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Being So Good They Can’t Ignore You with Cal Newport

Jason Hartman hosts author Cal Newport, to discuss attention and digital minimalism. He takes us through one of his books, Deep Work, to give us insight into focus. The discussion centers around our current distraction epidemic and how big tech and corporations have done a great job getting us addicted to apps that help feed our buying habits. He looks at ways to break through your phone addiction and be able to be productive.

Announcer 0:04
Welcome to the heroic investing show. As first responders we risk our lives every day our financial security is under attack. Our pensions are in a state of emergency. A single on duty incident can alter or erase our earning potential instantly and forever. We are the heroes of society. We are self reliant, and we need to take care of our own financial future. The heroic investing show is our toolkit of business and investing tactics on our mission to financial freedom.

Gary Pinkerton 0:38
This is heroic investing Episode 180. This is a 10th episode. And as you longtime listeners know, modeling what Jason does on the creating wealth podcast series, we go off topic here on the heroic investing show to something of general life interest. We’ve gotten consistently positive feedback on this from the very beginning. But we are always open to finding out if we’re still on track, so please keep that feedback coming. You can deliver it to me directly at Gary at Gary Pinkerton Comm. Or you can go right to the rook investing show and leave feedback there on the site. The topics on these 10th episodes tend to be focused on self improvement, raising your performance and health, family, business relationships influencing others, General mindset and many more, because they are the messages that if we routinely hear and practice can change our life and the lives of those around us. I think you will really enjoy the interview we’ve selected for today’s off topic 10th episode, in this 10th episode, Jason interviews Cal Newport who is a truly fascinating individual. He’s a computer science professor at Georgetown University. And he’s written six books, what I would argue have nothing to do with computer science. And the really, really good books read by many influential individuals that have you know, nothing but incredible things to say about it, Seth Godin Ryan Holiday individuals that are successful authors in their own. And here’s a gentleman who’s who’s a computer science professor who studies the theory of distributed systems. But in his off time, he writes tremendous bestsellers on things related to the intersection of technology and culture. And more specifically, his most successful books are about how technology is destroying our ability to be successful in our endeavors and our work, you know, the distractions of social media, the impact that technology like your cell phone is having on your ability to do deep work to actually focus. And then he also has a topic that I find interesting, I find a little bit challenging to my own philosophies. And that is that skill will trump passion, in the success of your business of your life. And I find that a little bit challenging. I think that skill comes from having the passion to stick with it. He says, just develop the skill and the passion will come and you know, perhaps he’s right. I look forward to reading that book. I have not read it, I have read deep work. His most recent book is digital minimalism, choosing a focused life in a noisy world. And that one actually came out after this interview. This is a really good interview. It I think will challenge some of the preconceived notions that you have, you know, recently, we did an interview where the the gentleman was doing a great job of discounting debunking the idea of multitasking. Right. And I don’t think that’s a new report. I think most people have heard that over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of scientific study that completely disrupts the idea that multitasking is anything but reducing your effectiveness. And so he attacks that concept a little bit here. But mainly he talks about how to get back focused by pushing technology out of your world, at least when you’re doing your deepest work or your most important work. For me, that’s morning time. I’m sure everyone has a different time of the day where they’re most effective, but I’m completely useless when the sun goes down. And sometimes well before that, for me, it’s early morning, or at least morning time where the most intuitive work gets done if I’m writing or constructing a concept for a client. It needs to happen in the morning. So I think you’re really going to like this Cal Newport again a tremendously interesting person. Let’s get to it.

Jason Hartman 4:32
It’s my pleasure to welcome Cal Newport to the show. He is a professor of computer science at Georgetown University, author of the best selling books deep work rules for focus success in a distracted world. And so good they can’t ignore you. Why skills Trump passion in the quest for work you love? Kal welcome. How are you? Hi, Jason. I’m doing fine. Yeah, it’s good to have you. So I finished deep work a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I think Excellent, excellent book, then I’m just digging into so good, they can’t ignore you maybe a third of the way through that one, and enjoying that one as well. And, and you’ve really taken some of the, the things that we do in the modern world, and you’ve been critical of them, and then turn them on their head. And I think I think you’re onto something. Certainly, the reviews on Amazon or I would say you’re onto something. Tell us more and, you know, start start with either book, or, you know, feel free to jump between the two.

