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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life Hardcover – October 22, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591846919
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591846918
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (258 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The creator of the Dilbert comic strip is also the author of several nonfiction books that apply Dilbert’s philosophy to the workplace. Here he takes an autobiographical approach, using his own life to illustrate his thesis that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Adams’ own list of failures is—given his spectacular success as a cartoonist—surprisingly lengthy: a couple of unsuccessful restaurants as well as computer games, inventions, and online businesses that all tanked. Adams isn’t bummed by any of his flops because—and this is the key element of his philosophy—you learn by trying, not by succeeding. And every failure in life helps point us in the direction of ultimate success. (Adams says he would never have become a cartoonist if it weren’t for a combination of personal failures and the successes of some of his friends, who were willing to take personal risks.) Readers familiar with the author’s previous nonfiction will note the same easygoing, conversational style here, an approach that works perfectly for blending humor with serious advice. --David Pitt

Review

“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
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Insightful and very easy to read.
Yvonne Simpson
I always get a sense of cognitive dissonance when I read Scott Adams' books when contrasted with his Dilbert cartoons.
Joe Tye
I love how Scott Adams shares his failures without shame and how to overcome them.
Vincent

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Chad M. Sorenson on October 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had this pre-ordered after reading the WSJ article. It came yesterday around noon and I finished it at 4:00 AM this morning, with few breaks within that time frame. It wasn't the plan for my day, but I don't regret changing my day around to read this book.

I would say any book that holds my interest like that deserves a 5-start rating, though there are a few things that I'd tweak to get it closer to perfection. My official score, being a tough grader, is a 4.6/5.0 and I wouldn't resell it for twice what I paid ... especially now that it's fully highlighted and sticky-noted throughout (which makes the book more valuable to me now because I've identified the portions that spoke directly to me and my own experiences).

I really enjoyed Scott's independent thinking and challenges of conventional wisdom throughout this book, especially as it contrasts with other self-help, goal-setting or business advice books. For instance, choosing an opportunity for which one has some sort of inherent advantage rather than blindly prescribing "you can do whatever you want" appeals to my pragmatic mind. I have wrestled with this exact conclusion within the past year as I work through my own list of new ideas and opportunities, so I enjoyed that perspective as it resonates with my own thinking.

I really enjoyed the thinking on pg. 40, which is fully highlighted, less perhaps a couple sentences. This is where Scott talks about his mental model of not wanting to sell his time due to limited upside and finding a product that is infinitely scalable. I appreciated this candidness, which allows the reader to better understand the later "luck" and apparent rapid success of Dilbert.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book was a joy to read

His key ideas are easy to follow because he keeps it simple and Scott Adams writes in a clear and witty manner

For example the chapter on applying a system vs setting goals and trying to follow them was worth the price of the book many times over for me (and this is reinforced through the book). In his own words goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation (where you are often waiting to achieve it someday in the future) whereas a system is something you do on a regular or daily basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in life. Wanting better health or wanting to lose 10 kg are goals. Being active everyday is a system. One is tied to another - but goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn and the systems people are feeling good every-time they apply their system.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone smart and weary of reading tired cliches in the self-help genre. The book is a breath of fresh air!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By W. A. Carpenter VINE VOICE on October 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Scott Adams's How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life is almost a success. In it Adams tells us about he succeeded and offers his readers his advice on how to be both successful and happy.

Adams is at his best when he writes about figuring out how things work and what is important. Readers of his popular blog will recognize such topics as the moist robot, the single most important metric to measure, the five most important factors for happiness, how to thrive without using freewill, and other such topics.

One of his key principles is to distinguish goals from systems. Generally, it's better to pursue a system to get what you want rather than to pursue a goal. Goals are generally bad things as they focus you on what you have not accomplished and therefore feel negative. Unfortunately his discussion of the difference between goals and systems is confused and unclear. He seems to be saying that the reader's goal should be to come with a system that works.

I do appreciate that Adams consistently urges the reader to experiment, to be open minded, and not to follow the advice of cartoonists. The focus should be on what works for you. His humility is a welcome relief from much of the Success literature.

Some parts of the book, especially in the middle chapters, read like annotated lists constructed quickly from Internet searches. Other parts of the book are much better and many of Adams's insights are interesting, captivating, and even brilliant. The tone of this book is quite serious - there are even research footnotes - and it is clear that Adams believes he has something important to share with the reader.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Luke on October 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The irony of this book being awful would be so delicious. Unfortunately, it's actually funny, clever, and thoughtful. If you read Scott's blog on a regular basis, you'll see that he has incorporated a lot of the ideas he's been toying around with on there for years. It is by no means a verbatim rehashing, though. Most of the ideas are new, and the ones that come from some of his other material have been reworked and are examined in new contexts. If you like the idea of screwing up on a regular basis and still winning in the end, read this book. Or don't. Not reading it would be a mistake, but apparently those are okay.
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