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In the late afternoon, after I've exercised and showered, I brew a steaming cup of coffee in the kitchen and walk upstairs to my office to finish drawing some comics that I sketched earlier. It is mindless work, but sometimes my brain and my body are in exactly the right mood for mindless.

I grab a protein bar from the stash in my desk, put my coffee next to my Wacom Cintiq 24HD, sit down in my ergonomically-correct chair and put my feet up on the hassock under my desk.

My trusty dog, Snickers, follows me into my office and finds her napping place. She likes to be where the action is, and I'm the only show in the house.

The protein bar flavor goes extraordinarily well with coffee. I take a sip of coffee, one bite of the protein bar, then another sip. It is taste perfection.

I pull the Cintiq - a computer monitor on which I draw - toward me and position it for work. I have a television strategically positioned in the corner where I can see it easily while drawing. I find a great movie that just came out and order it with the On Demand function. I grab my drawing stylus, open a file, and start drawing.

I have a strange relationship with drawing. As a child it was a compulsion, closer to OCD than art. I drew on everything, all the time. As an adult, I see drawing as work, and it usually feels that way, especially in the morning. But today I have arranged my environment so perfectly that drawing is automatic, effortless, and childlike.



The movie serves two purposes. It distracts me from an otherwise mundane task that will last a few hours. But it also causes me to take frequent breaks to see what is happening in each scene before looking away to draw. I need the breaks to keep from overworking my hand.

I'm the sort of person who needs to feel productive. When I'm drawing, I know I'm doing something useful that has a specific value. It is meaningful work and it nourishes something deep inside me. Work isn't what I do; it's who I am. When I work, I exist in a way that makes sense to me.

I also remember what it took to get to this place. I think of all the days in my youth when I worked on my uncle's dairy farm doing back-breaking labor under the boiling sun. I think of all the mornings I got up before dawn so I could shovel snow or mow lawns to earn money for college. I think of the four jobs I held during college. I think of the three years I worked my day job while going to school at night to get my MBA. I think of the six years I worked full-time at Pacific Bell while creating Dilbert morning, nights, and weekends. I think of the ten years I worked without taking a day off.


And as I listen to the sweet snoring of my loving dog, I realize that all of my hard work paid off.

I take another sip of coffee, another bite of my protein bar, and draw. It is a perfect moment.

 
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May 7, 2013
Wow, I didn't know you're left-handed until now.
 
 
May 6, 2013
Kudos! U Rock!
 
 
May 6, 2013
Can you please share picture of your Perfect kitchen ? I have read so much about it in the description. Want to see it once.
 
 
May 4, 2013
This moment brought to you by Hallmark.

Seriously, Scott, the most surprising thing I learned about you today was that you consider drawing 'Dilbert' to be work. By that I mean, it's not something that you do because you love it. Or did I read that wrong?

But then you equate that work to a raison d'etre. You talk about it as though it's something that, rather than being a component of who you are, actually makes you who you are. I'm grappling with the concept. I'm not sure I get it.

Most of us work so we can enjoy the rest of our lives. Someone once said if you earn a living doing what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. To me, that is not an accurate statement.

Most people who do what they love end up having it own them. Think of a person who loves to bake, and then starts a bakery. Up every morning at four AM to get everything ready. Bake, bake, bake, ad infinitum. The person must be there every day, either baking or overseeing other bakers. After a while, what you love can start to turn into something you hate.

I read a news article recently about a guy who outsourced his programming job. He'd bid a programming job for a certain amount, get the job, and then sub it out to people in India who would do it for far less money, and then he'd pocket the difference. Now, there's a guy who has found a way to let other people do the work for him. Such a deal!

There's an idea for you, Scott. You could sub out your work to some other person who could mimic your drawing style. You provide the basic ideas for the three panels, and then let the other person do all the work. Pay him or her by the hour, and pocket the difference.

If drawing Dilbert is really work rather than fun, then it might be worth a try. It would free up a lot of time, and I'm sure some young cartoonist out there would love to get a byline on 'Dilbert.'

And no, just in case you're thinking I'm angling for a job, I'm not. I can't draw worth beans.
 
 
May 3, 2013
Scott said "I know I'm doing something useful that has a specific value. It is meaningful work and it nourishes something deep inside me. "

And one of the other comments made the point that maybe money does buy happiness -- or that, at least, richer people are happier than poorer people.

But it occurs to me that maybe we're mixing up cause & effect, or mistaking correlation for cause. Rich people aren't happier because they're richer. They are richer because they are happier.

Bill Gates did not start out mega-rich. But he was the son of a successful lawyer and probably had a comfortable up-bringing. But I don't think he has ever spent much time thinking about making himself rich -- he just does what Scott does -- he does something useful, that has a value and is meaningful. And I don't think Bill Gates has ever spent much time sitting around feeling sorry for himself (even when he was younger and dropped out of Harvard).

I read about how the most successful people (Bill Gates, Richard Branson, etc) are driven to succeed, and they are risk-takers who aren't afraid to fail. And the advice is, to be successful, do the same thing. But, of course, 99% who try, will fail, again and again, and even after repeatedly trying, will not succeed on the same scale as Bill Gates or Richard Branson.

I think the trick is, along with that drive to succeed, you need that positive feeling -- happiness (or the desire to be happier) in order to be successful. And your success gets measured by the value and meaning that your are providing.