Cal Newport 5:34
Yeah, I am a bit of a professional curmudgeon, it seems like these days, but it’s fun to do. So I mean, let me just give the logline for both books, essentially. So I, I wrote this book back in 2012. So good, they can’t ignore you, which made the claim that this advice that everyone gives follow your passion is bad advice. And that it will actually hurt your chances of ending up loving your work. And then 2016, I published deep work, which making this claim that you know, the ability to focus really intensely, is actually really, really valuable, it’s becoming more valuable, just at the same time that people are becoming worse at it as they focus instead on connectivity and visibility, and buisiness. And therefore, if you’re one of the few people to cultivate that, you’re going to have a huge advantage. So it’s in both cases, end up pushing back against something that a lot of people sort of just assumed was good.

Jason Hartman 6:30
No, you know, I want to ask you the deep work problem, if you will, or the the lack of deep work that just pervades our distracted world. You know, I remember before al gore invented the internet. Just kidding. You know, in the old days before we had social media before we had email before we you know, back then you were distracted by fax machines, right. And phone calls. We you know, I mean, we always had distractions, right. I remember Denis waitley years ago, quoting an article from the 1800s in the Boston Globe about how people were overwhelmed with all this information coming at them. And and, you know, this is not a new phenomenon. Certainly, there’s more distraction now. But maybe we are evolving and getting better at dealing with it. I don’t know, I just wanted to throw that idea out there.

Cal Newport 7:26
There’s always been I mean, any of these issues there, there’s always some sort of historical precedent. And in some cases, actually, the historical precedent for worries were true. If you look back, for example, around the rise of television, especially as we went through the 60s to the 70s people said, Well, wait a second, this thing, we’re gonna be watching these things all the time. Well, it turns out they were right. People watch an incredible amount of television. Actually, those concerns were right, it drastically changed how people spent their time and, and introduced a whole new culture where for many people, you come home from work, and you put on the TV till bedtime. And that hasn’t changed. So So sometimes these historical concerns are true. But there’s two things that I think make what’s going on now exceptional. One has to do with the actual quality of the distractions themselves. We’ve never seen anything that even approaches the grip on our time and attention that you see with modern digital mobile devices. I mean, sure, you go back to Thoreau, and he says, isn’t it distracting that you could get a telegraph? You know, coming in while you’re trying to work

Jason Hartman 8:27
on something? Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Cal Newport 8:30
No, was not dealing with someone having a telegraph on them and checking it three to 400 times a day and three to 400 Telegraph’s a day and rarely going more than six minutes without actually writing the telegraph. And even with concerns like television, like we watch too much television, but we didn’t have people bringing their television into their office and putting them on their desk and checking it every two to three minutes to see what was on TV, right, which is what’s happening with these distractions. So I think the the quantity and the quality of the addictiveness of this is something that we haven’t even come close to seen before with any of these other former technological concerns. And the other issue is, our economy has evolved so that more and more people are in professional positions, where these type of distractions directly and negatively impact what they do for a living. So I think there’s a difference here, you might look back to the office cultures of the 60s and say, well, we used to chat around the watercooler and maybe you know, I would get some calls. But we had much fewer people in the 1960s, who were trying to do high level creative knowledge work, who were really using their brain at a very high level to create value. So yeah, I think we have two trends coming together. It’s more an order of magnitude more distracting or addictive than we’ve ever seen at a time where more and more people are vulnerable for that, that make a difference.

Jason Hartman 9:46
Well, that you know, that’s an interesting point. So, as we’ve had the I’ll call it the crisis of distraction. We also have the greater need for creative thinking and you I hate to use the sort of cliched, New Age term mindfulness, but for lack of a better better, you know, well, I’ll use deep work, that’s a better term. But yeah, I would agree with you. Because in the old days, you know, people did more assembly line style work, right. And now, the modern world really demands a more creative mind, and certainly towards a more creative mind, doesn’t it?

