Book Review – January 2014 – Sallie Eden

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams

Published by Portfolio, November 2013

HowtoFailatAlmostEverythingThis is described as (sort of) Scott Adams’ memoir of his many failures and what they taught him about success.

This isn’t a guide book; as the author says “if you’ve ever taken advice from a cartoonist, there’s a good chance it didn’t end well”. He believes that goals are for losers; systems are for winners and being good, not necessarily great, at a range of things is the way to succeed.

By his own admission, Adams has probably failed at more things than anyone else on the planet, although that’s not surprising since his job related anecdotes indicate he has demonstrated more confidence than ability on many occasions. One or two helpful tips for us mere mortals though, e.g. “you don’t need to know CEOs and billionaires. Sometimes you just need a friend who knows different things than you do” and, my favourite, when you’ve written the first draft of your CV, look at it again and ask yourself which words you’d remove for $100 each. Then remove them. As someone who has seen more novel length CVs than most people, I can only agree.

Verdict: A rather unusual not-really-a-guide to self-improvement that probably works best for people who are already brim-full of confidence. Personally, I think that if I’d failed as many times as Scott Adams, I’d have taken to my bed and stayed there. But he’s the creator of the widely syndicated Dilbert comic strip, and I’m not!

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