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How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
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RickyGP Offline
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How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
[Image: How-to-fail-cover2.jpg]

The last thing that Scott Adams ever expected to write was a self-help book. At one point he jokingly wrote that it was "logically impossible." Well, he finally did and it turned out to be great. How to Fail at Everything pretty much covers everything that Adams did in his life that led him to fame and fortune. It covers everything from his daily habits, diet and exercise, the skills that made him successful, and, as the title indicates, his numerous failures. But most important of all, this book is a summary of Adams' mindset.

The most surprising thing about this book is that Scott Adams is stubbornly persistent and relentlessly optimistic.

I personally found it surprising that the dude who wrote and drew Dilbert, one of the most sarcastic and cynical widely syndicated comic strips, had such a positive outlook on life. It was this attitude that helped him battle many personal and professional setbacks and failures. He wrote about his attitude in his previous book Stick to Drawing Comics Monkey Brain:

"I've always been an optimist. Every time I enter a contest or play a game, I fully expect to win, regardless of the odds. Every time I go to the mailbox, I expect to find a check. Its just that sort of irrational optimism that caused me to enter the cartooning field with exactly zero experience and no artistic talent to speak of…. I'm also an optimist about humanity in general. I think we'll solve the problems of terrorism, war, poverty, and most diseases in my lifetime. I really do. And I think the next generation is better than every generation that came before, including the so-called Greatest generation."

At 3 different times in the last few decades he had some diseases and medical disorders that threatened to destroy his career(s). But because of his optimistic attitude, he always was able to overcome those adversities.

The following covers the most important ideas of the book. Keep in mind that these just summarize and if you find these helpful then the book in its entirety will be both a fun and valuable read:

Goals vs. Systems
The problem with goal-oriented people is that once they reach their goal, they basically lose what gave them such a huge drive in the first place.When people fail to reach their goal they are miserable and haven't accomplished anything more than waste time, money and energy. Systems are defined as things that you do habitually and on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness and success.





A good way to imagine this difference is with workouts and diets: take person A: goes full-bore on a goal of losing 20 pounds, starves him/herself for months, and finally reaches their goal and quickly go back to their old habits.
Now take person B: has a consistent and specific workout schedule and a diet that he/she follows at all times. Person B will have the better physique and health in the long run.

Affirmations
These are short statements that you say to yourself repeatedly and on a consistent basis. You decide what you want to achieve or what things you want more of in your life. If you wanted more money you might say something like," My income is always multiplying," or something to that effect. You say it or write it several times in a row, every day. Normally, I associated this habit with new-agers and law-of-attraction cultists. So the first time I saw that Scott Adams, who I had only known through Dilbert, was writing about his experience with affirmations I was like:

[Image: tumblr_mnqsgrrT441rm146oo1_500.gif]

After all, affirmations are just things that you say to yourself. At times, it seems as though it is a habit that leads to delusion. Yet Adams tried affirmations and had success with them. A few specific instances where affirmations worked for him:
  • Attaining a high score on the entrance exam for an MBA. He was able to attend UC-Berkeley
  • Made money on some stocks.
  • Dilbert, his biggest success of all.
He spends several chapters going over what makes them work, how they affect our psychology, and how they can make us focus. He assures that it is not magic.

Christian McQueen actually wrote an interesting post on his blog about affirmations.
Mike Cernovich did an interview with Mark Munoz, an MMA fighter who is also a big believer in affirmations.

Happiness
The most logical goal in life is to be happy. To Adams, happiness is something that can be attained but it doesn't necessarily come from the things that most people often think will make them happy. Happiness doesn't come from having a ton of money, owning a huge house, or from buying expensive toys. While those things might bring momentary joy, they are not what lead to long-term happiness. Even if you could afford those things, you won't really be able to enjoy them without good health. Moreover, if you are slaving away at work you despise, that is a constant source of stress and worry, then you will obviously be miserable. In short, this is his formula for happiness:
  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Imagine an incredible future
  • Work toward a flexible schedule
  • Do things you can steadily improve at
  • Help others (if you've already helped yourself)
  • Reduce daily decisions to routine.

Diet
Scott Adams has always been health and diet conscious. He has tried many different kinds of diets and food combinations. Throughout the years he has gained and lost weight and today maintains himself at a svette 145 pounds at 16% bodyfat. He focuses on foods are easy to prepare, gives him energy throughout the day and keeps his mood up. This is his simple diet template:
  • Bananas
  • Protein bars
  • Peanuts
  • Mixed nuts
  • Cheese
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Edamame
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Fish
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Berries
In my opinion, you could add in whole eggs, red meat, coconut oil, lowfat greek yogurt, and potatoes to that list.

