“Hypothesis: Key to occupational happiness is to first figure our what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion. The basic tenet behind this book is that the passion hypothesis, although widely believed, is both wrong and potentially dangerous.

Who is this book for?

It’s for those looking for an answer to questions like:

  • Will following my passion lead me to my dream career?
  • This job is not the right fit for me; I must find my true calling.
  • Entrepreneurship is the right way to go, I know my mission and my passion but how viable is that?
  • I know I don’t like what I do now, but what is it that I really want to do?

Well then, this book is pretty much for most of us out there. At some point in our career we have pondered over such questions – is this the career that I want to pursue for the rest of my life, or is there a better one which ties in closely to my passions?

In his contrarian new book SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU, Georgetown University professor Cal Newport reveals that loving what we do is a wise goal, but following your passions isn’t the way to get there.

Cal Newport suggests a solution – hone up your skills first. “Feeling passionate about your work is a fantastic goal. Following your passion, however, is not a good way to accomplish it. Passion is cultivated, not discovered.” Says Newport.

Skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.

The core idea of this book is simple: To construct work you love, you must build career capital by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then cash in this capital for the type of traits that define compelling careers.

His roadmap for getting you there consists of four easy rules:

  1. Don’t Follow Your Passion
  2. Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (The Importance of Skill)
  3. Turn Down a Promotion (The Importance of Control)
  4. Think Small, Act Big (The Importance of Mission)

The rules and laws discussed in the book are not theories or woven out of pure imagination rather they are supported well with various practical , real world examples which successfully convince us that it is through ‘dedication to deliberate practice’ that you achieve career success. Through the inspiring examples you’ll get to know the likes of Alex Berger, Mike Jackson, Lulu Young, Pardis Sabeti and many others for whom honing on their career capital has led to a successful and fulfilling career.

A thoroughly engaging read that has the potential to turn a non-believer into a believer. Perhaps passion is not what we need to pursue first, building strong skills might prove to be more valuable than being in pursuit of doing what you are passionate about.

It’s never an easy path when you must retrain for a new skill or plan a career change – Cal emphasizes on the need of a productivity mindset and deliberate practice. I am inspired by what he says here:

“Getting better and better at what I did became what mattered most, and getting better required the strain of deliberate practice. This is a different way of thinking about work, but once you embrace it, the changes to your career trajectory can be profound.”

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn and know these rules in the book which offer the path to job satisfaction. It’s a guide which nudges you to get to the reality of the situation, get hands on in building and gaining a competitive advantage rather than be on the dreamy journey in the quest to connect passion with your career choice.

“If you study the career paths of people who love what they do, you’ll notice the following patter: The start by getting good at skills that are rare and valuable. By doing so they build up what I call the “career capital.” Once they have a good stockpile of this capital, they invest it in the type of traits that can generate passion for your work – traits like autonomy, creativity, impact, and a sense of competence. These traits are great. But they’re valuable. If you don’t have something valuable to offer in return you shouldn’t expect them in your work.” Says Newport.

Are you ready to invest in your career capital? Then you must prepare to focus on what value you bring to the world and if possible get so good at it that they can’t ignore you.


About the author of this book:

Cal Newport is on the faculty at Georgetown University. He writes the popular advice blog Study Hacks and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. He lives in Washington, DC.