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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2012 Calvin C. Newport (P)2016 Hachette Audio UK

What listeners say about So Good They Can't Ignore You

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Introduction to the career capital concept

Any additional comments?

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.

6 people found this helpful

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Great ideas for my job search

This book is about making a sober career decisions, based on reason and not emotions. Definitely going to try this approach out

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I wish I had this book ten years ago!

I've spent the first ten years of my working life constantly looking for my dream job, finding my passion. If only I had spent the last ten years building valuable skills instead, I would be in a very different position. This book has been a total game changer for me, it's turned my whole work life philosophy upside down. I really can't recommend this book enough!!

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Eye-opener !!

In a world where every big name says ‘follow your passion’ ..it’s kinda hard to believe that following your passion can actually be a really bad advice. I was totally against this book until I red it.

All my confusion around the subject ‘passion’ is now much more clear and thanks to this book, I’ll be laser focused on being so good that people can’t ignore me instead of just following my passion. Thank you so much to Mr Cal Newport for writing this book and a big thank you to the narrator of this book Dave Mallow.

Totally recommended 😃👍🏼

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating but not complete

I didn't like the book but I liked the ideas. So I think it was worth the listen.

The book has a few very interesting insights but there's very little support for his claims outside a few stories.

That being said, I wouldn't bet against his assertions being true.

I can't put my finger on it, but the writing lacked something. Maybe it was that the stories wasn't engaging or that the definitions weren't clear.

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Useful, Practical, Insightful, Rich, Dense, Deep

Useful, Practical, Insightful, Rich, Dense, Deep are the words coming into my mind to describe this book. It confirmed but also reinforced lot of self observations.

Much thanks, Cal. I'll also get better at giving advices at younger ones.

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You can’t lose with Newport

Great author, great narrator . Provides a joyful reading and a major understanding on how to build a career you love. Don’t miss it, it will change your life.

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The author blames passion for failing in business

From my experiences it's good to have passion to create a successful business and life. This doesn't mean you don't have to work hard or give value to others. It only means it's more chance you will handle hard times when they come. I was passionate about computers when I was 14 so I was willing to put extra effort to learn about them. I also started to develop software at young age. First I was working from home, then for a few years in an office and then I had enough of sitting there and get back to remote work. It's really great to be able to work wherever and whenever you want and still give value to companies you work for. You just need to focus when you're working. There are at least two reasons why people failed in author's examples. First is they didn't create any value to others because they was only thinking about themselfs and the other is the wrong strategy. This has nothing to do with ones passion bu it has everything to do with ones intention

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do not agree

I am stock trader. when I started tradi g I had no idea what I do, no knowlwdge or profesion capital. But I liked it. Was unsuccessull for long years still liked it.

So it is really passion and gut feeling, thats why I still in stocks. Do not agree with author.

Main reason why I did that only because I like it. Long years without any knowledge capital.

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Great but repetitive

Enjoyed learning through all the case studies. The principle recaps were a bit excessive though

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  • Amy
  • 07-28-17

interesting but unhelpful

Overall, this book is interesting. It was reassuring and motivating to learn that my career will probably be what I make of it, and that it's probably not a matter of falling into a fulfilling job by chance. (I use the word "probably" because of the lack of empirical evidence cited in the book). But the lack of supporting research evidence, or clear guidance in identifying next steps (rather than retrospectively looking back on successful people's correct choices, or unsuccessful people's incorrect choices) has left me feeling dissatisfied. A follow-up book containing these two features would be warmly welcomed.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Kristian Haagensen
  • 02-14-18

Just listen to the last chapter.

Good book. Just read the last chapter and save yourself some time. It sums it all up.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Vin
  • 07-04-17

Don't listen to the sample

This book is well thought out and very helpful in its message. The sample didn't do the book justice at all

5 people found this helpful

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  • Martin Smithson
  • 02-09-18

Keep Coming Back

I often come back to this book to remind myself about the importance of "career capital". It gives me the gentle kick I need to continue to pursue work that I "love".

It's still an ongoing challenge but this book really helps. Love Deep Work by Cal, too - recommended!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. T. L. Sainsbury
  • 07-10-19

A very long way to tell very little

I don’t disagree with any of the messages in this book and I’ve definitely been taught some new perspectives that I will no doubt regurgitate when I help others

2 people found this helpful

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  • N. J. Pollard
  • 12-11-16

Life Changing Potential

If you could sum up So Good They Can't Ignore You in three words, what would they be?

