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So Good They Can’t Ignore You Summary

Here’s the So Good They Can’t Ignore You summary. Know why skills trump passion. Also realize that “follow your passion” is not always a good advice.


So Good They Can’t Ignore You author Cal Newport explains why passion is not enough to have a fulfilling career. He says that we must have skills and expertise first before we can love our work.

He tells stories of people from different professions. These people have learned how to love their career by putting in the hard work first. This book is a recommended read for people who are always thinking about what to do with their lives.

About the Author

Cal Newport has earned a Ph.D. from MIT in 2009. He has written articles about study hacks, productivity, and mastery in his blog.

He has also written other books such as Deep Work. There he says that focusing is becoming a valuable skill. With no distractions, people can achieve mastery and get things done.

He is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. You can also find some of his works at Business Insider and Forbes.

Main takeaways: So Good They Can’t Ignore You Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Don’t follow your passion.
  2. Build valuable skills.
  3. Be patient.

Don’t follow your passion

“Do what you love.” Well it feels good but it might not pay the bills. Here’s another thing. What you love might be impossible to determine.

Why? Because preexisting passions might be misleading. Maybe your interest in something will just fade away after a day or two. Worse is that those passions might not have any market value in them.

Focus on passions might lead to more frustration and anxiety. Some people even feel they’re wasting their time because they’re not doing what they’re meant to do.

It will lead to job shifting and constant discontent. People will focus more on what they don’t like about their profession. It’s not the way to find a fulfilling career.

Build valuable skills

The solution is to build valuable skills. Then you’ll derive satisfaction from doing your work.

It takes time to build valuable skills. You need to focus daily in learning more about your field. You also need mentors who will guide you to accelerate your learning.

Having a fulfilling career is not about finding your passion. It’s about earning that career. You need to be the expert. You need to build a rare skill set that people will pay you for.

Become so good they can’t ignore you. If you’re one of the best, you will attract more interesting opportunities. You also get to work with people who have other valuable skills.

Be patient

Your dream job won’t land on your lap. You have to work for it. It might take a few trials and errors before you get into something. But if you’ve built valuable and rare skills, you won’t have to worry about unemployment.

Yes it’s a risk you’re taking. You will be spending a lot of time building your craft. But time will pass anyway. No matter what you do, your skills won’t be developed themselves.

You need to set aside time daily in developing your skills and gathering more knowledge. Act like a pro. Even if you feel you don’t like it, just press on.

Aside from Don’t Follow your Passion, Build Valuable Skills, and Be Patient, you can also learn the following from So Good They Can’t Ignore You:

  • Adopt the craftsman’s mindset
  • Acquire career capital
  • Ask feedback from colleagues and other professionals
  • Apply deliberate practice
  • Do what people are willing to pay for

My personal takeaways

“Follow your passion” is an encouraging advice. If you don’t love what you do, why waste your time?

The problem is that following my passions will lead me to more disappointment. First, I still need money to keep on going. If my passions can’t pay my bills, why follow them?

But if I have really valuable skills, people will pay me to use them. Also, I’ll feel proud about my work. I’ll derive much satisfaction because I know I’m producing quality work.

What I need to do is spend more time building my skills. Ask feedback and suggestions from professionals. I also need to know which skills bring in enough money so that I can keep on practicing my craft without having any worries.

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