So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Summary

Cal’s book centres around the main hypothesis that we should “do what we love”. Cal calls this the “passion hypothesis”. That following our nose is the best way to find work that we love, and are passionate about. In the book, Cal offers a different perspective, in how we can find passionate work. This view is that: to gain passion and happiness with our work one must first become valuable. Those who are valuable receive rewards usually associated with “finding your passion”. Finding our passion is therefore a dangerous or impossible task without committing to mastery in a given field.
 
Despite some editing related criticisms, the book felt like it had some good insights. The insights made the book overall worthwhile. I’d recommend it for anyone starting out or frustrated about work they’re currently in.

Key Insights

Passionate work emerges over time
Passion for your work emerges over time when you commit to mastery. Committing to deep work within a subject is how you can become passionate about the work you do.
 
You must have assets before you make bold moves for freedom
Cal states that seeking freedom: such as starting a business or contracting. Are best achieved when the individual has enough “career capital”. Such as success, notoriety, raw skills etc.
 

Snippets

If you go after more control in your working life without a rare and valuable skill to offer in return, you’re likely pursuing a mirage
 
You can’t skip into a great mission without first building mastery in your field
 
A mission chosen before you have relevant career capital is not likely to be sustainable
 
The key is to know when the time is right to become courageous in your career decisions
 
Control is one of the most valuable traits you can invest in. You need something valuable to offer in return.
 
Great work doesn’t just require great courage but also skills of great (and real) value.
 
Think of your rare and valuable skills you can offer as career capital
 
When you focus only on what work offers you, you become hyper aware of what you don’t like about it, leading to chronic unhappiness. This is especially true for entry level positions, which by definition are not going to be filled with challenging projects and autonomy – these come later.
 
Nobody ever takes my advice because its not the answer they wanted to hear. What they wanted to hear is: here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script. But I always say: “Be so good they can’t ignore you”. – Steve Martin
 
The craftsman mindset – A focus on what you’re producing in your job.
The passion mindset – A focus on what value your job offers
 
You need to be good at something before you can expect a good job.
 
When it comes to creating work you love, following your passion is not particularly useful advice.