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Author: Cal Newport

Rating: 8/10

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"Follow your passion" has been the mantra for many a career advisor in recent decades. I've always thought this type of advice was a bit naive.

Cal Newport does a great job deconstructing this "passion myth" and showing why it can actually be very dangerous advice. As he states repeatedly in the book, working right is often more important than finding that "mythical" right work. Passions often develop from working right and not the other way around. The book also explains that the best approach in developing a good career is to develop "rare and valuable" skills that others are actually willing to pay for. After you develop those skills (i.e. your career "capital") you can often get enough respect and autonomy to enable you to develop a fulfilling career. I found Cal's advice in this book refreshingly sound and mature, especially when compared to the more common "get rich quick" and "follow your dream" nonsense advice commonly found in other books and numerous blogs. As we observe what sometimes seems like the decline of the western civilization in the first part of the 21st century, I often wonder if that is not because too many kids could afford to "follow their passion" rather than focusing on the difficult technical skills that brought us this wealth in the first place. If so, this book should be mandatory reading for someone in the early career stages.

If there's one critique I can make of this book is that, given the author's academic background, his examples seem to revolve around characters from Ivy league spheres. There's one lady for example that has double degrees from Harvard and MIT. While the skills and hard work needed to achieve such academic credentials no doubt require the approaches outlined in the book, these are not exactly "average" people that most readers will relate to. The author is also admittedly in the early stages of his own career, and while he seems to have researched the topic well with more experienced professionals (and seems wise beyond his years), one wonders what other lessons could he have learned given some more time in the real workplace. That said, the book is very well written and offers excellent advice, especially if you are in the early to mid stages of your career. Definitely recommended.

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