How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big Kind of the Story of My Life By Scott Adams (Part 1)

Introduction. This book is about a guy who failed his way to success. It wasn’t entirely due to luck. The author pursued a strategy of managing opportunities. Make luck easier to find you. This book is not about dispensing advice. ‘Money distorts truth like a hippo in a thong.’ Advice is not one size fits all anyway. This book is about personal experiences. Learn to narrow your choices. People can’t filter fact from fiction well. Develop a system to sort truth from fiction. The six filters for truth are: 1) Personal experience; 2) Experience of people you know; 3) Experts; 4) Scientific studies; 5) Common sense; 6) Pattern recognition. Consistency is your best bet. Many people do not have smart friends to help them out. He created Dilbert. Profit is a good benchmark for success in a business. Use pattern recognition and trial and observation to succeed.

Goals are for losers’; ‘Your mind isn’t magic. It’s a moist computer program.’; ‘The most important metric to track is your personal energy’; ‘Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.’; ‘Happiness is health plus freedom.’; ‘Luck can be managed, sort of.’; ‘Conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way)’; ‘Fitness is the lever that moves the world.’; ‘Simplicity transforms ordinary into amazing. – Scott Adams

The Time I was Crazy. In 2005, the doctors diagnosed him with being crazy. He was behaving crazy. He had lost ability to chat with humans. His grandpa was also a little crazy in the past. He had to stutter in his speech. It was a social nightmare to say the least. Loneliness was debilitating and affects your body the same way aging does. Humans need to be heard. His quality of life was dropping because of loneliness. The author was slated to give a talk to thousands despite his ailment.

Sometimes, the only real difference between crazy people and artists is that artists write down what they imagine seeing. -Scott Adams

The Day of the Talk. He couldn’t conduct small talk well. He soaked in the energy from the crowd. He has created a unique relationship with failure. You can always learn from failing. He has a long history of profiting from failure. He failed to succeed in the corporate environment. He nailed the speech and later sought to cure his problems of speaking normally off-stage as well.

Experts say public speaking is one of the most terrifying things a person can do. – Scott Adams

I invite failure. I survive it. I appreciate it. And then I mug the shit out of it. – Scott Adams

Passion Is Bullshit. Successful people tell you to follow your passion. You should never make a loan to someone who is following his passion. For example, to a sports enthusiast. You want to offer a loan to the boring guy, without passion but generate profits. You want the grinder. Successful people want to offer advice and be humble. Therefore, most of the time, they offer passion as a reason. Passion gives people hope and feels more accessible. It seems like the people’s talent. This is bullshit. Passion is a by-product of knowing you will be good at something. Sometimes, talent plays a larger role than passion. Most success stem from desire, luck, hard work, determination and appetite for risk. Energy is good. Passion is bullshit.

It’s easy to passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. – Scott Adams

The business ventures that didn’t work out – and that would be most of them – slowly drained my passion as they failed. The few that worked became more exciting as they succeeded. – Scott Adams

In hindsight, it looks as if the projects I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, my passion level moved with my success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success. – Scott Adams

We humans tend to enjoy doing things we are good at, while not enjoying things we suck at. We’re also fairly good at predicting what we might be good at before we try. – Scott Adams

Some of my many failures in summary form. You want to be steeped to your eyebrows in failure. Failure is where success likes to hide in plain sight. Success takes effort. It keeps lazy people out of the game. Ramp up your energy levels. Failure is a tool, not an outcome. Failure is a resource that can be managed. Success is accessible, even if you fail 95% of the time. Some of his failures are listed below. Velcro Rosin Bag Invention. Partake in things which you have a natural advantage. The author also partook in learning computer programming. He took 1 year to work at it. The technology in the modern world was advancing too fast and he couldn’t keep up. He wrote a computer program to track the ‘psychic’ ability of users. All his computer ideas failed. He was working at a bank. He worked at Crocker National Bank for 8 years till he reached lower management. He learnt a great deal of banking, finance, technology etc. After that, he worked at Pacific bell for another 8 years. He wrote a program for file transfers as well. He started a crackpot idea website too. Google bought Youtube for $1.65 billion and the shareholders made a fortune. He tried to create something like YouTube, it didn’t work out. Timing is often the biggest component of success. Scott created a technology to make home deliveries more practical. The author bought Webvan stock, which eventually went bust. There is no such thing as useful information that comes from company’s management. He started earning royalties from Dilbert but didn’t have time to research. The money he placed with investment managers lost money as well. The author also tried to start a restaurant and create nutritious foods.

