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 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 audiobook.
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 Pollyannaish 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 and where you have built up your 'career capital' and then to put all of your efforts in that direction.
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Fascinating but not complete
- Amazon Customer
Introduction to the career capital concept
I actually avoided this book for a while because I got the impression it attacked liking and enjoying what you do. It's far from it. Cal Newport does not attack following your passion as long as you have the right skills to back that passion up. I'd actually change the title to "Become good at your passion before you follow you passion".
Cal gets into the concept of career capital. If you want to open up a restaurant just because you enjoy occasionally cooking on the weekends for your friends and you're good at it, but have no real concept of organizing, running a business or dealing with issues....simply don't follow you passion. Building a business based on a passion will require much more than just being good at that specific thing you call your passion. You have to have a lot of career capital behind it to back it up.
This is why Cal recommends to get good at things before you decide to take it solo. Passion alone will not get you through. On the other side if you get really good at what you do (be it accounting, analyzing or any other activity that may sound boring) you'll find that it gets much more fun along the way. Getting good results out of an activity you're performing really well will make you like and enjoy it. And I find this concept really interesting and true.
So even if you are a hard advocate of "follow your passion" and "love what you do" believe me this book will give you a lot of value. It's not meant to crush following your passion but dissect it into logical steps and decisions.
On the down side I think that the examples give in the book are a bit too shallow (someone giving up on their studies in order to start a blogging site) but then again this is probably the case for many young passionate entrepreneurs and Cal wanted to target them.
All in all I would put it in the "must read" list. And then get your hands on "Deep Work" as it is a nice continuation of the ideas in this book.
- Vintila Bogdan