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

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Product Description

Book Description

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.

About the Author

Cal Newport's background is in computer engineering and is currently on the faculty at Geogetown. He runs the popular advice blog, Study Hacks and has a tremendous presence and following online.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 845 KB
  • Print Length: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (18 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FOVTOMA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,483 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I went into this book expecting to love it. It comes highly recommended by many people I admire. And I've long been sceptical of the lack of nuance of the "follow your passions" mantra. But as I read the book I got increasingly frustrated with it.

The biggest frustration was the complete lack of data or serious studies. The book focuses on anecdotes. Largely drawn from a narrow band of society. There are many of them but they don’t add up to evidence for his hypothesis.

And some of the anecdotes he chooses have to be twisted to fit into his hypothesis. Steve Jobs is used as an example many times in the book. The fact he spent much of his youth studying the liberal arts is used to debunk the idea he had a passion for technology. Yet Jobs often made it clear that his passion wasn’t for technology alone but for the point where technology and the liberal arts intersect.

And following your passion doesn’t mean following a direct route. Following your passion necessarily means taking a circuitous route. As Jobs said in his famous commencement speech, "Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on… you can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards."

Newport introduces the idea of the “craftsman mindset” with Jordan Tice practicing a guitar line for three hours every day for a month. There’s no doubt that this sort of dedication is the basis for stunning results. So what makes Jordan Tice so dedicate to practice? Newport’s response: "I really don't care why performers adopt the craftsman mindset."

He doesn’t care but he’s sure it isn’t passion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like Cal's point that you'll get more satisfaction in your work by adopting a craftsman mindset than trying to find your paasion. This strikes me as good advice because there will be lots of times in your working life when it's a bit boring but you need to keep applying yourself because that's how you earn your money.

Unfortunately I thought the rest of the book was a let-down that relied too much hindsight, generality and specious analysis.

So we need to acquire rare and valuable skills - OK so how do people decide which skills to acquire, which skills are rare and which rare skills are valuable? It's all very well saying "You need to acquire the skill to paint a masterpiece" but saying no more about how that acquisition might work in practice.

What happens if we make a career capital bet but our bets never pay off? Do we just go back to the start and try to find another set of skills? Do we try and take the skills we have elsewhere and make them fit? Cal doesn't have any answers besides the obvious.

Clearly there are people who have exceptional careers and some of what they have learned can be of benefit, but that doesn't mean everyone can be exceptional. What about those people who have unexceptional skills but who want to better themselves? Cal seems to be saying "Just keep practicing" but doesn't really have much else to say.

It's also not clear what Cal means by 'skill' other than 'something you get paid for'. But if you can get paid for flipping burgers, there's only so much of that you'll be able to do before you've mastered it. What then?

All in all then I would say the first couple of chapters are worth a quick read, but after that it's too vague to be of much practical use.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does clarify how one finds and develops an enjoyable worklife and career, and I would even go as far as to say it appears to offer a valuable new point of view as to how you should plan your working life.

Cal Newport says that people rarely have an initial passion for a particular type of work, and shows that work happiness only comes after following a particular sequence: In short he sets out four rules;

1. Do NOT 'follow your passion' unless you have all the skills needed and people are willing to pay enough for the results of your passion. Trying to do this without the necessary expertise and financial viability will only end in failure.

2. Develop your 'career capital'. This should be a rare and valuable skill which people are willing to pay for. You have to have a craftsman mindset, patiently toiling away and improving. This will often take years of hard work, but will allow you to exchange your skill to gain more control.

3. Once you have enough career capital and are at the cutting edge in the use of your skill, you can use this to gain more control of your working life: Cal warns of two 'control traps' - firstly leaving a job when you don't have enough career capital, and secondly staying in a job instead of leaving because your employer doesn't want you to go.

4. After you have control, you can find and develop your life's mission. To do this you have to look at the 'adjacent possible', that area beyond the cutting edge of your rare skill where your skill can be brought to innovative use.
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