Why Should I Read | How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, believes that being lucky is your key to success.

Before you click away, I agree with you that this philosophy doesn’t lend itself to observable reality which is why I don’t hold this worldview (In fact, I’d recommend you go read “The Magic of Thinking Big” instead of this book).


Adams’s book is illustrated at every turn by stories like how he lost his voice for several years. I truly enjoyed this book, and have several tactics I can fit into my own worldview after reading it. Here are my two favorites.

Systems are for winners, Goals are for losers. 

Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.

Here’s the thing, I believe in objective truth, that our actions have real consequences, and our universe functions according to its created order. Within this framework, I see tremendous value in these two tactics.

Systems: Think of it in these terms, someone sets a goal to lose 10 pounds. While they may achieve it or not, they are putting stress on themselves to get there. On the other hand, someone who builds a system of eating healthy foods and trains themselves to desire activity need not worry about weight loss. It happens naturally.

If you can build a system for yourself, it will eventually beat a goal. A system plays the odds in your favor, while a goal makes a situation into a win/lose scenario.

A system builds a foundation so that when you do reach your goal, the improvement stays.

There are always exceptions, obviously, but when you do set goals, try to think of the system that under-girds your success.

Skills: If you are bi-lingual, you can be an average employee and get promoted faster than someone who lacks that extra skill.

Scott Adams describes himself as a mediocre artist who happened to have a background in corporate America, average humor quality, and who could write a little. These skills combined to propel him to fame as the creator of Dilbert.

Adding skills to your life allows you to take advantage of opportunities that seem tailor made for someone with your unique combination.

There are always exceptions, obviously, but when you do learn skills, try to think of those that will add the most width to your life. Skip the basket-ball spinning skills, of course.

This tactic also discounts the outside possibility that you have world-class ability or potential in a single area. If that’s the case, extra skills may detract from your time spent in pursuit of that area.

Read more from Scott Adams on doubling your odds of success at Forbes.com

As previously mentioned, I wouldn’t recommend this as the only book you read on success, but it is a fun read. From re-learning to talk, learning hypnosis, affirmations, failing as a restaurant owner, Scott Adams has experience in it all.

Until Next week,

Keep Reading Friends!


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WSIR 002 | How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success

Why should someone read a book on sales? I asked myself this question when this book was recommended to me the first time. I didn’t feel that anyone outside of the profession of sales should have to pick up a book entitled, How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling. I realized later, and as the title of this post points out that the title could easily have been, “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success” and still been entirely accurate. The principles in successful salesmanship are directly tied to the principles of human interaction

Most people think sales is something like this:


This book, first released in 1947, covers topics all the way from arguing for keeping detailed records to Benjamin Franklin’s program of personal improvement to even how to talk to your barber to look your best.

Three topics addressed in the video are enthusiasm, overtalking, and a correct view of failure. There are certainly more key topics in this book, especially the section on asking questions to effectively listen and on handling objections but you’ll need to go read the book to get those broken down.

1. Enthusiasm!

If there were a single thing in your life that you could change and by changing that one thing you were able to double your results, would you do it?

That switch is called enthusiasm, look at anyone who is successful and in some capacity they have used enthusiasm to help them. Without getting too political, Dr. Ben Carson has been widely criticized for lacking enthusiasm in his campaigning and it has damaged his bid for the White House in 2016.

Bettger recollects to his mindset of nervousness and how he (understandably, I’ve done this too) let nervousness translate into laziness or lack of enthusiasm. This actually got him fired from a minor league baseball team. He discovered however that he could force himself to be enthusiastic regardless of his feelings and he tried this tactic out at his next team.

Three things were a direct result.

  • His enthusiasm overcame his fear, his nervousness began to work for him!
  • Other players noticed his electric manner, and began to match his enthusiasm.
  • Rather than being tired from the heat, he was exhilarated at the end of the game.

Another thing was an indirect result, Bettger gained a reputation of enthusiasm and Frank “Pep” Bettger used that reputation all the way to becoming the third-baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals.

I urge you… to make a high and holy resolve that you will double the amount of enthusiasm that you have been putting into your work and into your life. If you carry out that resolve, you will probably double your income and double your happiness. – Dale Carnegie

2. Overtalking

We’ll keep this section short 🙂

Bettger was convinced that the biggest reason salesman lose business was their tendency to overtalk.

I work as the Director of Development for a non-profit so I have meetings with donors quite often. One of my mentors has suggested a 70/30 split on how much the other person should talk in conversation compared to how much the person presenting should talk. This is based on the idea that the more the other person talks the more they like you. You pay them a subtle compliment by listening to their ideas.

Abraham Lincoln had a knack for cutting to the core of an issue in his communication with others. Most people are familiar with the Gettysburg Address. In 272 words, our 16th president started with the founding of the country, reminded those present of the tragedy that took place before them, and cast vision for the future.

Edward Everett, who spoke for 2 hours before Lincoln that day, is quoted as saying,

I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the center of the idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.

Remember, “We quickly resent the person who is abrupt; but we admire the person who is brief and to the point.”

3. Failure

“Your greatest asset is is the number of strike outs you have had since your last hit.”

Most people, if asked, “what is the opposite of success?” Would immediately respond with the idea of failure. However, this mindset that failure is where someone should stop is far from what should happen in that situation.

When someone fails, the opportunity for learning is present. If you quit because of failure, you’ve in effect said, “This issue will always beat me, and I won’t attempt to win here again.”

Babe Ruth, the baseball star not the candy bar, in his day was known widely for being a man who could hit. His home runs are legendary. Most people don’t know this though but he also led the league in another area, strike outs.

That’s right, the man who is immortalized with 714 home runs, struck out at that very same home plate 1330 times!

Ruth is quoted as saying,

“I just keep going up there and swingin’ at ’em. I know the old law of averages will hold good for me the same as it does for anybody else, if I keep havin’ my healthy swings.”

We need to adopt some of that same attitude, whether in sales, customer service, or engineering. The law of averages is real, and if you have built the correct skills and implement them regularly, your efforts will pay off.

Bottom Line, If you are looking for a book that gives rock solid principles for successful every-day interaction with others, look directly at Frank Bettger’s How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling.

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