So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Table of Content

📃 Book Details

Name – So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
Author – Cal Newport
Language – English
Pages – 304 pages
Originally published – 18 September 2012
Publisher – Piatkus

🚀 Book wrap-up

The book challenges and disproves our conventional wisdom that says ‘follow your passion and you will have a fulfilling life.’ The book then proposes a systematic approach that helps us identify a well-suited and compelling career.

The book proposes you should possess a rare and valuable skill set called career capital, which is a requisite for career fulfillment. Career capital is what grants us control and helps in identifying a compelling mission for your career.

🎨 Should you read So Good They Can’t Ignore You?

If you are have tried everything at your disposal to figure out what is your passion but only ended up more baffled?
Go read this!

Is your current job sucking the life out of you every day? Are you at your drawing boarding preparing your exit plan?
Go read this!

You don’t have any idea what I’m talking about?
Go read this.

📒 My Book Notes of So Good They Can’t Ignore You

RULE #1: Don’t Follow Your Passion

Chapter One: The “Passion” of Steve Jobs

This is the chapter where the author challenges the ‘Follow your passion’ advice and proves that follow your passion is not excellent advice and shows us some examples of how many people who we think followed their passion didn’t.

The Passion Hypothesis
The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion.

The author presents the life story of Steve Jobs and concludes that if a young Steve Jobs had taken his advice and decided to only pursue work he loved, we would probably find him today as one of the Los Altos Zen Center’s most popular teachers. But he didn’t follow this simple advice. Apple Computer was decidedly not born out of passion but resulted from a lucky break—a “small-time” scheme that unexpectedly took off.

Chapter Two: Passion Is Rare

Most of us don’t have a dream job and a chosen career that is lurking in the dark, waiting to be discovered. You will make incremental steps in some direction till you end up loving what you do.

Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion.

Conclusion #1: Career Passions Are Rare

Conclusion #2: Passion Takes Time
The happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do.
If you have many years of experience, then you’ve had time to get better at what you do and develop a feeling of efficacy. It also gives you time to develop strong relationships with your coworkers and to see many examples of your work benefiting others.

Conclusion #3: Passion Is a Side Effect of Mastery
Self-Determination Theory (SDT) tells us that motivation, in the workplace or elsewhere, requires that you fulfill three basic psychological needs – factors described as the “nutriments” required to feel intrinsically motivated for your work:

  • 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 feeling of connection to other people

Chapter Three: Passion Is Dangerous

When you believe that there is a job made in heaven waiting for you, you will feel dissatisfied with your current one.

This conclusion inspires an important follow-up question: Without the passion hypothesis to guide us, what should we do instead?

RULE #2: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Or, the Importance of Skill)

Chapter Four: The Clarity of the Craftsman

There are two different approaches to thinking about work: the craftsman mindset, a focus on what value you’re producing in your job, and the passion mindset, a focus on what value your job offers you.

Most people adopt the passion mindset, but this chapter argues that the craftsman mindset is the foundation for creating work you love.

The author is suggesting that you put aside the question of whether your job is your true passion, and instead turn your focus toward becoming so good they can’t ignore you.

Chapter Five: The Power of Career Capital

This chapter presses the importance of the craftsman mindset by arguing that the traits that make a great job great are rare and valuable, and therefore if you want a great job, you need to build up rare and valuable skills—which the author calls career capital—to offer in return.


  • Creativity
  • Impact
  • Control


  • The traits that define great work are rare and valuable.
  • Supply and demand say that if you want these traits, you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital.
  • The craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on becoming “so good they can’t ignore you,” is a strategy well suited for acquiring career capital. Therefore it trumps the passion mindset if your goal is to create work you love.


  1. The job presents few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing relevant skills that are rare and valuable.
  2. The job focuses on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad for the world.
  3. The job forces you to work with people you dislike.

Chapter Six: The Career Capitalists

The author demonstrates the power of career capital in action with two profiles of people who leveraged the craftsman mindset to construct careers they love.

Chapter Seven: Becoming a Craftsman

The author introduces deliberate practice, the key strategy for acquiring career capital, and shows how to integrate it into your own working life.

The central idea of this chapter is that the difference in strategy that separates average guitar players from stars like Tice and Casstevens is not confined to music. The focus on stretching your ability and receiving immediate feedback provides the core of a more universal principle.

The 10,000-Hour Rule

The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.

If you just show up and work hard, you’ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you get no better. To successfully adopt the craftsman mindset, therefore, we have to approach our jobs with a dedication to deliberate practice.

The Five Habits of a Craftsman

Step 1: Decide What Capital Market You’re In

There are two types of these markets: winner-take-all and auction. In a winner-take-all market, there is only one type of career capital available, and lots of different people competing for it.

An auction market, by contrast, is less structured: There are many types of career capital, and each person might generate a unique collection.

Step 2: Identify Your Capital Type

If you’re in a winner-take-all market, this is trivial: By definition, there’s only one type of capital that matters. For an auction market, however, you have flexibility.

Step 3: Define “Good”

If you don’t know where you’re trying to get to, then it’s hard to take effective action. There should be no ambiguity about what it meant to succeed at this goal. Define your goals.