Selfishness
Adams advocates a rational and "enlightened" selfishness. If you are at a point where you are struggling, you must take care of yourself first. This doesn't mean that you don't help others from time to time, or that you are an inconsiderate jerk. He encourages us to spend quality time with our loved ones without neglecting to take care of our bodies and to work hard at our careers. In order to this we have to give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves before taking care of others. Interestingly enough, you will rarely ever find any successful person that is truly selfish. For example, many of the wealthiest men, both living and long-past dead, are also the biggest philanthropists - John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Bill gates. By pursuing your "selfish" aims it is only natural that you will eventually give back.

The Math of Success

The following is a list of skills that have helped Adams, and may very well help you, have more luck and opportunities in life:
  • Public Speaking
  • Psychology
  • Business Writing
  • Accounting
  • Design (the basics)
  • Conversation
  • Overcoming shyness
  • Second language
  • Golf
  • Proper grammar
  • Persuasion
  • Technology (hobby level)
  • Proper voice technique
The points in bold are covered in more detail in this video and below:




Proper Grammar
The following are common grammar errors that will make you seem uneducated:

"If I Were…"
When talking about a hypothetical future, use 'were' instead of was. For example, say, 'If I were you..." instead of "If I was you."

"I" and "Me"
The simple rule for I and me is that the sentence has to make sense if you removed the other person mentioned in the sentence. For example, if you say, "Bob and I went to the movie," it would make sense if you removed "Bob and" and said, "I went to the movie." If the sentence is "Please give the documents to Bob and me," you can remove "Bob and" and it still makes sense as "Please give the documents to me." Less than 20% of the English-speaking population gets this right.

"Less" or "Fewer"
For example: "I have less friends than before." When the subject is plural, ain in "friends" you use "fewer": I have fewer friends than before. You use "less" for things that are singular like hair or water. It is correct to say "I have less hair than before." If you are referring to individual stands, you would say, "I have fewer strands of hair than before."
Hopefully

"Theory" vs "Hypothesis"
A theory is a scientific explanation of reality that is so well tested that it is as good as fact. The correct term for an unproven and untested explanation is 'hypothesis.'

Conversation
Many of you in this forum are masters at conversation and have overcome shyness, esecially those who have mastered GALNUC from Roosh's Day Bang. Here is a great thread about conversation for networking purposes.
Adams paraphrases Dale Carnegie's question stack:
  1. What is your name?
  2. Where do you live?
  3. Do you have a family?
  4. What do you do for a living?
  5. Do you have any sports/hobbies?
  6. Do you have any travel plans?
A summary of good conversation techniques:
  1. ask questions.
  2. Don't complain
  3. Don't talk about boring topics: food, TV show plots, dreams, medical stories.
  4. Don't dominate the conversation. Let others talk.
  5. Don't get stuck on a topic. Keep moving.
  6. Planning is useful but it isn't conversation
  7. Keep the sad stories short, especially medical stories.

Persuasion
These are a few persuasive words and phrases that Adams has, through experience, found especially effective:
  • Because
  • Would you mind…?
  • I’m not interested.
  • I don’t do that.
  • I just wanted to clarify…
  • Is there anything you can do for me?
  • Thank You
  • This is just between you and me.
"Because"
For whatever reason, the word “because” signals reasonableness, and reasonableness allows people to let down their defenses and drop their objections.

"Would you mind…?"
It is hard to be a jerk and say no to any request that starts with “Would you mind.” The question comes across as honest, while also showing concern for the other person; a powerful combination.

"I’m Not Interested"
People who sell for a living are usually equipped with arguments against every common objection. The most effective way to stop people from trying to persuade you is to say “I am not interested.” Repeat your claim of indifference as often as necessary without offering a reason for your disinterest.

"I Don’t Do That"
It sounds like a hard-and-fast rule and many cannot argue against that. You could alter it slightly by referring to specific activities: “I don’t do farmer’s markets.” “I don’t do nightclubs.” Combine that with “I’m not interested” if someone presses you on.

"I Have a Rule"
Works similar to the above. It will sound convincing and polite, while offering no reason whatsoever.

