Joy of Work: Dilbert's Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-Workers

Overview

‘I cried because I did not have an office with a door, until I met a man who had no cubicle.’ Dilbert

A message from Scott Adams:

I think the next wave of office design will focus on eliminating the only remaining obstacle to office productivity: your happiness. Happiness isn’t a physical thing, like walls and doors. But it’s closely related. Managers know that if they can eliminate all traces of happiness, the employees won’t be so picky about their physical surroundings. Once ...

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Overview

‘I cried because I did not have an office with a door, until I met a man who had no cubicle.’ Dilbert

A message from Scott Adams:

I think the next wave of office design will focus on eliminating the only remaining obstacle to office productivity: your happiness. Happiness isn’t a physical thing, like walls and doors. But it’s closely related. Managers know that if they can eliminate all traces of happiness, the employees won’t be so picky about their physical surroundings. Once you’re hopelessly unhappy, you won’t bother to complain if your boss rolls you up in a tight ball and crams you into a cardboard box.

As soon as I noticed this disturbing threat to workplace happiness, I did some investigative work and discovered it wasn’t confined to the issue of office design. Companies were making a direct frontal assault on employee happiness in every possible way! I knew there was only one thing that could stop the horror.

It was time for another Dilbert book. It might sound corny, but I felt an obligation to society. People told me it was time for me to ‘give something back to the community.’ This scared me, until I realised that no one knows I furnished my house with street signs and park benches. So I interpreted the ‘give something back to the community’ message as a plea for me to write this book and then charge the community to read it.

In the first part of this book I will tell you how to find happiness at the expense of your co-workers, managers, customers, and – best of all – those lazy stockholders. The second part of the book teaches you my top-secret methods for mining humour out of ordinary situations, thus making it easier to mock the people around you. The third part of the book is made entirely of invisible pages. If the book seems heavier than it looks, that’s why.

Office Prank #44: Sounds That Drive Co-workers Crazy. You can produce sounds in the office that will drive your co-workers insane. That can be very entertaining. Every co-worker is different, so you might have to experiment to find the sounds that are most annoying to your cubicle neighbour. It’s worth the effort.

This humorous corporate survival guide details the joys of work, reverse telecommuting, boss managing strategies and office pranks. It also discusses meeting survival, co-worker management and criticism handling. Complete with Dilbert cartoons, examples and anecdotes, this guide is a surefire way to brighten up a dreary day.

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Editorial Reviews

Green
It's cute and clever.
Business Week
Daneet Steffens
Adams is no slouch, but his repetitive groove. . .is starting to wear a little thin.
Entertainment Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dilbert devotees should enjoy Adams's compendium of advice on office life, subterfuge and pranks. Take his grid that identifies boss types along the axes of capable/incompetent and harmless/evil: with a boss who is both capable and harmless, be sure to delegate upward. Other handy tips: don't return phone calls (if you do, you'll seem accessible and underworked); present overly complicated diagrams with made-up letters (explain when asked: "Some ideas are too big for the alphabet"). Loyal readers have contributed some Adams's suggested office pranks, as well as choice bits like the coinage of the term "multishirking," or doing two nonwork activities at once. Sure, some bits are too silly to be funny (start a phone-sex biz from your cubicle?), and others could use some Dave Barry-style zing. But this book shines with Adams's real advice on creating humor and his hilarious tale of appearing as an expert consultant (aka Mebert) who convinced his clients to put their mission statement to music. As usual, this fourth Dilbert book--timed to arrive with the UPN animated series this fall--is punctuated throughout by hilarious and apropos Dilbert strips. Author tour. (Oct.)
Green
It's cute and clever.
Business Week
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887308956
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/20/1999
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 8.12 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Adams
Before his comic creation Dilbert rose to fame as the champion of disgruntled office drones everywhere, Scott Adams was a lowly cube-dweller himself, toiling away at a string of thankless, low-paying corporate jobs. With the success of a franchise that includes dozens of books, as well as calendars, video games, and associated Dilbert-themed merchandise, it’s safe to say Adams won’t have to go back to the office grind anytime soon.

Biography

Back when he was a lowly office worker slaving under fluorescent lights and drinking bad coffee at an unsatisfying string of office jobs, Scott Adams would try to stave off some of the mind-numbing boredom he faced each day by doodling a little comic strip about a hapless office drone he called Dilbert. As he worked, Adams filed away the fodder for his fledgling comic strip. Today, Dilbert is officially an empire -- and Adams is the CEO.

Adams didn't start his career path intending to become a workplace warrior. As he told FamousVeggie.com, he graduated high-school as valedictorian "because the other 39 people in my class couldn't spell ‘valedictorian.'" After earning a B.A. in economics at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, Adams went on to earn an M.B.A. at the University of California at Berkeley. Adding an interesting twist to his education, he also managed to pick up a Certified Hypnotist diploma from the Clement School of Hypnosis in 1981.

