January 15, 2014

Book review: How to fail at almost everything and still win big

You can today find Dilbert in 2000 newspapers in 65 countries.

The comic strip Dilbert needs no introduction, but the author of the comic, Scott Adams, needs. To help us, he has written the book How to fail at almost everything and still win big - Kind of the story of my life. It was released in late 2013. The book is not a classic biography on Scott Adams's entire life - it's a book on how to improve your life based on the author's life experiences. But you will get a few glimpses into his life. You may first think that Scott Adams is only a cartoonist, but he's also an author and an entrepreneur, and has a broad background from several other endeavors.

As the title suggests, Scott Adams has failed a lot. In the book he explains each failure in detail. The failures range from job interviews to computer games, from internet startups to stock picking, from health issues to failed corporate careers. But each failure taught him a new lesson, and with a little bit of help from Fortuna, he finally succeed with Dilbert.
"Not matter how well the business actually does, I will come out of it with a detailed understanding of the startup process, a new network of highly capable contacts, a wealth of new knowledge in half a dozen areas, and about 75 new jokes for Dilbert." 

To become successful, you need to constantly acquire new skills, which is what Scott Adams did when trying multiple ideas. He believes that every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success. And you don't need to be an expert since if you are good at two skills, then you are better than if you are an expert in only one of those skills.
"I have poor art skills, mediocre business skills, good but not great writing talent, and an early knowledge of the Internet. And I have a good but not great sense of humor. I'm like one big mediocre soup. None of my skills are world-class, but when my mediocre skills are combined, they become a powerful market force."

Failing is never fun. To endure each failure, Scott Adams believes that you need to exercise and eat right to feel good, avoid reading depressing newspapers, you need to be an optimist because an optimist tend to notice opportunities that pessimists miss, and you need a few side projects that you really enjoy. He usually steps out of bed at 4 AM to do his creative side projects. His goals with these side projects is to have a real chance of changing the world, help humanity, and/or make a billion dollars. What gave him energy before Dilbert was the prospect of starting his own thing and leaving his boring job.

But one the the keys to Scott Adams's energy is actually coffee. He says that you should drink two to four cups a day to make you more alert, happier, and more productive. If he didn't want to exercise, he drank one cup of coffee and his motivation to exercise increased. The same with writing a book. A few sips of coffee, and his motivation increased.
"Coffee literally makes me enjoy work. No willpower needed." 

If you want to learn what he did to succeed with Dilbert, you should read this article: How Scott Adams Growth Hacked His Dilbert Cartoon.

(Adlibris, Adlibris

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