Cal Newport : Hachette Speakers Bureau

Cal Newport

Student and Career Success Expert

Cal Newport is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, and the author of four books on how to systematically cultivate success both in school and in the working world. His latest, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, is a contrarian look at career advice which argues that “follow your passion” is the single most damaging idea in modern career thinking.

In his now famous Stanford University commencement speech, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs urged idealistic graduates to “chase your dreams”—a piece of advice echoed endlessly in recent decades. Newport takes issue with this cliché, arguing that there’s no compelling evidence that “follow your passion” is a strategy that consistently leads people to careers they love. If anything, its assumption that there’s a perfect job waiting to be discovered leads many to anxiety and chronic job-hopping when reality falls short of this dream.

Newport suggests that you should turn your attention from Steve Jobs to Steve Martin, who, when asked the key to building a great career, replied: “be so good they can’t ignore you.” This, according to Newport, is the foundation of a satisfying career: build rare and valuable skills, then leverage this value to take control of your livelihood. Passion comes after you get good, not before.

Drawing on compelling scientific evidence as well as contemporary case studies, Newport provides step-by-step advice for escaping the grips of the dream job delusion and building a career you love—a career built on skill deliberately acquired and carefully invested.

In addition to his career guide, Newport has also written three books for students, which have sold a combined total of more than 100,000 copies: How to Be a High School Superstar, How to Become a Straight-A Student, and How to Win at College. These titles offer evidence-based strategies for building a student career that is both successful and enjoyable.

At the podium, Newport blends research with storytelling to offer inspiring advice that does not come across as touchy-feely. A frequent speaker as both an author and an academic, Newport has also discussed his advice on ABC, NBC, CBS, and on over 50 radio networks. His ideas are also cited in major print publications including the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Newport earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2009, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 2004. He lives with his wife in Washington, D.C.

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  • Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
  • How to Succeed in School

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