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Summary

  1. Introduction
    1. you need to be good at something before you can expect a good job
    2. follow your passion is bad advice
  2. Rule #1: Don’t Follow Your Passion
    1. Chapter One: The “Passion” of Steve Jobs – question the validity of the passion hypothesis, which states that the key to occupational happiness is to match your job to a pre-existing passion
      1. The Passion Hypothesis – The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion.
        1. Core concept of the book is that this is bad advice, it may just be “terrible advice”
    2. Chapter Two: Passion is Rare – the more you seek examples of the passion hypothesis, the more you recognize its rarity
      1. The Roadtrip Nation Revelation
        1. Ira Glass – “in the movies there’s this idea that you should just go for your dream, but I don’t believe that. Things happen in stages. Emphasizes that it takes time to get good at anything, recounting the many years it took him to master radio to the point where he had interesting options. “The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come; that’s the hardest phase.”
        2. Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion.
      2. The Science of Passion
        1. Conclusion #1: Careers Passions Are Rare
          1. less than 4% of the total identified passions had any relation to work or education, with the remaining 96% describing hobby-style interests such as sports — study of student passions – pg 15
        2. Conclusion #2: Passion Takes Time
          1. A job, in Wrzesniewski’s formulation, is a way to pay the bills, a career is a path towards increasingly better work, and a calling is work that’s an important part of your life and a vital part of your identity.
          2. the type of work alone does not necessarily predict how much people enjoy it.
          3. the strongest predictor of an assistant (college administrative assistant) seeing her job as a calling was the number of years spent on the jobs — the more experience an assistant had, the more likely she was to love her work.
          4. the happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do.
          5. more time also gives you time to develop strong relationships with your coworkers and to see many examples of your work benefiting others.
        3. Conclusion #3: Passion Is a Side Effect of Mastery
          1. Self-Determination Theory – motivation, in the workplace or elsewhere, requires that you fulfill three basic psychological needs – factors described as the “nutriments” required to feel intrinsically motivated for your work:
            1. Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day, and that your actions are important
            2. Competence: the feeling that you are good at what you do
            3. Relatedness: the feeling of connection to other people
          2. important to note: scientists did NOT find “matching work to pre-existing passions” as being important for motivation.
    3. Chapter Three: Passion is Dangerous – Subscribing to the passion hypothesis can make your less happy
      1. The Birth of the Passion Hypothesis
        1. 1970 publication of What color is your parachute was one of first places to have passion hypothesis appear
        2. Our generation-spanning experiment with passion-centric career planning can be deemed a failure: the more we focused on loving what we do, the less we ended up loving it.
  3. Rule #2: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Or, the Importance of Skill)
    1. Chapter Four: The Clarity of the Craftsman – two approaches to thinking about work: the craftsman mindset, a focus on what value you’re producing in your job, and the passion mindset, a focus on what value your job offers you.
      1. The Craftsman Mindset – focuses on what you can offer the world
        1. Be so good they can’t ignore you
        2. “The tape doesn’t lie” – example used by a professional studio musician – meaning the recording provides a perfect unbiased snapshot of what you sound like.  Results are the “tape” to your actions at work.
        3. If you’re not focusing on becoming so good they can’t ignore you, you’re going to be left behind. — concept behind the craftsman mindset
          1. irrespective of what type of work you do, the craftsman mindset is crucial for building a career you love.
      2. The Passion Mindset – focuses on what the world can offer you
        1. When you focus only on what your work offers you, it makes you hyperaware of what you don’t like about it, leading to chronic unhappiness.  This is especially true for entry-level positions.
      3. Adapting the Craftsman Mindset
        1. It asks you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right,” and instead put your head down and plug away at getting really damn good. No one owes you a great career, it argues; you need to earn it – and the process won’t be easy.
        2. regardless of how you feel about your job right now, adopting the craftsman mindset will be the foundation on which you’ll build a compelling career.
    2. Chapter Five: The Power of Career Capital – the traits that make a great job great are rare and valuable, and therefore, if you want a great job, you need to build up rare and valuable skills (career capital) to offer in return
      1. The Economics of Great Jobs
        1. Traits that define great work
          1. Creativity
          2. Impact
          3. Control
        2. if you want a great job, you need something of great value to offer in return.
        3. The career capital theory of great work
          1. the traits that define great work are rare and valuable
          2. supply and demand says that if you want these traits you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital.
          3. the craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on becoming “so good they can’t ignore you,” is a strategy well suited for acquiring career capital. This is why it trumps the passion mindset if your goal is create work you love.
        4. You need to get good in order to get good things in your working life, and the craftsman mindset is focused on achieving exactly this goal.
