How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

( 2 )

Overview

Everything you want out of life is in that bubbling vat of failure. The trick is to get the good stuff out.

Scott Adams has likely failed at more things than anyone you’ve ever met or anyone you’ve even heard of. So how did he go from hapless office worker and serial failure to the creator of Dilbert, one of the world’s most famous syndicated comic strips, in just a few years? In How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Adams shares ...

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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

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Overview

Everything you want out of life is in that bubbling vat of failure. The trick is to get the good stuff out.

Scott Adams has likely failed at more things than anyone you’ve ever met or anyone you’ve even heard of. So how did he go from hapless office worker and serial failure to the creator of Dilbert, one of the world’s most famous syndicated comic strips, in just a few years? In How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Adams shares the strategy he has used since he was a teen to invite failure in, embrace it, then pick its pocket.

No career guide can offer advice that works for everyone. As Adams explains, your best bet is to study the ways of others who made it big and try to glean some tricks and strategies that make sense for you. Adams pulls back the covers on his own unusual life and shares how he turned one failure after another into something good

and lasting.

Adams reveals that he’s failed at just about everything he’s tried, including his corporate career, his inventions, his investments, and his two restaurants. But there’s a lot to learn from his personal story, and a lot of humor along the way. Adams discovered some unlikely truths that helped to propel him forward. For instance:

• Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners.

• “Passion” is bull. What you need is personal energy.

• A combination of mediocre skills can make you surprisingly valuable.

• You can manage your odds in a way that makes you look lucky to others.

Adams hopes you can laugh at his failures while discovering some unique and helpful ideas on your own path to personal victory. As he writes:

“This is a story of one person’s unlikely success within the context of scores of embarrassing failures. Was my eventual success primarily a result of talent, luck, hard work, or an accidental just-right balance of each? All I know for sure is that I pursued a conscious strategy of managing my opportunities in a way that would make it easier for luck to find me.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Adams has a funny, refreshingly considered set of ideas about how to find success—and what that success will look like when one gets there.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Scott Adams has drawn nearly 9,000 Dilbert cartoons since the strip began, in 1989, and his cynical take on management ideas, the effectiveness of bosses, and cubicle life has affected the worldview of millions. But he built his successful career mainly through trial and error—a whole lot of error, to be exact.
Harvard Business Review

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
Failing and succeeding, the sarcastic comic-strip–artist way. Dilbert creator Adams has failed where others have succeeded, and he has a chapter to prove it: a 10-page list of mistakes, misfires and entrepreneurial blunders that humbled him time and again. Not every business venture crashed and burned, of course; the massive success of Dilbert is proof enough of that. As the title of the book suggests, Adams' path to cartooning fame and fortune was uneven, fraught with missteps and largely unrelated to cartooning. Fans of Dilbert will find the author's less-than-orthodox approach to a "win big" guide to be in keeping with the tone of the comic strip. Some of the themes of the book include "goals are for losers," "conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way)," and "simplicity transforms ordinary into amazing." Adams has extensive experience in data-driven office environments, and the long-form writing gives him a chance to examine the many approaches he's tried to making positive changes in his life and career. Many of the themes are common to this type of book--e.g., the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, the benefits of having a "system" to follow over a long period of time instead of passions or goals that leave you feeling empty as soon as you achieve them. Adams has a funny, refreshingly considered set of ideas about how to find success--and what that success will look like when one gets there. While Adams implores readers not to consider this book's suggestions as advice ("It's never a good idea to take advice from cartoonists"), he does turn the many lemons of his work history into something akin to a helpful guide for young adults stumbling through the early career years.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591846918
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 781,099
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott  Adams

Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular and widely-distributed comic strips of the past quarter century. He has been a full-time cartoonist since 1995, after 16 years as a technology worker for companies like Crocker National Bank and Pacific Bell. His many bestsellers include The Dilbert Principle and Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook. He lives outside of San Francisco.

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    1. Hometown:
      Danville, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 8, 1957
    2. Place of Birth:
      Catskill, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Hartwick College, 1979; M.B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1986

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

This is not an advice book. If you’re ever taken advice from a cartoonist, there’s a good chance it didn’t end well. For starters, it’s hard to know when a cartoonist is being serious and when he or she is constructing an elaborate practical joke. I’ve crafted pranks that spanned years, sometimes when no one was in on the joke but me.   

On top of that, I’m getting paid to write this book, and we all know that money distorts truth like a hippo in a thong. And let’s not forget I’m a stranger to most of you. It’s never a good idea to trust strangers.

I’m also not an expert at anything, including my own job. I draw like an inebriated howler monkey and my writing style falls somewhere between baffling and sophomoric. It’s an ongoing mystery to me why I keep getting paid.

Most advice-like books take the view that the author is an omnipotent source of knowledge and the reader is an empty vessel of dysfunction. I approach this book with a more realistic humility. For starters, anyone who reads this sort of book is likely to be brighter than the average citizen, and, in far too many cases, brighter than me.  

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 22, 2013

    One part philosophy, one part self help, all fun

    Scott Adams is a very strange person, but also a very interesting chap. He has experienced major successes, but also major setbacks, and through it all has maintained the sense of humour that powers one of the most popular comic strips in the world. Much of this book goes over ground covered in The Dilbert Future and the introduction to Dilbert 2.0. But while the stories can be familiar the underlying ideas tying together the narrative are clearer and more focused. A key point: keep working at things till you succeed at something and little will be thought about your failures. For good advice from a true success and the philosophical consolation to keep going till you succeed, this is a great if quirky read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 23, 2015

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