041: Cal Newport on Kindling an Examined Life Through Deep Work (author of Deep Work)

“Cal Newport is a clear voice in a sea of noise, bringing science and passion in equal measure. We don’t need more clicks, more cats, and more emojis. We need brave work, work that happens when we refuse to avert our eyes.”

Seth Godin

Where is your attention right now? Do you find your attention span shrinking in the era of sound bites and clickbait headlines? Do you turn towards social media when a moment of boredom arises? Cal Newport has written a book that will upturn your perception of how you ‘should’ be engaging in this era of constant connection. His book is called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Be forewarned, our conversation and his book will likely reshape your relationship with social media, personal habits and rituals and your overall approach to the work day. Thanks to Cal’s book, I have reimagined my tasks lists for the workday, creating rituals for focus, and walk around the social media sinkhole of attention. And Cal has one of my all-time favorites lines so far on the Contemplify podcast…

We do need more brave work, and Cal has questioned assumptions and charted a path for a focused approach to life. In our conversation, Cal shares the importance of Deep Work for personal and societal improvement in life and at work, the rituals of his day that create the most ample space of Deep Work, how is New York Times Op-Ed piece on social media caused such a stir (and backlash) and gives an example of what one comedian friend of his accomplished after they quit Twitter and devoted that time to Deep Work. You might find yourself making some major digital shifts after listening to this conversation.

Now for the official bio on Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age, Newport also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work.  His most recent book, Deep Work, argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace and that the ability to concentrate without distraction is becoming increasingly valuable. He previously wrote So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a book which debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice, and three popular books of unconventional advice for students. (from calnewport.com)

You can learn more about Cal and his work at calnewport.com.

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Recent Books by Cal Newport

Resources Mentioned

Drinks Pairings

  • Barrel Aged Bourbon


  • When you hear the word “contemplative”, how does that moniker relate to you?
  • What practices have you ritualized in your life?
  • What does your quarterly review look like?
  • If someone were going to teach a class on the formation of Cal Newport, what would be the 3 mandatory readings or works that formed you that would definitely be on that syllabus?
  • What does the term ‘Deep Work’ mean to you?
  • Why does ‘Deep Work’ matter now?
  • Can Deep Work happen in collaborative work or just solo work?
  • I found Deep Work to be deeply philosophical book hidden in a business book format, a framework for living a life of meaning, intention and service to the world through the cultivation of full presence…does that resonate with you or am adding my lens to it?
  • Was there a moment or series of events that sparked this inquiry into Deep Work?
  • How do you shape your day for the most ample amount of Deep Work?
  • Why do you think people are unwilling to trade social media fascination for Deep Work?
  • I heard you describe your ritual of writing your blog posts – What is the importance of ritual in Deep Work?
  • How do you apply the concepts of Deep Work in the life of children?
  • What projects do you have on the horizons?
  • What drink would you pair with this conversation?

Photo credit: Death To Stock Photo

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