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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  31,077 ratings  ·  2,863 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 a
ebook, 288 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Business Plus (first published January 1st 2012)
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A Eashaan True, it does appeal to career related purpose and how to become world class in a particular discipline. But what I think, another purpose of this boo…moreTrue, it does appeal to career related purpose and how to become world class in a particular discipline. But what I think, another purpose of this book is to highlights the mistake people usually do while changing their career in the name of "true calling or passion" without having any background with that passion or just because they don't like their work. Therefore, this book offers help for the above-mentioned problem. (less)

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Emma Sea
Dec 19, 2012 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
Jack Edwards
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
Newport dedicates the first chapter to declaring that 'passion' will get you nowhere - instead, you should become so good at what you do that your career will advance. He establishes the 'passion mindset' and the 'craftsman mindset' as dichotomies, but then spends the rest of the book telling stories of people who actually disprove this hypothesis completely. Almost every individual we are introduced to is actually following their passion, yet Newport's confirmation bias blinds him to the obviou ...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
Jan 28, 2013 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
Mar 25, 2013 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
Always Pouting
This book was recommended to me by someone, probably because I was being ambivalent about working. I think that they misunderstood my ambivalence however, it wasn't rooted in a feeling that I wasn't passionate about anything, rather my feelings were a reflection of the fact that most career trajectories feel pointless and conflict with my natural desire to be multifaceted. It wasn't so much about the act of working itself or some idea that there is an ideal job out there that would magically mak ...more
Thomas Frank
Oct 21, 2013 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.

Apr 06, 2013 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
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
"Follow you passion". "Life is for the living." "Passion is the engine to living your life." "Find what you love, and then do it." "Don't settle."

The passion hypothesis is to first "figure out what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion."

This is all popular advice; you hear it everywhere. And Cal Newport shows why this advice is so, so very wrong. It is more than wrong--it is dangerous. He shows how this conventional wisdom for career success is seriously flawed.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, waiting
Check out my animated summary of this book!

Animated Book Review

Manuel Antão
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Gentleman-in-waiting: "So Good They Can't Ignore You" by Cal Newport

"Working right trumps finding the right work."

In "So Good They Can't Ignore You" by Cal Newport

After having finished "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck", I wanted to read this one to work as a counterpoint. I'm glad I did.

When I was younger, I watched Jurassic Park one and two, and I wanted to be Steven Spielberg! Doing well in my dance classes made me want to be a p
Nov 09, 2012 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
Christina Brown
Dec 04, 2012 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
Sep 30, 2012 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.
Apr 07, 2013 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
Sep 19, 2012 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
Jen Hamon
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
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
Jun 22, 2013 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
Oliver Kim
Apr 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
A sentence-long idea masquerading as a book.
Feb 17, 2013 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
The Artisan Geek
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

There is some good advice here and there, but there are quite a lot of things I didn't like about this book. An example of this is how eight out of the give or take ten examples were a white males, seemingly either middle class or higher - this made me feel rather cynical reading through the rest of the book - it being how people who fall outside of that category have significantly different experiences/challenges. The book is filled with an
Miranda Barzey
Mar 10, 2015 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
Pete Welter
Oct 11, 2012 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
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Newport made me think about my career, where my career is heading, and how I can be more productive along the way.

The key is to not find work you’re passionate about but then never get good at it because that passion fades. He calls this the passion hypothesis which is a way to set people up for failure. Instead, you should work really hard to be the best you can be at a job then your passion will find you.

This isn’t the path for everyone as I found my passion then continue to improve my work,
Amir Tesla
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: success, favorites
Another amazing book from Cal Newport which is derived from personal needs, endeavor towards addressing his need by research and a living example of the results.

Although one might be skeptical of the argue which states "following your passion is a bad advice", but the alternative he suggests is remarkable.

I really enjoyed this book and definitely going to apply the knowledge I grasped from this book.

If you are an academic, you will also find this book highly motivating and inspiring.

Loved it a
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Hands-down, the best book I've ever read on creating a great career. There is so, so much bad advice out there the entire "self-help" genre has a bad name -- but Newport's work digs deep and provides real, actionable insight into a quick, easy-to-understand format.

Highly recommended to read this for creating a career plan, followed by Deep Work for a way to execute that plan effectively.
Emmy Hermina Nathasia
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading this book, as the author dispel the passion notion through dissecting other people’s success and journey. It can be quite dry as one read along the processes, but it is vital that one pulls through so as to ensure full comprehension on rules introduced, the whys and the hows.
Shwetha Sankari  K
Strongly recommend to anyone looking for a fruitful non-fiction read, and a must-read to those who are looking for some solid career advice.

Let me start off by saying this is gonna be a big review, probably my biggest on goodreads. Because the world needs to know it's such an amazing book!

So Good They Can't Ignore You is a non-fiction book that gives some solid, practical advice on how to build a compelling career. Now, before you scroll your mouse and skip my review, let me bring to your atte
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about not being able to find my true calling - from applying to university, to internships, to my job, it feels like every juncture in life comes with the “where do you see yourself in N years” question - a question I’ve never felt like I had a solid answer to.

This book has a different take - rather than focusing on where you want to go, focus on building valuable skills, which you’ll be able to develop into a fulfilling career. It argues that “innate passion”
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Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, and the author most recently of Deep Work, a book which argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace, and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a book which debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. He has also written three popular books of unconventional advice for students. Hi ...more

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Cal Newport is a computer science professor at Georgetown University and the author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted...
33 likes · 6 comments
“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.” 127 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?”).” 87 likes
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