Summary of So Good They Can’t Ignore You Part 1 : Don’t Follow Your Passion

When you are deciding what to do for work, the most common advice, is “do what you love”. This advice is dangerous because it rarely works. There is a better way, you develop rare and valuable skills and use those skills to leverage a better career, as detailed in this first part of the summary of So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.

Passions Are Made Not Discovered

Cal Newport argues that the content of the job matters much less than common wisdom says. No one grows up dreaming of being a Software Tester, but Cal met someone who developed rare and valuable skills in testing and grew to love her job. Once she began to master her skill, she developed a passion for software testing and started finding ways to improve it in her company.

The software tester ended up becoming head of testing at her company and became so valuable that she had full control over her time. She decided to spend 6 months of the year working and 6 months travelling the world. Her company allowed this because she was so good they wanted to keep her happy, lest she take her skills elsewhere.

You Might Not Have a Passion

Maybe you left university and there were no jobs that appealed to you, so you took any job you could get but you didn’t feel like you loved it. You started to think you’re were wasting your time because you weren’t doing what you loved or chasing your dream. So you quit and moved on to the next job.

A few months in to the next job, you looked around and realised you weren’t loving every second, so you doubted this was your true calling, anxiety built, you quit and the whole cycle started again. This is an all too common scenario for millenials as we are the generate most told to “follow our passion”.

Focusing on finding your passion can lead to job-hopping and misery in any career, because even the best jobs aren’t a constant thrill ride. There is no “dream job” where you’re constantly delirious with happiness. If you tell yourself that’s what you’re looking for, nothing will live up to your dream and you will always be unhappy.

So if you love plants, but know nothing about running a business, maybe don’t open a plant shop. Your passion will die quickly if you don’t have the skills to run a successful shop.

Don’t over analyse personal fit, there is a more reliable method to consistently generating satisfying careers, to do so, you need to know what makes a career satisfying.

What Does Make For a Satisfying Career

There are 3 hallmarks of a satisfying career:

  • Autonomy – Control over your time and actions
  • Relatedness – Connection to people
  • Mastery – Being great at something

These 3 qualities are valuable, so employers and the market in general want value in return, in order to become valuable you must gain rare and valuable skills, connections and knowledge. Cal Newport calls this collection of value Career Capital. Once you become valuable enough to a company you can bargain for things you value. Common wisdom suggests getting more money or a promotion, but Cal Newport argues that autonomy, relatedness and mastery will lead to more satisfaction.

When you start your career, you have very few rare and valuable skills and therefore low Career Capital. This is why most entry level jobs suck. You haven’t proven your value to the company, so they have no reason to offer you value in return. Focusing on making yourself so good they can’t ignore you, is the fastest way to build Career Capital get a satisfying career.

In the upcoming posts I will explain more about Career Capital, the 3 drivers for a satisfying career and how you can use the Craftsmen Mindset and Deliberate Practice to get them.

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Conversation Beats Connection

Photo by GESPHOTOSS on Unsplash

Conversation Gives You Lots of Information, Connection Gives Little

Conversation is speaking to someone on the phone, on video or in person. It’s high-bandwidth, lots of information is conveyed to the other person, not just text. It’s all your gestures, expressions, tones, and rhythms.

Connection is Liking, Reacting, Commenting, Sharing, Texting and any other low-bandwidth media, where you don’t give much information in your actions.

If I just Liked what you said, you couldn’t glean much from that. There’s so little information in a Like. What did that Like even mean? There’s no nuance. Social Media gives the illusion of sharing your life with your friends and family or even strangers, but a Like is never going to be as meaningful as a deep conversation. Your mum will be much happier getting phone call on Mother’s day than a tribute Facebook post. Cardi B will never remember that Like you gave her latest post.

Talking is in the moment. You can see how your words affect the other person and adjust your speech accordingly or keep going because you’re getting the effect you want. There’s an immediate action-feedback loop. You tell a joke they laugh, you tell another joke, they laugh more, then another, they don’t laugh, you stop.

Coversation Expands, Connection Stops Immediately

Conversations are more serendipitous. You can jump suddenly to a completely different topic because something the other person said reminded you of something totally different, so a conversation about the weather leads to the systemic issues in our government and a million things in between.

Likes can’t create mental leaps, they don’t have enough meaning. They’re meaningless. Next time you have a conversation try to trace the last topic back to the first one. There may be 40 different jumps. I don’t think that will be the case with the last Like you gave.