Cal Newport 10:24
Yeah, I think this is absolutely what’s true. So if you go back to, you know, the 1970s. And let’s say, you look at someone from the, you know, the typing pool, who’s who’s maybe gossiping around the water cooler a few times during the day, has a negligible impact on the the output that this person does, which is more or less he or she’s typing about this much stuff. And if maybe there’s a 10% loss there, that’s very different than if you’re trying to do business strategy, or trying to program a computer, or trying to write something difficult. And you’re doing just checks on inboxes. And social media accounts every five to six minutes, which puts you in a state of reduced cognitive capacity, you produce worse stuff, and you produce stuff at a slower rate. And that’s your primary obligation. So the right analogy, going back to the typing pool, in the 60s, it’s not someone leaving the gossip around the watercooler a few times during the day, it would be like if they were gossiping with some of the whole time while they were typing, and they’re making lots of mistakes and going much slower. in that circumstance, we would say, Well, this is crazy, you can’t sit here and talk to your friend while you’re trying to type up the memos because they’re making lots of mistakes, and you’ve dropped your rate by 50%. But it’s essentially what we’re doing. And the newly emerged sort of high level knowledge economy, we just don’t realize it yet. We just don’t have that metric that says your words per minute is half of what it used to be. And so this is what I think is unsustainable.

Jason Hartman 11:46
So Cal, I don’t think there’s anyone listening, the doubts, we are distracted. And one of the things I really liked that you said in the book was something to the effect of, if one spends their time on, for example, social media, they can leave a lot of little trails and pieces of their knowledge and creativity around and little post on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. But if they spend their time writing a book, then they will leave something big that lasts forever, right? And it’s it’s, you know, more timeless. And maybe you want to just correct me on that quote or idea there. But, you know, I think it’s a good point, isn’t it?

Cal Newport 12:26
Yeah, that that idea first came from an essay that the science fiction novelist Neil Stevenson wrote called, why I’m a bad correspondent. And it hit me as it makes a lot of sense when you heard it, he says, I don’t really answer people’s emails, and I, I’m not going to come to your conference, and I’m not going to send you back assigned to whatever. And he says, I know for each individual, this seems selfish, because it was only taking me one minute to do that response or two minutes to do that response. But he said, if I if I do that, for everyone who starts writing me, then what am I left with, and in the end is that there’s a large group of people who got a very little thing from me. And if I instead consolidate that all to write a book, there can be a lot of people that read that for decades to come. So I’m going to prioritize that. And it was an important point when I heard it that when you’re measuring the impact of various communication and digital behaviors, don’t just take the one isolated instance, how long does it really take me to read this tweet or reply to this email, you have to think about the cumulative impact that it has on your time and attention and think, well, what else could I be dedicating that to? And how do I compare the value?

Jason Hartman 13:34
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So what is the solution to the problem? I think we all know the problem. We live in this distracted world. I mean, even our posture, and our shoulders are being affected by smartphones, because we’re just looking at them constantly. If you’re single, oh, my God, it’s impossible to meet or talk to anybody anymore. They’re all looking at their stupid phone. In fact, there’s a video about it on YouTube. It’s called look up. And it’s very telling, you know, two people, the male and the female that go through there, it shows them going through their whole day looking at their phone, and they keep passing each other, and they would have been attracted to each other. It’s a great video. But what can we do about this?

