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

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

by Scott Adams


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Blasting clichéd career advice, the contrarian pundit and creator of Dilbert recounts the humorous ups and downs of his career, revealing the outsized role of luck in our lives and how best to play the system.

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 game plan he’s followed since he was a teen: 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—including his corporate career, his inventions, his investments, and his two restaurants—into something good and lasting. There’s a lot to learn from his personal story, and a lot of entertainment 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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591847748
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/30/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 30,556
Product dimensions: 5.44(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular 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.


Danville, California

Date of Birth:

June 8, 1957

Place of Birth:

Catskill, New York


B.A., Hartwick College, 1979; M.B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1986

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Excerpted from "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Scott Adams.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The Time I Was Crazy 7

Chapter 2 The Day of the Talk 10

Chapter 3 Passion Is Bullshit 13

Chapter 4 Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form 16

Chapter 5 My Absolute Favorite Spectacular Failure 28

Chapter 6 Goals Versus Systems 30

Chapter 7 My System 35

Chapter 8 My Corporate Career Fizzled 41

Chapter 9 Deciding Versus Wanting 46

Chapter 10 The Selfishness Illusion 47

Chapter 11 The Energy Metric 51

Chapter 12 Managing Your Attitude 65

Chapter 13 It's Already Working 74

Chapter 14 My Pinkie Goes Nuts 76

Chapter 15 My Speaking Career 80

Chapter 16 My Voice Problem Gets a Name 82

Chapter 17 The Voice Solution That Didn't Work 84

Chapter 18 Recognizing Your Talents and Knowing When to Quit 86

Chapter 19 Is Practice Your Thing? 92

Chapter 20 Managing Your Odds for Success 95

Chapter 21 The Math of Success 101

Chapter 22 Pattern Recognition 145

Chapter 23 Humor 149

Chapter 24 Affirmations 154

Chapter 25 Timing Is Luck Too 158

Chapter 26 A Few Times Affirmations Worked 161

Chapter 27 Voice Update 163

Chapter 28 Experts 165

Chapter 29 Association Programming 167

Chapter 30 Happiness 171

Chapter 31 Diet 180

Chapter 32 Fitness 204

Chapter 33 Voice Update 215

Chapter 34 Luck 218

Chapter 35 CalendarTree Start-up 220

Chapter 36 Voice Update 3 222

Chapter 37 A Final Note About Affirmations 225

Chapter 38 Summary 230

Acknowledgments 233

Notes 235

Index 246

What People are Saying About This

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

Customer Reviews