Subjects

Cal Newport

Author, Deep Work and So Good They Can't Ignore You

The path to a passionate life is often more complex than simply 'follow your passion'.

Add to Shortlist Calnewport.com

Biography

How do people reach elite levels in their careers? How do people find life's work that is meaningful — and sustainable?

Thoughtful and often contrarian, computer scientist Dr. Cal Newport answers those questions with combination of case studies and actionable advice for today's workforce. He proves why — for the majority of people — "follow your passion" is bad advice, why most serious professionals should avoid social media, and he offers "a wealth of concrete practices for the ambitious" (Wall Street Journal) to cultivate meaningful career skills and a "deep work" habit.

Newport is the author of Deep Work (2016). In the book, he argues that the ability to focus without distraction is a superpower in the multi-tasking, internet-obsessed 21st century economy. He previous book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You (2012) argued for the development of skills and craftsmanship rather than relying on "passion" as a career compass. It was named to numerous "best business books of the year" lists, including Inc. Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and 800-CEO-Read, and the corresponding New York Times Op-Ed was the paper’s most e-mailed article for over a week.

Newport regularly explores themes of work excellence and productivity for on his popular blog, Study Hacks and in his series for students How to Be a High School Superstar (2010), How to Become a Straight-A Student (2006), and How to Win at College (2005).

Cal Newport is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, specializing in the theory of distributed algorithms. He earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2009.

Books

Deep Work

Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller
An Amazon Best Book of January 2016 in Business & Leadership Pick
A Business Book of the Week at 800-CEO-READ

One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you'll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way.

In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Work takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories-from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air-and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. Deep Work is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

Piatkus (5 Jan. 2016)

Podcast

Cal Newport on Deep WorkCurious Minds Podcast

Reviews

'Deep Work' takes on social media distractionThe Shreveport Times
Can 'Deep Work' Really Work for You?Knowledge@Wharton
Don't Distract MeThe New York Times
Will Your Please Be Quiet, Please?The Wall Street Journal
The collaboration curseThe Economist
Too busy to focus? Try this — The Guardian

Praise

"As a presence on the page, Newport is exceptional in the realm of self-help authors."
New York Times Book Review

"DEEP WORK accomplishes two considerable tasks: One is putting out a wealth of concrete practices for the ambitious, without relying on gauzy clichés. The second is that Mr. Newport resists the corporate groupthink of constant connectivity without seeming like a curmudgeon."
Wall Street Journal

"As automation and outsourcing reshape the workplace, what new skill do we need? The ability to do deep work. Cal Newport's exciting new book is an introduction and guide to the kind of intense concentration in a distraction-free environment that results in fast, powerful learning and performance. Think of it as calisthenics for your mind-and start your exercise program today." ― Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

"DEEP WORK makes a compelling case for cultivating intense focus, and offers immediately actionable steps for infusing more of it into our lives."
― Adam M. Grant, author of Give and Take

"Cal Newport is a clear voice in a sea of noise, bringing science and passion in equal measure. We don't need more clicks, more cats, and more emojis. We need brave work, work that happens when we refuse to avert our eyes."
― Seth Godin, author of What to Do When It's Your Turn

"Cal Newport offers the most well-informed and astute collection of practical advice I have seen for reclaiming one's mental powers."
― Matthew B. Crawford, author of The World Beyond Your Head

"Just when you think you already know this stuff, DEEP WORK hits you with surprisingly unique and useful insights. Rule #3 alone, with its discussion of the 'Any-Benefit' mind-set, is worth the price of this book."
― Derek Sivers, founder, Sivers.org

"Here lies a playbook for professionals of all stripes to achieve true differentiation in a crowded talent marketplace. Cal Newport's latest shows why he is one of the most provocative thinkers on the future of work."
― Ben Casnocha, co-author of The Start-Up Of You

