Book Reviews

How to Fail at Almost Everything and still win Big by Scott Adams

October 24, 2017

“How to Fail at Almost Everything and still win Big” is the story of one person’s unlikely success within the context of scores of embarrassing failures.
Book discusses lessons Scott learned from all the failures he has faced, his list of failed startups, restaurants, bad investments and much more moments, which are worth sharing to those who are looking to learn success patterns. Here I am discussing all the takeaways from his life, which he discussed in the form of the book:

1) Look for Patterns: When Scott had his voice problem, he was looking for a pattern, he thought it might reveal a solution to his voice problem. Also in his tennis game with his friend, he tried to find a pattern and finally understood why losing the game.If we recognize patterns well we can find the solution of the underlying problem.

2) Passion is Bullshit: Scott believes that success caused passion more than passion caused success. By several examples he emphasized, Passion is by- product of knowing you will be good at something. So if you are aware that you can do particular thing successfully, it will eventually turn into your passion.

3) Build Systems, not Goals: His system versus goals model has been discussed in the entire book. He says if you achieve your goal, you celebrate, until you realise you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction and if you fail you couldn’t withstand to move onto another thing that might work you. Remember all the successful people worked on building systems, it gives them  patience to discover things that worked for them.The goal is a specific objective, A system is something you do to the regular basis that increases your odds of happiness.

4) Deciding vs Wanting: Successful people don’t wish for success; they decide to pursue it. And to pursue it effectively, they need a system. If you pick the right system, the price of success is negotiable, it is near to that what you can pay.

5) Selfishness Illusion: He categorised people into three kinds Selfish, Stupid and Burden on others and the best option is to be selfish.The most important form of selfishness involves spending time on your fitness, eating right, pursuing career, and still spending quality time with your friends and family. If you neglect this, you slip into second category stupid-which is a short slide to becoming a burden to society.

6) The tendency to Risk: Scott believes if you’re brave enough to take risk in some particular thing , there is where your success is. Like Bill Gates famously found ways to hone his technical skills by stealing time on a mainframe. Scott Adams himself used to make doodles of his teachers in school, knowing there was risk he might be caught someday.

7) On Happiness- The Biggest trick for manipulating your happiness chemistry is being able to do what you want , when you want.

8) On Failure: In his words, Failure is a tool, not an outcome. It is a resource that can be managed. He figured one failure after another such that creating a situation that would allow luck to find him.

9) Maintaining Energy: Before Scott Adams was a cartoonist, he worked in a number of corporate jobs. But he still enjoyed going to work, because he always had side projects going on that had potential to set him free. Prospect of starting his own thing, left his cubicle behind and gave him an enormous amount of energy.

10) Success Formula-Every Skill You Acquire Doubles Your Odds Of Success: In his words-“I am a perfect example of the power of leveraging multiple mediocre skills. I’m rich and famous cartoonist who doesn’t draw well.At social gatherings, I’m usually not the funniest person in the room. My writing skills are His good but not great .But what I have that most artists and cartoonists do not have is years of corporate business experience plus MBA from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.”You don’t have to be excellent in something to be successful, you need to figure out perfect combination.


While writing these key pointers, I believe there is much to be conveyed. And the reason is there is lot more you can get from the book than these few lessons. This is an essential read for those who are interested in knowing how success happens to those who have achieved it. This is a story of Scott Adams life, that he wished others could learn and observe patterns from, that could be somehow beneficial in building their own success story. Go for it.

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