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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  19,815 ratings  ·  1,924 reviews
In this extraordinary eye-opening account, Georgetown University professor Dr. Calvin Newport debunks the long-held traditional notion that "following your passion" is good career advice.

Cal Newport's clearly-written manifesto flies in the face of conventional wisdom by suggesting that it should be a person's talent and skill -- and not necessarily their passion -- that de
...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Business Plus (first published January 1st 2012)
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4.11  · 
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 ·  19,815 ratings  ·  1,924 reviews


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Emma Sea
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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Manuel Antão
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
ScienceOfSuccess
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: waiting, favorites
Check out my animated summary of this book!


Animated Book Review

David
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
Thomas Frank
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

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.
Pamela
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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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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
Ahmed
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Eric
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael
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
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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Pete Welter
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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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
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Leah
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Vance
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,
...more
Miranda Barzey
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Rohit
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Justin
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Allysia K
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Cal Newport - Deep Work was one of my favorite reads last year. This one was a great read too, in a completely different way. It's all about how developing skills leads to passion, as opposed to the other way around. He argues against the common advice to "follow your passion". Instead, he encourages you to develop rare and valuable skills, which can then lead to work you're passionate about. Lots to chew on here, and very motivating!
Amanda
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
BookOfCinz
In So Good They Can't Ignore You" Cal Newport explores why following your passion may not be the best career advice and how doing that may lead to your detriment.

I learned so much reading this book, I am happy I picked it up. For the last several months I have been focusing a lot on my passion and I think in reading this I am taking a step back and seeing how my work and passion can function cohesively.

Cal Newport main argument is "The passion hypothesis is not just wrong, it’s also dangero
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Siddhartha Kumar
This book falls into the category of books that I like to call "Fast-food books". They won't necessarily make you healthier or your mind sounder, but it'll feel really good while you're eating them. There's only so many anecdotes you can digest. The most common criticism that people have with these kind of books are that they could've been summarized in a much shorter format - probably a blog post or two. The same applies here - only the irony is that it is BECAUSE of those blog posts and the re ...more
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
Zheen
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Corina
Feb 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Only good thing about this book is the title, which is a quote that is not by the author, which is pretty representative of how I feel about the rest of the book. It's a collection of some other people's good ideas, but wrapped together by statements specifically meant to sound more polarizing then they are. The one idea in the book (that skill is important, not just passion) is valid but did not require a books worth of words to stand behind it. And it especially didn't need what the author cal ...more
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2,810 followers
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
“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.” 88 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?”).” 56 likes
More quotes…