening.

Pete Welter
Oct 12, 2012 Pete Welter rated it really liked it
I'm split on this book. I chose it to read because a number of the writers I admire most, including Seth Godin, Reid Hoffman, Kevin Kelly, Dan Pink and Derek Sivers, recommended it (although it turned out 3 of them are mentioned in the book, so there's that). I have it 4 stars, but I'd go 3 1/2 if there wer such a rating on GoodReads.

Questioning the passion hypothesis - that you first find out what you're passionate about and then find a job that suits it - is a an excellent message. Many people
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Miranda Barzey
May 19, 2016 Miranda Barzey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: career
I really liked this book. I wish I had read it during college. I think it would have gave me some direction when I dropped out. I was so concerned about trying to find a passion that none of my work in the last 5 years has really added up. I could have been building career capital instead of working a bunch of dead end jobs. One example of bad career planning in the book actually described my own situation pretty thoroughly.

The information I've read within it has really inspired me. I'm trying
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Jen
Jan 06, 2015 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A few interesting ideas mired in weak anecdotes and confusing arguments

I came to this book after seeing it rated very highly on the personal reading list of Derek Sivers, a blogger/programmer who I admire. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found a chapter or two of this book use Derek's biographical sketch as the backdrop for one of Newport's rules!

I find myself in agreement with most of Cal's major points, but can't in good faith recommend reading this. Many of the anecdotes were cringeworthy a
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Justin
Dec 21, 2013 Justin rated it it was ok
I love the blog and his blog sized nuggets of wisdom. Unfortunately, it didn't translate into a full length book. For such a short book, he spends an awful lot of time summarizing/repeating himself. He doesn't have much data to back him up and his argument hinges on a limited amount of interviews with people who seem awfully similar to the author himself: gifted academics.

The last point is the biggest problem of the book. I was never convinced that the successful subjects of the book were succe
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Zheen
Apr 05, 2016 Zheen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who is considering applying "the passion hypothesis"
Shelves: favorites
This was a great book and I'm really glad I read it in this period of my life. It basically discusses the things you need to do to get to a satisfying work life (Hint: it's not matching it to your "passion"), and, after you get it, how to make the best out of it. It gave me a sense of relief and better tools to see what might be the best quests to pursue. I would've liked it to be more clear, but I guess the broadness of the audience doesn't quite allow that.
To call a book life-changing is a big
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د.أمجد الجنباز
Feb 03, 2016 د.أمجد الجنباز rated it really liked it
كتاب يهز معظم مفاهيمنا حول العمل والشغف وكيفية اختيار العمل

يبدأ بنقض فرضية أن الشغف هو من يقود الإنسان
ثم يقول بأن الشغف يتولد بعد أن يحب الإنسان تخصصه وليس قبل ذلك.

ثم ينقض فرضية وضع رسالة في العمل،
ويقول بأن الرسالة تتبلور فقط بعد سبر أغوار التخصص خلال العمل، ولن تتضح الصورة ابدا قبل ذلك.

ثم يعطي نصائح للتطور في العمل، وكيفية الحصول على الاستقلالية والتحكم في العمل من خلال تطوير المهارات بشكل جيد جدا
Rafal Szymanski
Oct 30, 2016 Rafal Szymanski rated it really liked it
This was well presented career advice that's contrarian to what a lot of sources will tell you. The hypothesis the book the book is attacking is "Find your passion, and then find a career in it". Instead, the author is proposing to be "So good they can't ignore you" and that 'working right trumps finding the right work'. This is in stark contrast to a lot of career advice nowadays that proposes trying to find what you are 'passionate about', whatever that means, and then finding a job that's rig ...more
Rachel
Jan 03, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
This book, though not written by a believer, outlines some really wise and biblical truths. Although communicated in secular terms, I found this book convicting and encouraging in my own pursuit of taking dominion in my work for the glory of God.

1. The premise of the book was that "follow your passion" in your quest to find work you love is bad advice. Said in biblical terms, the idea is that in our flesh, we don't love working hard, and what we would love to do all day are things that are "fun
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Abdulrahman Alrehan
May 21, 2016 Abdulrahman Alrehan rated it really liked it
كتاب رائع يقاتل الفكرة الشائعه "الحق احلامك" و انها فكرة غير منطقيه او واقعيه، و يستبدلها بما سماه "رأس مال المهنه" اذا صحت ترجمتي. و يقول بأن الدراسات تذكر بأن من يحبون و يعشقون مهنهم هم أناس في الحقيقة بدأوا بشي لا يحبوه \ لا يعلمون اهم يحبوه و من ثم تعلموه بشكل صحيح و عميق، هذا العلم و الادراك بمداخل و مخارج هذه المهنه هوما جعلهم يحبون وظيفتهم، اذا هم لم يولدوا بحبهم لهذه المهنه او شي من هذا القبيل. لذلك احد نصائح الكتاب الا تبدل وظيفتك كثيرا، بل استثمر وقتك و جهدك للتعلم هذه الوظيفة اللي قد ...more
James
Jun 30, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
Have been told recently to check out the book 'what color is your parachute' and I've been reluctant to start it. This book has helped me reconsider if that is the best course of thought or not.

In the argument against following your passion is interesting with great examples. Having tried this life approach close to 15 years ago, I can reflect back and see the blinders I had on which did not become apparent until after everything was shut down.

In the becoming excellent concepts, the book does
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Chris Johnson
Feb 21, 2013 Chris Johnson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
I read a lot of this sort of book. Generally, even a poorly written book has a schtick that you can take away, a pattern either to recognize or something. I don't bother reviewing the "bad" business books I read (and there are a ton of them).

This book is different. It will give you insight to change your life's journey.

The idea that we "follow our passion" is sorta bogus. You aren't owed a living by this world. The idea is more proper that you want to grind, hustle, make things. The idea is that
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Amanda
Sep 12, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
Among the most useful career/life coaching books I've ever read. I've always found "do what you love" to be both vague and distressing advice -- how? when in my career? which of the things I love? what if it doesn't pay anything? This book offers useful advice, fascinating interviews, and most importantly, examples of how real people used the strategies suggested. Thanks CGP Grey for the recommendation!
Kater Cheek
May 02, 2013 Kater Cheek rated it liked it
This book bills itself as the antithesis of "What Color is Your Parachute." It promotes the idea, as does Newport's Studyhacks blog, that following your passion is bad advice. This is definitely a self-help book, and it's structured so that it has four rules to follow if you want to have you perfect job.

I'm not a follower of Newport's studyhacks blog, but I did find myself wishing that he were a few years older than me rather than a few years younger than me so that I could have used his studyin
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“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.” 38 likes
“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).” 25 likes
More quotes…