After college, during his often-brief tenure at a series of low-paying, low-on-the-totem-pole jobs at corporations from Crocker National Bank in San Francisco to Pacific Bell in San Ramon, Adams started to wonder if his sanity-saving doodles really could rescue him from a life spent working for The Man. Acting on a tip from a kindly fellow cartoonist, he picked up the 1988 Artist Markets guide and simply followed the instructions on how to get syndicated. He mailed out fifty sample Dilbert strips, and was offered a contract by United Media within weeks.

Adams's first attempt writing an actual book was 1996's The Dilbert Principle, which became a number one New York Times bestseller and one of the top-selling business books of all time. More than just a compilation of Adams's cartoons, the book included essays on the trials and tribulations of corporate culture. "Each one is on target and deliciously sardonic," said Booklist in its review. "Sometimes too true to be funny." Today, the strip continues its clip as the fastest-growing cartoon of all time, and is enjoyed daily by 150 million people in 1,900 newspapers, in 56 countries.

Transitioning from comic compilations to full books was a challenge for Adams. As he admitted to Salon.com, "Drawing the comic strip is fun -- it can actually increase my energy. I feel good when I'm doing it, and I feel good when it's done. But writing just sucks the energy right out of me. I find that after about an hour of writing sometimes I have to jump on the floor and fall asleep, right now. It's so much harder than it looks."

When he's not helping Dilbert bring a smile to the faces of the working wounded, Adams moonlights as a restaurateur, running two successful Stacey's Cafés in Northern California. He has also founded the Scott Adams Foods company, home of the Dilberito™ -- a protein-packed burrito perfect for the office microwave.

Good To Know

Adams describes himself as a "a cat-loving, vegetarian tennis player."

His past jobs include bank teller, computer programmer, financial analyst, product manager, loan officer, corporate strategist, and pseudo-engineer. Says Adams, "I was incompetent in each of those fields, but for some reason no one ever noticed."

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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


I cried because I did not have an office with a door, until I met a man who had no cubicle.
--Dilbert

Maybe you've heard of something called the "open plan" office design. It's getting a lot of attention lately. Under the open plan, employees have no offices or cubicles, just desks in a large open area. Storage areas are virtually eliminated. This is not a good trend.
After your boss has taken away your door, your walls, and your storage areas, there aren't many options left for the next revolution in office design. One of the following things is likely to go next:
The floor
The ceiling
Your happiness

I think the floor will stay, but only because your company would have to dig a huge hole all the way to the other side of the earth to get rid of it. As you can imagine, a huge hole through the earth would represent a serious threat to office productivity. Depending on your global location, the other side of the world might have hordes of refugees who would run through the hole, take one look at your office, scream in horror, and run back home. It's hard enough to concentrate while your co-workers are yammering, but if you add hordes of screaming refugees coming out of a hole, things would only get worse. And don't get me started about the problems with molten lava, or the fact that if you puncture the earth, all the gravity would escape.
Your company won't remove your ceiling. You need the ceiling to keep the people who are on higher floors from falling on your head. The only exception is the people on the top floor of your building, i.e., the ones who ordered your cubicle to be taken away. They'll keep their ceilings too, because all of thediscomforts that make regular employees more productive are exactly the kinds of things that make senior executives less productive. No one knows why.
I think the next wave of office design will focus on eliminating the only remaining obstacle to office productivity: your happiness. Happiness isn't a physical thing, like walls and doors. But it's closely related. Managers know that if they can eliminate all traces of happiness, the employees won't be so picky about their physical surroundings. Once you're hopelessly unhappy, you won't bother to complain if your boss rolls you up in a tight ball and crams you into a cardboard box.
As soon as I noticed this disturbing threat to workplace happiness, I did some investigative work and discovered it wasn't confined to the issue of office design. Companies were making a direct frontal assault on employee happiness in every possible way! I knew there was only one thing that could stop the horror.
It was time for another Dilbert book.
It might sound corny, but I felt an obligation to society. People told me it was time for me to "give something back to the community." This scared me until I realized that no one knows I furnished my house with street signs and park benches. So I interpreted the "give back to the community" message as a plea for me to write this book and then charge the community to read it.
In the first part of this book I will tell you how to find happiness at the expense of your co-workers, managers, customers, and--best of all--those lazy stockholders. The second part of the book teaches you my top-secret methods for mining humor out of ordinary situations, thus making it easier to mock the people around you. The third part of the book is made entirely of invisible pages. If the book seems heavier than it looks, that's why.
c Happiness Creates Money
In recent years, large companies revived an economic theory that had been out of fashion for hundreds of years. It goes something like this:
Economic Theory of the Nineties
Anything that makes employees unhappy makes the stock price go up.
Economics is a murky field, so when you find something that's easy to understand, you tend to latch on to it. You couldn't fault managers for reaching the conclusion that employee happiness and stock prices are inversely related. The evidence was impossible to ignore.