Cal Newport 14:22
Yeah, well, there’s several things you can do. The first thing is the to to break the addiction to the phone, I think is is crucial. And keep in mind if this helps put it into context that the way that Silicon Valley and especially social media and website media companies think about your phone, and you is it’s a mobile billboard device. And their question is, okay, how can we get people to take out this thing and look at our ads in places that we can’t otherwise put billboards? I mean, how can we expand where we can actually do advertisements? So the whole key to their industry is how can we convince people to wherever they are take out this phone Look at our ads. And they realized the way to do it is to make the product addictive. If you can foster a behavioral addiction, now you have someone who in the bathroom waiting in line in a moment of downtime in a movie, you’re going to continually pull out your thing and load up your app and look at your ads, you’ve just solved the massive problem in advertising, you can now put billboards everywhere that person is. So it’s a great business model from the perspective of these companies. But it’s a terrible bargain for you. And so I like to think about it that way. Because I think it changes the feel you have towards your usage of these devices away from I’m high tech. I’m a first adopter, I’m a digital native, I’m on the cutting edge, and instead see it more, I’m being exploited. I see my attention just mined out of my head by these companies so that they can increase that that profit margin. So So my advice for the first step, which is breaking free of the diction of the phone, is take all those social media networks that you’re convinced are crucial to your business, your life and your place in the world. You don’t have to quit them, take the apps off your phone. If they’re really that important to your life and to your business and your place in the world, then you can very easily log on to your computer when you happen to be at your computer at home and do all the very important things you do on them. But it takes away the addiction machine off your phone, it takes away the apps that they have people engineering to be as addictive as possible. So that’d be my first recommendation is take every one of those apps off the phone, just access them through a web browser.

Jason Hartman 16:26
Okay, so before you go on Cal, let me Let’s just play devil’s advocate with Alan for a moment. I see what you’re saying. And, you know, I kind of brought that issue up. So, you know, I agree. However, there’s a good side to that too, right? Because in the old days, there was a lot of downtime while you’re waiting in line, while you’re waiting for something, you know, now there’s virtually no downtime, which one could certainly argue means that we’re not having any freewheeling thinking time anymore. But also, it’s certainly more efficient that we can look at our email manager, social media, you know, during this kind of downtime, you know, rather than I mean, if we take it all off our smartphone, why don’t we just be sitting in front of our computer more, and doing it at home rather than paying attention to something else?

Cal Newport 17:15
Now, I don’t think that’s true. Well, first of all, the what I found is when people bring their social media off of their phone is they use it drastically, drastically less. Because you tell yourself the story that this is a crucial part of XYZ in my life. That’s why I’m using it so much. But the reality was, I like the it’s the quick hit of entertainment, when I’m bored. This thing is engineered to give me Quick Hits of dopamine, it feels good, and it helps elite boredom. So when you actually put up a little bit of bear to use it, you say, Well, I don’t like it to go log on to my computer to go to Facebook, I don’t care that much. So I mean, that’s that’s too much of a border. So I don’t think that’s going to add more time. But more importantly, I think that downtime is crucial. Not just because it supports your brain to rest or recharge to do free willing thinking. But what happens or what I’ve seen happen is that when people feel every moment of boredom, with a quick hit of entertainment coming off of their phone, it builds a Pavlovian connection in their mind that at the slightest hint of boredom, I get relief. Once you’ve built that Pavlovian connection, when it comes time to actually do something hard, something meaningful, that’s going to create value for your life or your career, your brain will tolerate it, which is why the very first thing I have to do when I’m training people to get better at concentrating and producing cognitive output of real value. As I say, you have to embrace boredom, you have to have lots and lots of time in your life where you’re bored and do nothing about it. Because until you break that connection that your brain has between I feel bored, I get a tree, I feel bored, I get a tree, if you don’t break that connection, when it comes time to do the serious stuff, you’re not gonna be able to do it. And I think we have a whole generation who has that connection so strong that they are unable to even you lock them in a Faraday cage with no electronics and said, Here’s your here’s your notebook and just, you know, option produce work, they can’t do it, the brain won’t tolerate it. So I like boredom. To me, the discomfort of boredom is like the slight discomfort you feel when you’re exercising. You’re like Well, yeah, it’s it feels uncomfortable to be lifting this weight, but it’s making me stronger. And so I’m happy or motivated to be doing it.

Jason Hartman 19:20
Right. It’s just hard to quantify that gain, if you will, you know, when you go to the gym, you the endorphins are pumping afterwards, you know, you feel the muscle soreness, which sort of feels good. If you didn’t overdo it too much. I mean, you know, it feels like you’ve accomplished something, but if you if you take your stuff off your phone, I mean, you gotta it’s not just entertainment, it’s email, it’s text, it’s functional stuff to that isn’t always you know, business but sometimes it is you can’t really notice the gain. Is there any way to quantify this?

Cal Newport 19:52
Well, I think what you’ll notice once you once you build a deep work habit, so once people have started to hone their to concentrate so partially by embracing boredom and partially by doing, you know, exercises for it. And once they’ve started to systematically block off time to do this type of deep thinking, there is a sort of positive almost addictive type feeling you get once you realize, Oh, this is what it feels like to produce for three hours at a high level of uninterrupted cognitive state. When you see what you produce, when you feel the the satisfaction of keeping your concentration one product and actually making progress with it, that actually becomes addictive. So just like the, the the athlete who feels motivated to avoid the junk food, because they really feel good when they have they know they have a good workout the next day or good performance on the field, you can get that same connection with the work, you start to see the stuff that’s engineered to be distracted, or the the really addictive behaviors as cognitive junk food, it becomes easier and easier to be proud about the fact that you avoid it or that you don’t make it a major part of your life. And I think this is such an interesting topic, because a lot of what people think they’re filling this downtime for a lot of the stuff that people think is making them more productive, I think is largely invented. I mean, almost no one I know is paid on the basis of how many emails they said, no one I know is making a lot of money from if you check this many social medias for this many social media accounts. I know a lot of people that make a lot of money for things that require very long uninterrupted concentration and whether or not they’re easy to reach via text or email between that is not as important maybe as we think

Jason Hartman 21:31
So Cal any other tips on the deep work habit on developing this muscle?

Cal Newport 21:36
Yeah, two quick things I would recommend. One is an exercise I call productive meditation. And this is where you go for a walk. And while you’re walking, you try to make progress on a professional problem just in your mind. So you just think about it. And just like in mindfulness meditation, when you notice your attention is wandering from the problem to something else, you just noticed that and bring it back to the professional problem. What I found is if you do this productive meditation, it’s like doing pull ups for your physical body, it’s very, very hard at first, and then you get better and better at it. And it gives very large returns in terms of your ability to sustain concentration. The other small tip I’d recommend is start putting on your calendar, a couple weeks in advance blocks of time for deep work that you treat and protect like you would any other meeting or appointment. So if someone comes up later and says, Hey, can we have a call at noon on Tuesday, and that’s in the middle of one of these blocks, you say no, I have a thing, but I’ll be free again, to you treat it like a doctor’s appointment or, or a meeting with clients. This just gets you into the habit of on a regular basis, applying deep thinking to things that matter. And it really requires that type of protection in advance to make sure it happens. Those two things alone and just a few weeks, you’ll notice a big difference. Mm hmm.

Jason Hartman 22:54
Yeah, yeah. Okay. Anything else.

Cal Newport 22:57
So another thing I like to recommend to people is when it comes to entertainment, or information that can be addictive for you, we talked about taking apps off the phone, the other thing I recommend for people is to reverse the digital Shabbat idea, this idea that I take a little bit of time each week when I’m not connected to all those things. And you reverse it. And you say, Okay, I’m going to put aside some time, when I’m going to go online and be connected to these sort of entertaining but distracting sources of entertainment. You say, you know, hey, tonight, from seven to eight, I’m going to go and do all my social media. No, no holds barred, right, I’m going to browse, I’m gonna find fun stuff I’m going to read, you know, funny things on Twitter doesn’t matter. But I’m going to wait till that time to do it. Same thing with text messaging. It’s very easy to fall into a cyst series of expectations with people in your life, that you’re always accessible by text messages. The easy way to change it is to put aside times throughout your day to when you’re going to look at what’s your text message inboxes and try to respond to people, and then just not check it in between those times. And at first people will be a little bit confused. Hey, Jason, I was trying to reach you Where were you, but you’ll still get back to him within four or five hours. And people very quickly adjust to this idea that okay, Jason is not always accessible on text messages. Sometimes he has his phone, sometimes he doesn’t. And people adjust. So a couple small things like that can change this background home of constant stimulation communication, and make it into much more concentrated blocks without you losing almost any access to the good things that these networks bring you. It’s just controlling how you use it. More so than it is aggressively calling what you actually use.

