How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
  • Title: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
  • Subtitle: Kind of the Story of My Life
  • Author(s): Scott Adams
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Year: 2013-10-22
  • ISBN-10: 0698144627
  • ISBN-13: 9780698144620


In “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big,” Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, shares his unconventional approach to achieving success. With a mix of humor and personal anecdotes, Adams challenges traditional notions of success by emphasizing the importance of failure. He argues that failure is the key to learning, growth, and ultimately, success. By embracing a mindset of continuous improvement, adopting systems instead of goals, and focusing on developing useful skills, Adams provides practical advice to navigate the challenges of life and work. Through his entertaining storytelling and thought-provoking insights, Adams offers readers a refreshingly honest and relatable guide to finding their own path to success.

In this book, Adams explores a wide range of topics, including health, happiness, career, and personal finance. He includes anecdotes from his own life, detailing his failures and the valuable lessons he learned from them. Adams also delves into the power of personal energy and the importance of effective time management. Drawing from his experiences, he provides actionable tips for setting priorities, staying motivated, and achieving long-term success. “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” presents a unique perspective on achieving success, inspiring readers to embrace failure as a stepping stone towards their goals.

Book Review

In “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big,” Scott Adams, the brilliant mind behind the infamous Dilbert comic strip, offers readers an unconventional and refreshingly honest guide to achieving success. Through a mix of engaging storytelling, wit, and personal anecdotes, Adams challenges traditional notions of success and presents a compelling argument for embracing failure as a stepping stone toward greatness.

One of the key themes throughout the book is the concept of “systems” versus “goals.” Adams argues that while goals can be helpful in setting direction, they can also create a sense of failure when not achieved. Instead, he advocates for developing systems - routines and processes - that increase the odds of success in the long run. Adams shares his own experience of applying this principle through his commitment to building a daily exercise routine. By focusing on the system of exercising regularly rather than on a specific weight or appearance goal, he was able to maintain his health and energy over the years.

Adams also places great emphasis on personal energy and how it impacts productivity and success. He shares practical tips for managing energy, such as paying attention to diet, exercise, and sleep. In a humorous section of the book, Adams recounts his disastrous experience with a high-intensity workout program that left him exhausted and unable to concentrate on his work. This anecdote serves as a cautionary tale, urging readers to find a balance that works for them and prioritize self-care in order to perform at their best.

Throughout the book, Adams demonstrates the power of failure as a catalyst for growth and provides firsthand examples from his own life. From his countless rejections as a cartoonist, early business failures, and even his experience with a rare medical condition, Adams openly shares the setbacks he faced. He turns these failures into valuable learning experiences, showing readers that embracing failure is the key to developing resilience and finding success.

In addition to his personal anecdotes, Adams offers practical advice on various aspects of life and work. From navigating office politics and handling difficult bosses to managing personal finances and making career choices, he provides actionable strategies for readers to apply in their own lives. His insights are grounded in real-world experiences, making them relatable and adaptable to a wide range of circumstances.

One of the most compelling aspects of this book is Adams’ ability to infuse humor into every page. His witty writing style keeps the reader engaged and entertained, making complex concepts and self-help advice more accessible. He delivers valuable insights with an infectious sense of optimism, encouraging readers to persevere through failures and reminding them that success is attainable.

Overall, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” is a breath of fresh air in the crowded self-help genre. Scott Adams’ candid and humorous approach to success challenges conventional wisdom and provides readers with a unique perspective on achieving their goals. With his practical advice, relatable anecdotes, and conviction that failure is a necessary part of the journey, Adams empowers readers to take risks, embrace their failures, and ultimately find their own path to success.

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Key Ideas

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” by Scott Adams is a book that combines humor, personal anecdotes, and practical advice to provide insights on achieving success and happiness. Here are the key ideas from the book:

  1. Goals Are for Losers, Systems Are for Winners Adams argues that setting specific goals is not as effective as implementing systems or processes that increase your odds of success. Instead of focusing solely on outcomes, concentrate on the habits and routines that lead to success.

