TMBA 381: A Conversation with Cal Newport

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If you are anything like Dan and Ian, then you have likely spent years geeking out on the writings of this week’s guest.

Cal Newport is a computer science professor. He’s also had a blog on his website since 2007, and has been writing books since he was in college. His most recent is called Deep Work, which is about the benefits and practical steps to getting more done in the Internet age.

This interview covers a wide range of subjects, including distributed algorithms at the extremes, how Cal uses walking to enhance his productivity and why creativity is usually more workmanlike than most people give it credit for.


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why creativity is less about serendipity and more about putting the hours in. (11:20)
  • What Cal thinks that the majority of us are getting wrong in the digital age. (15:44)
  • Why you shouldn’t always follow your passion. (23:22)
  • What it means to generate “career capital”. (31:06)
  • What qualifies as deep work. (47:09)

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST. Cheers, Dan & Ian

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Published on 03.23.17
  • NickKuzma

    You and Noah have the Thursday podcast scene on lockdown. Really liked this one in particular. Cheers!

  • Evaldas Miliauskas

    lots of interesting ideas! One that resonated with me the most is the career capital. Having spend 10+ years in the one industry, I got to the point where I have full autonomy of decisions I can make for myself which I didn’t even expected that it could be so gratifying to the point of not caring that I spend much more hours then you used to in previous position in which you just follow someone else will.

    The deep work sessions mentioned I think are the same concept as flow state which has become popular now. It’s interesting when you think about why we find it so satisfying in to be in it, maybe just because we’re wired to solve cognitive problems?

  • mikedariano

    You can also use career capital to extend the projects within your job that you believe in. This is what Eric Maddox did when he was a US Army interrogator. It was only after he built up a string of successes was he able to suggest and execute his own plans within a larger organization.

  • haha cheers :)

  • tough to say. Cal wrote more recently on it:

    All I know is moving around and around to different data points makes me feel anxious.

  • yeah that resonates with me, the ‘adjacent possible’ is a concept that seems close to this… the ability to innovate comes from mastery within the field/career/job etc.

  • Pomy Singh

    I loved this podcast! So much valuable information that will impact the way I work. Especially as an entrepreneur with a start-up, always trying to grind… you lose track of how much and how long you’ve worked! But, will take a lot of this info and reform the way I work for more freedom and more productivity to “flourish”!

  • Great episode. I loved the idea of the end of day checklist. Does anyone have a good example of this for folks who run their own business?

  • “Getting Things Done” has great examples of an end of week review process that has made a big difference for me.

  • cheers I dug it too!

  • Outstanding podcast. Love it that you’ve also added the transcript. Probably going to listen to this one a couple of times.

  • cheers glad you dug it Robert, yeah we’ve been adding the transcripts for about a year now.

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