Earlier this year, I read the fantastic book So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. Here are the notes I took.

Career Capital = rare/valuable resources

  • If you think of it as in supply & demand, then having rare/valuable resources gives you leverage to get rare/valuable traits.
  • A mission is one such trait, can be purchased with career capital to make your life better.

Referenced books:

“Think small, act big”

  • Focus on a narrow collection of subjects for potentially a long time. Once you get to the cutting edge, and discover a mission in the adjacent possible, you must go after it with zeal: a “big” action.

Rule of Financial Viability(?)

  • New opportunity and you’re not sure to take it?
    “Will someone pay me for this?”
    -> helps judge if valuable

“Be so good they can’t ignore you”, - Steve Martin

Having proper control = Dream-job elixir

  • “I want your job!” = this

Deliberate practice will

  • Help stop you from being plateaued
  • Get you past the “acceptable level” you’ve been at
  • “Feel the strain!”
  • Log the hours of deliberate practice
  • Collect/analyze at the monthly level


  • Top: Tentative Research Mission
  • Middle: Exploratory Projects
  • Bottom: Background Research


Little Bets & Experiments

  • Short, less than a month long, where you can get feedback on quickly, and use that to gauge the interest.

As a developer, what matters most is writing good programs that do their job.

Capital Type: Write apps that work

Define “Good”: Scripts / Apps being taken seriously

  • Deliberate practice requires good goals

Stretch & Destroy:

  • Doing what you know may be enjoyable, but deliberate practice is, above all, an effort of focus and concentration. It’s not like playing scales.

Be Patient:

  • Be strong enough to reject new pursuits just because they’re shiny - they are likely a distraction.

Deliberate practice is often the opposite of enjoyable.

  • Personal Examples: Linux, Raspberry Pi setup

A mission (compelling direction?), not a passion.
“A good mission is… waiting to be discovered… at the cutting edge.”