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

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In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers. Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it. With a title taken from the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to "be so good they can't ignore you," Cal Newport's clearly written manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone fretting about what to do with their life, or frustrated by their current job situation and eager to find a fresh new way to take control of their livelihood. He provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love. So Good They Can't Ignore You will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.


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In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers. Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it. With a title taken from the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to "be so good they can't ignore you," Cal Newport's clearly written manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone fretting about what to do with their life, or frustrated by their current job situation and eager to find a fresh new way to take control of their livelihood. He provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love. So Good They Can't Ignore You will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    For me this book is one of the few pop-psych/self-help books that actually holds relevance. Like the author I'm also an academic, however I've done an awesome job of running my career into the toilet. I've spent too many years to mention developing killer skills, but in the parts of the job that give me ZERO career capital. I am an amazing teacher. Truly. I have awards. I get letters from past students now working overseas, thanking me. I make a difference in the lives of young people. Guess For me this book is one of the few pop-psych/self-help books that actually holds relevance. Like the author I'm also an academic, however I've done an awesome job of running my career into the toilet. I've spent too many years to mention developing killer skills, but in the parts of the job that give me ZERO career capital. I am an amazing teacher. Truly. I have awards. I get letters from past students now working overseas, thanking me. I make a difference in the lives of young people. Guess what? Teaching doesn't count for a fat wazoo in academia. I really don't want to play the political academic game, but the truth is that unless I start to produce more of the outputs that are valued, I won't be around to do the teaching that gives my life meaning. I particularly like that Newport gives specific, measureable strategies and tools to increase career capital. The case studies are ones that seem applicable to me. After reading the book I can immediately implement some practical things to improve the power I hold at work, which then allows me to also spend time on the aspects of the job that are most important to me. It is interesting that Newport wrote this book before he took up his first full-time teaching position. I'm keen to see how his ideas change in the reality of the workplace. One thing the book overlooks, and that is gender expectations. Female academics, as in so many professions, are expected to be 'nice'. Avoiding the emotional caretaking aspects of a workplace is essential for women who want to develop career capital, but paradoxically it is difficult to succeed by using the same work strategy that male colleagues use. Example: working as the lone female staff member on one programme, colleages constantly referred students to me to deal with their life crises: abortions, family deaths, miscarriages, failing papers. A respected mentor told me to my face how much he admired how well suited I am to this. Reality = I'm not. I am not qualified or suited to counsel a student after a miscarriage. Why would I be? Because I also have a uterus? And I don't want to. I do not want to take on a bottomless well of other people's emotional issues. At the end of 2010 I spent nearly three hours a week (!) referring an endless stream of students to the appropriate care provider (also mopping up tears before students could calm down and listen to me). That's more time than I spent on writing journal articles in the same period. When, at the beginning of the next semester, I gave my colleagues copies of the phone numbers and weblinks for the appropriate university resources, and asked them not send students to me any more, I was called a "cold bitch" by a colleague. I have no solution for this, and Newport doesn't address it. If you have one, let me know. On a day-to-day basis I'm not sure how many people would find the strategies in the book useful. Academics have a great deal of autonomy as to how we spend our time. I only have about 16-20 hours a week where I have to be somewhere. The rest of the time I can determine my work priorities myself. I only worked in industry for about two years, but a lot of the tasks seemed purely reactive, and that makes it much more difficult to prioritize the tasks that bring you the most career capital. However, in the broad view, the book is great. Newport emphasizes that you can find meaning in any job; there is no perfect 'right' career. You don't have to love your job when you start it: in fact this is highly unlikely. By doing the hard work, that eventually brings skill, satisfaction will follow. Overall I found this book useful, practical, and encouraging. Recommended for college grads, senior high school students, people in a career transition, and other academics who screwed up.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    I have rather mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the advice rang so true to my experience, I actually went to the author's website to contact him, only to discover that his wife just had their first child last week, so he's not available. On the negative side, though, the book pointed out all the mistakes I've made over the years, which has made me worry that at my age, it's already too late for me to ever have what he calls "a compelling career." The thesis of the book is that I have rather mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the advice rang so true to my experience, I actually went to the author's website to contact him, only to discover that his wife just had their first child last week, so he's not available. On the negative side, though, the book pointed out all the mistakes I've made over the years, which has made me worry that at my age, it's already too late for me to ever have what he calls "a compelling career." The thesis of the book is that following your passion is bad career advice, and the better approach is to master skills that people value. Mastery is its own reward, and from there, career satisfaction will follow. Sensible enough, but I can't discount passion altogether. He gives example after example of people who built their careers the right way and a few who did things wrong. The successful ones pursued goals logically and systematically, but I can't imagine that passion wasn't part of it. The guy who became a TV scriptwriter didn't have a pre-existing passion for it? C'mon. So I'm not really sure what to conclude. As someone who spent way too long barely eking out a living as a freelance writer and editor, I see the folly of following your passion. But while I'm grateful for the steady salary of an office job, I must confess to frequent boredom. Survival is more important than happiness, but isn't it possible to have both?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I picked up this book not so much because I'm at a career transition point (though that is in fact the case), but because I've followed Cal's student advice blog, Study Hacks, for a couple years now, and his pull-no-punches posts often give me lots to think about. His latest book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, challenges all the feel-good yada yada about following your passion popularized by Oprah and so many others. More significantly, it challenges the common assumption that we all have some I picked up this book not so much because I'm at a career transition point (though that is in fact the case), but because I've followed Cal's student advice blog, Study Hacks, for a couple years now, and his pull-no-punches posts often give me lots to think about. His latest book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, challenges all the feel-good yada yada about following your passion popularized by Oprah and so many others. More significantly, it challenges the common assumption that we all have some predetermined passion or other that's just waiting to be discovered. I intuitively agreed with the premise of his book and came to it looking for a well argued takedown of the follow-your-passion approach to life. I was curious to hear what Cal had to say about all this. The book was a speedy read full of good stories - so it's a low-investment effort if you're even vaguely intrigued by the topic. However, it was nowhere near as rigorous as I would've hoped. His argument builds on a succession of short profiles of people who've been successful in their careers and ambitions. Only occasionally does Newport draw on theory (e.g., a nod to self-determination theory in ch.2) or research studies. After starting each chapter with a story, he then boils it down to a simple maxim or two, which in turn slot into his four fundamental "rules" of career-building. One of the recurring frustrations, as other reviewers have noted, is that his stories can be read in various ways, and his heavy-handed, reductionist overlays tend to make you more skeptical rather than more convinced. There are also some distracting issues with tone. His counter-examples (profiles of people who tried to "follow their passion" and lived to regret it) are merciless and devoid of nuance, to the point that I cringed my way through his ham-fisted telling of their stories. Conversely, his conclusion, in which he describes how he followed his own rules as he transitioned into his new career as a university professor, becomes more than a little galling in its blithe lists of his accomplishments. This passage on p.205 shows how Newport's tone can veer off into self-satisfaction and disdain: Because of these early experiences [starting up a successful web design business in high school], I looked on with curiosity, once I arrived at college, when my classmates began to wring their hands about the question of what to do with their lives. For them, something as basic as choosing a major became weighted with cosmic significance. I though this was nonsense. To me, the world was filled with opportunities like Princeton Web Solutions waiting to be exploited.... Driven by this insight, while my classmates contemplated their true calling, I went seeking opportunities to master rare skills that would yield big rewards. Cue eye roll. Despite these notable flaws, there were several good things I took away from the book. The first was his brief but compelling account of the rise of the "follow your passion" ethos, which drew on Google Ngrams and pointed to the meteoric success of the 1970 book, What Colour Is Your Parachute?. The second was his arguments about the importance of mission, which resonated with me intuitively and challenged me to articulate a mission for my own fledgling career. The third thing was that his blunt analysis and dedicated self-scrutiny boosted my resolve to take a ruthless look at my own skills, ambitions and time management and, above all, to develop a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to my work life. Considering this list of takeaways, these are no small things, so I can be glad I read the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brent Mair

