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So Good They Can't Ignore You. By Cal Newport.


  • Deliberate practice: the style of difficult practice required to continue to improve at a task. It requires you to stretch past where you are comfortable and then receive ruthless feedback on your performance. Most of us avoid this because it is uncomfortable.

  • Little Bets: rather than believing they have to start with a big idea or plan out a whole project in advance, they make a methodical series of little bets about what might be a good direction, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins.

  • The 10,000 hour rule: the idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.


  • The Law of Financial Viability: when deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, seek evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it. If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on.


  • The Law of Remarkability: for a mission-driven project to succeed, it should be remarkable in two different ways. First, it must compel people who encounter it to remark about it to others. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking.


  • If you just show up and work hard, you’ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better. We all hit plateaus. To successfully adopt the craftsman mindset, therefore, we have to approach our jobs with a dedication to deliberate practice.

    • Obsessed with improving your craft: “I have a never ending thirst to get better.

    • Crave criticism: “You need to be constantly soliciting feedback from colleagues and professionals.”


  • Hour-Tally Routine: the author keeps a tally of the total number of hours spent that month in a state of deliberate practice.


  • Shift from “productivity-centric to craft-centric:

    • Productivity-centric: focus on getting things done efficiently

    • Craft-centric: focus on getting better and better at what you do; push yourself out of your comfort zone to experiment with new ideas


  • Most people that love their jobs love many of the attributes of their jobs as much or more than the specific field that they are in. For example they love the autonomy (feeling that you have control over your day), competence (feeling that you are good at what you do) and connectedness (feeling of connection to the people you work with).


  • Traits that define great work; creativity, impact and control.


  • In most jobs, as you become better at what you do, not only do you get the sense of accomplishment that comes from being good, but you’re typically also rewarded with more control over your responsibilities.


  • Basic economic theory tells us that if you want something that’s both rare and valuable, you need something rare and valuable to offer in return—this is Supply and Demand 101. It follows that if you want a great job, you need something of great value to offer in return.


  • The key to loving what you do can be boiled down to this…”working right trumps finding right work”.

  • The key to work you love is not to follow your passion, but instead to get good at something rare and valuable, and then cash in the “career capital” this generates to acquire the traits that define great jobs (autonomy, competence, relatedness, creativity, impact, control).


  • The keys to becoming a top performer:


  • Cultivate a craftsman mindset rather than a passion mindset

    • Craftsman mindset: an approach to your working life in which you focus on the value of what you are offering to the world.

    • Passion mindset: an approach to your working life in which you focus on the value your job is offering you. This mindset stands in contrast to the craftsman mindset. The passion mindset ultimately leads to chronic dissatisfaction and daydreaming about the better jobs you imagine existing our there waiting to be discovered.

  • There’s something liberating about the craftsman mindset: it asks you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right”, and instead put your head down and plug away at getting really damn good. No one owes you a great career, it argues; you need to earn it—and the process won’t be easy.


Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love

Author: Cal Newport


  • Question the book answers: Why do some people end up loving what they do, while so many others fail at this goal?


  • Comedian Steve Martin when asked for his advice for aspiring performers; “nobody ever takes note of my advice, because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’…but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.”




  • Why do some people end up loving what they do, while so many others fail at this goal?


  • Most people believe that the secret to loving your job is passion; find a field that you are passionate about and then pursue a career in that field.


  • It turns out that this passion hypothesis is generally not true for most people.


  • Most people that love their jobs didn’t have a pre-existing passion for their field; rather they cultivated a love for their job as they diligently worked to become a top-performer in a very specific niche. In other words they developed mastery of their unique craft.


  • Passion is a side-effect of mastery.


  • As you become a top-performer with rare and valuable skills the market rewards you with rare and valuable benefits.


  • Top-performers leveraged these rare and valuable benefits to sculpt their job to better fit their strengths and their lifestyle. The developed “career capital”.


  • Career capital: a description of the skills you have that are rare and valuable to the working world. This is the key currency for creating work you love. The more career capital you build up the more leverage you have over sculpting your job to fit your strengths/lifestyle.


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