Action Catalyst Blog

Deep Work with Cal Newport – Episode 237 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, who specializes in the theory of distributed algorithms. He previously earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2009 and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2004. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age as a professor, Newport also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work.

His most recent book, Deep Work (Grand Central, 2016), argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the knowledge economy, and that individuals who cultivate their ability to concentrate without distraction will thrive. On publication, Deep Work became an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, and received praise in the New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Guardian.

Newport’s previous book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Grand Central, 2012), argues that “follow your passion” is bad advice. Since its publication, it has been selected for several best business books of the year lists, including those by Inc. Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and 800-CEO-Read. Newport’s New York Times op-ed on the book became the paper’s most e-mailed article for over a week.

Newport is also the author of three books of unconventional advice for students: 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). The How To student series has sold over well over 150,000 copies since its inception, and Newport has been invited to speak on these topics at some of the country’s top universities, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Dartmouth, Middlebury, Georgetown and Duke.

Between books, Newport explores related ideas on his popular Study Hacks blog.

Show Highlights:

Deep work is the activity in which you are focused without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. – Cal Newport

The ability to perform deep work is become increasingly valuable in our economy at the same time that it is becoming increasingly rare. – Cal Newport

Deep work should be thought of as a tier one capability. – Cal Newport

It’s not that distractions are necessarily bad, but we haven’t talked enough about why the opposite is so valuable. – Cal Newport

Shallow work will keep you from going bankrupt but it’s deep work is what multiplies your business. – Cal Newport

A constant state of “just checks” are keeping your from your full cognitive capacity. – Cal Newport

People who really embrace deep work can produce at a level that almost mystifies their peers. – Cal Newport

Business is about producing value not making things convenient for your colleagues. – Cal Newport

If you want to be a serious deep thinker, it takes a lot of work to get here. You must practice. – Cal Newport

It’s hard to deep work because we have built systems that depend on the brain to tend to constant ongoing unstructured conversational flow. – Cal Newport

You can’t expect a human brain to come up with original things and tend to constant unstructured communication. – Cal Newport

The majority of people can get the value needed from social media by logging in on their desktop for 20 minutes once a week. – Cal Newport

The average American spends an average of 2 hours per day on social media. – Cal Newport

You are being exploited and used by these massive attention conglomerates who are trying to extract as many minutes out of your mind. – Cal Newport

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review.

One Response

  1. Leslie Kane says:

    I love this podcast. By the way, Rory you can turn off the the # of emails notification on your iPhone screen.

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