    There is definitely the core of a five star book here. The book has an excellent title, good anecdotal stories, and some well researched points. Unfortunately the book starts out with a bad premise, one that continues to get beaten down, something that Cal calls The Passion Hypothesis, which Cal throws out and beats up at every turn. This hypothesis is: "The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches that passion." From the There is definitely the core of a five star book here. The book has an excellent title, good anecdotal stories, and some well researched points. Unfortunately the book starts out with a bad premise, one that continues to get beaten down, something that Cal calls The Passion Hypothesis, which Cal throws out and beats up at every turn. This hypothesis is: "The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches that passion." From the start Cal sets up a false dichotomy between starting with something you are passionate about and developing skills. This is unfortunate. This dichotomy doesn't exist and overshadows the good parts of the book. He also goes out of his way to make the first part of the book sound scientific, stretching the impact of some of the studies he quotes, implying causality with cross-sectional studies, and using words such as "Laws" and "Hypothesis". This verbiage is greatly reduced as the book continues, which is a good thing. Cal is also pretty heavy handed in trying to make his anecdotes fit his belief. He should let the stories stand on their own instead of trying to guide us with an iron fist. Lastly, I really wish he had helped the new job searcher or high school graduate find a good starting point for the career process. He debunks passion, although many of the anecdotes clearly denote people who started with passion, but doesn't show where someone entering the job market should start to make themselves valuable. With so many options available should someone chose a field they are not passionate about to stay true to Cal's eschewing of passion? Absurd. Disappointing, but a good sixty percent of the book could be used to create an inspiring guide for those looking to increase their marketability and enjoyment at work.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Frank

    Great read, and for most job-seekers I'd almost put this book down as essential. With all the toxic "follow your passion" advice being thrown around, people need to realize that when it comes to building a career, skills are more important. The gist of this book can be gotten very quickly; in fact, the final chapter neatly summarizes pretty much everything. However, the rest of the book contains several case studies that are both inspiring and enlightening.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Gentleman-in-waiting: "So Good They Can't Ignore You" by Cal Newport "Working right trumps finding the right work." In "So Good They Can't Ignore You" by Cal Newport After having finished "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck", I wanted to read this one to work as a counterpoint. I'm glad I did. When I was younger, I watched Jurassic Park one and two, and I wanted to be Steven Spielberg! Doing well in my dance classes made me want to be a If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Gentleman-in-waiting: "So Good They Can't Ignore You" by Cal Newport "Working right trumps finding the right work." In "So Good They Can't Ignore You" by Cal Newport After having finished "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck", I wanted to read this one to work as a counterpoint. I'm glad I did. When I was younger, I watched Jurassic Park one and two, and I wanted to be Steven Spielberg! Doing well in my dance classes made me want to be a professional tap dancer. Watching Top Hat and West Side Story made me want to combine both aspirations to become a director of musicals, both film and theatre! By the time I was in secondary school, the arts were not viewed as a viable career option, and out of law, engineering, and other traditional subjects, I choose to become a Computer Scientist. I was in my final year at university studying Computer science, and I'd happily have remained a gentleman-in-waiting for several more years to save up and see the world! (I didn't have a career goal that I was passionate about).