"In this strong self-help book, Newport declares that the habits of modern professionals-checking email at all hours, rushing from meeting to meeting, and valuing multitasking above all else-only stand in the way of truly valuable work."
Publisher's Weekly

"[A] worthwhile distraction."
ValueWalk

"Deep work is the killer app of the knowledge economy: it is only by concentrating intensely that you can master a difficult discipline or solve a demanding problem."
The Economist

"This is a deep, not shallow, book which can enrich your life."
The Globe and Mail

"A wonderfully entangled, intertwined, and erudite series of strategies, philosophies, disciplines, and techniques to sharpen your focus and dive deep into your work."
― 800-CEO-READ

"DEEP WORK is now one of my all-time favorite books, and I'm not joking when I say it was a life-changing read for me. I think it can be for you too."
― Brett McKay, author of The Art of Manliness

"What emerges most powerfully is the sense that it's wrong to think of deep work as one more thing you've got to try to cram into your schedule. Truly committing to it, Newport suggests, transforms the rest of your time — so you'll crank through shallow work faster, be more present in your home life, and eliminate time wasted switching between tasks. Depth, in short, isn't at odds with a full life — it facilitates it. I'm persuaded."
― Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian

So Good They Can't Ignore You

Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Cal Newport

In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.

After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers.

Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before.

In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.

With a title taken from the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to "be so good they can't ignore you," Cal Newport's clearly written manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone fretting about what to do with their life, or frustrated by their current job situation and eager to find a fresh new way to take control of their livelihood. He provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love.

So Good They Can't Ignore You will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.

BusinessPlusUS (20 Sept. 2012)

Praise

"Stop worrying about what you feel like doing (and what the world owes you) and instead, start creating something meaningful and then give it to the world. Cal really delivers with this one."
— Seth Godin, author, Linchpin

"Entrepreneurial professionals must develop a competitive advantage by building valuable skills. This book offers advice based on research and reality — not meaningless platitudes — on how to invest in yourself in order to stand out from the crowd. An important guide to starting up a remarkable career."
— Reid Hoffman, co-founder & chairman of LinkedIn and co-author of the bestselling The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

"Do what you love and the money will follow' sounds like great advice — until it's time to get a job and disillusionment quickly sets in. Cal Newport ably demonstrates how the quest for 'passion' can corrode job satisfaction. If all he accomplished with this book was to turn conventional wisdom on its head, that would be interesting enough. But he goes further — offering advice and examples that will help you bypass the disillusionment and get right to work building skills that matter."
— Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

"This book changed my mind. It has moved me from 'find your passion, so that you can be useful' to 'be useful so that you can find your passion.' That is a big flip, but it's more honest, and that is why I am giving each of my three young adult children a copy of this unorthodox guide."
— Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick, WIRED magazine

"First book in years I read twice, to make sure I got it. Brilliant counter-intuitive career insights. Powerful new ideas that have already changed the way I think of my own career, and the advice I give others."
— Derek Sivers, founder, CD Baby

How to Be a High School Superstar

A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out)

Cal Newport

Do Less, Live More, Get Accepted

What if getting into your reach schools didn’t require four years of excessive A.P.-taking, overwhelming activity schedules, and constant stress?

In How to Be a High School Superstar, Cal Newport explores the world of relaxed superstars — students who scored spots at the nation’s top colleges by leading uncluttered, low stress, and authentic lives. Drawing from extensive interviews and cutting-edge science, Newport explains the surprising truths behind these superstars’ mixture of happiness and admissions success, including:

  • Why doing less is the foundation for becoming more impressive.
  • Why demonstrating passion is meaningless, but being interesting is crucial.
  • Why accomplishments that are hard to explain are better than accomplishments that are hard to do.

These insights are accompanied by step-by-step instructions to help any student adopt the relaxed superstar lifestyle — proving that getting into college doesn’t have to be a chore to survive, but instead can be the reward for living a genuinely interesting life.

