I recently read “How To Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind Of The Story Of My Life” by Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert). Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you like the quotes please buy the full book here.
“Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.” (3)
“Happiness is health plus freedom.” (3)
“Simplicity transforms ordinary into amazing.” (3)
“Making comics is a process by which you strip out the unnecessary noise from a situation until all that is left is the absurd-yet-true core.” (5)
“Good ideas have no value because the world already has too many of them. The market rewards execution, not ideas.” (17)
“For our purposes, let’s say a goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don’t sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal.” (33)
“I figured my competitive edge was creativity. I would try one thing after another until something creative struck a chord with the public. Then I would reproduce it like crazy. In the near term it would mean one failure after another. In the long term I was creating a situation that would allow luck to find me.” (40)
“If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it.” (46)
“When you decide to be successful in a big way, it means you acknowledge the price and you’re willing to pay it. That price might be sacrificing your personal life to get good grades in school, pursuing a college major that is deadly boring but lucrative, putting off having kids, missing time with your family, or taking business risks that put you in jeopardy for embarrassment, divorce, or bankruptcy. Successful people don’t wish for success; they decide to pursue it. And to pursue it effectively, they need a system. Success always has a price, but the reality is that the price is negotiable. If you pick the right system, the price will be a lot nearer what you’re willing to pay.” (46)
“Let your ideas for the future rule your energy today. No matter what you want to do in life, higher energy will help you get there.” (67)
“It’s smarter to see your big-idea projects as part of a system to improve your energy, contacts, and sills. From that viewpoint, if you have a big, interesting project in the works, you’re a winner every time you wake up.” (67)
“I’m better than 99 percent of the world in Scrabble, Ping-Pong and tennis because I put in more practice time than 99 percent of the world. THere’s no magic to it.” (70)
“You shouldn’t hesitate to modify your perceptions to whatever makes you happy, because you’re probably wrong about the underlying nature of reality anyway.” (72)
“Every generation before us believed, like Snickers (my dog), that it had things figured out. We now know that every generation before us was wrong about a lot of it. Is it likely that you were born at the tipping point of history, in which humans know enough about reality to say we understand it? That is another case where humility is your friend. When you can release on your ego long enough to view your perceptions as incomplete or misleading, it gives you the freedom to imagine new and potentially more useful ways of looking at the world.” (72)
“Where there is a tolerance for risk, there is often talent.” (88)
“Things that will someday work out well start out well. Things that will never work start out bad and stay that way. What you rarely see is a stillborn failure that transmogrifies into a stellar success. Small successes can grow into big ones, but failures rarely grow into successes.” (88)
“The quality of the early products was a poor predictor of success. The predictor is that customers were clamoring for the bad versions of the product before the good versions were even invented.” (89)
“Bad luck doesn’t have the option of being that consistent forever.” (90)
“It’s generally true that if no one is excited about your art/product/idea in the beginning, they never will be.” (91)
“If your work inspires some excitement and some action from customers, get ready to chew through some walls. You might have something worth fighting for.” (91)
“You can raise your market value by being merely good – not extraordinary – at more than one skill.” (96)
“When I combined my meager business skills with my bad arts skills and y fairly ordinary writing talent, the mixture was powerful. With each new skill, my odds of success increased substantially.” (98)
“Recapping my skill set: I have poor art skills, mediocre business skills, good but not great writing talent, and an early knowledge of the Internet. And I have a good but not great sense of humor. I’m like one big mediocre soup. None of my skills are world-class, but when my mediocre skills are combined, they become a powerful market force.” (99)
“Everything you learn becomes a shortcut for understanding something else.” (99)
“I don’t read the news to find truth, as that would be a foolish waste of time. I read the news to broaden my exposure to new topics and patterns that make my brain more efficient in general and to enjoy myself, because learning interesting things increase my energy and makes me feel optimistic. Don’t think of the news as information. Think of it as a source of energy.” (100)
“You can’t directly control luck, but you can move from a game with low odds of success to a game with better odds.” (101)
“If you find yourself in a state of continual failure in your personal or business life, you might be blaming it on fate or karma or animal spirits or some other form of magic when the answer is simple math. THere’s usually a pattern, but it might be subtle. Don’t stop looking just because you don’t see the pattern in the first seven years.” (103)
“Today when I see a stage and a thousand people waiting to hear me speak, a little recording goes off in my head that says today is a good day. I’m the happiest person in the room. The audience only gets to listen, but I get to speak, to feel, to be fully alive. i will absorb their energy and turn it into something good. And when I’m done, there’s a 100 percent chance that people will say good things about me.” (106)