In other words, be positive, do something useful, and you will be successful. This will lead to wealth. Maybe not mega-riches, but certainly enough wealth to be happy.
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
May 3, 2013
One of the best things about being "self-employed" is being able to choose the timing for work. My work has three different aspects: creativity where I design and draw and spec, detailed nitpicking programming that is satisfying but requires focus and attention to detail, and then business administration which is unsatisfying but really mindless.

My "mode" isn't set by time of day (how convenient that must be) but some unknowable feeling that just "is". The secret to happiness is having enough work in any category and be sufficiently ahead of deadlines to be able to tap into the right mode with the right work. I am disciplined enough to do anything at any time if I must, but things just don't "flow" as effortlessly.

Unfortunately creativity almost always happens late at night (and often during movies or when I'm distracted). Perhaps that is why corporates with fixed hours are so rarely creative?
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
May 3, 2013
:)_
(nuff said)
 
 
May 3, 2013
Scott, you brought a bit of workplace serenity into may hectic day. As we say here, lots of white envy.
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
May 2, 2013
I was listening to the BBC this week and they had a special segment on the whether or not money buys happiness and a recent study that disproves the long-held belief that money can buy happiness only up to a certain point (supposedly $75K). The study proved conclusively that the rich (millionaires) are happier than middle-class, and that the super-rich (billionaires) are happier than the only-rich. It goes on to say that the level of happiness of the mega-rich, the Bill Gates, Larry Ellisons, Warren Buffet (etc.), of the world are much more happier than anyone else. I didn't read the study so I can't attest its methodology but the radio show made it sound rather definitive.

That said, I'm not saying Scott's happiness is directly correlated to his level of income/wealth but it is probably the largest factor as Scott's recounting of his past work history also shows his progression of income/wealth status.

Just an observation.
 
 
May 2, 2013
It's because of you I want that Cintiq!
 
 
May 2, 2013
I'm happy for you. You've done many things right in life!

So... you dipped your toe in a topic that I find intoxicating. You've blogged about your cartooning before, and I'm always fascinated to hear how you do your work and what a cartoonist's work day is like. I guess, on the most fundamental level, it's why I read your blog -- although I enjoy reading about everything else that crosses your mind, too.

I get that a comic's underlying idea involves contortions of thought, inspiration, and experience with threads that can't be readily quantified. But how long does it take for you to actually convert an idea into a sequence of three drawings, and how would you break the work down? Most cartoonists (I read the blogs of maybe a dozen?) talk about long hours drawing.
 
 
May 2, 2013
Thanks for sharing your perfect work moment! Mine involves a wireless laptop and a lounge chair in the garden on a warm spring day. And chocolate - can't have a perfect moment without chocolate. That said, I'm still counting down the days until I can ditch the laptop entirely!
 
 
May 2, 2013
Or, you could go on a television 'talent' show of the type hosted by Simon Cowell and demand that you be given all this, whilst still a teenager. I am sure that is equally fair.
 
 
May 2, 2013
What's that wee dark patch on Dilbert's crotch?
Is he wearing his gonks over his trousers, superman style?

Or is he not wearing trousers at all, stripper style?
 
 
May 2, 2013

Congratulations !!

Sometimes, I think the greatest gift in the world is the ability to make people smile.

You deserve all the success you've had.
 
 
May 2, 2013
No question you've put in a lot of work, but I can see a lot of good fortune in your 'hard work' story.

You had an uncle who could hire you. You were/are able-bodied enough to do hard labor. You were able to afford college, and land jobs while you were there. Etc etc etc.

I'm not saying you didn't earn a perfect day, or that anyone with enough luck would get where you are (I don't think luck is a thing). I'm just saying there are numerous people who have worked just as hard as you but not gotten your success because they started from a lower place, or had more obstacles in their way, or didn't have access to the same things or people you did, or their compulsions haven't led them to create the equivalent of Dilbert at just the right time. Just putting it out there.

[I agree that everything from your genes to your environment is based on luck. Ambition and all the rest grow out of that luck. But I am skeptical that there are many people who followed my career strategy (which I explain in a book coming out this fall) and didn't succeed. Hard work is only one variable. You also have to make it easy for luck to find you. -- Scott]
 
 
+17 Rank Up Rank Down
May 2, 2013
I've had that coffee moment myself.

It's not from the money - the chair - or the dog.

It comes from being comfortable in your own skin, in your own situation.

You can always be richer. More famous. Better looking. Have a hotter wife/husband. Drive a better car. Own a boat. Be the best "---------". Be the best of your generation - of all time - etc.

The point is that there never is a pinnacle in life. There will always be something that could be better.

We can either learn to be happy with who we are and where we are - Or we can short-change ourselves by finding something to be unhappy about. For most of us, contentment is much less about the outside, and much more about the inside.

Congrats Scott. Hope we can all learn to enjoy moments like that.
 
 
+21 Rank Up Rank Down
May 2, 2013
Well earned. Many of us who have also made it to comfortable places in our lives drew comfort back in our darkest work days from Dilbert cartoons that reminded us our crazy situations were not unique. Rather than make a scene or quit, we took a breath, chuckled at Dilbert, and carried on. Better days followed. Thanks for being in all of our offices for all those years, Scott.
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
May 2, 2013
Take note, office monkeys - that cubicle seems lacking fabric.

Unless Scotts wife has pointy hair, congrats!
 
 
-4 Rank Up Rank Down
May 1, 2013
do you brew just store-bought coffee in a coffeemaker? because unless you're sipping real coffee, it can't be a perfect moment
 
 
 
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