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So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why…
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So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest… (edition 2012)

by Cal Newport

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221752,606 (3.88)2
Member:zvatie
Title:So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
Authors:Cal Newport
Info:Business Plus (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:the most useful career advice i could get or give

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

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
The main thesis of this book is fantastic: "follow your passion" is bad career advice. "Develop rare, valuable skills" is much better. If people understood that, many of the issues in this country with employment and education would largely take care of themselves. The book is compelling and a very quick read, and I'd recommend it to just about everybody.

The only reason the review is 4 stars instead of 5 is that a) the quality of the writing fluctuates a bit from chapter to chapter, b) the book is a bit repetitive, and c) the final 3 chapters--"develop career capital", "control", and "mission"--seem like a rehash of Dan Pink's "autonomy", "mastery", and "purpose" from the book "Drive".



Some great quotes from the book:


You need to be good at something before you can expect a good job.

The passion hypothesis convinces people that somewhere there’s a magic “right” job waiting for them, and that if they find it, they’ll immediately recognize that this is the work they were meant to do. The problem, of course, is when they fail to find this certainty, bad things follow, such as chronic job-hopping and crippling self-doubt.

Two different approaches to thinking about work: the craftsman mindset, a focus on what value you’re producing in your job, and the passion mindset, a focus on what value your job offers you.

Deliberate practice provides the key to excellence in a diverse array of fields, among which are chess, medicine, auditing, computer programming, bridge, physics, sports, typing, juggling, dance, and music. If you want to understand the source of professional athletes’ talent, for example, look to their practice schedules—almost without exception they have been systematically stretching their athletic abilities, with the guidance of expert coaches, since they were children.

As Ericsson explains, “Most individuals who start as active professionals… change their behavior and increase their performance for a limited time until they reach an acceptable level. Beyond this point, however, further improvements appear to be unpredictable and the number of years of work… is a poor predictor of attained performance.” Put another way, *if you just show up and work hard, you’ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better.*” When I first encountered the work of Ericsson and Charness, this insight startled me. It told me that in most types of work—that is, work that doesn’t have a clear training philosophy—most people are stuck. This generates an exciting implication. Let’s assume you’re a knowledge worker, which is a field without a clear training philosophy. If you can figure out how to integrate deliberate practice into your own life, you have the possibility of blowing past your peers in your value, as you’ll likely be alone in your dedication to systematically getting better.

Deliberate practice is often the opposite of enjoyable.

“Do what people are willing to pay for.” Derek made it clear that this is different from pursuing money for the sake of having money. Remember, this is someone who gave away $22 million and sold his possessions after his company was acquired. Instead, as he explained: “Money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable.”

Strain, I now accepted, was good. Instead of seeing this discomfort as a sensation to avoid, I began to understand it the same way that a body builder understands muscle burn: a sign that you’re doing something right.

Working right trumps finding the right work.

Don’t obsess over discovering your true calling. Instead, master rare and valuable skills. ( )
  brikis98 | Nov 11, 2015 |
This book pretty much put into words I couldn't have mustered exactly how I feel about career and life direction (at least for the majority of us). If I need a book to recommend to younger folks just getting started, this just might be the book I point them to. ( )
  tlockney | Sep 7, 2014 |
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 explanations for this: maybe Newport doesn't know many women; maybe the only women who contacted him wanted advice, whereas the men wanted to brag; maybe the techniques in this book aren't applicable to women; maybe women tend not to have the confidence to apply the techniques in this book. Whatever the reason, the fact that this research discrepancy wasn't even addressed left me feeling uncomfortably as though the book wasn't written for me. ( )
  ellen.w | Jun 1, 2014 |
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 explanations for this: maybe Newport doesn't know many women; maybe the only women who contacted him wanted advice, whereas the men wanted to brag; maybe the techniques in this book aren't applicable to women; maybe women tend not to have the confidence to apply the techniques in this book. Whatever the reason, the fact that this research discrepancy wasn't even addressed left me feeling uncomfortably as though the book wasn't written for me. ( )
  ellen.w | Jun 1, 2014 |
In general, this book offers solid advice, which is set-out in a logical, easy-to-read fashion with relevant examples. The principles are sound and can be applied in every field.
There are, however, significant weaknesses: whereas Newport does define « the passion mind-set », it does not explore the root of a burgeoning career where he goes as far as saying that « he doesn't care » that a person may or may not have a specific interest or quality - this is poor methodology at best.
The examples also give the book an anecdotal flavour which illustrate the principles well, but do not give a comfort for universality, and although the conclusion is a useful recap of the themes, again, it is the specific, and not the general, used as proof, so it's difficult to view it as hard research.
Finally, the writing leaves a bit to be desired which, repeated throughout, can get tiresome.
Despite these flaws, this book is worth a read. It will help the reader dissect her own career or redirect his efforts. The basic message that we all need to pay are dues to success is, in itself, universal. ( )
  Cecilturtle | Feb 15, 2014 |
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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 determines their career path. Newport, who graduated from Dartmouth College (Phi Beta Kappa) and recently earned a PhD. from MIT, contends that trying to find what drives us, instead of focusing on areas in which we naturally excel, is ultimately harmful and frustrating to job seekers. The title is a direct quote from comedian Steve Martin who, when once asked why he was successful in his career, immediately replied: "Be so good they can't ignore you" and that's the main basis for Newport's book. Skill and ability trump passion. Inspired by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs' famous Stanford University commencement speech in which Jobs urges idealistic grads to chase their dreams, Newport takes issue with that advice, claiming that not only is this advice Pollyannish but that Jobs himself never followed his own advice. From there, Newport presents compelling scientific and contemporary case study evidence that the key to one's career success is to find out what you do well, where you have built up your "career capital," and then to put all of your efforts into that direction.… (more)

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