So Good They Can't Ignore You

Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
by Cal Newport | 304 pages

Cal Newport decodes the pattern of finding work that inspires us and tells us, as per the sub-title, “Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” The title of the book comes from comedian Steve Martin’s advice to aspiring entertainers to “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”


“This argument flips conventional wisdom. It relegates passion to the sidelines, claiming that this feeling is an epiphenomenon of a working life well lived. Don’t follow your passion; rather let it follow you in your quest to become, in the words of my favorite Steve Martin quote, ‘so good that they can’t ignore you.’ …

It’s my hope that the insights that follow will free you from simplistic catchphrases like ‘follow your passion’ and ‘do what you love’—the type of catchphrases that have helped spawn the career confusion that afflicts so many today—and instead, provide you with a realistic path toward a meaningful and engaging working life.”

~ Cal Newport from So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Cal Newport is a writer and assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown. He got his Ph.D. from MIT and runs a popular blog called Study Hacks: Decoding Patterns of Success.

In this book, he decodes the pattern of finding work that inspires you and tells us, as per the sub-title, “Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.”

The title of the book comes from comedian Steve Martin’s advice to aspiring entertainers to Be so good they can’t ignore you.” (<— Love that.)

If you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, I think you’ll love this book. It provides a really important perspective on the pitfalls of passion and the power of being a craftsman. (Get a copy here.)

The book is packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

Unlock the full Optimize Experience

Get instant access to a ton of wisdom. Optimize every facet of your life. Actualize your potential.

Start free trial

About the author

Authors

Cal Newport

Author and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University.