  7. 4 out of 5

    David

    "Follow you passion". "Life is for the living." "Passion is the engine to living your life." "Find what you love, and then do it." "Don't settle." The passion hypothesis is to first "figure out what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion." This is all popular advice; you hear it everywhere. And Cal Newport shows why this advice is so, so very wrong. It is more than wrong--it is dangerous. He shows how this conventional wisdom for career success is seriously flawed. "Follow you passion". "Life is for the living." "Passion is the engine to living your life." "Find what you love, and then do it." "Don't settle." The passion hypothesis is to first "figure out what you're passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion." This is all popular advice; you hear it everywhere. And Cal Newport shows why this advice is so, so very wrong. It is more than wrong--it is dangerous. He shows how this conventional wisdom for career success is seriously flawed. Following one's passion can potentially motivate a career that is confusing and filled with angst. The passion mindset focuses on "what the world can offer you", while the craftsman mindset focuses on "what you can offer the world." By focusing on the passion mindset, you become hyper-aware of what you don't like about it, leading to chronic unhappiness. However, Cal Newport shows how the craftsman mindset is the foundation for creating work that you will come to love. He writes about "career capital", which is a valuable skill set that one gains by devoting many hours of "deliberate practice." The book sets up four rules that should govern how you can build up a successful career. They are: Rule #1: Don't follow your passion. Rule #2: Be so good they can't ignore you. Rule #3: Turn down a promotion. (Take control over your life.) Rule #4: Think small, act big. These short phrases don't really sum up the ideas very well. They are shorthand for concepts that are illustrated very well in the book. The gist of the book is that you should practice a skill set with long hours of deliberate practice. Understand your skills, and learn a new skill every day. Always challenge yourself, instead of just coasting along. Make sure that the skills are relevant to the world, i.e., that someone is willing to pay for them. Eventually you will gain a passion in what you do well. Don't branch out on your own until you have gained a sufficient amount of "career capital", that is, a valuable skill set. Make incremental steps in your career, making sure that you never overstep your actual abilities and skills. This is an engaging book, filled with interesting anecdotes about successful careers and missteps. It is fun to read all of this evidence that the ubiquitous advice--follow your passion--can be so wrong. Cal Newport has lots of excellent advice about taking control of your career and the direction of your life. He shows how his advice has been applied to his own career, too. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ScienceOfSuccess

    Check out my animated summary of this book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Clara

    Dr. Newport offers an abundance of prescient advice that has motivated me to focus on building skills and embrace the discomfort associated with pushing my limits. Unfortunately, in his book "So Good They Can't Ignore You," Newport frames his advice in a disingenuous context -- he (perhaps willfully) misinterprets what I suspect a large number of people (including Steve Jobs) really meant when they use the phrase "follow your passion." Newport claims that "follow" implies identifying a Dr. Newport offers an abundance of prescient advice that has motivated me to focus on building skills and embrace the discomfort associated with pushing my limits. Unfortunately, in his book "So Good They Can't Ignore You," Newport frames his advice in a disingenuous context -- he (perhaps willfully) misinterprets what I suspect a large number of people (including Steve Jobs) really meant when they use the phrase "follow your passion." Newport claims that "follow" implies identifying a pre-existing passion to match with a job. In the speech Newport claims to "debunk," Jobs tells his audience that "Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on… you can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards." Thus when Newport writes "If a young Steve Jobs had taken his own advice and decided to only pursue work he loved, we would probably find him today at one of the Los Altos Zen Center's most popular teachers," Newport is blatantly subverting the meaning intended in the verb "to follow" -- a winding path with obscure targets can be followed. Newport ignores this interpretation. Newport also ignores a meaning often intended by the noun "passion" -- Jobs emphasized the emotional, intuitive aspect while Newport fixates on the definition related to intense conviction. Beyond the poorly framed first rule about Passion, Newport presents examples of individuals with fulfilling careers that could just as easily be described as people who DID follow their passion, if the phrase is interpreted in the manner more likely intended by Steve Jobs. Pardis Sabeti and Kirk French both "connected the dots" as Jobs encouraged, following their intuitions to arrive at an innovative and inspiring career. The section about finding a career mission could just as easily be rewritten in terms of finding (and developing) a passion. After reading this book, I agree with Dr. Newport's assessment that catchy phrases and slogans can be dangerous, but not for the reasons he puts forth. These slogans are dangerous because in the absence of nuanced explanation, a slogan is easily subverted and misinterpreted. I'm concerned that Dr. Newport ignores an abundance of data that don't neatly align with his thesis, e.g. "I really don't care why performers adopt the craftsman mindset." I'm used to encountering this sort of defensive bantering in conversation when people are thinking in real time, but it's borderline comical to find it in a book where the author had an opportunity to put more thought into developing and revising his position. This style of argument is sloppy and suggests to me that Newport is more interested in padding his CV with books than presenting coherent discourse to the world at large.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I really wanted to like this book, and I think that Mr. Newport has a few good ideas, which I will get to in a moment. That said, this book was disappointing for the following reasons: 1. While Mr. Newport is no doubt skilled in mathematics (his chosen field), he lacks a basic understanding of English grammar. The book desperately needed an editor, as the following phrases appeared in print: "graduated highschool" "better understand this trickiness" and "real hard time", among other I really wanted to like this book, and I think that Mr. Newport has a few good ideas, which I will get to in a moment. That said, this book was disappointing for the following reasons: 1. While Mr. Newport is no doubt skilled in mathematics (his chosen field), he lacks a basic understanding of English grammar. The book desperately needed an editor, as the following phrases appeared in print: "graduated highschool" "better understand this trickiness" and "real hard time", among other cringe-inducing phrases. He refers to Esther Duflo as someone who is successful in her "ant-poverty" efforts, when clearly he should have written "anti-poverty." If you're going to be "so good they can't ignore you," you shouldn't ignore the basics of good grammar. 2. The book is highly repetitive. The central themes of the book are to "be so good they can't ignore you" - i.e., get good at something so people will pay you to do it, and "working right trumps finding the right work" - i.e., don't worry about finding your passion; get good at something instead. He repeats these mantras over and over (and over). While he's not wrong, he needs to find other material to support his argument. 3. Mr. Newport clearly has absolutely no experience in the corporate world. He does use interviews of people who work in the corporate world to try to bolster his arguments, but they lack the ring of authenticity that first-hand experience would provide. He's probably right that we could all benefit from the deliberate practice of our skills; however, how one would go about doing that when pulled in a million different directions (including by one's email) by the modern workplace is left to the reader to discover for herself. 4. The examples of careers that Mr. Newport cites are not necessarily achievable by the average Joe. For example, Mr. Newport discusses the remarkable career of Pardis Sabeti - a woman who simultaneously earned a PhD from MIT and an MD from Harvard, all after her stint in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Dr. Sabeti now works to eradicate diseases in Africa, and sounds like a truly remarkable woman and doctor. However, most people are not going to have careers like Dr. Sabeti. I would argue that she must have had a great deal of passion for her mission to eradicate human suffering in order to achieve her goals, not just deliberate practice. However, the best that Mr. Newport can say about Dr. Sabeti's amazing career is that it was "remarkably late...in her training before she identified [her] mission." Needless to say, his arrogance here is off putting. 5. Finally, there is just too much borrowed material in this book. Even the title of the book is a regurgitated Steve Martin quote! Add the Martin quote to Marvin Gladwell's Outliers and you have the gist of the book. All of that said, I don't think Mr. Newport is wrong in his core argument. We shouldn't necessarily wait around to try to make a living off our "passions" (in my case, my passions are reading and knitting - no one is going to pay me to do that!) and instead get better at what we do for a living. Getting better will make our work easier and more enjoyable and will open more opportunities for us, including more autonomy over our work days and careers. However, Mr. Newport did a very poor job at fleshing out his arguments, and he did an even worse job at providing examples of practical applications of his arguments for the average worker. This book would have been better as a long article or an e-book; Mr. Newport simply doesn't offer enough material to make the 200+ pages of his book compelling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Torbjörn