"I Just Wanted To Clarify"
This is usually used to indirectly challenge extreme statements. That approach might look like this: “I just wanted to clarify: are you saying you’re okay with an 80 percent chance of going to jail, or did I hear your plan wrong?” No one likes to be proven wrong, but they will be happy to clarify even if the clarification is a complete reversal of an earlier position.

"Is There Anything You Can Do for Me?"
When it comes to situations where you are having trouble getting what you want (retail store refusing to return an item) the question frames you as a helpless victim and the person you are trying to persuade as the hero and problem solver. When you deputize someone to be your problem solver, you create a situation in which he or she has a clear pay-off: helping nice people always feels good, and this question is a polite way to get compliance.

"Thank You"
People like to feel appreciated. For many adults, genuine appreciation is scarce. A lot of times a simple Thank you is enough, but it does not hurt to put in some work for gratitude: a detailed Thank You note sent by mail or a well-written email containing specific details for what you are thankful for.

"This is Just Between You and Me"
Research shows that people will automatically label you a friend if you share a secret. The right approach is to start small; if someone cannot keep small secrets, they will not keep any major ones.

Other Persuasive Factors
Decisiveness: In a complicated world, people want o follow those who can make quick decisions. Those decisions don’t always have to be right, but decisiveness is always necessary.

Energy: People respond to high-energy individuals. Energy is contagious.

Insanity: Crazy + confident has probably killed a lot of people but, done just right, it is often a recipe for extraordinary persuasion. Sometimes you have to play to people’s emotions instead of their reason.
(This post was last modified: 06-01-2015 01:26 AM by RickyGP.)
06-01-2015 01:22 AM
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not_dead_yet Offline
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
Thank you. I'd rep you for this if I could.

Did he say anything about his exercise routine in the book?

"I'm not worried about fucking terrorism, man. I was married for two fucking years. What are they going to do, scare me?"
06-01-2015 07:25 AM
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
I'd give a rep point just for that wonderful formatting.

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06-01-2015 02:32 PM
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
reading this book now, great read.
06-02-2015 12:30 PM
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Com...
(06-01-2015 02:32 PM)DJ-Matt Wrote:  I'd give a rep point just for that wonderful formatting.

Now that you mention it, the formatting is nearly orgasmic.

Agree2

06-02-2015 04:02 PM
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dies irae Offline
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
First of all, thanks for posting this review. I got the book after reading this review and read it in 3 sittings. Kindle version is 7.99 usd.

The book is very well organized and well written. It makes you want to skip going to sleep and read more.

We all hear about positive thinking, the importance of failures and affirmations on the road to success. Yet, we rarely see illustrations and examples of how these are actually working. This book does a good job of illustrating these in detail. There are also a few great stories within the book. I don't want to give spoilers about those stories because, you know.
(This post was last modified: 06-03-2015 09:34 AM by dies irae.)
06-03-2015 09:26 AM
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
This is amazing to find out.

I have always liked scott adams and appreciated how he holds firm to his points despite social pressure from SJWs at times. It's also great to see some of the things I have learned in life are also some things he himself does, and then there's even more beyond what I would have thought.
06-03-2015 09:32 AM
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
"Less" or "Fewer"For example: "I have less friends than before." When the subject is plural, ain in "friends" you use "fewer": I have fewer friends than before. You use "less" for things that are singular like hair or water. It is correct to say "I have less hair than before." If you are referring to individual stands, you would say, "I have fewer strands of hair than before."Hopefully

This is something I didn't know and will use. Thanks. Just one thing, "friends" in the example sentence: I have fewer friends than before, the word "friends" is the direct object and not the subject.
06-06-2015 08:29 PM
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wi30 Offline
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How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
Great book. I read it a year or two ago. The only complaint I have is his continuous self-depreciation. The guy needs to take some credit for all he's accomplished and been through, the biggest being his vocal issues.
06-09-2015 10:10 PM
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
Possibly deserving of it's own thread, but another guy in a similar vein to Adams is James Altucher.
The only gripe I have with the guy is his somewhat feminine way of speaking and very pronounced upspeak which he does all the friggin' time.
That aside though, the man offers some very solid advice, here's one quality article:
http://boingboing.net/2015/05/11/the-onl...rn-so.html
06-16-2015 05:31 AM
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RE: How to Fail at Almost Everthing and Still Win Big by Scott Adams - Notes & Commentary
Great book. Especially if read AFTER Win Bigly
12-06-2018 08:12 PM
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