How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Moe Abdou

Scott Adams is the quintessential overnight success story.  He’s been relentlessly working on his craft since 1989, he’s drawn over 9000 comic strips, and he’s failed many more times than he’s succeeded - still for him, success is a deliberate strategy of ‘managing his opportunities in a way that would make it easier for luck to find him.’  To the world, Adams is the face behind the legendary cartoon - Dilbert - whose voice echoes the sentiments of countless knowledge workers who’s opinion goes unnoticed every day.  

Living at the outskirts of Silicon Valley, Adams is certainly a product of his environment, and as you’ll notice in his new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, his path to superstardom is both bold and unconventional.  For starters, Adams doesn’t believe in setting goals, is convinced that ‘passion is bullshit’, and is someone who’s addicted to being active.  Although his mantra is to fail intelligently, his approach to improving his odds may surprise you.

10 Inspirational Moments from Scott Adams

1.  Think twice before you follow your passion - for, it’s your success that’s igniting that passion not the other way around.  

2.  Success is subjective and highly personal - still your most important priority each day is to do something that will improve your odds.

3.  Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success - Think of psychology, public speaking, writing, and communication as your superpowers.

4.  Get comfortable with doing a lot of little experiments - early signs of success will emerge from a small subset of people, not the masses.

5.  When you fail intelligently, you always pick up new skills and relationships that leave you smarter.

6.  Your personal energy is the best predictor of success - Get your body functioning at its peak, and watch your productivity soar.

7.  Replace your willpower with diet with knowledge - never stop learning about how to optimize your fitness and nutrition.

8.  Get addicted to being active - and to avoid burnout, be no more active than the amount that makes you feel good.

9.  Stop setting goals - instead, think more broadly by putting systems in place that will take you from lower odds to better ones.

10.  Next time you get rejected or fail at something - Raise your sights and make a bigger bet.

Reflect:  What did you do this week to improve your odds of success?

Further Reading
  • Michael Serbinis: What I've Learned — Visionary Entrepreneur, investor and CEO and Founder of the new healthcare startup, LEAGUE, Michael Serbinis shares what he learned building three disruptive startups, selling two of them and working with Kimbal and Elon Musk.
  • The Startup Glossary: Founders Share Their Go-To Learning Tools — Whether you mispronounced your boss’ name (It’s just Mike, not Mique) or were caught taking a selfie in the elevator, we all have our collection of embarrassing office moments. My most cringeworthy thus far happened when my dad asked our team to go around the table and share the resources we use to learn.
  • How Being Present Laid the Foundation for Rachel Blumenthal's Success — It’s become a running joke between my dad and me that I have a new best friend every day. The adage stems from the common practice I’ve adopted sprinting out of my interviews and exclaiming “I love them!” seconds after I hang up with our guests on Skype. Hosting 33founders is an enormous blessing for so many reasons.

back to the blog