Everything you want out of life is in that huge, bubbling vat of failure. The trick is to get the good stuff out. – Scott Adams

If success were easy, everyone would do it. It takes effort. That fact works to your advantage because it keeps lazy people out of the game. – Scott Adams

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. – Friedrich Nietzsche

I want failures to make me stronger, of course, but I also want to become smarter, more talented, better networked, healthier, and more energized. – Scott Adams

Good ideas have no value because the world already has too many of them. The market rewards execution, not ideas. From that point on, I concentrated on ideas I could execute. I was already failing towards success, but I didn’t yet know it. – Scott Adams

And since timing is often hard to get right unless you are psychic, it makes sense to try different things until you get the timing right by luck. – Scott Adams

I have to say the richness of the whole restaurant experience was totally worth the money. I was in a position to afford the losses without altering my lifestyle, so I don’t regret any of it. – Scott Adams

My Absolute Favorite Spectacular Failure. Most failures involve bad luck, ignorance, and sometimes ordinary stupidity. He went for an interview in a snowstorm and didn’t bring a jacket. He didn’t wear a suit and tie as well. His engine died on his way home. He got out of the car and started running. However, the air was extremely chilling and he lost feelings in this hands. His legs were failing as well. The author detested snow at that moment. A travelling shoe salesman saw him and saved him. He eventually sold the car and flew to California. He left NY for California.

Thank you, failure. I no longer fear death when I go outdoors. – Scott Adams

Goals vs Systems. Scott was 21 years old when he flew to California. He wore his suit on the flight. He spoke to a CEO of a company that made screws. One should have a system instead of a goal. Keep looking for better options. At long as you are not learning, you should think about moving. This businessman didn’t care about loyalty. Appearance matters a lot. The people who use systems tend to fair better. Devise a system to succeed. A system is something you do on a more regular basis. Systems have no deadlines. Most successful people follow systems but not goals. Try to improve your odds of getting lucky. Warren Buffett has a system that works. The system is to buy undervalued companies and hold them forever, until something major changes. A spectacular system beats passion every time.

Every time he got a new job, he immediately started looking for a better one. For him, job seeking was not something one did when necessary. It was an ongoing process. This makes perfect sense if you do the math. Chances are the best job for you won’t become available at precisely the time you declare yourself ready. Your best bets, he explained, was to always be looking for the better deal. – Scott Adams

In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under 4 hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system. – Scott Adams

My System. When he was six, he chanced upon the Peanuts comics. He spent hours working on them. However, he never became good at it. However, he never gave up. He got rejected by the Famous Artists School for Young People because he was too young at that time. His dad persuaded him to pursue a career in the postal service. His mum decided that he should be a lawyer. However, he had to fund his college education. He pursued economics as it would be a good prelaw degree. Scott accepted Hartwick College in New York. He received a partial scholarship for Hartwick College. He contracted mononucleosis. He was sick, however, he wanted to work hard and so his grades improved along the way. Scott did not follow his dad’s instructions to work for the Postal Service. Scott decided to create and run a company. He landed himself at a big bank and took as many classes as possible to learn about a business. All this while, he started to pick up business acumen. Create something that has value. His competitively edge was creativity. This was a solution that allows luck to find you. Create something that the public wants and reproduce it. Being system-oriented allows you to be more resistant to giving up.

In time I started to understand something called the odds. Some things were, by their very nature, likely, and some were not. – Scott Adams

I learned by observation that people who pursued extraordinarily unlikely goals were overly optimistic at best, delusional at worst, and just plain stupid most of the time. – Scott Adams

I was the kind of person who needed a job that made other people happy, ideally with a side benefit of making me rich and famous too. And for that I needed a system. – Scott Adams

I wanted the product to be something that was easy to reproduce in unlimited quantities. I didn’t want to sell my time, at least not directly, because that model has an upward limit. – Scott Adams

I wanted to create, invent, write, or otherwise concoct something widely desired that would be easy to reproduce. – Scott Adams

The world offers so many alternatives that you need a quick filter to eliminate some options and pay attention to others. Whatever your plan, focus is always important. – Scott Adams

My Corporate Career Fizzled. He walked into Crocker National Banker and wanted to be a bank teller. His plan was to start from the bottom. However, he did perform well at it. Scott has a do-it-wrong-then-fix-it personality. Due to his inability to keep track of people’s transactions, he was unfit for the job. He could either get fired or promoted. He wrote a letter of suggestions on how to improve the bank. He asked to join the management training program instead, like a management associate program. Luckily, Scott was granted an interview with the senior vice president. The suggestions gave an idea of his potential. In total, Scott spent 8 years in the bank. He took on multiple jobs in the bank. There was a headcount freeze at the top and he couldn’t get promoted. It was not due to his incompetence. Pacific Bell hired him. An acquirer took over his previous bank and hired many people. 60% of the time, Scott was trying to look busy. Scott declared the workplace a hazard as there were many smokers. It was at this time that Scott completed his MBA. Similar to the previous bank, the company were not promoting white males anymore. Scott worked at Pacific Bell for 8 years as well. His affirmation was ‘I, Scott Adam, will be a famous cartoonist.’ He practiced art every morning before heading to work.

Deciding VS Wanting. After you decide, take action. Wishing starts in the mind and generally stays there. If you decide to be successful, you need to pay the price. Sacrifice sometime in your life to pursue your aim. Successful people pursue success. They need a system.