Jason Hartman 24:39
Yeah, I agree with you. You know, Cal in the old days when it was just the telephone. I used to Well, on and off. I didn’t do it very consistently, but there were some days when I just really would I check my voicemail and do my phone calls a couple of times a day, you know, in the morning and then in the afternoon. It What I found amazingly, is that a lot of problems just solve themselves. And sometimes by the time I would get engaged in that issue, it was it was resolved. And I wasn’t even really needed in the first place. And I think it’s kind of what Stephen Covey used to talk about, about this urgency addiction. And I mean, all of this technology, and social media really just add to this urgency addiction, it makes us all feel like we’re necessary or needed. We got to be there, we got to be involved. We really don’t A lot of times, right.

Cal Newport 25:33
Yeah, it is. It is highly, highly invented. I like to talk about the distinction between productivity and true productivity, productivity, the way that people like to talk about it is defined very locally. I’m making progress on tasks that I need to do things are happening. I’m making progress on things in my life. And so I got this email quicker, I have slack like to respond to this real quick, it just buisiness generates productivity, true productivity is how much value are you actually creating? How much did you create, that’s going to move the bottom line on your company or the company you work for, that’s going to bring more value to the company than what was there before. And the reality is, those are two very different things. And then some points that can be completely unconnected. In fact, a maximize true productivity often can make you pretty bad at the other type of productivity, maybe you’re less accessible, you’re hard to get in touch with, there’s some, even some things get dropped, opportunities are missed. But on the other hand, the thing you produce that you’re best at the thing that brings the most value you’re able to actually do at a high level. And so I think we’re gonna see, or I hope we’ll see more of a separation in people’s thinking going forward between true productivity, what do I produce? It’s worth dollars and cents. And this low level, non valued productivity, which is a much more mixed bag.

Jason Hartman 26:50
Yeah, I think those are some very good points. We’ve sort of railed on technology a bit during our talk today. But there are certainly a plethora of apps out there that try and help with this stuff. You know, some people use the sort of pomodoro timer technique. Other people use various apps that literally lock their social media on their computer, and only make it accessible at certain times of day. Do you have any recommendations for technology that might help solve the problem rather than create the problem?

Cal Newport 27:22
Well, one thing I’ve seen people be successful with his applications like freedom. And there’s a lot of other variations. But it allows you to not only block particular apps or websites, but do so across all your devices, which I think is pretty effective for people who do maintain or need to maintain presences on services, that are engineered to be addictive, and yet they need to be on them for particular professional or personal reasons. This is a incredibly valuable training tool, because you can say I’m now locked for three hours when I’m going to work on this thing, and it takes the option off the table. And you’d be surprised by how much mental energy that frees up for you to actually apply to the task at hand. When you don’t have to service one part of your brain that’s consistently saying, well, maybe I should check. Maybe we should check. Maybe I should check. If it’s blocked, that part goes away. It knows for a fact it can’t check for three hours. So I’ve seen people use that as a successful detox

Jason Hartman 28:21
tool. So the app is called freedom. Freedom. Yep. That’s the name of the app. Okay, interesting. I haven’t heard of that one. I’ve heard of some others. Very good. Cal, one of the things we talked about a little bit, just before we started, as we were talking for a moment, is this frustration that I was complaining about? And you know, whenever I hire a professional nowadays, it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to find a person that you call in your other book. So good. They can’t ignore you, a craftsman. And what I mean by that I know is a little different than what you talked about in the so good. They can’t ignore you book. But everybody’s like a marketer nowadays. And they’re just out there wanting to take over the world. And, you know, they’re doing social media, they’re doing ads, and they’re doing internet marketing and all this stuff. And it’s like, could I please just have a lawyer or an accountant who sits at their desk and churns out great work. It seems like this distraction problem is just massive. I mean, the quality of work, the depth of thought is, it’s kind of pathetic, how bad it’s getting. And I’m not saying I’m not affected by it. I think I am I it’s, you know, I gotta manage this problem within myself, but also amongst my contractors do. I mean, I think you’re absolutely right about this.

