Mind Hack XVII: Decode Patterns Of Success With Cal Newport At Study Hacks

Something that I have been getting more interested in recent years is in the possible ways to increase one’s cognitive abilities. For this mind hacks edition, I present to the readers the writings and thinking of Cal Newport.

I was originally informed of Cal’s blog and books by Ramit Sethi on a webinar interview he did with Tim Ferris. Cal’s blog is Study Hacks – Decoding Patterns of Success. His website is at calnewport.com .

As he states on his “about” section….

What is Study Hacks?

Study Hacks was launched in the summer 2007 by me (aka., Cal Newport). At the time I was a computer science PhD candidate at MIT. Now I’m an assistant professor at Georgetown University.

I’m interested in why some people end up leading successful, enjoyable, meaningful lives, while so many others do not. Being a geek, I’m not satisfied with simplistic slogans (e.g., “follow your passion!”) or conventional wisdom (e.g., student success requires stress). Instead, I dive deeper, looking to decode underlying patterns of success.

When I started this project, I was a student. Therefore, much of my early writing concerns the patterns of success followed by remarkable students. I reject the idea that doing well in school requires stressful overwork, and instead promote a philosophy of simplicity: do less, but do what you do much better.

During this period I also wrote three books on my student philosophy: How to Be a High School Superstar (Random House, 2010), How to Become a Straight-A Student (Random House, 2006) and How to Win at College (Random House, 2005).

Over 125,000 copies of these books are currently in print, so people must be finding them useful.

Recently, as I’ve moved beyond my student years, I’ve turned more of my attention toward decoding patterns of success in the working world.  In September 2012, my new book on this topic, So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Hachette/Grand Central), was published. It lays out my case for why “follow your passion” is a dangerous suggestion and then chronicles my quest to figure out what works instead.


Me: What makes him a little more different in thinking than most self help, mind enhancing, blogs out there is his training. He went to MIT to study Computer Science, he is an assistant professor at Georgetown University. He tries to breakdown the process of “success” to figure out why some people become successful and how other people can learn from these already successful people and emulate their results. As he states very clearly in his profile section “…Instead, I dive deeper, looking to decode underlying patterns of success, in all their nuanced glory.

So far he has written three books, one of which I have bought.

The book I bought main thesis is that the commonly quoted phrase “Follow your passion” is horrible advice to give to people and for people to take. They should instead focus on what they are good at and try to hone their skills for competence. So far, the book is on my iphone4s as an audio book for about $24. Since I live a mobile lifestyle I try to have minimal things and be “light” so I carry few actual real books to read. The audio book saves in terms of energy lugging that book around, paper thus saving the trees, and effort since the transmission and consumption of the information is convenient. I highly recommend to most people that they try to get audio books since it saves on so many forms of resources. As always, those links above are Amazon Associate Links so the site will be getting a commision if you guy anything from the Amazon using the link.
I may no longer be in a formal school listening to lecturers teach but I know that I will definitely buy his other two books when I go back to graduate school. It will help make me more productive and effectives in my work quality and quantity.
For a sample of his writings, one the most read posts entitled “Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do“. His main point is this “I argued that mastering a rare and valuable skill is the key to generating a remarkable life — much more important than following your “passions” or matching your career (or academic major) to your personality.

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