Step 4: Stretch and Destroy

Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands…. Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it “deliberate,” as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in.

Pushing past what’s comfortable, however, is only one part of the deliberate-practice story; the other part is embracing honest feedback

Step 5: Be Patient

Without this patient willingness to reject shiny new pursuits, you’ll derail your efforts before you acquire the capital you need

RULE #3: Turn Down a Promotion (Or, the Importance of Control)

Chapter Eight: The Dream-Job Elixir

The author argues that control over what you do, and how you do it, is one of the most powerful traits you can acquire when creating work you love.

If your goal is to love what you do, your first step is to acquire career capital. Your next step is to invest this capital in the traits that define great work. Control is one of the most important targets you can choose for this investment.

Chapter Nine: The First Control Trap

The author introduces the first control trap, which warns that it’s dangerous to pursue more control in your working life before you have career capital to offer in exchange.

The First Control Trap

Control that’s acquired without career capital is not sustainable.

People assume that generating the courage to pursue control is what matters, while everything else is just a detail that is easily worked out. You must first generate capital by becoming good at something rare and valuable.

Chapter Ten: The Second Control Trap

The author introduces the second control trap, which warns that once you have enough career capital to acquire more control in your working life, you have become valuable enough to your employer that they will fight your efforts to gain more autonomy.

The Second Control Trap

The point at which you have acquired enough career capital to get meaningful control over your working life is exactly the point when you’ve become valuable enough to your current employer that they will try to prevent you from making the change.

In most jobs you should expect your employer to resist your move toward more control; they have every incentive to try to convince you to reinvest your career capital back into your career at their company, getting more money and prestige instead of more control, and this can be a hard argument to resist.

“Courage culture” is the term author used for the growing number of authors and online commentators who promote the idea that the only thing standing between you and a dream job is building the courage to step off the expected path.

The fault of the courage culture, therefore, is not its underlying message that courage is good, but its severe underestimation of the complexity involved in deploying this boldness in a useful way.

Chapter Eleven: Avoiding the Control Traps

The author explains the law of financial viability, which says you should only pursue a bid for more control if you have evidence that it’s something that people will pay you for.

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous

Money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable.

The Law of Financial Viability

When deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, seek evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it. If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on.

RULE #4: Think Small, Act Big (Or, the Importance of Mission)

Chapter Twelve: The Meaningful Life of Pardis Sabeti

The author argues that a unifying mission to your working life can be a source of great satisfaction.

Hardness scares off the daydreamers and the timid, leaving more opportunity for those like us who will take the time to carefully work out the best path forward and then confidently take action.

Chapter Thirteen: Missions Require Capital

The author argues that a mission chosen before you have relevant career capital is not likely to be sustainable

We take the ideas we’ve inherited or that we’ve stumbled across, and we jigger them together into some new shape. The next big ideas in any field are found right beyond the current cutting edge, in the adjacent space that contains the possible new combinations of existing ideas.

You need career capital before you can identify a realistic mission for your career. Just because you have a good idea for a mission, however, doesn’t mean that you’ll succeed in its pursuit.

Chapter Fourteen: Missions Require Little Bets

The author argues great missions are transformed into great successes as the result of using small and achievable projects—little bets—to explore the concrete possibilities surrounding a compelling idea.

To maximize your chances of success, deploy small, concrete experiments that return concrete feedback. If career capital makes it possible to identify a compelling mission, then it’s a strategy of little bets that gives you an excellent shot of succeeding in this mission.

Chapter Fifteen: Missions Require Marketing

The author argues that great missions are transformed into great successes as the result of finding projects that satisfy the law of remarkability, which requires that an idea inspires people to remark about it, and is launched in a venue where such remarking is made easy.

The Law of Remarkability

For a mission-driven project to succeed, it should be remarkable in two different ways. First, it must compel people who encounter it to remark about it to others. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking.

In sum, the mission is one of the most important traits you can acquire with your career capital. But adding this trait to your working life is not simple. Once you have the capital to identify a good mission, you must still work to make it succeed. By using little bets and the law of remarkability, you greatly increase your chances of finding ways to transform your mission from a compelling idea into a compelling career.

🔭 Review of So Good They Can’t Ignore You

The second recommendation from Kevin Kelly and the second career advice pill to swallow in a row (Click here for the first one). I was expecting an icy bitterness of the same old career advice but was pleasantly treated with a luscious epiphany.

This book felt realistic and sensible, which are two words I couldn’t associate with career advice. I felt this book was the missing piece in my jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly, everything became clearer. This book offered a framework of thinking that is just right for me.

We are constantly examining our life under a microscope in search of passion but never really asking whether there is one. The book is knocking on the doors that we never thought of knocking.

I felt connected to this book because the questions this book attends are the ones I was also in search of.

I’m very much pleased with this book. I find the content to be relevant. All the points had clarity and substantiation. Overall, a great read. An easy recommendation to all.

💯 My Rating


🛒 Where to find the So Good They Can’t Ignore You*?**

Here is the amazon link for So Good They Can’t Ignore You if you are interested in buying one.

Click here to go to the Amazon page.

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