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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  15,568 ratings  ·  1,528 reviews
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 w ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 248 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Penguin Portfolio
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Boni Aditya You cannot plan for luck, you need to improvise for luck and depend on instincts to make choices. What is planning but a technique to freeze your opti…moreYou cannot plan for luck, you need to improvise for luck and depend on instincts to make choices. What is planning but a technique to freeze your options in the future, which kills any scope for luck! i.e. luck finding you or vice-versa. So don't plan, have a rough idea about the three things you want to get done that day! Don't plan any further, do a rough, eagle view planning, leave scope for ambiguity, and be flexible. That is leaving some wiggle room for luck! I think he did mention about this!(less)
Erik Not a humble brag at all. Very practical, and at times, unique advice to living a life of success. Minor bits of humor sprinkled in make it a very enj…moreNot a humble brag at all. Very practical, and at times, unique advice to living a life of success. Minor bits of humor sprinkled in make it a very enjoyable business strategy book. (less)

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Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
The first chapter of this book--along with the title--had me absolutely hooked. I have faced a lot of failure in my life, and it was really encouraging to hear Scott Adams, who eventually found success, talk about having a mentality of "inviting failure and then not letting it leave until you pick its pockets."

But after the first couple chapters, things went rapidly down hill.

The problem is that, as far his life is presented in the book, Scott Adams hasn't really known much meaningful failure *a
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Preface: I randomly bought this book on my kindle when its ad popped up after I opened my kindle cover. I have a habit of impulsively buying/downloading arbitrary books onto my kindle and because thus far I've always been pleased with my stray purchases influenced by Amazon's ads, I don't object to the marketing. I didn't know who Scott Adams is. I've heard of the Dilbert comic strip but that's it; never read them. I've never read any of his works until this book. My opinion of this book? Absol ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Aug 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
I don't think anyone reads Scott Adams for serious life insights. All of us who are familiar with Dilbert knows his ferocious tongue-in-cheek humour, especially targeting the stupidities of the corporate world. So that was what I was expecting while I took up this book to while away a long flight - something on the lines of Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook.

It started well, with gems such as the following:

Making comics is a process by which you strip out the unnecessary noise from a situa
Pixie Dust
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
I love the Dilbert comics and The Dilbert Principle, so I thought this book would be an entertaining read. The book was initially rather funny, but became rather serious as it progressed. Any sprinkling of humour after the first few pages felt merely facetious rather than truly comical.

I also felt a little cheated. Adams claims he’s got mediocre talent in writing, drawing and humour, and that his success was due to his being able to combine his several mediocre skills into a winning combination.
Stefan Kanev
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is awesome!

Some context first: when I got this book, I had no idea what it was about. I just saw a book from Scott Adams, author of one of my favorite comics (Dilbert) and thought "It might be very interesting to read a book by this guy". It remained on my shelf for a few months and eventually I was bored and started reading it. And I really, really liked it.

It's part self-help, part autobiography. Adams tells a couple of personal story and outlines his personal view on life. He invite
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Dude writes a self-help book--the first third of which is a big complaint about the "diversity ceiling," meaning that he kept not getting promoted because he was a white man. Fine, but it then undercuts his point about learning from failures and moving on. He clearly did not. Also, there's a lot of positive thinking and "the secret" magic talk in here. He keeps saying: "I am not saying I got this success because I thought real hard about it, but that's the only thing that makes sense." ...more
Amir Tesla
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Filled with sound, battle-tested advice!

Think of it as a big, wise brother sharing you the best of what he's learned.
Kirsten Mortensen
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Giving this three stars for purely subjective reasons.

The book is on the whole very good: a mix of memoir and advice from someone who has made it big and wants to share some of the things he learned along the way.

Where it fell apart for me was when he started talking diet. Adams jokes that you shouldn't take diet advice from a cartoonist. That should have inoculated me against reacting the way I did, but alas, it didn't. The problem is threefold: dietary success is based on a staggering mix of v
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: waiting
Summary of many books like The "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" or "Influence" mixed with Scott biography...
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book very much. In it Scott Adams, the author of the comic strip Dilbert, tells us how he accomplished a very successful life after years perceiving himself as a failure.

First he states that all his failures prepared him for his success. We tend to learn from our failures things that may help us in the future. He also proposed do not set goals instead use a system to accomplish tasks. An example of a system approach was told to him by a CEO of a screw making company. The CEO told
Mohit Parikh
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Read about 60-70%
Witty, prudent, anecdotal. Could have been shorter/funnier.
My biggest takeaway would be the systems vs goal theory. Makes so much sense.
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I wish I could have got hold of this a few years ago. It sure would have saved me some time and energy in acquiring some of the not-so-common sense and self-awareness as an adult. Definitely a book I'd recommend.

These are mostly personal opinions of Scott, derived from patterns he's observed, on things that he considers are required to succeed at a practical level. I knowingly nodded my head at most of the book, while some parts did result in a puzzled frown. There are also workable mind hacks t
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to get their life together
This is probably the best book that I’ve read on how to get my life together. It’s encouraging, motivating, and it helps that the author is entertaining, which one would expect, since he’s the creator of Dilbert. I’m not a Dilbert fan, but that didn’t stop me from loving this book. I really enjoyed his direct and simple writing style. I wish that this book had been published earlier in my life. This book was so good that I plan on re-reading it from time to time.

Some of my favorite quotes:

Laura Noggle
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although there's nothing exceptionally groundbreaking in this book, Scott Adams' personal touch, and unique perspective on standard self-help fare renders this book quite enjoyable.