    There's some really good ideas here, and the thesis at large seems plausible. It's engaging and fun. But it smells of retrospective coherence.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christina Brown

    This book had a provocative title that I couldn't resist, but I was somewhat disappointed by the content. Cal asserts that the road to true career happiness is the steady development of rare and valuable skills that you can eventually cash in for things everyone wants in their work, like autonomy and a deep mission. I fully agree. And someone had to deflate the hype surrounding the passion theory. But the problem is that Cal never adequately addresses how the people he features in the book found This book had a provocative title that I couldn't resist, but I was somewhat disappointed by the content. Cal asserts that the road to true career happiness is the steady development of rare and valuable skills that you can eventually cash in for things everyone wants in their work, like autonomy and a deep mission. I fully agree. And someone had to deflate the hype surrounding the passion theory. But the problem is that Cal never adequately addresses how the people he features in the book found their career track in the first place. He "debunks" the "follow your passion" myth in one short chapter using relative scant scientific evidence and handy examples of people who stuck with careers that they supposedly grew to love. But in each of these cases, it seems that these people already had a passion, or at the very least a sustained interest, in their general career track. So his approach is only really effective AFTER you've found a field with enough intrinsic draw that you can devote yourself to it over the long haul- some would call this a passion. Finally, I was not a fan of his writing style. The book reads a little like a doctoral thesis or a math/logic proof, which is not surprising given that Cal is a newly graduated Ph.D in computer science. There were even times when is ego was simply grating and I had to skip over some of the bragging.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed

    The short version of this book is: don't do something just because you're passionate about it, do it because you're both passionate and very, very good at it then you'll be successful. The book in summary has 3 parts: 1- debunking the passions hypothesis. Yep its as boring is "debunking a hypothesis" sounds. This is the worst and most uninspiring part. He goes on, and on, and on for 30 pages saying that the advice "follow your passion is bad." 2- introducing main the passion mindset vs the The short version of this book is: don't do something just because you're passionate about it, do it because you're both passionate and very, very good at it then you'll be successful. The book in summary has 3 parts: 1- debunking the passions hypothesis. Yep its as boring is "debunking a hypothesis" sounds. This is the worst and most uninspiring part. He goes on, and on, and on for 30 pages saying that the advice "follow your passion is bad." 2- introducing main the passion mindset vs the craftsman mindset. This is where he actually starts making some sense. He argues that if you give the world, the world will give back to you. However, he constantly fails at giving examples here since he gave the example of a musician, and a writer. For Cal, he never mentioned even once that passion is what makes people seek the skills they're passionate about. I'm really struggling to imagine a musician spending countless hours practicing guitar, and he hates music! At least lets give him credit that he acknowledges, although only 3 pages, that some jobs aren't worth being good at without passion. 3- the good stuff. Here's where he brings some valuable insight about building yourself career wise. This is the part everyone should read. He gives actual advice about how to build your "career capital" which are skills that you can exchange for more freedom such as being a great programmer and so on. Be so good they can't ignore you, and then peruse your passion is a better advice, I believe. I just want to say that part 3 deserves 4 stars, but I settled since third of the book which is part 1 and 2 were awfully written and the points made were not argued well. So I settled for 3 stars. I wish he would rewrite the first part..

