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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591846918
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/22/2013
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 522,825
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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.


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

Read an 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.  

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

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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
GeoffB72 More than 1 year ago
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.
grampsterRB More than 1 year ago
Great book. Scott Adams has always made me laugh with Dilbert as well as shake my head in agreement. This is a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago