Feb 17

Book Review: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

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

This isn’t a book for people who are seeking a great self-help book, it’s a book for people who really like Dilbert and are willing to read anything by the author. Half self-help book, half memoir, Adams’ book touches on everything from his experiences as a failed restaurateur to how to make yourself eat healthy every day.
The thing that kept it out of the “meh- 2 stars” category is that I did get some good thought points out of this. It’s nothing I didn’t know, but it’s good to be reminded of “always get new skills if you can” and “try to stay optimistic.” Some of the advice might be good, but I won’t take it (I detest sports, so I won’t pick up golf even if I think it might be great for networking) and some of the advice is not as good (keep healthy snacks in your fridge–is the time you save really worth eating old food?)

Scott Adams seems like a genuinely likeable guy, smart and hard working and ambitious, who has achieved success through skill, persistence, and luck. He seems to have had more than his fair share of the latter quality, so sometimes his advice comes across like “number-picking advice from a powerball winner,” especially when he talks about being promoted time and again despite having no real skills other than owning a suit.

In THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE, I remember Adams having mentioned how awesome “affirmations” were for him, and then not saying much about what it was or how to do it. In this book, he talks about how it’s super easy to convince yourself not to eat bad foods and like good foods, but then he only obliquely says something about having gone cold turkey and afterwards he didn’t like it anymore. (This has not been my experience. I gave up soda for most of a year, but quit when I realized I felt no different. I still love soda.) Saying you’re going to explain how to do something, and then not doing it is a big problem in a self-help (or any) book.

So, as a memoir, it’s okay. As a self-help book, it’s not that great. And I can’t say it was especially funny. If you love Scott Adams and want to read everything he puts out, pick it up. Otherwise, you’re not missing much.

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