        5. Three disqualifies for applying the craftsman mindset – don’t provide a good foundation for building work you love
          1. the job presents few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing relevant skills that are rare and valuable
          2. the job focuses on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad for the world
          3. the job forces you to work with people you really dislike
    3. Chapter Six: The Career Capitalists – showing power of career capital with two profiles of people who leveraged the craftsman mindset to construct careers they love
      1. Essentially just shows an example of someone developing career capital by taking action and getting feedback in that particular area
    4. Chapter Seven: Becoming a Craftsman – Deliberate practice is the key strategy for acquiring career capital.
      1. Why is Jordan Tice a Better Guitar Player than Me?
        1. practice regime containing strain and feedback – instant feedback of performance allows you to take note of what you did well and what you need to improve on
        2. focus on stretching your ability and receiving immediate feedback provides the core of a more universal principle – one that I increasingly came to believe provides the key to successfully acquiring career capital in almost any field.
      2. How to Become a Grand Master
        1. The 10,000 hour rule – 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.
          1. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell pointed to this rule as evidence that great accomplishment is not about natural talent, but instead about being in the right place at the right time to accumulate such a massive amount of practice.
          2. not just about how long people worked, but also what type of work they did
        2. Serious Study (referring to chess)
          1. materials can be deliberately chosen or adapted such that the problems to be solved are at a level that is appropriately challenging. This contrasts with tournament play, where you are likely to draw an opponent who is either demonstrably better or demonstrably worse than yourself: both situations where “skill improvement is likely to be minimized.” Furthermore, in serious study, feedback is immediate: be it from looking up the answer to a chess problem in a book or, as is more typically the case for serious players, receiving immediate feedback from an expert coach.
          2. masters are focused on difficult activities, carefully chosen to stretch your abilities where they most need stretching and that provide immediate feedback.
        3. Deliberate practice – an activity designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual’s performance.
        4. scientists have failed to find much evidence of natural abilities explaining experts’ successes. It is a lifetime accumulation of deliberate practice that again and again ends up explaining excellence.
        5. if you just show up and work hard, you’ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better
        6. Let’s assume you’re a knowledge worker (something unlike being a guitar/chess player), which is a field without a clear training philosophy. If you can figure out how to integrate deliberate practice into your own life, you have the possibility of blowing past your peers in your value, as you’ll likely be alone in your dedication to systematically getting better. That is, deliberate practice might provide the key to quickly becoming so good they can’t ignore you.
        7. To successfully adopt the craftsman mindset, therefore, we have to approach our jobs with a dedication to deliberate practice.
      3. Alex Berger Craves Criticism and Mike Jackson Doesn’t Check E-mail
        1. continue to read books in your field, no matter your status or skill level – maintain a constant learn process
        2. constantly solicit feedback from colleagues and professionals – put yourself in situations where you are forced to show your work to others
        3. stretch your abilities by taking on projects that are beyond your current comfort zone
        4. spend time on what’s important, instead of what’s immediate
      4. The Five Habits of a Craftsman
        1. Decide what capital market you’re in
          1. winner-take-all: there is only one type of career capital available, and lots of different people competing for it – all that matters is your ability to perform (ex: screen writing)
          2. auction market: less structured, many different types of career capital, and each person might generate a unique collection. (ex: clean tech space)
          3. life-style design (or personal development advice) market is winner-take-all as the only thing that matters is whether or not you can compel the reader  — I would argue that this can go both ways personally but in the book he says its a winner-take-all
        2. Identify your capital type
          1. use open gates – opportunities to build capital that are already open to you- to start building your career capital
        3. Define “good”
          1. first thing literature tells us is that you need clear goals. – if you don’t know where you’re trying to get to, its hard to take effective action.
        4. Stretch and destroy
          1. Deliberate practice: above all an effort of focus and concentration – will push you past the plateau and into a realm where you have little competition. often the opposite of enjoyable.
          2. If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level”
          3. continuous and harsh feedback accelerate growth
        5. Be patient
          1. importance of “diligence” – Steve Martin redefines the word so that it’s less about paying attention to your main pursuit, and more about your willingness to ignore other pursuits that pop up along the way to distract you.
          2. Without this patient willingness (Martin’s diligence) to reject shiny new pursuits, you’ll derail your efforts before you acquire the capital you need.
    5. Summary of Rule #2
        1. Passion hypothesis – is bad advice
        2. traits that define great work are rare and valuable. If you want these traits in your own life, you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. These traits are called career capital.
        3. adapting the craftsman mindset is crucial to acquire capital.
        4. deliberate practice – an approach to work where you deliberately stretch your abilities beyond where you’re comfortable and then receive ruthless feedback on your performance – is necessary to push your skills to a level where you can obtain career capital.
  4. Rule #3: Turn Down a Promotion (Or, the Importance of Control)
    1. Chapter 8: The Dream-Job Elixir – Control over what you do, and how you do it, is one of the most powerful traits you can acquire when creating work you love.