Broadway Books; 1 edition (27 July 2010)

Praise

“As a former Ivy League admissions officer, I was overjoyed to see a book that hit the nail on the head regarding selective college admissions and how to take the process in stride. Students will find his book extremely useful and admissions officers will be relieved to see applicants who escape the cookie-cutter syndrome.”
— Dr. Michele Hernandez, author of A Is for Admission and president of Hernandez College Consulting and Application Boot Camp

“Disguised as a peppy college-admission guide, Newport’s book is actually a profound, life-affirming manifesto for ambitious high school students. Forgo the sleepless and cynical path to college acceptance. Instead, blaze your trail to the Ivy League by living a full life and immersing yourself in things that matter. Relax. Find meaning. Be you.”
— David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us

This book should be on the shelf of every student who wonders how to stand out in the increasingly competitive race to get into a top college. His approach will not only help you win the admissions race, it will keep you sane while you run the marathon.”
— Joie Jager-Hyman, author of Fat Envelope Frenzy

How to Become a Straight-A Student

The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less

Cal Newport

Looking to jumpstart your GPA? Most college students believe that straight A’s can be achieved only through cramming and painful all-nighters at the library. But Cal Newport knows that real straight-A students don’t study harder — they study smarter. A breakthrough approach to acing academic assignments, from quizzes and exams to essays and papers, How to Become a Straight-A Student reveals for the first time the proven study secrets of real straight-A students across the country and weaves them into a simple, practical system that anyone can master. You will learn how to:

  • Streamline and maximize your study time
  • Conquer procrastination
  • Absorb the material quickly and effectively
  • Know which reading assignments are critical — and which are not
  • Target the paper topics that wow professors
  • Provide A+ answers on exams
  • Write stellar prose without the agony

A strategic blueprint for success that promises more free time, more fun, and top-tier results, How to Become a Straight-A Student is the only study guide written by students for students — with the insider knowledge and real-world methods to help you master the college system and rise to the top of the class.

Broadway Books (26 Dec. 2006)

Praise

“This book delivers on its title 100 Percent. I wish I'd had a copy when I was in college—I would have had a better GPA and a better social life!”
— Jason Ryan Dorsey, author of My Reality Check Bounced!

“A smart, concise, fun, and above all informative guide on how to ace college by being smarter about how to work . . . This book is a must-have for anyone who wants to do well at college and enjoy it too.”
— M. Cecilia Gaposchkin, Assistant Dean of Faculty for PreMajor Advising, Dartmouth College

How to Win at College

Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country's Top Students

Cal Newport

The only guide to getting ahead once you’ve gotten in — proven strategies for making the most of your college years, based on winning secrets from the country's most successful students

What does it take to be a standout student? How can you make the most of your college years — graduate with honors, choose exciting activities, build a head-turning resume, and gain access to the best post-college opportunities? Based on interviews with star students at universities nationwide, from Harvard to the University of Arizona, How to Win at College presents seventy-five simple rules that will rocket you to the top of the class. These college-tested — and often surprising — strategies include:

  • Don’t do all your reading
  • Drop classes every term
  • Become a club president
  • Care about your grades, Ignore your GPA
  • Never pull an all-nighter
  • Take three days to write a paper
  • Always be working on a “grand project”
  • Do one thing better than anyone else you know

Proving that success has little to do with being a genius workaholic, and everything to do with playing the game, How to Win at College is the must-have guide for making the most of these four important years — and getting an edge on life after graduation.

Broadway Books (12 April 2005)

Praise

"Every college student, or every parent of a college student, must buy this book!"
— Jeffrey J. Fox, author of How to Become CEO

Videos

How to succeed in a distracted world | TEDx

The path to a passionate life | World Domination Summit 2012

"So Good They Can't Ignore You" | Talks @ Google

"Follow Your Passion" Is Bad Advice | 99U

Feedback

A business conference on collaboration:
Cal was very well received, and I heard from a number of people who are making plans to read his “Deep Work” book.