Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: So Good They Can't Ignore You

Read: So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport
Stars: Five

Drinking: Cranberry Blood Orange Rooibus, Bentley

I absolutely loved Newport's take on career advice.  This is not your ordinary book on how to find a job or how to break into an industry: this is about having a different mindset about careers.  Our generation - Generation Y - has been told all our lives to "follow your passion" or "do what you love."  We are floundering, however, in figuring out how to succeed with our passions.  Newport argues that it is skills, not passion, that create an atmosphere conducive to a great career that one loves.  It is a simple, but seems like a revolutionary concept: become skilled in something rare and valuable, then use those skills to leverage the life you want.

What I love most about the book is that Newport started from the same place most of us start - finishing a degree and wondering where to go with his career.  He decided to find out what it is that makes a compelling career - is it the conventional wisdom that we do something we are passionate about, or is there something else?  He interviewed people who have great careers - start ups, Harvard genetics research, Hollywood writing - and came up with a toolkit that anyone can use to build the career of their dreams.

The best part about the book is the end, when Newport takes his toolkit and applies it to himself.  He acknowledges that he has not yet reached his full potential, and in fact has somewhat backed away from it.  He lays out his plan for becoming even more skilled - developing rare and valuable talents in his field (computer science) and how his new job as a professor will allow him to do so.

I highly recommend this book to anyone - whether you feel adrift in your career, are unemployed, or have been in a satisfying career for years, there is something for everyone.




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