Book summary of

So Good They Can't Ignore You

So Good They Can't Ignore You

How to build a career you'll love.

Why "follow your passion" is bad advice

Work takes a large part of our lives. We might as well do work we love. How do we find jobs like that?

What's the passion hypothesis? Figuring out your passions and finding jobs according to them is how you find happiness in your work.

Why the passion hypothesis doesn't work? There is no evidence proving that people have pre-existing passions. Believing so is both wrong and dangerous, as it leads to fear and depression when reality fails to match the illusions we make up in our minds.

Why growing your skills is important

If the passion hypothesis is flawed, what can we do?

What defines great work? Because of the law of supply and demand, work you love demands career capital: rare and valuable skills to offer in exchange. The more you store career capital, the more option you have to build work you'll love.

How do we acquire career capital? By adopting the craftsman mindset.

What's the craftsman mindset? Unlike most people following the passion mindset, it's an approach to your working life where you focus on increasing the value of what your skills offer to the world.

What's the passion mindset? Focusing only on what value the world is offering you instead of what you can offer to the world. This reactive mindset creates dissatisfaction because it is out of our direct control. There are no dream job waiting for you somewhere, you have to work to expand your own window of opportunities.

How do we develop this craftsman mindset? Using deliberate practice.

What's deliberate practice? An approach to work where you deliberately and consistently stretch your abilities beyond your comfort zone before receiving raw impartial feedback on your performance. Deliberate practice is inspired by the 10,000-hour rule. However, deliberate practice is different from mindless repetition. It aims at making you so good no one will ignore you: great jobs will come your way only when you'll have developed rare and valuable skills.

What's the 10,000-hour rule? It's a concept from the book Outliers: “The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”

Why having control is important

We acquired career capital. Now what?

How do we invest career capital to make it flourish? By gaining more control over what we do and how we do it to generate more personal freedom and opportunities.

What's the first control trap to avoid? Control that's acquired without career capital isn't sustainable.

What's the second control trap to avoid? Having enough career capital to acquire more control will give an incentive to your employer to prevent you from making changes. More control for you isn't always good for their business.

What's the courage culture? The idea that developing the courage to step off on your own is the only thing you need to build your dream job. Without career capital, this is suicide.

How do we avoid those traps? By learning to distinguish between useful (first trap) and harmful (second trap) resistance using a neutral metric: money, or as Derek Sivers puts it, "do what people are willing to pay for".

What's the law of financial viability? If you have enough career capital to make a living doing what people are willing to pay for, you'll be more likely to succeed in pursuing a control-boosting opportunity. If not, don't chase it.

Why formulating a mission is important

What makes a compelling career? Control and a meaningful mission.

What's a mission? Work you love requires an unifying goal. Your mission answers the question "What should I do with my life?".

Why does a great mission require career capital? The best missions are located in the adjacent possible: you first need to build mastery in your field.

What's the adjacent possible? From Kauffman's theory of innovation: the space right beyond the current cutting edge containing the possible new combinations of existing ideas.

How do we ensure the success of our mission? By applying the little-bets strategy with the law of remarkability.

What's the little-bets strategy? To try small steps generating concrete feedback that you can use to help figure out what to try next. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, you have to explore and keep on experimenting. The more you accumulate small significant wins, the bigger the compound effect.

What's the law of remarkability? For a project to transform a mission into a success, it should be remarkable in two ways: by compelling people to talk about it, and by being launched in a venue conducive to a club effect.


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