      1. Cracking the Red Fire Code
        1. You have to get good before you can expect good work
        2. Control – hugely important for appealing work
          1. control: most universally important traits that you can acquire with your career capital – something so powerful and so essential to the quest for work you love that I’ve taken to calling it the dream-job elixir
      2. The Power of Control
        1. control — “the most important trait you can pursue in the quest for a happier, more successful, and more meaningful life.” page 112
        2. giving more control to middle school teachers in a struggling school district not only increased the rate at which the teachers were promoted, but also reversed the downward performance trend of their students.
        3. ROWE environment – Results-Only Work Environment
        4. Giving people more control over what they do and how they do it increases their happiness, engagement, and sense of fulfillment.
        5. if you goal is to love what you do, your first step is to acquire career capital. Your next step is to invest this capital in the traits that define great work. Control is one of the most important targets you can choose for this investment.
    2. Chapter 9: The First Control Trap – it’s dangerous to pursue more control if your working life before you have career capital to offer in exchange.
      1. hard truth of the real world – its really hard to convince people to give you money
      2. Control Requires Capital
        1. The First Control Trap: Control that’s acquired without career capital is not sustainable
        2. people often assume that generating the courage to pursue control is what matters, while everything else is just a detail that is easily worked out.
        3. enthusiasm alone is not rare and valuable and is therefore not worth much in terms of career capital
        4. if you embrace control without capital, you’re likely to end up like those who tried and failed – enjoying all the autonomy you can handle but unable to afford your next meal.
    3. Chapter 10: The Second Control Trap – once you have enough career capital to acquire more control in your working life, you have become valuable enough to your employer that they will fight your efforts to gain more autonomy.
      1. “People tell me that I don’t do things the way other people do,” Lulu said. “But I tell them, I’m not other people.” — don’t be other people
      2. Finding yourself stuck in a boring job is exactly the point where breaking away to pave your own non-conformist path becomes tempting. Instead you should acquire the career capital required to get somewhere better.
      3. Control Generates Resistance
        1. It takes nerve to push through with demands for greater control
        2. This is the irony of control – When no one cares what you do with your working life, you probably don’t have enough career capital to do anything interesting. But once you do have this capital, as Lulu and Lewis discovered, you’ve become valuable enough that your employer will resist your efforts.
      4. The Second Control Trap: The point at which you have acquired enough career capital to get meaningful control over your working life is exactly the point when you’ve become valuable enough to your current employer that they will try to prevent you from making the change.
        1. in most jobs you should expect your employer to resist your move toward more control.
      5. Courage Revisited
        1. Courage culture plays a big role in egging on the less successful members of the lifestyle-design community.
        2. The key is to know when the time is right to become courageous in your career decisions.
        3. Fault of the courage culture – its severe underestimation of the complexity involved in developing this boldness in a useful way.
    4. Chapter 11: Avoiding the Control Traps – law of financial viability – you should only pursue a bid for more control if you have evidence that it’s something that people are willing to pay you for.
      1. Derek Sivers Is a Control Freak
        1. “I follow a rule with my life that if something is scary, do it. I’ve lived everywhere in America, and for me, a big scary thing was living outside the country.”
      2. The Law of Financial Viability
        1. “Do what people are willing to pay for.”
        2. “Money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable.”
        3. “If you’re struggling to raise money for an idea, or are thinking that you will support your idea with unrelated work, then you need to rethink the idea.”
        4. he [Sivers] didn’t turn his attention full-time to this pursuit until after he had built up a profitable client base.
        5. The Law of Financial Viability – When deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, seek evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it. If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on.
      3. My thoughts for book:
        1. If you have ideas, try them while you still have a steady source of income – this steady source of income allows you to relax and know that you don’t need to worry about paying bills. You may not be rolling in dough, but early in your career this shouldn’t be your focus anyways.  Fail for free, and fail often early in your career.  Look for job while you have job.
    5. Summary of Rule #3
      1. Rule #1 dismissed the passion hypothesis, which says that you have to first figure out your true calling and then find a job to match.
      2. Rule #2 replaced this idea with the career capital theory, which argues that the traits that define great work are rare and valuable, and if you want these in your working life, you must first build up rare and valuable skills to offer in return. These skills = “career capital”
      3. Rule #3: argued that gaining control over what you do and how you do it is incredibly important.
      4. Control Trap 1: it’s dangerous to try to gain more control without enough career capital to back it up.
      5. Control Trap 2: once you have the capital to back up a bid for more control, you are now too valuable to your employer for them to let you go (or give you more control) easily
      6. Law of Financial Viability: When deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, seek evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it.  If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on.