If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it. – Anonymous

The Selfishness Illusion. There are 3 kinds of people when it comes to generosity. They are selfish, stupid or to cause a burden on others. Your best option is to be selfish. Successful people don’t burden the world. Don’t be the petty selfish kind. Rather, be the important kind of selfish. Spend time on fitness, eating right, pursuing your career and spend time with family and friends. If you ignore your health, you become stupid. We have been told that it is better to give than receive. The problem with this is that it is short term and may harm yourself in the long run. Humans are easily influenced by those we talk to. This is known as peer pressure, modelling or imitating. Generous people should take care of themselves first. Being selfish means you take a long term view of things. Once your needs are taken care of, will you look towards the world. Success changes you to be less selfish.

If you pursue your selfish objectives, and you do it well, someday your focus will turn outward. It’s an extraordinary feeling. I hope you can experience it. – Scott Adams

The Energy Metric. There is an opportunity cost whenever you choose to do something as you will have to forgo something else. To achieve more, maximize your personal energy by eating right, exercising, avoid excessive stress, getting enough sleep etc. The quality of your work will improve etc. Find something exciting to wake up to and look forward to. How you behave and your mood affects those around you. Learn to be a very positive person and stay happy. It will affect the social lives of those around you. Have calm, focused energy. Scott exercised on most weekday evenings and had the side projects which could set him free. Blogging exercises Scott and charges him up. Everyone has their own activities which can be an energy booster. Shopping is exhausting to him. Capitalism inspires people to work hard and to take risks. Match mental state to activity. For example, if you are creative in the mornings, then start writing things. At 6am, I’m a creator, by 2pm, he is a copier. The creative juices usually flow in the easy mornings or late evenings. In the evening, he does the mechanical tasks etc. It is a match of energy level with a mindless task. If you don’t have a flexible schedule, try to plan your time to do something outside of work. He woke up at 4am to start his comics. Simplifiers vs Optimizers. The simplifier will look for the easy way to do something, although it may not be the best. The optimizer will look for the best solution, even if it is more complex. His wife is an optimizer. He is a simplifier. If you have detailed plans, you are more likely to fail. Optimizing can be stressful and exhausting. If a task requires communication, simplifying it would be the better option. If it an individual task, you might go for the optimizer mode, provided you can control the variables involved. For Dilbert, Scott used little art in the background. Dilbert was meant to be simple in design. One way is to simplify first, and then try to optimize later. Simplification frees up time, which is a valuable resource. Scott is an entrepreneur, author and cartoonist in a normal 40 hour work week. Maximize your personal energy. Sitting position. Sit with good posture with both feet on the floor. Your brain will tell you that it is time to get into serious work. Don’t work in the same position as when you relax. Do not use the bed for work. The way you sit makes a difference to your productivity. Tidiness is an important factor as well. Some people don’t mind chaos and mess. Some people work better when it is neat and clean. The author feels more energy after tidying up actually. A big obstacle is not knowing what your career plans require. Flash research is research under a minute in google. Sometimes, people have already asked similar questions before. Don’t be an asshole. You know an asshole when you see one. It includes selfishness, arrogance, mean-spiritedness etc. Examples include bragging, dominating conversation, cheating, lying, honesty. Asshole behavior is an addiction. Some people like doing it. Make taking care of yourself your number 1 priority. Economics is your second biggest priority, especially your job and investments. If you can’t get this right, you will be a burden to your family. When these 2 are taken care of, your friends, family and lovers are next. The next ring is your community, country and the world.The problem is that life is not so easy. Your priorities will overlap and conflict. Right choices should charge you up and make you more motivated. It will feel right. If it feels unhealthy and draining, it’s probably wrong. Meaningful work can be energizing.

Once all of my personal needs were met, my thoughts automatically turned to how I could make the world a better plan…It just happened on its own. – Scott Adams

Apparently humans are wired to take care of their own needs first, then family, tribe, country, and the world, roughly in that order. – Scott Adams

This book is another example of something that gets my energy up. I like to think that someone might read this collection of ideas and find a few thoughts that help. That possibility is tremendously motivating for me. – Scott Adams

Ideally, you want to manage your personal energy for the long term and the big picture. Having one more cocktail at midnight might be an energy boost at the time, but you pay for it double the next day. – Scott Adams

When you start asking questions, you often discover that there’s a simple solution, a Web site that handles it, or a professional who takes care of it for a reasonable fee. – Scott Adams

If you piss off your people around you, it may haunt you and be very distracting at the end. – Scott Adams

I would define an asshole as anyone who chooses to make the lives of others less pleasant for reasons that don’t appear productive or necessary. – Scott Adams

Your self-interest is best served by being a reasonable person whenever you can muster it. – Scott Adams

The next rings are your local community, your country, and the world, in that order. Don’t bother trying to fix the world until you get the inner circles of your priorities under control. – Scott Adams

If your boss routinely asks you to work overtime for no good reason other than to claw through piles of brain-deadening administrative work, you probably need to look for a new job. – Scott Adams



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