Today, I just finished the book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. I listened through Audible and I have to say it’s extremely remarkable in terms of how it affects my career thoughts.

Following your passion is terrible advice

Following your passion is terrible advice, Cal argues. It’s because the passion hypothesis pronounces the view that the ‘perfect’, ‘dream’ job exists. That to achieve dream work you must start with an existing passion and discover your true calling.

He argues instead that to find dream work, you need to first discover what you’re good at then build “career capital”. This is capital you can use to “cash in” value to trade for things that give you true career happiness.

Career capital

Career capital is the knowledge capital and human capital we build up over our career. He uses a few different examples of how we build career capital.

How you can build Career Capital:

  1. Education and background. It’s the deliberate effort to become proficient at something.
  2. It’s most useful when the skills being acquired are unique and rare.
  3. Deliberate practice in areas of effort that will stretch yourself.
  4. Work Hard: doing deliberate hard work to become the best in your company, team or organization.
  5. Develop tangible skills that translate to real-world value.
  6. Minimize the time you spend on things that won’t help you improve.
  7. Be patient.

Leveraging career capital to have true workplace happiness

To gain workplace happiness we cash in our career capital to gain important things such as freedom, autonomy, and interesting work. One key point Cal makes is that when you seek to gain autonomy, which greatly benefits yourself is when you’re most at risk of getting strong resistance from peers or employers.

How I’m going to use So Good They Can’t Ignore You to hijack my career

Marketing – He mentioned in the book that Seth Godin wrote Purple Cow. He talked about a Ruby programmer that used to book to rocket his development career by marketing his AI that produces dance music. This leads me to think about John Sonmez and the Simple Programmer’s message to create a marketing plan for yourself. My approach to marketing is first to study people like Seth and John then adopt a plan to market myself by working on something unique.

Open Source – Cal also talked about open source developers getting noticed for their valuable contributions to the community. I’m going to seek out a project I can leverage my existing talent to contribute.

Hard Work – I’m going to work harder at my job. Start using pomodoros to force me into forced concentration to get things done, faster, better, and smarter.

Deliberate practice – As apart of my habits, every day I’m going to adopt 1 hour of focused time to learn things that hurt and make me grow. A few key areas of DP that I’m interested in developing are:

  1. Functional UI programming. Getting really good with function client-side programming and understanding a completely different approach to what I am used to.
  2. Reactive UI programming. I program in React but this goes beyond react and I’m nervous to learn more.
  3. CS topics, specifically algorithms, trees, sorting and searching. All that CS type stuff I rely on the library to do for me.
  4. Elixir. The future of the back end! I need to understand and know how to work with Elixir as it’s being heavily used by the Ruby community.

Being Stretched – Lastly, I’m going to speak at a Meet up once a quarter on topics covered here on my blog. I’m also going to commit to attending a meet up once a month.

Books on my in-progress or to read list

  • Currently I’m reading a book called “Celebration of Discipline”. It’s a book on your relationship with God, I’m working on a few things using that book.
  • Clean Architecture by Uncle Bob. Talks a lot about building systems, currently reading.
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It’s on my list to read

I’m looking for more books to read, please email me at Adam.Bourg {at} Gmail