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 book. 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 thsi advice Pollyannish, 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, where you have built up your 'career capital,' and then to put all of your efforts into that direction.
Do what you love and the money will follow' sounds like great advice-until it's time to get a job and disillusionment quickly sets in. Cal Newport ably demonstrates how the quest for 'passion' can corrode job satisfaction. If all he accomplished with this book was to turn conventional wisdom on its head, that would be interesting enough. But he goes further-offering advice and examples that will help you bypass the disillusionment and get right to work building skills that matter.
-- "Daniel H. Pink, #1
New York Times bestselling author"
Stop worrying about what you feel like doing (and what the world owes you) and instead, start creating something meaningful and then give it to the world. Cal really delivers with this one.
-- "Seth Godin, New York Times bestselling author"
Lively and engaging...[with] real-life examples of individuals...This refreshing view encourages readers to make reasonable choices, buckle down and put in the time, and through trial and error hone their 'career capital.' Written in an optimistic and accessible tone, with clear logic and no-nonsense advice, this work is useful reading for anyone new to the job market and striving to find a path or for those who have been struggling to find meaning in their current careers.
-- "Publishers Weekly"
This book changed my mind. It has moved me from 'find your passion, so that you can be useful' to 'be useful so that you can find your passion.' That is a big flip, but it's more honest, and that is why I am giving each of my three young adult children a copy of this unorthodox guide.
-- "Kevin Kelly, senior maverick, Wired magazine"