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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."

©2013 Scott Adams (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"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)

What listeners say about How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A blend of funny and self-help

Having read pretty much every pop psychology and self help book out there, I enjoyed this one a lot. It feels to me like a blend between a synopsis of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits” and James Altucher’s “Choose Yourself”. Adams is similar to Altucher in his self-deprecating tone. Most of the book is focussed on describing his own ineptitude in life, career and business adventures, yet pointing out that overall it all still worked out for him. The writing is gently amusing and mostly anecdotal yet provides some very easy to follow advice on many aspects of life. My takeaway from this book is that happiness can be defined as: being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. The what and the when are equally important.

2 people found this helpful

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Recommended!

I really liked it, many good ideas and ovelall approach. Only surprisingly a lot of coffee advertising, and coffee I think is the last thing on earth that needs extra marketing

1 person found this helpful

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great read

Enjoyed this book and will be putting some new systems in place going forward. highly recommend.

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Excellent

A brilliant book that is well written, practical and engaging. Well worth the listen, even more than once.

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Curate's egg - good and bad, in parts.

The essence of the narrative content could be reduced to a very few pages. i.e. Adams' career success is down to a mixture of determination and being in the right place at the right time. The passages about dysphonia and corrective vocal cord surgery now seem ironic, considering where Adams managed to lodge his tongue in 2015.

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Good read

Lots of useful info here and a good story of how someone failed at lots of things and still succeeded

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Fantastic

Great humorous and motivational book. Contains a lot of very useful gems of wisdom. Didnt care too much for the lengthy sections on health and wellness because while they are part of being successful, I didn't really get this book for dieting tips.

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Outstanding

I came across the Title of this Book awhile ago but only recently had a chance to sit down and take it in. This is a Brilliant and 'must listen to' for ANYONE that seeks to get the most out of themselves.

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Refreshing and powerful

Masterfully executed and brilliantly articulated. I realise how little I understand elements of life which I can't explain simply. Scott Adams keeps it simple.

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Definitely worth listening to/reading

Brilliantly written, isn’t pretentious and offers a simplified perspective on life. Increase your odds of winning by listening/reading this book.

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  • Teancum144
  • 22-02-20

Best Audiobook I've Ever Read

Entertaining, funny, and profoundly insightful!! Superb narration! I wish I'd read this 20 years ago because I'd likely be more successful. First audiobook I'll read over and over again -- it's that good!! Highly recommend!!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Andy P.
  • 13-02-20

A personal testimony of the value of striving

After enjoying LoserThink, I thought I'd read this earlier book, and my biggest disappointment is that Adams didn't narrate it himself. Adams can't help but write in a highly personal way, so when it's someone else's voice, it's a jarring experience. What you have to love about Adams, even when you might now agree with him, is his honesty. The book is essentially a biography. He's like an old relative telling you about his life, and it's been an interesting life from which we can take two main points. Persistence make it easier for luck to find you. Generalization makes it easier to exploit your opportunities when you get them. Of course, like any old relative, there are the quirks and the obsessions, which while probably not good advice, reflects the reality that successful folks have their own flaws, just like you do.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Donna Farris
  • 06-10-20

Systems, Not Goals

I went into this book optimistic and open-minded. I didn't know what exactly to expect, but I expected to at least glean a handful of useful or interesting tidbits. Literally the only worthwhile topic in this book is the discussion of systems instead of goals. I gave it the benefit of the doubt from the start, and by the end of it I just wanted back all the time I wasted listening to it. Do yourself a favor and just run an internet search for Systems vs Goals and read Sam Adams's blog post about it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-02-20

Obvious until you hear it

The book was easy to listen to, was funny, and informative. A lot of the concepts are practical and it makes sense that they propel success once you hear it. Great life advice.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Brandon Parker
  • 02-12-19

Crunchy Tips You Can Use Today

I love books that suggest specific tips and tactics. this book changed my routine. I'm closer to certified gangster after reading it.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • derek larson
  • 07-11-20

Worth Listening to Multiple Times

great insight and advice for all ages. I wish I would've had this book when I was 16. I share principles from it with my 10 yr old also. Any Scott Adams book is an automatic buy.

1 person found this helpful

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  • joshua bellace
  • 15-10-20

Scott Adams is a wizard!

The author really walks the tight rope of informative and entertaining. I found my self picking up tips on how to hack my own brain as easily as walking down the beach and picking up seashells. I am a YUGE fan and can't wait to learn how to win BIGLY next.

1 person found this helpful

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  • nick
  • 11-09-20

Practical and Funny

Down to earth useful and remind my self for continual improvement. I even got a few laughs from it. Adam Scott boil down what is important and illustrate that how hard work, good energy level and luck can come together for a fulfilling life.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ondrej Elleder
  • 29-08-20

Will listen to it again

Just finished it and will listen to it again to take notes this time:). Great.

1 person found this helpful

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  • jerms
  • 13-01-21

Great, but would be better if Scott read it

Overall really enjoyed this audiobook, and the narrator did just fine, but if you follow Scott Adams at all and know his cadence and speaking voice, then you are going to really miss hearing him speak here, as it is basically his own life story, plus some learnings. Not a deal breaker, but worth noting.