You can read an excerpt in the Wall Street Journal of my new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.

Excerpt here

As I write this, my book is the #1 seller on Amazon.com in the categories of career guides and also motivation. That should worry you.

Book Link


Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +23
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 2, 2013
The book sounds interesting. With regards to finding success, I think first step is to get involved in things/job/business that we are really interested in. As long as we keep doing what we like, we will feel happy and eventually find success as well. Success should not be measured in monetary sense. While we all need some finances to support ourselves, it is unwise to start money race with others and judge ourselves on the outcome of this never-ending race.

-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 16, 2013
Loved the excerpt and can't wait to read the whole book - looking forward to the 22nd.

Imagine my horror when I noticed that your book appears on the US iTunes store (for iBooks), but not on the UK version - please tell me that this is some sort of clerical error and not that you're doing some US-only exclusive.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 15, 2013
@Phantom II,
Here's my thoughts.

I think it's implied that you don't try anything and everything, but if you have an aggressively searching mind, you'll find lots of things you believe could work, and give those things your best shot.

Each experience/failure SHOULD teach you multiple lessons of what to do (or not do) next time.

In the early days of my career as a troubleshooter, I'd be presented with a problem that nobody knew where it came from, or how it caused the issues that coalesced into the problem. If my first theory was correct, I'd learn essentially nothing from the experience. If I pursued 10 theories before finding the ultimate cause and answer, I'd typically learn 20 to 80 new things and understand the entire process intimately better than when I began.

I think that's an example of what Scott's referring to.
My failures were invaluable learning opportunities.

If you think Scott wasn't an "average schlub", check out his bio or read between the lines of the article we're discussing. It doesn't sound to me like he had any more time or money than any other person grinding away at an office job.

When you say, "all I want to know is the details", I think you're missing the point of the entire first part of his article. I interpret him as saying that he wants to present a CONCEPT that can be followed to potential success. And he points out several instances where the DETAILS of his experience or any other successful person aren't helpful. The details he DOES provide, are to illustrate his concepts, they're not a roadmap or recipe.

In your education, didn't you have some teachers that only presented facts, and others that used facts as a way to teach the lessons and concepts?

History for example; in 1942 this happened.
Remember that on test day and you get an A.


In 1942, these people believed and did this or that.
It had happened before on this date several hundred years prior.
Why did it happen, and what prevents it from happening again?

In one teaching style there's meaningless trivia, a date.
In the other, you analyze, recognize, hopefully understand the concept behind what happened.
Oct 15, 2013
If the rest of the book is as good as this chapter, this book might someday just be worth a fortune to somebody.
I'm waiting impatiently for the book to become available in India.
Oct 15, 2013

Perhaps I didn't read it carefully enough, but it seemed that Scott's basic premise was that you should just believe that you're going to be a success, and then try to do whatever comes to mind. Someday, if you try enough things, you'll reach success.

Oh, really? Is that all there is to it?

My question was about differentiation. Do your failures just get pushed into the background, or do you take some modification of your methods away from them? That's what I was asking Scott. I'm sure if someone has enough time, enough money, and no other pressures on him, then some of his ideas will reach fruition. Bllind pig and truffle comes to mind.

But what if you're an average schlub just trying to get by? What if you don't have the time or money to sit back, draw a cartoon, and then spend the rest of your day planning your next great idea? Do you drop everything to pursue an endless list of maybes, or do you try to learn from your mistakes?

I have no doubt that Scott doesn't want anyone to fail because they've taken to heart what he wrote in his books. All I want to know is the details. That's not too much to ask, since he was the one who introduced this whole topic, and his book, on this blog.

So I hope he'll answer my question. But if he doesn't, that says something in itself, doesn't it?
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 14, 2013
@Phantom II: You might want to read Scott's article again. I thought all of your questions were answered in the course of the article. But just in case I'm wrong, I'll read it again too and meet you back here to offer the answers I think were all there...or change my mind and agree with you.
Oct 14, 2013
Most interesting, and, as with much of your work, enjoyable to read.

I'm sure I'll read the book at some point, but from what I've seen so far, the book raises more questions than it answers. To wit: looking back on your plethora of failures, what would you have done differently?

I don't mean something facile like "I wouldn't have picked the things I now know were going to fail." I mean practical guides to avoid those failures and focus on those ideas with a greater potential to succeed. As you said in your WSJ interview, success is better than failure.

So what lessons did you learn? Would you have gone to some people whose business sense you trusted to run your ideas by them before launching them into the 'universe?' Did your continued failures teach you how to differentiate those ideas whose chance of success were higher, or did you simply pursue every idea that came into your head with the same fervor?

Was your process analogous to simply throwing different kinds of mud against the wall to see which blobs would stick, or did your failures help you learn which kind of mud had the best chance of adhering? Were you always the Red Queen imagining six impossible things before breakfast, or did you become Obi-wan Adams, the sage of success, gaining wisdom over time?

One of the reasons people read motivational books is to get an idea of how you get from driveling incompetence to masterful domination. I have trouble believing that your process relied on random ideas continuing to fail until one didn't, and then start over again with the same process.

I don't think that's it, though. If it were, you would have kept buying risky stocks like Webvan until you ran out of money. That's the key takeaway I'd like to receive: how did your process evolve over time - or did it?

In any case, it does sound like a fun read. And another success for Scott Adams. Should we all be surprised?
Oct 14, 2013
I enjoyed the article, which strings together many of the ideas you have thrown around on this blog. I may well get the book and see the rest.

The commenters on the WSJ seem to be of a pretty low class though. Don't the teabaggers ever leave their single issue Obama hatred behind over there? We get it, you don't like him, but it doesn't have to be linked into every discussion ever of anything.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 14, 2013
@whtllnew: You need to worry because the book is a best seller in "Career Guide" and "Motivation" categories. Scott has made it amply clear that the book is but a log of his experiences and not to be used as motivational advise.
Oct 13, 2013
[As I write this, my book is the #1 seller on Amazon.com in the categories of career guides and also motivation. That should worry you.]

...Am I the only one asking why one should be worried about this? Its almost what I would expect when someone famous writes a book like this. And if this paragraph is a joke I dont get it.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog