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So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why…

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

by Cal Newport

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923130,459 (3.73)2
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
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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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 |
I hate this book, and never have I been happier to have stolen one.
While the accusation that this book is little more than a way to keep the poor complacent is overblown, it feels close to accurate. This is certainly the impression you would get if you placed Cal Newport in front of a room full of miners or septic tank cleaners. But Mr. Newport's advice feels genuine enough.
It's just really stupid advice, and it is very poorly reasoned.
Newport fashions one of the dumbest false dichotomies I have ever encountered. He pits passion against craftsmanship, arguing that passion is solely passive and craftsmanship gets things done. This is patently absurd. In one attempt to prove this (and all of Newport's examples will leave you feeling like you might have missed something, as does his use of phrases such as 'As I have now demonstrated...') Newport cites a woman who gives up a comfortable job to pursue her passion of Yoga. He mentions, however, that this young woman then takes a month long class to prepare for this. I am sorry, but if this is the case then I think the better argument would be that this woman lacked the passion to begin with. If the extent of her knowledge was the months long class, can we really call her passionate about Yoga? I would argue not.
But even if we take into consideration the possibility that she has taken other classes, and that had in fact years upon years of thoughts theories and classes under her belt regarding the teaching of yoga, passion may not be enough to achieve _financial_ success. And I think that it is at that nucleus that we find the core fault in Newport's reasoning; financial success is not a road to happiness, and that Newport thinks this is the case leads readers to assume that he is little more than a spoiled rich boy.
The reality is that the person in question may be a thousand times happier as a failed yoga instructor than as a successful person in the advertising world.
We could weigh this against another example Newport brings up; that of a young guitarist who works very diligently on his music making. The possibility that this young guitarist is passionate about his music making is something Newport just pens off as irrelevant in light of his hard work. That one might determine the other is completly lost on Newport, and from the quality of his writing we start to suspect that he likely has experienced neither passion or the drive to hard work (this latter you can see from his poor writing style) in his life.
But I think the absolute worst of this is the broad sweeping statements he makes ex nihlo without bothering to try for any form of justification. "Whereas the craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world, the passion mindset focuses instead on what the world can offer you"? That right there, is pure bullshit, and there are hundreds of passionate figures from history we can look to to disprove it. Newport feels like he can just get away with saying such nonsense and therefore it being true.

But I have wasted in enough of my time and yours over this book. The title is advice lifted from the comedian Steve Martin, so if the title interests you find his book instead. For the rest, the only redeeming message this book gives us is to work hard, and I for one did not need this clown to tell me so. ( )
1 vote M.Campanella | Dec 24, 2013 |
This audio delivers on its title. He argues against following your passion to find the ideal job and instead believes that passion comes after you already become excellent at something.
Very easy to follow and I like how he ties ideas from many other contemporary authors into his work.
I was surprised by how young the author is. Highly recommended for anyone who is planning their career.
A few good summaries of the audio.
http://3monththesis.com/so-good-they-cant-ignore-you-book-review/ ( )
  GShuk | Oct 21, 2012 |
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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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