Review: So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Cal Newport’s 2012 book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” resonated with my personal experiences in choosing a career and seeking rewarding, fulfilling work. I particularly appreciate that Cal wrote this book as a recent college graduate (albeit with a PhD) while deciding what career to pursue with his newly-minted degree in hand. It is obvious that Cal has experienced the yearning for something more that seems to be part of the human experience. The feeling that introduces that fleeting thought of dropping everything, moving to Peru, and pursuing that juggling career you’ve always secretly desired. Cal tackles these ideas head-on, and rightfully pleads we stay the course.

Passion is Created

Cal believes we often mis-attribute the causal relationship between success and passion. Millennials have constantly been told that pursuing passion is the key to unending wealth, happiness, and freedom. “Do what you love, and the money will come.”

The truth, however, is that very few young adults have passions that are lucrative (clown college, it’s a dying art), and many people don’t even know what they’re truly passionate about. Cal asserts that we find passion in things we do well. But, in order to do well at something, we must first wholly commit to it. This commitment paired with training, repetition, and deliberate practice, creates in-demand skills (career capital, as Cal calls it).

Provide Value, Then Leverage It

By creating a set of highly valuable skills, you place yourself in a position of power. This allows you to leverage your reputation and utilize this “capital” to move into more appealing roles, or shape the role you’re in. Kicking butt at that crappy call center job leads to more opportunities. You can then leverage your capital to buy more flexibility (work from home?), or to move into a role that has more impact. Get good, build a reputation, then use it to get what you want. No shortcuts here.

The Verdict

I thoroughly enjoyed “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” and it afforded me a new perspective on my career trajectory. I have always believed in excelling at whatever job I had, and this has led to increased responsibility and explosive salary growth since graduating college. However, I’ve still felt that dull ache. Now, I can feed that inner voice by working hard to improve and build career capital. Using those specialty skills as currency, I can exchange them for autonomy, salary, or the flexibility to create my dream job. I feel more in control of my destiny, more content with my job, and happier overall.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) So Good They Can’t Ignore You [Purchase] [LL Review]
Author:Cal Newport
Media Type: Book/eBook

A quick, pleasurable read that asserts passion is created, and we can all build our jobs into something where we find meaning and passion. I would highly recommend this book, especially to anyone with that nagging feeling of emptiness and a need to pursue some unknown dream.

The List

In 2017, I bonded with a Silicon Valley business leader over a love of reading business and personal development books. He provided me his personal list of meaningful books, which I am now taking it upon myself to read.

This book was not on the Original List, but is one I’ve long found meaningful. While I will leave the original list untouched, I will be using this book to start a Supplemental List that includes additional leadership materials I have reviewed or commented on. Hopefully, these two lists will provide value to others, as the original list has done for me.

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