How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

Rating: 8/10

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How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

Rating: 8/10

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High-Level Thoughts

A fun book of life advice built around stories from Adams’s experience becoming a famous cartoonist, among other endeavours. Nothing that “new” persay, but a fun read and the endorsement of affirmations is curious.

Summary Notes

There are six ways to sort truth from fiction. They’re faulty and fail a lot, but by combining a few you might just figure out what’s true:

  1. Personal experience
  2. Experience of peers
  3. Experts
  4. Scientific Studies
  5. Common Sense
  6. Pattern Recognition

“You already know that when your energy is right you perform better at everything you do, including school, work, sports, and even your personal life. Energy is good. Passion is bullshit.”

Goal oriented people exist in a constant state of failure or waiting for the goal. Systems people win every day just by sticking to their systems. The systems focused people tend to perform better and be happier.


  • Huge proponent of them from them, reportedly, having an effect throughout his life
  • “I , Scott Addams, will become a famous cartoonist.”
  • “Affirmations are simply the practice of repeating to yourself what you want to achieve while imagining the outcome you want. You can write it, speak it, or just think it in sentence form.”

“The most important form of selfishness involves spending time on your fitness, eating right, pursuing your career, and still spending quality time with your family and friends.”


  • “The way I approach the problem of multiple priorities is by focusing on just one main metric: my energy. I make choices that maximize my personal energy because that makes it easier to manage all of my other priorities.”
  • “One simple way to keep your priorities straight is by judging how each of your options will influence your personal energy. It’s not a foolproof gauge, but if you know a particular path will make you feel more stressed, unhealthy, and drained, it’s probably the wrong choice.”

“Simplifying is generally the strategy of people who view the world in terms of systems. The best systems are simple, and for good reason. Complicated systems have more opportunities for failure. Human nature is such that we’re good at following simple systems and not so good at following complicated systems.”

“One of the best ways to detect the x factor is to watch what customers do about your idea or product, not what they say. People tend to say what they think you want to hear or what they think will cause the least pain. What people do is far more honest. For example, with comics, a good test of potential is whether people stick the comic to the refrigerator, tweet it, e-mail it to friends, put it on a blog page, or do anything else active.”

Success & Skills:

  • “A great strategy for success in life is to become good at something, anything, and let that feeling propel you to new and better victories. Success can be habit-forming.”
  • “The formula, roughly speaking, is that every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.”
  • “One helpful rule of thumb for knowing where you might have a little extra talent is to consider what you were obsessively doing before you were ten years old.”
  • “Everything you learn becomes a shortcut for understanding something else.”
  • “If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it”
  • “The best way to increase your odds of success— in a way that might look like luck to others— is to systematically become good, but not amazing, at the types of skills that work well together and are highly useful for just about any job.”
  • “There’s one more pattern I see in successful people: They treat success as a learnable skill. That means they figure out what they need and they go and get it.”Good Conversation Tactics:
  • Ask questions.
  • Don’t complain (much).
  • Don’t talk about boring experiences (TV show, meal, dream, etc.).
  • Don’t dominate the conversation. Let others talk.
  • Don’t get stuck on a topic. Keep moving.
  • Planning is useful but it isn’t conversation.
  • Keep the sad stories short, especially medical stories.

“I credit one of my college friends with teaching me the secret of overcoming shyness by imagining you are acting instead of interacting. And by that I mean literally acting.”

“If your gut feeling (intuition) disagrees with the experts, take that seriously. You might be experiencing some pattern recognition that you can’t yet verbalize.”


  • I’m here to tell you that the primary culprit in your bad moods is a deficit in one of the big five: flexible schedule, imagination, sleep, diet, and exercise.

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