Conversations Share More

If I have a hard day I want someone to listen to me and soothe me with comforting words or a hug. I don’t want 50 likes on my latest tweet. When something good happens to me, I want to jump and and down with with my friends, I don’t want Shares of a self-congratulatory post.

Loneliness triggers the same systems in your body as physical pain. It hurts. I’m sure if you think back to lockdown, you know what I mean. Likes and Shares don’t relieve loneliness. Only real conversation and touch can do that.

How To Have Conversations Over Connections

Phone-Call Office Hours

You’re busy. Your Mum’s busy. Your friends are busy. Time is scarce, therefore it’s the most valuable thing you can offer someone. You can make more money, you can’t unspend time.

Set a time when you are always free to a select group and stick to it. Make sure those select few know this time and know you mean it, they will feel appreciated and valued.

These are your “phone-call office hours”. The concept is taken from university lecturer office hours. Lecturers have schedules and research to do. They don’t want to see students all day everyday, but they do want to help their students when they have time. The solution is a fixed time every week where they welcome interruption and will help you learn. Instead you are ready to chat to anyone who might call.

A specific time works better than saying “call me anytime” because everyone knows you don’t mean any time. They may miss a few calls and get disheartened, or never call to begin with in case they bother you. This is a gradual process, but it’s how you end up thinking “Oh, I really should call Kate” 6 months after losing touch.

If you stick to times you are genuinely free, and keep telling people that time, your loved ones will realise you are reliable and call in these times more.

Reply to Texts in Blocks

If you’ve been replying to texts here and there all day, you might feel like you’ve been connected to your friends. But when you look back in a month, you will realise that connection isn’t as good as conversation. You may have never had a more meaningful connection than asking how their day was.

You can set your phone to Do Not Disturb and this will stop your phone buzzing for every text, breaking your concentration. You can also configure these settings to just let phone calls through or specific contacts, in case you still want to receive updates from people who need to get through at any time of the day.

Then once a day or as often as you like, you can check your texts and fire off all the replies in one go. This will help you feel like you’re not just answering texts all day in a constant haze of low-grade connection and then make time for real conversation.

Don’t “Like” or “Comment”

If your friend is important to you, call them or arrange to meet in person. If they’re not important to you, then drop them. You will get more meaning out of a few great friends than millions of followers.

Find out more here or read the book.

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Digital Minimalism: An Introduction

Technology isn’t bad, letting it rule our lives is.

Digital minimalism is about using our devices less, so we can live better, more intentional lives. If you’re anything like me, time spent on social media mainly consists of scrolling, liking and sharing. This is distracting and occasionally amusing, but it lacks something. You can feel worse than before you started browsing. How many of your favourite memories have you swiping on a screen?

Digital Minimalism isn’t anti technology, tin hat wearing madness. It’s finding ways to have technology serve you. Digital Minimalism gives you the tools to fight back against the digital Goliaths who make money off your attention, so you can focus on meaningful and satisfying activities instead. Ever heard someone complain they were too satisfied? Me neither, so maybe it’s worth a try.

Why Digital Minimalism?

Minimalism is about getting rid of clutter. You live a simpler, better life.

Minimalism is about optimisation. You make big, effective changes and forget about the small details.

Minimalism is about living your life you choose, not just letting life happen to you.

Apply all that to your devices and you get Digital Minimalism.

What is Digital Minimalism?

The Digital Declutter

You intentionally remove all the virtual messiness from your life for 30 days. That’s a long time. 30 days of no scrolling, no liking and no commenting (online, you can comment in person if you wish). Then you slowly reintroduce technology back to your life.

Once 30 days have passed, you leave your interrogate your digital habits that took so much of your time and decide which ones improve your life. You get rid of the rest.

For me that was Facebook, Instagram and Reddit. Somehow Twitter and Imgur have survived, no one’s perfect.


You’ve decided which apps get to stay and which ones to throw out. Now you must figure out how these apps, websites and widgets will serve you best.

How can you get the most value for the smallest amount of effort? You find the smallest changes that will have the biggest impact on your life.

Once you’ve made the big changes, stop optimising. You will just waste more and more time getting smaller and smaller results, this is the law of diminishing returns.


Your spare time should always be yours.

The Digital Declutter may result in you having much more spare time than you used to have. To make sure you don’t slip back into old habits and to reap the biggest rewards, you replace that time with high-value activities. These look different for everyone, yours could be football or playing guitar, mine tend me to reading and learning something I’m curious about.

Apps are convenient, but self-direction feels better.

Learn more here:–Choosing-a-Focused-Life-in-a-Noisy-World/24893628

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