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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,462 ratings  ·  349 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...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Business Plus (first published January 1st 2012)
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Emma Sea
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...more
Michelle
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
Torbjörn
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.
Brent Mair
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...more
Michael
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
Christina Brown
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
Clara
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...more
Molly
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...more
Nefficus
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
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...more
Leah
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
Justin
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...more
Pete Welter
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...more
Ahmed
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...more
Kater Cheek
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...more
Pamela
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...more
Claire
Most of what I read I gleaned off the website, though he goes more into depth here. I do love Cal Newport and his advice; it's shaped a lot of my personal philosophy and how I approach life and school and success.
Rachel
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...more
Melanie
Another blogger who fails in creating an interesting print book. The style of writing is to pre-tell his points, to make his points, and then to recap his points to the point of being tedious. Padding for lengths, not new insights. I've never read his blog, so maybe this is his normal style.

The point of the book is that you should seek to be so excellent at your chosen work that people will pay you for it, will pay you a great deal for it, and will give you a lot of control or autonomy to keep y...more
Eduardo Rocha
Um livro surpreendentemente bom. Ideal para quem está pensando na sua carreira ou em mudar de carreira.

O argumento principal do livro, é que "fazer o que você ama" é um péssimo conselho, que gera pessoas frustradas, mudanças de trabalho muito arriscadas ou pessoas insatisfeitas por não fazer algo que elas amem.
Segundo o autor, você deve buscar amar o que faz e se desenvolver nessa profissão.

Nisso, o autor insere o conceito de "Capital de Carreira", ou seja, você deve ficar bom no que faz, para...more
Shonna Froebel
I'd seen a mention of this book and was intrigued. The book captured me right from the get go. It counters the prevalent mindset (started for real purposes in the 1970's) that to have work you really enjoy, find what you are passionate about and make a job out of that. Newport digs deep into this premise, finding that it isn't as simple as that. He comes up with four rules around finding work you love.
Rule #1 is Don't Follow Your Passion. He looks at successful people, including many who espouse...more
Ellen
Some good advice and analysis here, but none of it's life-changing and a lot was intuitive (at least to me). My favorite piece of advice: to find a meaningful mission related to the skills you already have, you should try a bunch of different small projects in that area that intrigue you and see which one is most successful.

A weird thing about this book: the "good" examples are overwhelmingly men, and the "bad" examples (of which there are fewer) are mostly women. There are many possible explana...more
Gene Babon
You need to be good at something before you can expect a good job. To land a great job you need to be "so good they can't ignore you."

This quote is attributed to Steve Martin.

The core premise of the book is that pursuing a passion is filled with false promises. A more effective strategy is to develop a craftsman mindset. Getting good at something is a pursuit measured in years, not weeks.

In particular, the focus of your efforts should be to get good at something rare and valuable. This strategy...more
Jake Losh
I think that this book is a must read for anybody, but especially for a high school or college student that feels a bit confused about "what they want to do with their life". Actually, maybe anybody who feels a little lost when it comes to their vocation. I really wish I'd gotten this kind of perspective when I was setting off for college because I think it would have really calmed me down about the prospect of not having a major, it would have encouraged me to find the major I ultimately chose...more
Nicola
This one wasn't a life- or mind-changer for me, but I'm sure it can be for many people. Newport elucidates some great points clearly and succinctly (though this often gives in to repetition) — so it's strength is in structure and reinforcement more than it is in multitude of ideas. The thesis is a rejection of the passion hypothesis, and it's a convincing and well illustrated. Newport is an academic so his form is fairly one-note and occasionally dry, but it has definitely given me some personal...more
Vikas Agarwal
In this book, Newport tries to debunk what he calls "The Passion Hypothesis" : The assertion that each of us have some pre-ordained passion or some "true calling" that will make us enjoy what we do. Instead he says, we should obtain "The craftsman mindset" i.e. focus on building up "career capital"; rare and essential skills required for our target jobs and improve our skills using "delibrate practice". Once we have acquired that capital, we can then leverage it to control what we do and how we...more
Borbala Hidegh
Really interesting read around the thought that "No one owes you a great career, you need to earn it and the process won't be easy". Following your passion, and trying to identify your true calling creates escapist thoughts of fantasy jobs. Instead focus on what you can offer the world, don't expect to be discovered or saved by a dreamcompany's dreamjob. Make deliberate practice part of your life to develop rare and valuable skills, do hard efforts instead of mindless work at an acceptable level...more
Hira
The book discusses two mindsets (Passion and Craftsman mindset), both which are essential for us to know and confirm. Many of you will find this book quite shocking because of its new exhibition of facts regarding the passion mindset. But on discovering that most of us are unaware or have fake premise of our passions. When we search out for work we have a theory that the world owes us a lot, and this thought becomes responsible for our chronic unhappiness. Because the truth is that 'No one owes...more
Chung Chin
In this book, Cal Newport first argues that "follow your passion" is bad advice. He lays down, methodically, the reasons behind his argument. After convincing readers that "follow your passion" is indeed bad advice, he then provides guidance on how you can "find" the work you love.

"Find" because Cal Newport does not believe that trying to figure out a suitable strengths by first figuring out what your strengths are work.

In all the rules provided by the author, he will also provide real life ex...more
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“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?”).” 3 likes
“Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion.” 0 likes
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