Career superpowers – book summary

By | November 30, 2014

I loved this book, career superpowers: succeeding on purpose by James Whittaker. It is refreshing to strategically think about your career and to feel in control. The author breaks down the career superpowers in 8 attributes: ambition, passion, specialization, storytelling, imitation, derivation, creativity, and leadership.


Ambition sets the bar for you career, you increase your chance of climbing high by aiming high. It means aligning your skills and work ethic to achieve what you want from life. To fulfill your ambition, you will have to identify stupid rules and refuse to allow them to have power over you (loyalty to your company is one stupid rule).
Out delivering your hard working colleagues is more likely to burn you out rather than help you reach your long term goal. Working hard is a necessary condition of success but it is not sufficient in itself. You need to work smart, do not invest time in impressing your manager(s), and spend time to better your situation and yourself. Have a larger view, take the pulse of the industry rather than the pulse of your company. You have to learn to stand out.
Your career has to be handled as a project, keep track of it daily think where is it headed. What’s in your way, how is your progress? Are you ever going to get where you want to be on your current course?


If you are not passionate about your job then you won’t have the additional energy, enthusiasm and work ethic that comes with passion. You should share your passion broadly (blog, papers, manifestos) and advertise the thing that turns you on. Also, being intensely interested in the subject you are presenting makes the material more interesting to your audience.


A specialty is the ultimate career aide, choose one that matters (high value), that is visible, and has implication across the industry and not just your company. Pick a specialty that is well within your skill set and you can master completely (being good only is not enough). Don’t stretch to be the dumbest guy at the level above you, instead be the smartest at the level below.
Once you got a specialty you love, sell it! Have a good elevator pitch (write it, practice it, and promote it) for all your specialty (don’t be a one trick pony, be ready to change), it should explains what you do and why it is valuable in one simple sentence.
You will enjoy the dividend of you specialty during the rest of your career. You need to learn, master, and own your specialty.


Directly influence how people think and get them to see your ideas and values in full color.


The people around you have a great power over who you become and how high you reach. Choose them well. If you need to learn something from someone, make sure they are really good at it.


It is not about making the invention, it is about being the one who makes the invention meaningful. You should be aware of your industry and how you are using product developed by your industry. You should be able to name at least 10 industry-insider websites that publish news about your industry. Looking at the world and wanting to fix it is part of the derivative superpower.


The more you know, the more creative you can become. Find out when and where you can be the most creative, build your day to enable creativity.


All previous attributes, make you successful. Being successful creates gravity around you, this is call being a leader. You need to know yourself to be a leader, knowing where you want to go and where you want to be in the future. Work on product that is important to the company, no career is served by working on a product that the company doesn’t really care about. Leader can build a team where everybody can recite the product elevator pitch, each understand why the product is important, what and who the competition is, and how the product fits in the company’s lineup.


Above summary is really short and might not make sense to someone who haven’t read the full book. I definitely recommend this one for anybody who wants to drive their career.


2 Kudos