So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Author: Cal Newport
All Hacker News 16
This Year Hacker News 3
This Month Hacker News 2

So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love


Review Date:


by brookside   2017-08-19
I attended a bootcamp Winter 2013-2014, after making a last minute decision not to attend grad school for something unrelated.

My choice was almost entirely pragmatic, and was heavily influenced by the book So Good They Can't Ignore You[0] by Deep Work author and Georgetown CS professor Cal Newport.

As for the bootcamp experience - I have trouble focusing for long classes, and would have benefited from a couple or more months of pre-study. (Classmates who did the best during the course had the most prior knowledge.)

However, the camp was a great launching point. I did work my ass off, staying up all night to work on individual and group projects in the lobby of the Ace hotel. If anything, the bootcamp helped solidify my own internal identify shift.

3.5 years later, I'm happy with my choice. I'm currently working remote for a startup and teaching evening intro to coding classes (yeah, at a bootcamp, so take my account with however many grains of salt). I really like teaching, and enjoy the intellectual challenge, salary and freedom provided by my day job.

Most of my classmates who I am in touch with are working as developers and seem to be doing alright also.


by skadamat   2017-08-19
I strongly recommend reading the following book -

It's a fantastic book by a now tenured CS professor that provides a good framework for how to think about your career / career satisfaction. He encourages working backwards from the lifestyle you want to the skills you need to master to where you are right now. His framework provides a lot of clarity and helps you ignore the roller coaster of announcements, updates, and new "things" you FEEL like you need to stay on top of.

You can also just read some of his blog posts - - if you don't feel like buying the book. Or check out some of his interviews, etc.

by atroyn   2017-08-19
I realized a while ago that inspiration isn't very helpful for getting you through adversity. Inspiration gets you going, but grit and discipline ultimately help you push through.

I'm going to go against the grain of most of what's being said in this thread and say that the best way to get through adversity is to discard a goal-based mentality entirely, in favor of a system-based mentality. Figure out the stuff you have to do every day. Get disciplined about doing that stuff. The 'small wins' you get from just executing the loop over and over again build up a lot of momentum over time.

I started with making my bed as soon as I got up every day, and just built on that. When there's something new I want to do, I set up a system for it. When the system isn't working, I change the system. Rather than deciding whether I wanted to do something or not before doing it, I'd just do it, then reflect afterward if that made things better or worse.

This approach got me through some really really bad times, helped me get fit, got me through tough, stressful workloads, calmed me down in times of chaos and helped me make the right long-term choices. I'm overall happier.

Here's some resources:

- -

edit: oh and one other thing I got out of this approach. People absolutely can change, it just takes a lot longer than people usually put on. I'm a different person from who I was ~4 years ago, mostly in a positive way.

by keithba   2017-08-19
>> you should try to work on what you really care about

So Good They Can't Ignore You[1] calls this the Passion Hypothesis[2], and argues (very well) that this is the wrong way to think about finding a career.

Instead, create a craftsman-like mentality and work ethic, and then use deliberate practice to get very, very good skills. With great skills, you will enjoy your work much more.

I believe this advice aligns with the rest of the blog entry very well. Creating value (and doing it well) requires an advanced skill set.


[2] This is an arguable point, since caring about something could be different than being passionate about it.

by heyImMattlol   2017-08-19

You can't really control bad coworkers or bad bosses (which will ruin any job no matter how much you love the work).

But you should read "So Good They Can't Ignore You" (Amazon link ) The author proves that the commonly held belief of "follow your passion" is actually really bad advise. You can find happiness in about any career as long as you gain unique skills, have autonomy, and are working on something meaningful/impactful.

by rocks95   2017-08-19

Yeah, it's really liberating to know that you can do anything you set your mind to... And that it's ok not to know your passion immediately!

My favorite books on this topic:

So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

For online business, I love these peoples' sites:

Check them out! (Just in case someone's wondering... None of these are affiliate links! LOL.)