So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Working right trumps the right work. The “perfect work” is the same as the “perfect one”. Out of thin air one magical day, your dream work (as well as your dream girl) will appear in front of you. And you will live a happy and exhilarating life forever after. Of course, like everything else in REAL life, the “perfect work” and the “perfect one” are more like growing trees than lightning. You need cultivation and patience. You need to love the process of developing the ONEs, not the discovery of the magical ONEs. And this underlies pretty much all other human sufferings. Instead of putting in the work that’s required today so that the plant will grow and bear fruits tomorrow, most want the lightning strike, the lottery break.

Focus on becoming better at WHATEVER you are currently doing. In a job you don’t like right now? Become better at it. Heck, be the best at it. Not employed right now? Become the best at job searching and learning new skills. Become the best volunteer out there.

Track hours (by 15 minute increments) spent on:
– thinking about hard problems
– creating 
– doing meaningful and awesome things
Mike Jackson: at the beginning of each week, figure out how much time to spend on different activities, then track on the spreadsheet. Restrict the hours spent on required tasks that don’t make you better at what you do. Spend time on what’s important, not what’s immediate.

To have a great career/job, your job needs Creativity + Impact + Control

To find great work, you need to have great skills. Valuable skills => valuable opportunities

Get comfortable with discomfort

To become So Good They Can’t Ignore You may need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (not just hours counted. But deliberate practice hours with constant feedback.) So get comfortable with discomfort so when you ask for feedback, you are not destroyed by the constructive feedback to improve on your work.

The way to have deliberate practice: take projects (2 – 3) that’s more than your experience and skills, then hustle to complete it (have little bets with learning, think Lean Startup)

Do what other people are willing to pay for – the law of financial viability

Type of career capital markets: auction or winner take all. Blogging is winner take all. Mike wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do, but he knew it would involve the environment so he set out to gain any capital relevant to this broad topic. What would your work involve in? Technology + environment or social good (humanities).

Open gates: what is already available to you, because of who you are, where you went to school, where you’re living, and who you know.

Define what “good” means in terms of deliberate practice, meaning set goals

Steve Martin: 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. In other words, don’t try to find the one. Eliminate the distractions and what remains must be it

Get in it for the long term, aka be patient. If you have to do this for 10, 20 years, would you still be willing to do it?

Don’t think in term of productivity (how many different things you have done), think craftmanship (the number of things is irrelevant. Being better at your craft is what matters.) What matter in WHAT and HOW you work is getting better at it, not how many different things you do.

When no one cares what you do with your working life, you probably don’t have enough career capital to do anything interesting.

DON’T EVER be interested in conventional wisdom.

Derek Sivers: money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable.

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 and skills. In other words, your mission IS waiting for you to be discovered, not by contemplation, but by being so good at what you do (within the capital market that you wish to be in: technology and humanities – identify a promising niche within these two). Only when you’re really really good (at SOMETHING) can you discover the mission. In other words, you can’t see your mission at your current level of skills (like gaming)

Think “SMALL” when building up career capital (niche) but act BIG once at the edge

Career Capital + Little Bets + Remarkability ===> Mission. CC + LB + PC (purple cow) = M.I. 
Translation: build up career capital in a niche. Make little bets (can be completed within 1 month) to stretch out your skills. Leverage remarkability to gain access, control, authority (idea worth remark about + platform to spread this idea). All these combined give you the ability to see the mission worth your work.

The traits that make your life interesting has very little to do with intensive soul-searching. Occupational happiness DOES NOT require a calling. It’s HOW you do it, not WHAT you do. In other words, it doesn’t matter WHAT you do next, it MATTERS HOW you do it.

Time structure: “I’m going to work on this for one hour”
Information structure: capture the results of your deliberate practice in a useful form – taking notes, summarizing, taking quizzes
Research bible: a document on the computer (summarize the research/key learnings that week – description of the research, how it compares to previous work, main strategies used to obtain it
Hour tally: total number of hours spent that month on deliberate practice (tracked everyday)
Theory-notebook: use when brainstorming
Use deadlines

Career capital requires patience + Brainstorming and exposure to new ideas are components of a lifestyle, not a process to spit out missions
Little bets: less than 1 month to complete, forces you to create new value (master a new skill and produce new results that didn’t exist before, in your life), and gather feedback

Each week: Expose yourself to new ideas about your field (read a paper, attend a talk, schedule a meeting) –> add summary to the research bible
Each day: while walking, free-form thinking about the new ideas turned up by the research that week

Rule 1: Don’t Follow Your Passion 
Rule 2: Be so good they can’t ignore you (skills)
Rule 3: Turn down a promotion (aim for control)
Rule 4: Think Small (niche to gain career capital), Act BIG (once discover mission)