Review of “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” will share with you my personal experiences with the book.
This book was written as a direct response to a concept of “Lifestyle Design” and “4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris. Cal Newport instinctively understood that many, even non-enterprenurial people are big fans of taking control of their lives and living with more freedom. This is a good marketing thinking, and it allowed me to better understand my own market. Hey, not everyone is ready to jump ship and become an entrepreneur just yet. The entire book is career focused, and has a goal to slightly nudge you out of the box.
I would argue that the entire advice inside of the book is focused on making people patient and not gloat too much because they are not getting the perfect lifestyle that entrepreneurs seem to get. It justifies the readers failures, encourages their dreams, calms and stills their fears, reminds the readers why entrepreneurs fail.
The Biggest Takeaways
The useful advice from this book comes from reminding people that “Following your passion” isn’t always the best path to take. This is the part of the book where I felt the most connected with Cal’s thesis. Building a passion based skill set often takes a lot of time, and people get burnt on this step of the way. They try to do something they love in order to achieve more control and freedom, only to fail miserably in their entrepreneurial adventures, because they lack other parts required to start a business or move forward with their passion based business. This part is probably the most valuable part of the book, as it reminds the reader about the harsh realities of starting the business unprepared. Some people are just that good, but chances are, that even the Alpha’s reading this blog, aren’t that good that they could just run with a new business and kill it from the get go.
One of the biggest concepts derived from this book is “Career Capital”, which is a sum of your expertise and years of experience. Cal explains that you can leverage your “Career Capital” towards creating new freedoms that are coming from the leverage that it grants you.
The leverage of Career Capital indeed does work. When you are a high ranking employee within the company, you do tend to get special benefits (speaking from my own experience), that make life a little bit more manageable. However, the overall picture of control over your life doesn’t really change, and you still don’t have the total control over your life. So I would take the advice from this book with a big grain of salt, and try to modify it, and adapt it more towards your own personal goals.
How Does A Book Read?
Book itself reads quite nicely, as it covers career minded stories from people that were found in various different situations. I felt I was being sold during some of these stories, because not each and every one of them sounded truthful. Sometimes it feels obvious when a writer is making up the story in order to convey a message of something that he couldn’t find in real life. This isn’t necessarily bad, as these stories do reflect things and cases that could be happening out there. However, all these stories sound like ideas of people that are intraprenuers, people that innovate inside of the company, take bold risks and secure certain privileges that regular employees can’t. I realistically self-identified with a lot of these cases, but telling a person to put his entire capital into his career and narrow focused experience of one field sounds rather dangerous to me. At least that’s how the book reads while you are reading it.
Reading this book proved to be a challenge due to its storytelling nature. It feels as if Cal was building a case for his concept, but I didn’t necessarily felt like he believed in it himself, or that he practiced it. On certain occasions I would feel as some of these stories were word count fillers, and there were chapters where I just had to skim through in order to make sure that I am getting the most value on my own time.
The good side is the inspiration you derive from observing and seeing the corporate America and how people live inside of it. These ideas are realistic and give a good representation for your imagination to remind you how these lives inside of the company look like.
Should you buy this book?
This is one of those books that I would read on Blinkist, and I would feel as if I got everything I needed out of it, in order to call it a day. If you are invested in your career, and you do intend to stay in corporate for longer periods of your life, than “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” is definitively a book for you. It could give you ideas on how to gain bargaining chips that would allow you to grow in your field, enabling you more control over your life. If you are an entrepreneur, and well on your way out, I can assume that you can safely skip this book, and focus on gaining some more practical knowledge from somewhere else.