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU is the latest book by Georgetown Professor Cal Newport, author of the Study Hacks blog. This is a tremendously valuable book for anyone who is looking not for a job, but a career that offers control, autonomy, and gives you a sense of fulfillment. SO GOOD gives you the step by step plan to achieve it. The subtitle of this book reveals the author’s main theme: “Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” This is a unique idea that rejects the current SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU is the latest book by Georgetown Professor Cal Newport, author of the Study Hacks blog. This is a tremendously valuable book for anyone who is looking not for a job, but a career that offers control, autonomy, and gives you a sense of fulfillment. SO GOOD gives you the step by step plan to achieve it. The subtitle of this book reveals the author’s main theme: “Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” This is a unique idea that rejects the current popular advice of “follow your passion.” Even today on a WSJ blog, the CEO of Zipcar, Scott Griffith, is quoted saying, “If you really don’t have passion for what you’re doing, quit. Go find something. I was interested in technology and transportation when I was in junior high school. It may not be that clear to everybody, but we all kind of know what our passions are pretty early in life, and if you can figure out a way to align your avocation with your vocation, the sky’s the limit for your career and your happiness.” (“Zipcar CEO: ‘If You Don’t Have Passion For Your Job, Quit,’” Leslie Kwoh, Wall Street Journal, 9/19/12) Newport rejects this idea, claiming that quitting your job to follow your passion is at best unrealistic, and at worst, dangerous for your long-term success. Instead, Newport stresses the pursuit of skills, not passion. But not just any skills. He focuses in on what he calls “career capital”: the specific, valuable, and marketable skills that will separate you from the rest of the pack and let you define the terms of your career. I think at this point, we’ve all heard the notion of it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. But not all practice hours are equal. Newport suggests using a concept called “deliberate practice”–practice that pushes you beyond your comfort zone, that stretches you, that forces you to improve–to achieve those career capital skills. Although difficult, it is far more effective than other means of practice, Newport argues. Once you have mastered these skills, you can start defining the terms of your career, giving yourself the control and autonomy many crave but few achieve. Of course, once you’ve picked up a few skills, you’re not scott free at this point. Newport highlights two traps. The first is thinking you have enough career capital too early in your career. In other words, you jump without looking: you start your own business before people are willing to pay you for your skills. The second is acquiring so much capital that your boss will not want to let you go, in effect pushing you in a direction that offers you less control and autonomy even though it may come with a new title, new office, and maybe even a raise. But Newport offers a solid plan to avoid these traps. Moreover, Newport also offers advice on building a career not based on passion, but one that you become passionate about. Not too long ago, I stopped working at a law firm to become a freelance writer. Writing is always something that I’ve really enjoyed, so I was a perfect example of someone who followed their passion. And although I possessed writing skills, I lacked the other skills necessary for a freelancing life (marketing know-how, references, a pile of clips, etc.). In other words, I didn’t have the complete career capital package. I fell into Newport’s first trap. I’ve been working my way out of it ever since. SO GOOD is the book I wish I had when I first started thinking about transitioning from the law firm to the freelancer life. I would have been able to hit the ground much faster. But Newport offers enough concrete tips in SO GOOD, that I think I can make up for the lost time and separate myself from the other writers out there. But don’t think this is just a book for people who are thinking of becoming writers or bloggers or lifestyle coaches or whatever new job the latest web gurus are touting. Not only does Newport profile writers and musicians, but also a biologist, venture capitalist, archeologist, and various other entrepreneurs. In SO GOOD, Newport offers a plan that can work for anyone. It’s a short read, and while there are definitely times when Newport repeats himself (he summarizes passages that you have read only a handful of pages earlier for example), the lessons are specific and useful. When you finish reading SO GOOD, I can almost guarantee your career plans will have changed for the better. They will be better defined and likely more productive. Read it, learn it, use it. Discover your dream job by developing your skills.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Read this before you think about quitting, getting a degree, a new job (especially self-employment), or "following your bliss." The advice is particularly important in our current economic environment. Find work you can learn from ("build career capital," in Newport's terms) in order to take another step toward more desirable work. Use one foothold to reach the next, and have the humility to recognize that success takes time. Try to spend more time on activities that yield long-term rewards, Read this before you think about quitting, getting a degree, a new job (especially self-employment), or "following your bliss." The advice is particularly important in our current economic environment. Find work you can learn from ("build career capital," in Newport's terms) in order to take another step toward more desirable work. Use one foothold to reach the next, and have the humility to recognize that success takes time. Try to spend more time on activities that yield long-term rewards, rather than letting busywork fill your schedule. The writing has minor weaknesses, including a slight egocentricity and prose that feels superficial. May I add one insight to Newport's, and that is to begin seeing the world with more curiosity. For example, don't look at stores as merely places to buy things. Everything has a history, and that's what makes life (and business) so interesting. Next time you visit a mall, think that the neighbors likely discussed it before it was built, and so did the city council, and construction crews, developers, contractors, and retailers. There were decisions to be made about timelines, costs, revenues, traffic, parking, design, property, branding, signage, wages, taxes, lighting, law, computers, food, certifications, celebrations, holidays, insurance, maintenance, etc.--and that's just the mall, not even the retailers' products! At corporate headquarters they thought about even more topics. And that's just retail, just one portion of all the economic activity out there! In other words, there is so much to learn, but people will pay you a lot more to do tasks that require experience and proven judgment than they will pay you to dig ditches. You could build a career specializing in any one of those areas listed above, which is exactly why you shouldn't quit too early--because you'll be competing against people who didn't quit. As Woody Allen allegedly said, 80% of success is just showing up. One final note: this book may make you see your weaknesses, and that's not always pleasant. It's hard to come to terms with mistakes, whether you knew better or not. As somebody who has been there, moved from place to place to find better work, and made 25,000 cold calls, I can't guarantee that everyone finds a dream job, but I can tell you there's great satisfaction in knowing you tried every day. With time and effort the days get brighter. Now here's a book recommendation http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/68... and a motivational video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmTxr..., get out there and make something happen!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Reid