Cal Newport 29:48
I wrote an op ed about this back in November for the New York Times that created a lot of heated controversy, but essentially what i what i said in this op ed was if you really Study the intersection of social media and people’s careers, we’ve been largely sold a bill of goods, that we are wildly overestimating how much value you get in your career for slavish Li maintaining these very active presences and all these social media platforms that were told you have to do or you won’t be noticed, we’re wildly overestimating that value, while at the same time, we’re wildly under estimating the impact it has on us actually doing what we do well, and that the real story is in many, many different fields. Social media is very new, these fields have been around for a long time. For decades and decades and decades, they’ve had in place very robust mechanisms for recognizing and rewarding talent. There’s very few fields, I can find that six years ago, when social media use became ubiquitous, said, let’s get rid of all of the channels we’ve had and evolved over the decades that help train people and identify talented people on board telling people, let’s just look at Twitter, or let’s just look at Facebook. That’s how we’re going to decide who’s a good lawyer, or who’s a good real estate agent didn’t happen. These fields have been around forever, and they’ve known how to identify and reward talent. And consistently, what you find is the people who do things at a high level, add more work and more opportunities, they know what to do with. And so the strategy hasn’t really changed. You know, if you want to excel in your career, find a thing that’s most valuable in your field, and really work hard to do it really, really well. I named the book I wrote two books ago, so good, they can’t ignore you. That’s a quote from Steve Martin, who said, when he’s asked by people, how do I succeed in entertainment? How do I get the right agent? How do I get noticed? He said, the answer I give is never what they want to hear. But it’s that you should be so good, they can’t ignore you. And if you do that, he said, all the other good things come. They all follow from that that’s where your interview should go. And he said, they don’t like that answer. Because they want to know, well, how do I do this? How to get visible, maybe if I have the right agent? How do I maneuver myself, so none of that matters at all follows, all you have to do is be so good, they can’t ignore you. That’s the message I think of the social media age is we’ve been sold this bill of goods, that that’s what matters. And I’ve been studying this, I’ve been writing about this, I’ve been traveling the country speaking about this and listening to people’s stories about this, in almost every field, the market is pretty rational. If you’re doing something valuable, well, people want you. And if you don’t, they don’t, regardless of how active your Facebook pages,

Jason Hartman 32:25
it almost can be this sort of counter intuitive measure of one’s quality or lack of quality. Because, you know, I’ll give you an example. There’s a lawyer CPA that I worked with for a few years. And, you know, he’s just all over the place on the speaking circuit on, you know, on all the social media doing all the internet marketing stuff. And I just noticed after a while, that the quality of work just wasn’t very good. But you know, to see kind of the public image that you would see out there, you think, Oh, this guy’s got to be great. Right, you know, but interestingly, complete opposite, at least in my humble opinion. So that that can almost be a major, but do we need to make a distinction, Cal, that in some businesses, the the person who’s kind of out there a lot, that is their business, I’ll give you an example a financial advisor, friend of mine, you know, she said to me one day that her job basically is networking, that’s her job. And, you know, she’s not the one that’s gonna give you great investment advice. Her whole role was to just bring money in and let the management people in our company, you know, do their thing. But someone has got to be the wonky, Craftsman person, right. And then there are other people who go out there, and they’re the rainmakers and they bring in the business. And I think it’s very important that we don’t confuse the two, the Rainmaker is rarely the expert. They’re just the Rainmaker. They’re the expert at making rain, they’re the expert at networking, they’re the expert at social media, and, you know, branding and stuff like that, right. But they’re not the expert at the actual trade of practicing law or accounting, for example. Any comments on that thought?