  5. Rule #4: Think Small, Act Big (Or, the Importance of Mission)
    1. Chapter 12: The Meaningful Life of Pardis Sabeti – a unifying mission to your working life can be a source of great satisfaction.
      1. The Happy Professor
        1. her [Sabeti] happiness comes from the fact that she built her career on a clear and compelling mission
      2. The Power of Mission
        1. Mission is one of these desirable traits, and like any such desirable trait, it too requires that you first build career capital – mission launched without this expertise is likely doomed to sputter and die.
        2. In chapters ahead – learn value of systematically experimenting with different photo-missions to seek out a direction worth pursuing.
    2. Chapter 13: Mission Require Capital – a mission chosen before you have relevant career capital is not likely to be sustainable.
      1. The Baffling Popularity of Randomized Linear Network Coding
        1. Adjacent Possible: the next big ideas in any field are found right beyond the current cutting edge, in the adjacent space that contains the possible new combinations of existing ideas.
        2. in reality, innovation is systematic – we grind away to expand the cutting edge, opening new problems in the adjacent possible to tackle and therefore expand the cutting edge some more, opening up new problems, and so on. “The truth is that technological (and scientific) advances rarely break out of the adjacent possible.”
      2. The Capital Driven Mission
        1. A good career mission is similar to a scientific breakthrough- it’s an innovation waiting to be discovered in the adjacent possible of your field.
        2. identifying a compelling mission once you get to the cutting edge can be seen as investing your career capital to acquire a desirable trait in your career. Mission is yet another example of career capital theory in action. if you want a mission, you need to first acquire capital.
      3. Pardis’s Patience
        1. having passion for your work is vital, but it is foolish to try to figure out in advance what work will lead to this passion.
        2. Pardis’s story is unique because of how remarkably late it was in her training before she identified the mission that now defines her career.
        3. The art of mission asks us to suppress the most grandiose of our work instincts and instead adopt the patience – the style of patience observed with Pardis Sabeti – required to get this ordering correct.
      4. Chapter 14: Missions Require Little Bets – great missions are transformed into great successes as the result of using small and achievable projects – little bets – to explore the concrete possibilities surrounding a compelling idea.
        1. Leveraging Little Bets
          1. Question at hand is how to make leap from a general idea into specific action
            1. path is incremental
          2. Example: director of TV show American treasures
            1. digitize film reels for Land and Water and produce DVD
            2. raising money to shoot exploratory footage for a new version of the documentary
            3. launching The Armchair Archaeologist with no real vision of how it would prove useful
              1. did it anyways – didn’t cost him to produce it though
          3. make a series of little bets about what might be a good direction, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins.
          4. The important thing about little bets is that they are bite-sized. You try one. It takes a few months at most. It either succeeds or fails, but either way you get important feedback to guide your next steps.
      5. Chapter 15: Missions Require Marketing – Law of remarkability – requires that an idea inspires people to remark about it, and is launched in a venue where such remarking is made easy.
        1. The Law of Remarkability – mission-driven project must be remarkable in two different ways. One, it should be remarkable in that literal sense of compelling people to remark about it. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking.
          1. Make people want to share your project on social media because they relate to it and learn from it in an entertaining way.
      6. Summary of Rule #4
        1. Core idea of this book is simple: To construct work you love, you must first build career capital by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then cash in this capital for the type of traits that define compelling careers. Mission is one of those traits.
        2. Best ideas for mission are found in the adjacent possible – the region just beyond the cutting edge.
        3. An effective strategy for accomplishing this task is to try small steps that generate concrete feedback – little bets. — use this feedback (good or bad) to help figure out what to try next.
        4. Law of remarkability – mission-driven project must be remarkable in two different ways. One, it should be remarkable in that literal sense of compelling people to remark about it. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking.
  6. Conclusion
    1. Don’t just talk about it – If you think it would be cool, go do it (be sure to remember to use the rules above – fail for free)
    2. If you’re not putting in the effort to become “So good they can’t ignore you,” you’re not likely to end up loving your work – regardless of whether or not you believe it’s your true calling.
    3. If you don’t work on deliberate practice (no matter your field) – you are going to reach and acceptable level of talent or skill.  These plateaus are dangerous because they cut off your supply of career capital and therefore cripple your ability to keep actively shaping your working life.
      1. this type of skill development is hard.
      2. you face immediate internal resistance.
    4. In order to be the best – study the best material in your field. learn in backwards and forwards.
    5. After you start doing deliberate practice you train your brain to think strain is good.
      1. begin to understand it in the same way as a body builder understand muscle burn.
    6. By having an hour count (of how you spend your work time) stare you in the face every day, you become motivated to find new ways to fit more deliberate practice into your schedule.
    7. without accountability tools – tend to procrastinate on improving work – turning attention to more urgent but less important matters.
    8. Working right trumps finding the right work.