Review: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still win big

Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) has written a pretty good self-improvement book that kind of borders on a biography, called How to Fail at almost everything and still win big.

The book approaches self-development by looking at mistakes in hindsight that Scott had made and reflecting on what he.  This was something I found quite valuable and have begun looking at incidents of failures in my life and what I have learnt from it.  Hopefully one day I will actually get to the win big stage!

One of the failures he mentions in the book is the Dilberito – basically a ‘healthy’ burrito with the branding of his Dilbert character.  It seems a strange point to pick up on but he mentions it several times in the book.  His reasons for its failure (competitors have people who move rival products to back of shelf?).

This did not match my reason why I felt the product failed.  Although it is unlikely Scott Adams will read this I would like to add reasons why the Dilberito failed:

  1. The brand – do adults really buy food products with a comic character set in an office?
    • Where does Dilbert related to food?  Isn’t branding for Dilbert better focused on office products?
    • It’s branded as a healthy product but Dilbert looks kind of fat
  2. The brand name – The name ‘Dilberito’ sounds pretty disgusting and if you take away the ‘berito’ and put a ‘d’ in its place you would be eating a dildo.
  3. dilberito

There are a number of chapters talking about medical problems he has had with his finger and his voice.  Because he is a cartoonist and public speaker this issues were a major problem effecting his main income stream.  I felt these chapters were a bit drawn out, with things coming to an inevitable conclusion that things turned out okay.

This could have been summed up by saving “don’t give up on your problems, as there is likely to be some kind of solution out there”.

The top lesson from the book is about developing systems and not goals.  What this means is that a goal is a short term aim that once complete means that a person will not go anywhere else with it.

So for example if you wanted to lose 10lbs and you achieved it, Scott argues that once the goal has been achieved you lose track and stop doing what caused you to lose weight in the first place (i.e. good diet and exercise).

However if you want to lose weight, keep it off, stay fit and healthy.  Then you need to develop a system – changing your diet permanently and continually training at the gym.

Because of his experiences he gives advice about fitness and diet, which although he does not have the qualifications and experience of personal trainer or nutritionist (although I cannot use that as a criticism), some of his advice is pretty sensible to the beginner and valuable advice to those who are not able to sustain a permanent weight loss.

My favourite advice he gives about staying fit is his method of getting dressed in his gym gear and going down there.  This he says has two reasons:

  1. By dressing in your gym gear you get the mindset you are going to train (from experience correct).
  2. By going to the gym you are there and more likely to train.  If he still does not want to workout he will turn around and go home (again I would say getting down to the gym is the main part of the battle).

howtofail

 There is also a good chapter about starting a business called ‘Passion is Bullshit’.  Which probably sums up Scott Adam’s approach to business – he is logical and focused on things that has worked for him.  This probably makes him different to other cartoonists, as I don’t think he would have continued drawing Dilbert unless there was money to made from it.

I recommend the book as a good read – there is some logical arguments that I would describe as quite red-pill on self-improvement and worth a read if you are thinking about ways you can change your lifestyle or start a business.

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