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

Scott Adams · 6 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
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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I think that's one way, but not the only way. A single specific rare and valuable skill ("software engineering") can make you stand out, but a bundle of related or even unrelated skills can be even better (software engineering + design + business skill + good writer).

Scott Adams talks about combining skills like that in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything And Still Win Big [0]. He talks about his own combination of skills being "funnier than average" and "decent at drawing". I thought it was a good read. His talk of systems vs goals was also very worthwhile.


And a book! _How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big_ [1]. It's an easy, mostly funny read, with "discipline > motivation" at the center of it.


Which Scott Adams said this, and where is it from?

The Dilbert guy. It's from:

Here's a quote that leapt off the page at me:

Just after college, I took my first airplane trip, destination California, in search of a job. I was seated next to a businessman who was probably in his early 60s. I suppose I looked like an odd duck with my serious demeanor, bad haircut and cheap suit, clearly out of my element. I asked what he did for a living, and he told me he was the CEO of a company that made screws. He offered me some career advice. He said that every time he got a new job, he immediately started looking for a better one. For him, job seeking was not something one did when necessary. It was a continuing process.

This makes perfect sense if you do the math. Chances are that the best job for you won't become available at precisely the time you declare yourself ready. Your best bet, he explained, was to always be looking for a better deal. The better deal has its own schedule. I believe the way he explained it is that your job is not your job; your job is to find a better job.

This was my first exposure to the idea that one should have a system instead of a goal. The system was to continually look for better options.

It makes no sense at all if you don't view "having the best possible job" as a primary motivator in your life.
His self-help book is excellent.

Thanks for linking this, just purchased a copy the reviews are outstanding.
Thanks for linking this, just purchased a copy the reviews are outstanding.
go read

This is a book written by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, he has failed at more things than you can imagine. You are unique, divine. So hang in there. Start off with eating right and exercise to get increase your energy. Then follow your curiosity. You will be surprised what you are capable of. Take a course on Coursera, it could be anything. Then build upon that to propel forward.

Sep 11, 2015 · dceddia on Dilbert: Startup idea
Maybe only tangentially related, but I'm in the middle of reading Scott Adams' book "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big" [0] and I've been really enjoying it so far. He's got some good unconventional advice about systems over goals, managing time and energy, and acquiring many skills to bolster your chances of success, among other things.

[0] (not an affiliate link)

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