So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport–Book Review

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport–Book Review

Most of us have received this advice, “Follow your passion.” But for author Cal Newport, this advice is flawed and has led many astray. In his book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” Cal makes a strong case against passion. He presents a case by sharing his conversations with people in different fields, such as organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, and others who admit to deriving great satisfaction from their work. Next, Cal uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in their quest to develop amazing careers. 

The book is an excellent read as it challenges our perceptions about careers. In it, the author presents his case against the ‘follow your passion’ advice. He says that this advice is risky as it undermines the value of hard work and developing valuable skills. As such, it can lead to job-hopping and self-doubt. Cal gives an example of a person who is passionate about the restaurant business. He says that although this person is passionate, the company is likely to fail if they don’t have the skills. The author admits that there are exceptions to the rule, for instance, athletes and musicians. But it is not always the norm. 

What I like about the book is that it presents valuable concepts that can guide anyone looking to start or change their career. The author gives such a significant shift in perspective that you’ll reconsider your intention to pursue your passion. Cal calls his readers to focus on building valuable skills to help them turn their prophecies into fulfilling careers. 

Some of the popular quotes from this book are:

  • Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day and that your actions are important. Competence: the feeling that you are good at what you do. Relatedness: the sense of connection to other people.
  • “Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”
  • “If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (what can the world offer me?) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).
  • “If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level.”
  • If your goal is to love what you do, you must first build up “career capital” by mastering rare and valuable skills and then cash in this capital for the traits that define great work.

The core message of the book is to avoid passion. Instead, choose a career path and focus on ‘being so good that they can’t ignore you.’ You do this by pursuing courses and keeping yourself up to date with the latest trends related to your industry, amongst others. The author offers sound advice on building what he calls career capital. He talks a lot about the craftsman mindset. He provides a convincing argument on why we should delay that instant gratification of following our passion by working towards building valuable skills that make us stand out in the marketplace. Cal’s perspectives will have you taking notes and making the bold steps that will completely alter your career life and lead you to lasting success. 

If I were in charge of education in the country, I would make reading this book mandatory. You can check it out by buying a copy on You can find it on Scribd or get the book in the leading bookstores. 

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