    "Don't do what you love. Learn to love what you do." That is probably the best career advice I've heard. Most books on career advice tell me to find a job using what I'm passionate about. Unfortunately for me there aren't many jobs that will pay me just to read whatever I want all day. Learning to love what you do is much better advice if you ever want any job satisfaction. This was a great book for most people, but especially for people who are fed up of the advice to let your passion lead you "Don't do what you love. Learn to love what you do." That is probably the best career advice I've heard. Most books on career advice tell me to find a job using what I'm passionate about. Unfortunately for me there aren't many jobs that will pay me just to read whatever I want all day. Learning to love what you do is much better advice if you ever want any job satisfaction. This was a great book for most people, but especially for people who are fed up of the advice to let your passion lead you to a job. Because that hasn't worked too well for anyone I know.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jen Hamon

    A few interesting ideas mired in weak anecdotes and confusing arguments I came to this book after seeing it rated very highly on the personal reading list of Derek Sivers, a blogger/programmer who I admire. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found a chapter or two of this book use Derek's biographical sketch as the backdrop for one of Newport's rules! I find myself in agreement with most of Cal's major points, but can't in good faith recommend reading this. Many of the anecdotes were cringeworthy A few interesting ideas mired in weak anecdotes and confusing arguments I came to this book after seeing it rated very highly on the personal reading list of Derek Sivers, a blogger/programmer who I admire. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found a chapter or two of this book use Derek's biographical sketch as the backdrop for one of Newport's rules! I find myself in agreement with most of Cal's major points, but can't in good faith recommend reading this. Many of the anecdotes were cringeworthy and writing convoluted. The passion-followers, in particular, are portrayed as such bumbling fools that it makes me suspicious of his arguments, or would have done if I wasn't already in agreement with his main thesis. I think he could have written this book without introducing us to the professional woman who quit a good job and blew her savings to open a yoga studio after only a few weekends of yoga training, ultimately to end up on food stamps. Or the blockheaded 20-something who dropped out of college with dreams of a passive income financed travel lifestyle, only to give up after writing a few blog entries that fail to become an overnight viral phenomenon. Or the lifestyle-design bloggers who try to scratch a living out of inspiring other people to do the same useless thing they are doing. The problems experienced by these strawman characters (if they are even real) result from a naive approach to the world, get-rich-quickism, lack of planning, and poor execution. I really think building his arguments using these figures as foils undermines the credibility of the entire work. A lot of the negative reviews seem to focus on the contradiction between Cal's panning of the passion motive and praise for "mission". Many people seem to think these are the same thing. I don't think this is necessarily a contradiction, but Cal doesn't seem to be very clear about explaining that missions are emergent interests that arise from one's collected experiences and opportunities as a craftsman. This is similar but subtly different from passion, which is Cal describes as a kind of innate affinity for a particular topic. I think "career capital" is a useful new piece of vocabulary, but overall I give this book a pass.

  18. 5 out of 5

    The Artisan Geek

    ------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------ 16/7/19 There is some good advice here and there, but there are quite a lot of things I didn't like about this book. An example of this is how eight out of the give or take ten examples were a white males, seemingly either middle class or higher - this made me feel rather cynical reading through the rest of the book - it being how people who fall outside of that category have significantly different experiences/challenges. The book is filled with ------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------ 16/7/19 There is some good advice here and there, but there are quite a lot of things I didn't like about this book. An example of this is how eight out of the give or take ten examples were a white males, seemingly either middle class or higher - this made me feel rather cynical reading through the rest of the book - it being how people who fall outside of that category have significantly different experiences/challenges. The book is filled with anecdotes of top ivy league students and catchy titles labelling advice that left me searching for nuances that I ended up unfortunately not finding. I also generally don't tend to look at the writing of self improvement books, but for me the style of this book made for an incredibly tedious and boring read. There is a lot of repetition of explanations, which makes me to believe that this book could have been at least 50 pages shorter than it actually is. Either way, my full review will be on my Youtube channel soon! 11/5/19 I have been meaning to read this for ages, I read Newport's book on how to do well at university about a year or two ago and it wasn't of too much help, but so I am hoping this one will be more insightful. You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Newport is a persuasive guy, and he offers the sort of realist advice and impressive credentials to back up his claims. And, he has a history of being effective -- his productivity tips do help people, they are generally in accordance with classical principles of operant conditioning -- and the quora community loves him. But, I (obviously) don't agree with the thesis of his book. There's room for being good at what you do, but there's also plenty of room for caring about it. That is, I don't Newport is a persuasive guy, and he offers the sort of realist advice and impressive credentials to back up his claims. And, he has a history of being effective -- his productivity tips do help people, they are generally in accordance with classical principles of operant conditioning -- and the quora community loves him. But, I (obviously) don't agree with the thesis of his book. There's room for being good at what you do, but there's also plenty of room for caring about it. That is, I don't think the two alternatives in life are: 1) trust fund williamsburg hipster or b) soul fully wielded to capitalist machine. You can perhaps, as Newport himself seems to have done, find a balance. Work hard at what you like, and spin off a profitable side project -- be a computer scientist, and write a series of lucrative (but really, sort of uncreative don't you think?) self-help books!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pete Welter