Cal Newport 34:13
I think it’s an important distinction. And in part, it’s, it helps clarify what has happened in the professional world during the social media age, which is that it’s somehow convinced most people in the professional world that they too, are rainmakers. And so you’re absolutely right. I talked about it in the book, that there’s certain jobs that being very connected is very important. And deep work is not at all relevant. It’s a relatively narrow slice of the economy. But those jobs have always been there. And somehow in recent years, that behavior has mutated out to now you have lawyers doing it and computer programmers doing it and authors doing it. People who have nothing to do with needing lots of contacts and have everything to do with my brain creates value and the harder I concentrate, the more value I produce. So I think that’s the important question for people to ask is, I mean, you don’t want to confuse the two. But you also don’t want to extrapolate and say, Well, I know a product marketer who gets great success out of Facebook ads, because if you’re selling a product, Facebook ads are fantastic. You can target people. I mean, it’s a it’s a huge boon for people who market products. But then don’t take that lesson away. If you’re a CPA, or a computer programmer, same thing, Facebook, it’s also going to be crucial to my career, I think we need to be more precise, and grounded in reality of the way we talk about it. For most people, these tools are not that important. You know, let’s just use myself as a case study. I’ve never had a social media account. You never had a social media account, even though I’m in fields where you’re supposed to need them. I mean, how can you be an author if you don’t have a social media? And I can tell you, it’s had no discernible negative impact on my career. And I can think of many positive impacts I’ve had by freeing myself from that mental obligation. And because it turns out with books, actually, you don’t have to aggressively market yourself and social media, if you write good books, people who like them maybe will talk on their social media accounts, but it doesn’t really matter. You know, I’m a professor, a lot of professors think they need to be on online and talking about these things. That doesn’t matter. I mean, mainly people want to know, how well do you teach? What did you publish? Did it matter? Are people citing it? I mean, these fields are pretty simple. Authors should focus 99% on writing great books, professors should focus 99% on teaching and writing great research papers. It’s it’s old fashioned, but the old fashioned stuff works. I’m not as impressed as a lot of people about this need to be on these mobile advertisement apps that are we’re being convinced is somehow crucial to surviving in the 21st century.

Jason Hartman 36:47
Yeah. And, you know, part of that problem is, this is one of the some of the bad negative side effects of allowing, for example, lawyers to advertise, you know, years ago, lawyers weren’t allowed to advertise, and guess what their focus wasn’t on advertising. And now they are and so they’re, you know, that’s a big part of their focus is just be out there and do all this stuff. And, you know, that’s the whole way, reason that, for example, the Rotary Club was created is because lawyers couldn’t advertise. And so they would have to get their business through networking. You know, you could spend a limited amount of time networking, whereas now you could spend all your time on social media and advertising campaigns. So it’s really, you know, Stephen Covey, again, I love his work, I love your work. And one of the things he always said is, the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing, and I think that’s really what deep work is about. So I, I’m really glad you’re getting this message out there, Cal, where can people find you and find out more about it? I guess they’re not going to find you on social media.

Cal Newport 37:47
You’re not gonna find social media not that easy to reach, necessarily. But it’s easy to find out about my ideas. My website, Cal Newport comm is where I blog. So actually, you know, there’s 10 years or so post on all these ideas you can dive into, you can also find out a little bit more about me and my books there as well.

Jason Hartman 38:05
Fantastic. Well, Cal Newport, thank you so much. Did you just want to give a quick word about the I know you did mention it, but the so good, they can’t ignore you book because we really focused on the deep work. But if you just want to give a parting thought on that feel free?

Cal Newport 38:18
Sure. Well, let’s just say if you’re if you’re one of the people who’s a little bit fatigued about everyone telling you just follow your passion, just follow your passion. Just follow your passion. And you’re one of the people who think, isn’t it a little bit more complicated than that? Just admit to do this. And once I find it, I’ll love it from day one. This is a book you’ll probably enjoy checking out because I essentially spent a couple years diving into the research literature, interviewing people from a variety different fields who love what they do for a living and just tried to figure out how do people actually end up loving their work and it turns out that slogan, just follow your passion really doesn’t get you there.

Jason Hartman 38:56
I like how you’re you’re debunking that idea. That’s that’s a great book to Cal Newport. 

Thank you so much for joining us. Well, thank you, Jason. I enjoyed it. Thank you so much for listening. Please be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss any episodes. Be sure to check out the show’s specific website and our general website heart and Mediacom for appropriate disclaimers and Terms of Service. Remember that guest opinions are their own. And if you require specific legal or tax advice, or advice and any other specialized area, please consult an appropriate professional. And we also very much appreciate you reviewing the show. Please go to iTunes or Stitcher Radio or whatever platform you’re using and write a review for the show we would very much appreciate that. And be sure to make it official and subscribe so you do not miss any episodes. We look forward to seeing you on the next episode.