Author Topic: Cal Newport / "So Good They Can't Ignore You"  (Read 2678 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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Cal Newport / "So Good They Can't Ignore You"
« on: January 09, 2023, 09:24:48 AM »
Have heard Cal Newport on some podcasts going back a couple years at this point, have listened to some episodes of his podcast, and just recently read this book of his. He's also the author (more famously) of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, but So Good They Can't Ignore You came from before them. He's got his head on straight in terms of thinking philosophically about what makes for a happy life in a way that is compatible with thinking about FIRE.

Some (but not all) of the core ideas of the book can be summarized as follows:
  • You will be happier in your work if you stop worrying so much about being "passionate" about it.
  • You're better off staying the course and building what Newport calls "career capital" in your existing field, which basically amounts to being "so good they can't ignore you," hence the title.
  • What makes work enjoyable isn't having a pre-existing passion for the subject matter, it's having control and autonomy and working with people you like. It takes career capital to find (& negotiate for!) a job that has those qualities.
  • The most desirable quality to have in a job is more control. People fall into two pitfalls of miserable work: trying to take more control before they have enough career capital to earn it, in which case they spoil their own upward trajectory... or waiting too long after they have career capital to actually negotiate to improve their working conditions.

I've been incorporating more and more of Cal's career advice into my thinking about FI and what I want work to look like when it's no longer mandatory. FU money is a huge bargaining chip, and I wanted to share this book because I think a hyper-fixation on FIRE can prevent people from seeing where they have the bargaining power to take more control of their career. More working years where you have the control to work at a sustainable pace might be a happier way to live your life, rather than burning the candle at both ends to get to the finish line a little sooner.


  • Bristles
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Re: Cal Newport / "So Good They Can't Ignore You"
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2023, 09:10:53 PM »
Thanks for the reminder! I just requested the book from the library.


  • Bristles
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Re: Cal Newport / "So Good They Can't Ignore You"
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2023, 08:10:16 AM »
#3 and #4 is so true.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Cal Newport / "So Good They Can't Ignore You"
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2023, 10:06:20 AM »
Thanks, I read and got a lot out of Deep Work even though it was not really written for my field (or gender) I appreciated that book and the reminder that in order to get into the flow you cannot be interrupted. I used the advice that came from research he cited and stopped checking my email while in the middle of a “deep work” endeavor. It also opened my eyes to the disruption inherent in traditional female jobs (though he never covered this topic in the book, I wish he had), how those (often mindless) jobs prevent any deep work from happening (breakthroughs in research, art, literature etc.) My take is that this is by design, either way this is something we should discuss more. I like the term mental labor for a related concept of this. Anyway, thanks for the recommendation I’ll check out the new book!
« Last Edit: January 15, 2023, 10:08:52 AM by JupiterGreen »


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Cal Newport / "So Good They Can't Ignore You"
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2023, 02:25:18 AM »
they can send me email but I'll decide when to respond or ever, lol


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Cal Newport / "So Good They Can't Ignore You"
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2023, 09:14:30 AM »
I really liked this book--it's my favorite of his. I feel like young people often fall into either "work should be my passion" or "work is just something to endure to fund my life outside work." There is something in the middle! Of the three kids in our family, one is pursuing the career that she wanted since grad school, one has a job he really enjoys that he sort of found his way to (it's not something that people outside the field know much about), and one sort of rummaged around a general career area before landing in a really good spot through a combination of pragmatism and enthusiasm.