Work attitude revolution.

What did you like best about this story?

Completely changes attitude to work.

Any additional comments?

The concepts, tools and techniques shared in this book are potentially life changing. If you feel trapped in a job and want to find out ways to change your attitude to the job then I recommend this. Cal's writings on how constantly changing jobs looking for a job you love (rather than first trying hard to find what you are good at in your current role and maximising this) are mind changing (for me anyway).

5 people found this helpful

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  • JOHNNY MURNANE
  • 07-17-20

I really can't believe this is a book

You could summarize this book in a sentence. And it wouldn't be interesting or complex.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-10-20

Must. Read. Now!

I will have to read the rest of Cal's books. Just amazing what an author! Please Cal, give us more!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Benjamin
  • 05-13-17

Fantastic

Great book. Made me realise why I am feeling frustrated in my career and what I have to do to overcome the issue. Many thanks for the insight :)

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-02-21

A Perfect Reminder of How Success is Achieved

This book is for anyone who has the desire to be highly successful and recognized for their success. Do what you do well and people cannot fail to recognize the work ethic that is required to operate at the level of success you create.

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  • Kim
  • 11-20-18

Can’t even finish it

Way too repetitive and nothing I’ve not yet heard. I found it incredibly annoying . I want to return it . I won’t be finishing it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer Hamilton
  • 08-27-17

Practical And Logical Process and Advice

I enjoyed this book particularly because it not only have stories about how to achieve a great career and life but the author has listed very practical and logical steps on how to get there in the way of processes.

Spoiler alert:
Deliberate practice where are you set out to focus on purpose on a task that is beyond what you are comfortable with is a brilliant practical application that he discusses.

Another great takeaway was the soothing balm that comes with hearing stories that the path isn't always straight ahead and that if you keep doing your best work and search the adjacent possibilities and act on them, that you will come to your own personal mission and triumph.

Control as a part of the career elixir, I think he called it, makes a lot of sense in a world where we don't want to work 9-to-5 in an office job and that is a component of why leaving it all behind to work on a farm becomes so enticing. I love that he investigated that and came up with a base reason of this trend so that we can find that control within our own careers and feel like we have the autonomy to make free choices.

Overall the books message is to keep working and build career capital, stretch yourself by deliberate practice which also helps build career capital, and continue to look to the adjacent possibilities in your field, and be comfortable that this will take many years to gain enough career capital to have control in your working life.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Enrico Massi
  • 02-05-19

A Great Secret

Practical advice and a great complement to the written book. Well worth it, great message.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-09-18

it's okay

bit long winded and repetitive but solid advice. good stories and examples which is how i like learning

2 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 10-12-21

Great book

It’s definitely made me reconsider my passion in information technology. I realise now maybe I am in the right industry.

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  • Robab Abdolkhani
  • 10-06-21

Excellent read!

This book helped me change my view on seeking a career merely by passion. It gives useful tips on how to get in love with your job and strengthen career capital so you can’t be ignored!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-20-21

Good Read

audiobook content page needs to be revamped. there is no clear distinction between chapters that talk about each of the 4 rules. also the chapter numbers are not synced with the chapter you listen to

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-08-21

So good!

After I read Newports book, “Deep Work”, I immediately read it again. “So good they can’t ignore you” was just as powerful for me. I look forward to writing summary notes and applying this thinking to my own deliberate practice. Essential reading for growth-minded people.

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  • Quoc Bao
  • 07-23-20

Fanatic career advice book for young professionals

I like Cal's academic approach to this book - very thorough and compelling. This book shapes my thinking about the "dream job" and shifts my mindset to be craftsman-oriented which focuses on building career capital and becoming so good they can't ignore me.

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  • SeanC
  • 06-09-20

A career persons guide to success

Well I’m a little past the career stage of my life and thus I found this work a little tedious.
For someone younger and serious about career success in this world this is a great guide. For idealists and people seeking to find their calling don’t bother.
That said it does put in perspective that
seeking your calling (as opposed to pursuing your career via capitalising on your skills) may not be the best choice! Nuf said!