  2. Passion is Overrated Adams challenges the conventional wisdom that passion is the key to success. He suggests that you don’t need to be passionate about something to be successful; you need to be skilled. Passion can develop once you’ve become good at something.

  3. Develop a Talent Stack Adams encourages readers to acquire a variety of complementary skills rather than becoming an expert in one area. He calls this a “talent stack,” and it can make you more unique and marketable.

  4. Embrace Failure The title of the book itself suggests that failure is a part of the journey to success. Adams advises readers not to fear failure but to learn from it and use it as a stepping stone to success.

  5. Use Affirmations Adams is a proponent of using affirmations as a way to program your subconscious mind for success. Repeating positive affirmations can boost your confidence and motivation.

  6. Health is Your Foundation Adams emphasizes the importance of maintaining good health through diet and exercise. He believes that physical well-being is the foundation for success in all other areas of life.

  7. Luck Plays a Role Adams acknowledges that luck plays a significant role in success. While you can’t control luck, you can put yourself in situations where luck is more likely to happen. This involves taking risks and being open to opportunities.

  8. Seek Systems That Have Good Odds Instead of trying to predict the future or make long-term plans, Adams recommends looking for systems or strategies that have a high probability of success in the short term.

  9. Manage Your Energy Adams introduces the concept of managing your energy rather than just your time. He suggests that focusing on when you have the most energy and using it on your most important tasks can lead to greater productivity.

  10. Learn to Persuade Persuasion is a valuable skill in both personal and professional life. Adams provides insights into the art of persuasion, including techniques like using visual imagery and storytelling.

  11. Create a Personal Brand Adams talks about the importance of developing a personal brand. Having a unique identity or story can make you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

  12. Happiness is the Ultimate Goal Ultimately, Adams believes that success is a means to an end, and that end is happiness. He encourages readers to prioritize activities and pursuits that lead to happiness and fulfillment.

  13. Diversity of Experiences Adams advocates for trying a wide range of experiences in life, even if they lead to failure. Each experience can contribute to your knowledge, skills, and overall personal growth.

  14. Stay Informed Adams suggests staying informed about a wide range of topics, even if they don’t directly relate to your career. Being well-informed can help you make better decisions and find opportunities.

Scott Adams’ book offers a unique perspective on success and personal development. Through humor and relatable anecdotes, he provides practical advice for achieving one’s goals while challenging traditional notions of passion and goal-setting. Adams encourages readers to adopt a more flexible and systems-oriented approach to achieving success and happiness in life.

Target Audience

The book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” by Scott Adams is targeted at a wide range of audiences seeking guidance and inspiration in their personal and professional lives. It is recommended reading for the following groups:

  • Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Professionals Adams’ unconventional approach to success, emphasizing the value of failure, offers valuable insights for those seeking to achieve their goals. His advice on setting up systems, developing useful skills, and maintaining personal energy can help individuals navigate the challenges of launching a business, advancing in their careers, or pursuing personal projects.

  • Self-Help and Personal Growth Seekers Readers interested in personal development will find Adams’ book refreshing and relatable. The combination of humor, storytelling, and practical advice encourages a growth mindset and provides tools for overcoming setbacks, building resilience, and finding fulfillment.

  • Fans of Scott Adams Followers of Adams’ comic strip Dilbert will appreciate the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the author’s philosophy and mindset. The book delves into Adams’ personal experiences, providing an engaging and thought-provoking exploration of his journey and the principles that have shaped his success.

  • Individuals Seeking a Different Perspective Those tired of the traditional self-help genre will appreciate Adams’ unique perspective on success. By challenging conventional wisdom and sharing his own failures, Adams offers a fresh take on achieving goals and encourages readers to reevaluate their approach to success.

In conclusion, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” is recommended reading for aspiring entrepreneurs, self-help enthusiasts, fans of Scott Adams, and individuals seeking an alternative perspective on success. Adams’ witty storytelling, practical advice, and emphasis on failure as a stepping stone make this book a valuable resource for personal and professional growth.