Mike Kueber's Blog

February 23, 2014

Sunday Book Review #125 – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 1:01 am

Scott Adams is the cartoonist responsible for my favorite comic strip, Dilbert.  I have been reading Dilbert daily for more than 20 years and have a couple of Adams’s books from the 90s in my library – The Dilbert Principle and The Joy of Work.

Adams’s newest book is subtitled, “Kind of the Story of My Life,” but that is misleading.  The book is actually about Adams’s philosophy and strategies for living a successful life.  And by success, Adams is not talking about a mere career, but rather, as he succinctly states, “Happiness is the only useful goal in life….  My definition of happiness is that it’s a feeling you get when your body chemistry is producing pleasant sensations in your mind.”  So far, this makes sense.

According to Adams, the key components of happiness are:

  • Schedule flexibility (definitely not a 9 to 5 job)
  • Imagination (the ability to think of a better life)
  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Exercise

Although Adams’s ultimate objective is happiness, he also realizes that success in the material world can better position an individual to be happy.  Material success is much more likely if an individual has a working knowledge of:

  • Public speaking
  • Psychology
  • Business writing
  • Accounting
  • Design – “If you’re like me, you were born with no design skills whatsoever.  I was amazed to learn, well into my adult years, that design is actually rules based.  One need not have an ‘eye’ for design; knowing the rules is good enough for civilians.  For example, landscape designers will tell you that it’s better to put three of the same kind of bush in your yard, not two and not four.  Odd numbers just look better in that context….  I also learned that art composition for anything from a magazine cover to an oil painting to a PowerPoint slide should conform to a few basic templates.  The most common is the L-shaped layout.  You imagine a giant letter L on the page and  fill in the dense stuff along its shape, leaving less clutter in one of the four open quadrants.”
  • Conversation
  • Overcoming shyness
  • Second language
  • Golf
  • Proper grammar
  • Persuasion
  • Technology (hobby level)
  • Proper voice technique

This book is replete with common-sense insights (e.g., developing and maintaining personal energy) and idiosyncrasies (e.g., affirmations or an offshoot of chanting).  It is well-worth reading.


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