Book Reviews

Scott Adam’s How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has written many books on business and success. This might surprise people who only know him through the comics.
I recently read his newest work, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, and found that it had quite a few good sections for people who are trying to earn their livings through creative mediums (like writing).

This post is not a book review per se; instead I wanted to share links to some of the materials Adams created to promote his book. Many of the core ideas that I found helpful from the book appear in this article for The Wall Street Journal:

In The Wall Street Journal article, Adams (2013) writes:

“I wanted to create, invent, write, or otherwise concoct something widely desired that would be easy to reproduce. . . By design, all of my efforts were long shots. Had I been goal-oriented instead of system-oriented, I imagine I would have given up after the first several failures. It would have felt like banging my head against a brick wall. But being systems-oriented, I felt myself growing more capable every day, no matter the fate of the project that I happened to be working on.”

The idea Adams discusses creating a system rather than setting a goal appeals to me and the way that I write. He discusses these ideas in greater detail in the book.

The following slide show appears on the Scott Adams blog. (Warning: there is some inappropriate language.)

The idea that only desire is needed for success is laughable, which is exactly the point Adams makes in the presentation. Forget creativity, forget hard work, forget effort! If we follow the “sound bites” from those who already are rich and famous, we would focus solely on passion (and fail in our endeavors.)

This reminds me of a passage from The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett (2008), where Miss Tick, a teacher, gives the protagonist, Tiffany, some free instruction:

Miss Tick sniffed. “You could say this advice is priceless,” she said, “Are you listening?”
“Yes,” said Tiffany.
“Good. Now…if you trust in yourself…”
“…and believe in your dreams…”
“…and follow your star…” Miss Tick went on.
“…you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Goodbye.”

All in all–this is good advice!



Adams, S. (2013). Scott Adams’ secret of success: Failure. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

Pratchett, T. (2008). The wee free Men.United Kingdom: HarperCollins.

(I am not associated with Scott Adams, Terry Pratchett, or The Wall Street Journal in any way.)

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