While it might not be completely obvious to the casual observer, I adore the Dilbert comics, books, and cartoon. I’ve written about Scott Adams before, but this time I want to talk about one of his best-selling self-help books.
Scott is a highly intelligent and insightful man – two traits common to excellent comedians. He combines his strange angle on life with his particular brand of humor to share a worldview that promises to produce success. Not only does he say that his approaches to life will work, but he also shows in numerous clever life stories why and how they can work.
This is one of the more easily highlighted books I’ve owned. Adams is a master of brevity. Most of the chapters run about 2-3 pages, with a few one page chapters and a few 20+ page chapters. This allows him to dance between loosely connected ideas very easily, producing a flow that is both high-energy and meaningful.
One of the running themes of this book is his battle with speech disorder. Adams is a fairly popular public speaker on top of being a writer and artist, but he ran into a strange problem where he could barely talk to other human beings. Interestingly, he is one of the few cases who managed to actually defeat his disorder instead of periodically treating the symptoms. This book shares both how he overcame and what drove him to that success.
Between pieces of this story we have a host of loosely-connected topics which relate to the main idea – failure is but a seed of success. Some of the chapter contents include:
- A listing of Adams’ business ideas and ventures that failed
- How to build and maintain a high-energy state
- Ignore goals and focus on systems that produce good results
- Combining mediocre talents into one powerful set of skills
With the possible exception of the last couple of chapters (which cover diet and fitness, which he strongly reminds us is written by a cartoonist), this is a mad and deep text that is difficult to put down. I myself read it cover to cover in a single night before returning with a highlighter.
Scott Adams’ writing style is neither complicated nor loquacious. It’s a humorous read that can probably be understood by any reasonably competent 12-year-old.
However, I do not expect that a child could fully grasp what Adams is talking about. It references a number of life experiences common to most working stiffs, but which require some exposure to life before they make sense.
I’d hand this book to college kids. They might not be able to use or make sense of everything, but over time the contents will become more significant and relevant to them.
An excellent read. I can’t decide whether it belongs next to Adams’ other humorous works (Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain) or next to Think and Grow Rich on my shelf – a case could be made either way.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big is available on Amazon and in many brick-and-mortar retailers.