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Top Performer is Open

The Return of Top Performer

Top Performer, a career mastery course developed over the past four years by myself and Scott Young, is open this week for new registrations.

Top Performer is an eight-week online course that is designed to help you develop a deep understanding of how your career works, and then apply the principles of deliberate practice to efficiently master the skills you identify as mattering most.

We’ve had over two thousand students go though this course to date, representing a wide variety of different professions, backgrounds, and career stages.

Registration for new students will be up until Friday at midnight Pacific Time. After this we will close the registration page so we can prepare for the new session to start.

If you’re interested in joining the new session, or just want to find out more about the course (including multiple case studies and detailed FAQs), please check out the course registration page before Friday.


Addendum: Scott and I try to open new sessions once or twice a year, but the frequency can depend on many factors. If you’re thinking of skipping this session to join the next, the wait might be long. Keep in mind that once you sign up you gain lifelong access to the course and all future updates and sessions. And even though we start each new session at a given time, there’s no obligation to progress through the session at a set pace. You can start when you’re ready.

12 thoughts on “Top Performer is Open”

  1. I continue to be surprised at your work with Scott Young. He has successfully started a semi-popular blog, which is certainly valuable, but he has based it on exaggerating his experiences.

    Andres Romero and Paul Hemberger both have great critiques of Scott Young’s “MIT Challenge”:

    Cal, given how downhill this blog has gone in the past few years, I wonder if you are trying to cash out now rather than provide actual value. Working with a fibber like Scott, producing this course and charging money with no hint on outcomes, writing half-assed posts, using Facebook for your course while claiming you have never used Facebook (hint: using your wife’s account is a cop-out).

    Your course has been around over a year. A short time in terms of building a career, but certainly long enough that we should be able to get some data out of your course. You’re supposed to follow the data rather than popular opinion, and yet you’ve offered no data to show that Top Performer actually works. And you are charging people money.

    Getting $500 a pop. No quantification of the outcomes. What’s going on?

    Very disappointing, considering how good your blog was in earlier years.

    • If his blog has dropped off in value so badly then why are you still here reading it?

      Move on already and do some “deep work” on yourself versus trolling around on the internet.


    • I do not agree with you in many points. I did not agree with Andres and Paul’s Quora postings either.

      Having said that, I agree that it will be very helpful to reveal the data. It could be a survey result. Surveys from potentially thousand people is not a small data set compared to usual psychology/social studies. Here are a few points I’m interested in.

      1. How many people (%) finished the course from start to end? (Section by section might be useful as well.)

      2. How many students think the price of the course too high, too low, or just right?

      3. How many experts did students interacted to receive advice?

      4. How many skills did students acquired on average?

      5. What are concrete positive outcome? (e.g., a published article for a writer) In this case, “did you feel improved?” kind of question would be useless. Considering the psychological effect that people usually do not want to admit if they spent money unwisely, the survey questions should be designed very carefully.

      6. Categories of skills that students achieved for those concrete outcome in the real world. (critical eyes for editing in case of writers, statistical techniques for data analysts, etc…)

      7. How many students are continuing to apply these principles after finishing the class?

      And so on and so forth.

      • Not sure if you went to MIT, but I did and found Andres and Paul’s quora postings pretty accurate. No one’s discounting the fact that what Scott did was an achievement or that it’s something pretty unusual for anyone to do. But considering it equivalent to getting a CS/Course 6 degree from MIT is grossly inaccurate.

        That being said, I echo the sentiment about the surveys and think this is a nice suggested list. I was waiting for “round 2” of the program to decide whether it might be worth participating since I was anticipating info on how it went, but the lack of review (other thank a very small handful of quotes on the site) make it difficult to evaluate.

      • i think something else to add might be: before and after results(might also help with to be inspired)
        but i am convince that it’s a great course as everything else i have got from cal newport(especially deep work) and scott young was awesome

    • Thanks for asking these entirely appropriate questions in order to help people make an unbiased decision about the Top Performer course, rather than succumb to the vague marketing GRQ advertising that pervades the internet.

    • Although this comment is steeped in personal attack stuff which does not belong in a level debate, it raises a valid issue of what kind of data or evidence one would look for before purchasing an online product of any kind. A true measurement of success, productivity individual achievement producing value would have to find a way of factoring issues such as faith, trust, a feeling of creative connection with the author or leader.

      I discovered ‘Deep Work’ via… Facebook – a 3 line anonymous recommendation in a thread on productivity. Instinct kicked in and I knew this was a book that would influence me greatly. I have had it around 8 months and am re-reading it for a second time.

      I could name a few other authors that have had a massive influence on my thinking and productivity. Data is not the be all and end all in my assessing whether a course or book will work for me, more the discourse conduct and integrity of the leader.

      I’ve never heard of Scott Young – but I know enough about Cal Newport to feel that anyone he must be working with has got something very serious to offer. I dont think Cal would risk his reputation otherwise.

      I nearly signed up for this course but missed the deadline. A lack of data or evidence that it does or does not work is not the key issue for me. Although it is an important one to raise.

  2. I think it was much better idea if you just put a subscription price for this blog rather than selling a course. I started to read your book “So good …” one day after sending my resignation letter (I did not like my job). I finished the book in one week and as a result, I withdrew my resignation to make a loving career out of my current situation. At the time of writing this comment, I am working at home on a Friday night (never happened to me btw). Your writing is brilliant and life-changing. As you might guess, many of your readers do not like seeing you trying to sell a course.

  3. Hello Cal,

    While I don’t actually agree with most of what has been said in the first comment above, this part caught my attention:

    «using Facebook for your course while claiming you have never used Facebook (hint: using your wife’s account is a cop-out). »

    I don’t know whether this is true or not, but it reminded me of an article I read some time ago, about a Silicon Valley startup CEO… that does *not* use a cell phone!! In the midst of that story, we find the following:

    «This is where my wife, if she were co-author of this piece, would chime in: “You see, he’s a hypocrite! He doesn’t have a phone but he relies on other people having a phone. And this whole ‘not having a phone thing’ isn’t some cool rejection of tech addiction. It’s the ultimate selfishness. It means the whole world has to revolve around him. If you make a plan to meet, you can’t change it because you can’t let him know. It drives me completely mad …” etc, etc.»

    Having been the situation of not having a facebook account and having had to depend on other people who did (fortunately it only happens rarely!), I would ask if you could elaborate a bit more on your own case. Particularly, if it is not intruding excessively, has anything like this happened to you? If so, how did/do you cope?

    Link for the article:


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