Fellow cartoonist Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has written a book called How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big. Despite containing so few cartoons, I read it and immediately started to reap the benefits of his wisdom. In fact, this opening paragraph is a testimony to the advice he freely gives. For $9.99 eBook format, anyway. We’ll circle back to this opening.
His first piece of advice, and it is repeated in several places, is to not take advice from a cartoonist. This is odd, since he is a cartoonist. This is Scott’s way of telling his readers that they should read his book and then use the moist, programmable, machine many people keep inside their skulls to decide for themselves whether it is any good. This is a bold approach for the twenty-first century.
As a cartoonist myself, I concur. Nothing good will come from it. Ted Cruz took the advice of Glenn Beck, and look what happened to him.
What? Too soon?
Scott ridicules goals and claims they are for losers. This thought conflicted with the firmware I’ve had installed inside my own moist head organ, but was intrigued. Instead, people should focus on systems. If you have a goal to lose 20 pounds in four months, and you fail to meet that goal, then you’ll feel bad. You’ll blame yourself, government, ice-cream manufacturers, and you’ll be likely to give up. Life will be miserable. You may end up watching poorly-scripted crime dramas as a a result. Nobody should live like that.
What you really want is to eat proper things and perhaps do a little exercise. This is a system, a way of living, that results in the excess 20 pounds evaporating away to fat heaven over time. So long as you do these things, you can’t fail.
Brain reprogramming is the real trick. How can you trick your own brain into doing what would take incredible willpower to accomplish today? Like passing up ice cream? I’ll not give away his secrets, but I’ll sum up: he sets systems in place in his own life that harnesses the human capacity for laziness to work for him. You can too.
Scott offers common-sense career advice. Ideally, you want to set your own schedule. That way you can be working for the man, but you can also work on side projects that you simply want to do. For example, my day job allows me to work when I want, so I can write cartoons as a way of staying sane when the rest of the world has gone crazy.
His best advice is to do a wide variety of skills decently, but not worry about mastering any of them. Scott asserts that every new skill you acquire will double your odds of success. The resulting “you” will be greater than the sum of your skills. Thanks to common core math, we can prove it.
[Common core math proof not included in this review. It is not part of my skill set.]
Scott recommends that everyone should study public speaking, psychology, and business writing. The rest of the list might be helpful depending on your career choice. For example, accounting. You’ll want to be able to add up the oodles of cash you’ll be making, right? Technology is another generally-useful skill. Hillary would double her chances of becoming President if she learned to do email, for example.
The last part of the book covers diet advice and affirmations, and these topics are not universally applicable. He is a believer in low-carb diets, but he approaches it from a vegetarian standpoint. Unlike regular vegetarians, Scott is aware of the agenda behind vegetarian advice and freely admits he has joined their ranks for one reason: his body doesn’t process meat the way it does for most people. The best part of his advice is to pay attention when you eat something, eat only one thing at a time, and note how you feel a couple of hours later. Are you ready for a nap? Probably not a good food for you.
If you are interested in low-carb diets and advice I will recommend popping over to Karl Denninger’s site. It isn’t the best place for this kind of thing, but it is the place that convinced me to give it a try and it works for me, provided I stay away from sugar. Stupid, yummy, Snicker’s bars.
Finally, we come to affirmations. Everybody is entitled to their personal philosophy, and I’ll not say anything bad about his. The time he has invested into psychology I have invested into philosophy and theology. I’ll stick with God, Christ, and prayer. YMMV.
Will you like Scott Adam’s book? I think it depends. Try his blog. If you enjoy his writing, then you’ll probably enjoy his book. Keep in mind he has a few humorous lines and cartoons, but it is not a laugh-out-loud kind of read.
How did How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big change me? It made me think that Tempest in a Teardrop is in it’s pre-success phase. It isn’t failing, despite our micro-blog size. It also made me more choosy and persuasive about my word choices when writing. Did you notice the opening line, “Fellow cartoonist Scott Adams…”? By equating myself with the mega-successful cartoonist, I am able to subtly borrow some of his gravitas in order to make this post more persuasive.
Did it work?