“Children are accustomed to a continual stream of criticisms and praise, but adults can go weeks without a compliment while enduring criticism both at work and at home. Adults are starved for a kind word. When you understand the power of honest praise (as opposed to bullshitting, flattery, and sucking up), you realize that withholding it borders on immoral. If you see something that impresses you, a descent respect to humanity insets you voice your praise.” (107)
“Dilbert was the first syndicated comic that focused primarily on the workplace. At the time there was nothing to compare it with. That allowed me to get away with bad artwork and immature writing until I could improve my skills to the not-so-embarrassing level.” (109)
“Quality is not an independent force in the universe; it depends on what you choose as your frame of reference.” (109)
“Animation shows take longer to “tune” than live action because the writers for animation can’t know what worked in a particular show until it is fully animated and too late to change.” (111)
“Success in anything usually means doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t, and for animated TV shows that means you don’t hit your pace until about the third season.” (111)
“i no longer see reason as the driver of behavior. I see simple cause and effect, similar to the way machines operate. If you believe people use reason for the important decisions in life, you will go through life feeling confused and frustrated that others have bad reasoning skills. The reality is that reason is just one of the drivers of our decisions, and often the smallest one.” (117)
“Politicians understand that reason will never have much of a role in voting decisions. A lie that makes a voter feel good is more effective than a hundred rational arguments. That’s even true when the voter knows the lie is a lie. If you’re perplexed at how society can tolerate politicians who lie so blatantly, you’re thinking of people as rational beings. That worldview is frustrating and limiting.” (117)
“View humans as moist machines that are simply responding to inputs with programmed outputs. No reasoning is involved beyond eliminating the most absurd options. Your reasoning can prevent you fro voting for a total imbecile, but it won’t stop you from supporting a half-wit with a great haircut.” (118)
“All you do is introduce yourself and ask questions until you find a point of mutual interest.
1. What’s 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 hobbies/sports?
6. Do you have any travel plans?” (123)
“The reality is that everyone is a basket case on the inside. Some people just hide it better.” (130)
“In most groups the craziest person is in control. It starts because no one wants the problems that comet rom pissing off a crazy person.” (140)
“The way fake insanity works in a negotiation is that you assign a greater value to some element of a deal than an objective observer would consider reasonable. For example, you might demand that a deal be closed before the holidays so you can announce it to your family as a holiday present.” (140)
“The biggest component of luck is timing. When the universe and I have been on a compatible schedule – entirely by chance – things have worked out swimmingly. When my timing has been off, no amount of hard work or talent has mattered.” (158)
I stayed in the game long enough for luck to find me.” (158)
“The success of Dilbert is mostly a story of luck. But I did make it easier for luck to find me, and I was thoroughly prepared when it did. Luck won’t give you a strategy or a system – you have to do that part yourself.” (160)
“I find it helpful to see the world as a slot machine that doesn’t ask you to put money in. All it asks is your time, focus, and energy to pull the handle over and over. A normal slot machine that requires money will bankrupt any player int he long run. But the machine that has rare yet certain payoffs, and asks for no money up front, is a guaranteed winner if you have what it takes to keep yanking until you get lucky. In that environment, you can fail 99 percent of the time, while knowing success is guaranteed. All you need to do is stay in the game long enough.” (160)
“Experts are right about 98 percent of the time on the easy stuff but only right 50 percent of the time on anything that is unusually complicated, mysterious, or even new.” (166)
“Simply find the people who most represent what you would like to become and spend as much time with them as you can without trespassing, kidnapping, or stalking. Their good habits and good energy will rub off on you.” (170)
“The single biggest trick for manipulating your happiness chemistry is being able to do what you want, when you want.” (173)
“You need to control the order and timing of things to be happy. It’s important to look at happiness in terms of timing because timing is easier to control than resources.” (173)
“Step one in your search for happiness is to continually work toward having control of your schedule.” (174)
“By any definition, what I’m doing is work, but because I can control the timing of it on this particular day, it doesn’t feel like work. I’ve transformed work into pleasure simply by having control over when I do it.” (174)
“Happiness is the natural state for most people whenever they feel healthy, have flexible schedules, and expect the future to be good.” (175)
“Recapping the happiness formula:
Get enough sleep.
Imagine an incredible future (even if you don’t believe it).
Work toward a flexible schedule.” (178)
“That’s what I call failing forward. Any time you learn something useful, you come out ahead.” (191)
“You’ll be surprised at how often a bad night of sleep leads to nonstop eating.” (195)
“in the long run, any system that depends on your willpower will fail. Or worse, some other part of your life will suffer as you focus your limited stockpile of willpower on fitness.” (207)
“My worldview is that all success is luck if you track it back to its source.” (218)
“If you think your odds of solving your problem are bad, don’t rule out the possibility that what is really happening is that you are bad at estimating odds.” (224)
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