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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life Paperback – Illustrated, 30 December 2014
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--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
About the Author
- Publisher : Portfolio; Illustrated edition (30 December 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1591847745
- ISBN-13 : 978-1591847748
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Dimensions : 13.82 x 1.73 x 21.39 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 17,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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His pacing is good and advice timeless and easy to digest.
The book doesn't waffle too much and there is the right amount of advice mixed in with anecdote.
Top reviews from other countries
Most of the wisdom I appreciated was not "new" to me, per se, but was excellently articulated, such that Scott crystalized some principles I had only vaguely identified and adopted myself. As such, he helped me internalise some useful ways to view the world, and has helped me to explain concepts to others much more clearly since I read this book. I found myself nodding along agreeing with the book as I read (rather than having "aha! that's new!" moments); nonetheless reading it still left me with clearer thought, as I was now armed with clearer language to describe the approaches Scott discussed.
If I had read this while still in college, I may have exposed myself to less risk.
The two main messages I got from this book:
1 - Scott provides some very simple guidance on how to manage the inputs to your brain so you are happy and healthy in the immediate term. You are a "moist robot" so can easily manipulate your environment to benefit yourself.
2 - He also provides simple principles for living via SYSTEMS that ensure you maximise your (career) options in future and increase chances of future success, potentially enjoying some very lucrative upside without having to take a major risk/gamble to get there.
I particularly like his push to use your "talent stack" — your collection of complementary skills at which you are sufficiently "good" — to achieve extraordinary success. The thesis is that sure, if you are an Olympic-level expert in one thing, you can make a lot of money by being an expert in that one thing, but generally most of us are better off using a combination of "good enough" skills to achieve great things. (Examples of this "talent stack" working are Scott Adams himself, or Donald Trump.)
Overall it reads a bit like a combination of:
(a) Some illustrative stories from Scott's life, that are either entertaining or drive home one particular point (e.g., reviewing his own particular "failures" and how he made sure he benefitted from each)
and (b) Some general "life advice" that reads a bit like advice a parent might write to leave their child, if the parent had been diagnosed with a terminal disease and wouldn't be around to coach their child through young adulthood (for example: advice on how to tell a funny story; which conversation topics are boring and should be avoided; how to adhere to a simple system for eating healthily; motherly reminders to make sure you get enough sleep and exercise).
I'm grateful Scott did NOT fall in the trap of adding pages to make the book seem more substantial. It's succinct enough.
That said, some story-telling chapters (such as details about his journey to recover his voice) appealed to me less, so I just quickly skimmed.
Since enjoying this book, I have gifted it and will continue to do so.
Adams' books, however, are relentlessly excellent, including 2013's "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life".
It's a lucid, entertaining self-help guide, drawing on the lessons Adams has learnt from his various life failures. And that's the point of the book: you have to try things, to go places that you fear if you want to be a success. Failure is to be embraced as long - and this is important - as you learn lessons from it, and adapt accordingly.
Thoroughly recommend this book to anyone, of any age. Read it, laugh, and learn.
Adams' easy writing style and stick-to-the-bigger-picture method of presentation is refreshing in a world saturated by gurus who think endless layers of complexity and personal commitment are the only ways to achieve higher status or realise a dream. The title speaks to the books main idea: specific goals are for idiots, systems that guarantee success are for winners (literally).
Highly recommended to anyone who desires more happiness, personal improvement or simply an entertaining piece of literature from a seasoned and pragmatic entrepreneur.
This is a massive shame as people who buy this book are probably huge Adams fans and know he is a cartoonist and not any of the above. I bought the book to hear Scott's take on these matters and don't need constant disclaimers that start to sound like apologies for his thoughts.
The Dilbert work is so clear and confident but the great ideas in this book start to look swamped and less sure. This is true despite a whole Introduction that is little but a disclaimer for the whole book. Surely this was enough?