Never a big reader of Dilbert, I first became intrigued by Adams' story when he appeared on the Tim Ferriss podcast (great episode). Adams discussed his belief in affirmations and how he'd utilized them at various points in life.

That discussion alone was enough for me to put the book on my TBR list, but it wasn't un
Nasos Psarrakos
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most enjoyable book I've read in years ♥️♥️ ...more
Tim Casteel
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very uneven book- brilliant practical wisdom on how to succeed, mixed with bizarre beliefs (“The Secret”-esque Affirmations- if you believe it, it will happen; we are all holograms created by aliens), cheap shots at religion, and 100% wrong views on human nature (happiness comes from being rich and famous and consuming feel good entertainment- at all costs avoid depressing books/movies).

But it’s the most fun you’ll have while learning about leadership and success!

Very entertaining and enough
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: miscellaneous
It was "OK". Most of the insights offered I already knew, but still enjoyed his "take" on them. He always says not to take the advice of cartoonists and check with your doctor before taking any of his medical advice. I don't know why but that always made me chuckle inside. The most interesting part the book was learning of his voice illness and how he overcame that. All-in-all, he has had an interesting and charmed (he says to position yourself for luck to find you) life. ...more
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought this would be funnier and dumber than it is, but it's not a Dilbert book. This is better than the average self-help book because it has some wisdom in it. His frank discussion of all the times he failed was more valuable than another set of rules for success. As with all self-help, the value is in how it resonates with you at a given time. His thing about "goals are for losers, systems are for winners" was a useful reframing for me. ...more
Josh VanBrakle
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Let me start by saying I'm a big fan of Dilbert. Having worked in a few bureaucracies, I've read more than one Dilbert strip that has happened to me. That said, this is not a Dilbert book. This is a self-help book. Fortunately, it's a good one. Adams's ability to distill ideas down to their basic elements is what makes this book a solid read. As an author, I agree with his premise that failure is essential to success. If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to fail. I wrote a lot of junk ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This isn't a flashy book, but it's a practical book for achieving success and happiness in life. There are also jokes that made me laugh out loud a few times. The ongoing story of Scott's voice problems was especially interesting. Intellectually, you know that "everybody has problems," but it's easy to assume that successful people either don't have problems or have only little problems. Turns out, Scott has had some unusually difficult problems. Example: Not being able to speak for about four y ...more
Sergey Teplyakov
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-development
I've read handful amount of books about self-development and time management, but this one is definitely different from everything I've ever read. It is a little bit about everything, with simple explanations, and with some kind of very attractive wisdom. It is about food and energy, goals and systems, mental and physical health, self-criticism and honesty to yourself.

I can't remember enjoying the book so much (last time it was a fabulous "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman). It was fun to read, a
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is a book of life advice that every 18 year old should read. If you're long past 18, you should still read it. He combines a personal story of a major setback with wisdom that can only be acquired through years of failures with a sprinkling of success.

Adams will reveal his secrets like using a system instead of goals, building skills necessary to make money in any environment and knowing how to be happy. There are plenty of examples of advice that I wish I had known when I was 18.
J.F. Penn
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. The systems approach is very useful.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Filled with valuable information!
Tom Stamper
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, culture
I have never gotten past a chapter or two of a Tony Robbins or Dr. Phil book without quitting even though they have been recommended by smart people that I respect. I just figured it was a genre that doesn't work for me. It was no different than reading Isaac Asmiov and Larry Nevin without becoming a fan of science fiction books.

Reading Scott Adams has given me a different perspective. I now think the wisdom from others only works practically if you are reading someone that shares enough of you
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"You've heard the saying that knowledge is power. but knowledge of psychology is the purest form of that power.
Systems vs Goals thinking. A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don't sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, it's a system. If you're waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it's a goal. If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-to-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandy Maguire
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: entertainment
I'm pre-emptively giving this the "best book I read in 2015" award. It's witty, but more importantly, chalked full of life tactics and strategy. A significant chunk of the book covers energy-management techniques, with seemingly-solid discussions on diet and exercise aimed towards people who feel completely overwhelmed when they approach the literature in either of those topics (ie. me). I got a huge inspiration boost out of this book, and for the most part couldn't put it down -- except when it ...more
Fred Forbes
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this "how to succeed" tome especially since he acknowledges that much of what happens in life comes down to luck and timing - but the more skills you develop, the more things you try, the more effort you put into life, the luckier you seem to get. Thought his ideas on gleaning what one can from any failure - new ideas, new people, new approaches - certainly improve the odds for success. I was also fascinated by his medical condition as related to the loss of his speaking ability. Interes ...more
Chris M.H
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographical
Systems, systems, systems. Apply them to everything worth while in your life and they beat goal-setting and willpower every time, according to Scott Adams – and I happen to agree.

His simplistic way of describing what to steer clear of and what to run headlong into was refreshing. He is by no means a get your heart-rate going, passion in every chapter author, but he doesn’t need to be, and Adams doesn’t think much of passion anyhow.

A recollection of a story put me of the verge of weeping and many
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adams was born in Windham, New York in 1957 and received his Bachelor's degree in Economics from Hartwick College in 1979.

He also studied economics and management for his 1986 MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

In recent years, Ada

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“I made a list of skills in which I think every adult should gain a working knowledge. I wouldn't expect you to become a master of any, but mastery isn't necessary. Luck has a good chance of finding you if you become merely good in most of these areas. I'll make a case for each one, but here's the preview list.

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“A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don't sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, its a system. If you're waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it's a goal. If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or set new goals and reenter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure. All I'm suggesting is that thinking of goals and systems as very different concepts has power. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good everytime they apply their system. That's a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.” 45 likes
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