    I'm split on this book. I chose it to read because a number of the writers I admire most, including Seth Godin, Reid Hoffman, Kevin Kelly, Dan Pink and Derek Sivers, recommended it (although it turned out 3 of them are mentioned in the book, so there's that). I have it 4 stars, but I'd go 3 1/2 if there wer such a rating on GoodReads. Questioning the passion hypothesis - that you first find out what you're passionate about and then find a job that suits it - is a an excellent message. Many people I'm split on this book. I chose it to read because a number of the writers I admire most, including Seth Godin, Reid Hoffman, Kevin Kelly, Dan Pink and Derek Sivers, recommended it (although it turned out 3 of them are mentioned in the book, so there's that). I have it 4 stars, but I'd go 3 1/2 if there wer such a rating on GoodReads. Questioning the passion hypothesis - that you first find out what you're passionate about and then find a job that suits it - is a an excellent message. Many people may not have a passion to speak of, and even if you do, you need to be good at something to do something with it (or make yourself good at something). Sheer desire and passion is not nearly enough - something that had been nagging me a bit of late, and it was good to see it addressed in such a head on manner. The meat of the book are ways to make this happen, and I can't say I disagree with any of them. Again, it's about trying things, continuing to get really good in a context where others notice. He talks of small bets (a philosophy I wholly buy into) and it feels like his failure stories fit into the "all -in but missed it" category too often. The failure stories feel a bit like straw-men - way too easy of examples. I'd have liked to see a bit more dissection of the intermediate cases. However, I was not wholly satisfied, because it felt like his sample population was extremely narrow and not at all diverse. His positive examples (like a number of other of these types of books) are cherry picked from the top of the top of their fields. The folks who are Ivy-league or PhD individuals. My big question: is it possible for the large majority of people to apply what he's talking about? Yes, there is the effort aspect, and I have no problem with the idea that no effort = no reward, and even that the effort has to be the right kind of effort (in his terms, deliberate practice, or working smarter rather than harder). But happens to the vast majority of young people who don't have the resources, the background, or the skill in a rare field. Do we just give up and them have them be the low-paid service workers? Is there enough room at the top of the pyramid that he's imagining for more people? So, it's worth reading, but go into it with skepticism. Take what fits you, and realize that we all don't dream of being PhD track profs.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vance

    Newport made me think about my career, where my career is heading, and how I can be more productive along the way. The key is to not find work you’re passionate about but then never get good at it because that passion fades. He calls this the passion hypothesis which is a way to set people up for failure. Instead, you should work really hard to be the best you can be at a job then your passion will find you. This isn’t the path for everyone as I found my passion then continue to improve my work, Newport made me think about my career, where my career is heading, and how I can be more productive along the way. The key is to not find work you’re passionate about but then never get good at it because that passion fades. He calls this the passion hypothesis which is a way to set people up for failure. Instead, you should work really hard to be the best you can be at a job then your passion will find you. This isn’t the path for everyone as I found my passion then continue to improve my work, which has increased my passion, but people have different paths. There was some discussion about being more productive but that is in his next book. I give this book 3 stars because it provides valuable insight on how to build a career but is a bit repetitive throughout. Check it out!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Barzey

    I really liked this book. I wish I had read it during college. I think it would have gave me some direction when I dropped out. I was so concerned about trying to find a passion that none of my work in the last 5 years has really added up. I could have been building career capital instead of working a bunch of dead end jobs. One example of bad career planning in the book actually described my own situation pretty thoroughly. The information I've read within it has really inspired me. I'm trying I really liked this book. I wish I had read it during college. I think it would have gave me some direction when I dropped out. I was so concerned about trying to find a passion that none of my work in the last 5 years has really added up. I could have been building career capital instead of working a bunch of dead end jobs. One example of bad career planning in the book actually described my own situation pretty thoroughly. The information I've read within it has really inspired me. I'm trying to focus on my building skills and see where that takes me. I'm also trying to adopt the craftsman mindest to show what I can do, rather than be always disappointed that people aren't throwing work at me. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to young people trying to figure out what they want to do with their life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rohit

    Hands-down, the best book I've ever read on creating a great career. There is so, so much bad advice out there the entire "self-help" genre has a bad name -- but Newport's work digs deep and provides real, actionable insight into a quick, easy-to-understand format. Highly recommended to read this for creating a career plan, followed by Deep Work for a way to execute that plan effectively.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Kim

    A sentence-long idea masquerading as a book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    I love the blog and his blog sized nuggets of wisdom. Unfortunately, it didn't translate into a full length book. For such a short book, he spends an awful lot of time summarizing/repeating himself. He doesn't have much data to back him up and his argument hinges on a limited amount of interviews with people who seem awfully similar to the author himself: gifted academics. The last point is the biggest problem of the book. I was never convinced that the successful subjects of the book were I love the blog and his blog sized nuggets of wisdom. Unfortunately, it didn't translate into a full length book. For such a short book, he spends an awful lot of time summarizing/repeating himself. He doesn't have much data to back him up and his argument hinges on a limited amount of interviews with people who seem awfully similar to the author himself: gifted academics. The last point is the biggest problem of the book. I was never convinced that the successful subjects of the book were successful because of the laws that the author outlines or because they are simply gifted people. The "farmer" he profiles is taking out major loans from the farm bureau as a high schooler...the professor studying African genetics was obviously going to be a success no matter what path she chose. Cal spends a lot of time discussing how people in show business don't particularly interest him with regards to his theory, yet then spends time profiling: a professional musician, a TV star, a TV script writer, and Steve Martin. Something doesn't compute here... I wish he had taken more time to find a more diverse range of subjects instead of the gifted academics that mostly run in his circle and the generic, anonymous schmucks who represent his argument against. It was a frustrating read because the argument he put forward is provocative, counterintuitive and true, yet the evidence and overall argument was thin and wanting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shwetha Sankari K

    Strongly recommend to anyone looking for a fruitful non-fiction read, and a must-read to those who are looking for some solid career advice. Let me start off by saying this is gonna be a big review, probably my biggest on goodreads. Because the world needs to know it's such an amazing book! So Good They Can't Ignore You is a non-fiction book that gives some solid, practical advice on how to build a compelling career. Now, before you scroll your mouse and skip my review, let me bring to your Strongly recommend to anyone looking for a fruitful non-fiction read, and a must-read to those who are looking for some solid career advice. Let me start off by saying this is gonna be a big review, probably my biggest on goodreads. Because the world needs to know it's such an amazing book! So Good They Can't Ignore You is a non-fiction book that gives some solid, practical advice on how to build a compelling career. Now, before you scroll your mouse and skip my review, let me bring to your attention that I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction, and especially not much into reading books that give career advice. I mean it when I say this one was an exception. One thing that caught my attention and convinced me to try this book was the back cover blurb that says "following your passion is terrible advice for being successful in your career!" For those of us long basking in the glow of the passion hypothesis (a term used in the book for the belief that the key to occupational happiness is finding one thing that you're passionate about, and then find a job that matches the passion) to build compelling careers, this is a completely contradicting perspective! This intrigued me to delve deeper and understand the concept. And I ended up completely buying it! Cal says there are four basic rules you've to stick to if you want to build compelling and fulfilling careers. Rule #1: Don't follow your passion While the idea of finding one thing that you're passionate about and then choosing a career that aligns with your passion might sound fancy, it is dangerous and is likely to set you on a failure path. Because all you know at this point of time is an idea/domain you like (or you think you like), and not enough skills or the experience (which Cal calls the "career capital") needed make the idea thrive. Rule #2: Spend time building your career capital Whatever you are, be a good one. It might not be possible to find your true calling in the early stages of your career. All what you have to focus on at this point is honing your skills and building an impressive skill set aka. your career capital. Great jobs require great skills in return, and you should be in a position to offer them. Once you've gathered enough career capital, cash it in to acquire traits that define a great career. Two most important traits are discussed in the below rules. Rule #3: Gain control (the dream-job elixir) Gaining control over what you do is one important aspect for a great career. Use the rare skillset you've gathered to acquire control. There are a few traps at this stage which you need to be aware of. Cal has devised a guidance system that helps readers dodge these traps and navigate successfully in their careers to acquire control. The concepts "The first control trap","The second control trap", and "the law of financial viability" are introduced. Rule #4: Identify a mission Mission is another important trait you've to acquire with your career capital. A mission provides a unifying goal and makes your career compelling. Finding a mission doesn’t happen overnight. It's a long term process that requires you to constantly explore the adjacent possible areas, and then arrive at one target which proves meaningful to you and is practically achievable with your stock of career capital. To make this mission a reality, you need to take small but persistent steps (which Cal names "little bets") in what seems to be the right direction, receive feedback and use it to make further progress. These rules are coupled with real-life examples (including how Cal applies them in his work life) which makes the book all the more interesting. I can see myself re-reading it multiple times in the future! Strongly recommend to anyone looking for a fruitful non-fiction read, and a must-read to those who are looking for some solid career advice!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allysia K

    I'm a big fan of Cal Newport - Deep Work was one of my favorite reads last year. This one was a great read too, in a completely different way. It's all about how developing skills leads to passion, as opposed to the other way around. He argues against the common advice to "follow your passion". Instead, he encourages you to develop rare and valuable skills, which can then lead to work you're passionate about. Lots to chew on here, and very motivating!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bartosz Majewski

    I first encountered this book a while back when I was still attending bookstores. I wasn't yet living my "if you want a book, you buy the damn thing no matter if you can or can't afford it" mantra. So I got intrigued but didn't buy it. Then as it happens in Poland the book was swept up from the shelves never to be printed again. And after ~7 years I've read it just to understand that I should have read it then and there because it would save me a lot of unnecessary pain during my career I first encountered this book a while back when I was still attending bookstores. I wasn't yet living my "if you want a book, you buy the damn thing no matter if you can or can't afford it" mantra. So I got intrigued but didn't buy it. Then as it happens in Poland the book was swept up from the shelves never to be printed again. And after ~7 years I've read it just to understand that I should have read it then and there because it would save me a lot of unnecessary pain during my career development phase. Now it was nothing new, I already knew that "follow your passion" is toxic advice given by charlatans and I'm not switching paths anytime soon since I'm a CEO and a founder which means I stick to my guns instead of job-hopping. So if you are 20-25 or you are thinking about changing jobs or careers - this is a must-read. And if you are in exactly the right spot, like me - maybe pick up something else.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    I once stopped in a gas station in the outskirts of the small city where I grew up, just before hitting the highway and go back to college town. I was driving an old Ford with a rusty door that didn't latched quite well. Nothing too serious but I was always a bit bothered by this tiny gap between door and frame. While filling my tank an energetic guy approached me and seemed to notice that my door didn't close quite well. I was so surprised he noticed and also amazed he happened to have this fix I once stopped in a gas station in the outskirts of the small city where I grew up, just before hitting the highway and go back to college town. I was driving an old Ford with a rusty door that didn't latched quite well. Nothing too serious but I was always a bit bothered by this tiny gap between door and frame. While filling my tank an energetic guy approached me and seemed to notice that my door didn't close quite well. I was so surprised he noticed and also amazed he happened to have this fix with some rubber bands that were incredibly cheap, about $5 a meter. Long story short, after 30 minutes I had about 200 meters of rubber bands across all doors on my 10 year old ford and out of cash after paying this mother fkr. About 15 minutes later on the road I realized this guy knew perfectly his target customer, had a product everyone could get out there but had re-packaged, pitched differently at the right time and place. This book felt eerily familiar to that experience.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Corina

    Only good thing about this book is the title, which is a quote that is not by the author, which is pretty representative of how I feel about the rest of the book. It's a collection of some other people's good ideas, but wrapped together by statements specifically meant to sound more polarizing then they are. The one idea in the book (that skill is important, not just passion) is valid but did not require a books worth of words to stand behind it. And it especially didn't need what the author Only good thing about this book is the title, which is a quote that is not by the author, which is pretty representative of how I feel about the rest of the book. It's a collection of some other people's good ideas, but wrapped together by statements specifically meant to sound more polarizing then they are. The one idea in the book (that skill is important, not just passion) is valid but did not require a books worth of words to stand behind it. And it especially didn't need what the author calls "research", i.e. cherry picked anecdotes people have told him. That's probably my biggest beef with it, along with the terrible and flat writing.

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