BTU 86 - author Cal Newport: So Good They Can't Ignore You


“Master something and suddenly you’re going to start noticing very compelling opportunities. Start from scratch, and it’s like you’re at the kiddie table - you’re not really going to come up with something the world cares about."– Cal Newport

Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, who specializes in the theory of distributed algorithms. He previously earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2009 and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2004. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age as a professor, Cal also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work.He is the author of the recent book Deep Work, which I am reading next. The book we’ll discuss mostly today, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, argues that “follow your passion” is bad advice. Inc Magazine listed it as one of the best business books of the year, and Cal’s related Oped in the NYT was one of their most emailed articles for the entire site.

This is one of the MOST influential books I read in 2016, and I feel it is a message that every veteran should hear.s

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Show Notes

  • 2:20 - backstory on this interview and a brief background on Cal Newport
  • 4:08 - the context around which Cal wrote So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  • 5:38 - the central premise of So Good They Can’t Ignore Your - follow your passion is not just bad advice, it is potentially harmful advice
  • 8:15 - how we often focus on “the match” of finding the right job places more pressure on one in their job search
  • 12:30 - the Craftsman Mindset and how this is a more compelling approach than a Passion Mindset
  • 17:55 - Career Capital and how veterans can think about their initial transition from the military, and every career transition thereafter
  • 32:00 - Finding a Mission, and how operating at the cutting edge makes this more achievable
  • 35:35 - Deliberate Practice vs. Hard Work, and how the former is essential for developing expertise
  • 43:44 - Control, and how if it is acquired without career capital it will not be sustainable in a career