Things That Make
Employees UnhappyResult
DownsizingStock goes up
Reduced benefitsStock goes up
Unpaid overtimeStock goes up
Doubling the workloadStock goes up
The old saying about capitalism was, "A rising tide lifts all boats." If you own a boat, that's an inspirational thought. But if you work in a cubicle, rising water means one of your brilliant co-workers tried to flush the company newsletter down the toilet. Obviously, one theory does not fit all people. The economic theory that is good for stockholders is not necessarily the exact same one that is good for employees. You need your own economic theory--one that puts value on the things that matter most to you: happiness and money.
I'm highly qualified to create this new theory of economics for employees because I'm more than just a comic strip writer. I was an actual economics major in college. I didn't master every little nuance about economics, but I did get a good grasp of the major concepts, which I will summarize here so you don't need to become educated:
Everything I Learned from Economics Classes
cSomething about supply and demand
cBoredom can't kill you, but you might wish it could
Those economic insights won't solve all of your problems right away, but it's a strong foundation upon which we can build.
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Table of Contents

Important Note About This Book
1 The Joy of Work 1
2 Managing Your Boss 13
3 Reverse Telecommuting 47
4 Laughter at the Expense of Others 59
5 Office Pranks 97
6 Surviving Meetings 141
7 Managing Your Co-Workers 147
8 Bringing Humor and Creativity to your Job 157
9 Handling Criticism 239
10 The Downside of Success 261
Final Postscript 265
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Interviews & Essays

Business editor Amy Lambo recently had the rare opportunity to ask Dilbert creator Scott Adams seven questions on any topic. Here's what Scott had to say about life on a spaceship, optimism in the workplace, raw meat as a gift item, working in the Catskills, the Felix the Cat fan club, and more.

Barnes & Noble.com: To steal a question from my college scholarship exam: If you had to choose between spending a year in complete isolation on either a space ship or a desert island, which would you choose and why?

Scott Adams: That would depend on the space ship. If it were the starship Enterprise with its own holodeck and replicators, I'd pick that one. And if Jeri Ryan or any other cute borgs were on board, that would be a bonus. Desert islands rarely have cute borgs.

bn.com: Have you ever belonged to a fan club? Which one, and how old were you when you belonged to the club?

SA: I joined the Felix the Cat fan club when I was about eight. I got a fan club membership card and all the bragging rights associated with membership. Now anytime I get pulled over for speeding, I just flash my membership card. So far, none of the highway patrolmen have been members of the Felix the Cat club, so it hasn't helped me yet. But I'm hopeful.

bn.com: Your life is spent making people laugh. What TV show/book/movie/web site/random incident most recently made you laugh?

SA: It was a Garth Brooks interview on a naughty-but-funny web site, itaintcool.itgo.com.

bn.com: I heard Tom Peters speak a few months ago, and he was saying that he wrote his new Reinventing Work books because he got tired of your books outselling his. What do you think about his message about being optimistic and super-enthusiastic when it comes to work? Does work really matter to people in 1999, or is it just the same old Dilbertian absurdity disguised with trendy buzzwords?

SA: I'm all for optimism. I still believe a ship from the mother planet will pick me up and take me to a better world any minute now. But optimism about "work" is different from optimism about your specific job. The economy is good, so if your job sucks, get a better one. (Apologies to Tom if I just summarized his latest book in two sentences.)

bn.com: What's the worst gift that you ever received from a boss, coworker, or business colleague?

SA: It was a huge package of steaks by mail. I'm a vegetarian.

bn.com: Peter Drucker is turning 90 this month. Care to send him a Happy Birthday message?

SA: Happy birthday, Peter. I plan to live to 140, so you're just a kid.

bn.com: I know you've had plenty of horrible corporate jobs. Were there any jobs, other than your current work, that you really loved?

SA: During my high school and college years I worked at the Sugar Maples resort in Maplecrest, New York, in the Catskills. It was very much like the movie "Dirty Dancing," but without the dancing. I held every job from dishwasher to cook to busboy to desk clerk to bellhop to security guard. The work was mindless, and I was surrounded by nice people, who were hell-bent on having fun. Now that's a job.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2004

    Anybody with a Funny Bone should get this Book!

    This is a book for anyone who needs a dose of humor. Whether you read it from cover to cover (currently working on it), or from one place to another, anybody can enjoy this book! Not only does this book have humor, but, as the title says, this teaches you how to keep your sanity at the workplace. Every page is filled with a huge amount of humor. Go get this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2001

    Another Great Book from Adams

    Scott Adams has once again written a logical, cynical, and humorous book that is genuinely helpful. I've felt much happier having read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

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