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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2014
First things first. This is a good book. I purchased it yesterday via Kindle and am enjoying it. I am an avid Dilbert fan and also subscribe to Scott's blog so enjoy his longer writing. However, I have a massive issue. Although I am nowhere near the end of the book, I am sick to death of Scott's endless qualifying of his points. Constant reminders that he's no nutritionist or Personal Trainer or Business Guru. I can't work out if the author has no real confidence in his words, is worried sick about a law suit or is just desperate for filler.

This is a massive shame as people who buy this book are probably huge Adams fans and know he is a cartoonist and not any of the above. I bought the book to hear Scott's take on these matters and don't need constant disclaimers that start to sound like apologies for his thoughts.

The Dilbert work is so clear and confident but the great ideas in this book start to look swamped and less sure. This is true despite a whole Introduction that is little but a disclaimer for the whole book. Surely this was enough?
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on 31 January 2014
It's not an autobiography, that's for sure. Although you get to find out quite a lot about what makes the Dilbert bloke tick, where he came from and how he got to where he is.

It's not a self-help book -- it's not quite self-congratulatory enough, nor is it a recipe for success.

It's not humour.As such. Although there are a few bits that are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.

It's a combination of all of the above, I guess. I think you probably need to be fairly open-minded to enjoy it, let alone benefit from it, and you certainly won't know by the end whether it's made you a better person, or someone who's prepared to embrace the lessons learned from failure and turn them into the seeds of future success.

But it's well worth reading, and if your idea of success is that it's mostly something other people have because they're smarter than you, or luckier than you, or live somewhere nicer than where you are, this might help you look at the world a little differently. In one respect, I think Adams has something nailed: if I'd read this aged 25, I'd probably have made some different choices here and there.

It's easy to read, very well written, thought-provoking and (yes!) often extremely entertaining. It might change your life. (It might not, but it's a very affordable risk!)
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on 1 February 2015
This book probably doesn't need any further selling to those already familiar with Scott's work and way of thinking. To those not in that category already I'd say that this book is an easy and entertaining read that delivers some thought provoking insights and observations. The main premise is that systems are for winners and goals are for losers, and presents an engaging and everyday approach to telling the reader what worked for him. It's not a self-help book and makes no promises, rather it's your mate telling you what worked for them. This is one for those who want to think about their own issues using reliable and reasoned sources. It's a very different book, but one I enjoyed in the same way as Gerd Gigerenzer's Risk Savvy.
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on 19 January 2014
This book is something that shouldn't work: part autobiography, part self help, and part Inception style thought-planter. Yet work it does, and it is all due to Scott Adams' skill: at writing, understanding of human psychology, and in other areas. In fact, this book works because of all the 'fails' that he describes here, and how they've made him the man he is.

If you read this book and don't find at least 5 good ideas you haven't yet thought of which strike a meaningful chord with you, I'll be very surprised. It'll give you a better understanding of how to make the most of your life, and will give you optimism that you too can make changes in your life that will lead to increased happiness.
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on 31 October 2016
This is a story the meanders a little (by design). It's got a lot of powerful and useful ideas in it and it doesn't thrust them at you but instead slowly lets you discover them via Adam's telling his life story. This makes it an odd book but it also makes it one of the few books I've read where the useful info sticks with you after you've finished. I've read it three times now, mainly skipping to the useful bits to refresh myself. The main parts educate you in what really are essential world skills you probably haven't given any thought to and show why systems are better than goals. This book won't be for everyone but a lot of people will find some very useful things in it. Some of the advice is quite radical (I doubt I'll give up meat) but some makes a massive difference to me daily ( learning about persuasion). One thing's for sure, you are unlikely to read a book quite like it and that's a rare thing these days. It also has the ultimate tale of using google to heal yourself which in itself is quite inspiring.
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on 10 February 2015
Very clear, concise advice written in Adams' own style. Some interesting insights which will resonate with many people and perhaps point a way forward to success without being too prescriptive. The thing that struck me was the lack of 'filler' which is found in many advice books. I have read some which spend a third of the book telling you how great the advice is, a third telling you what it is and then the rest is wind-down. This isn't like that and since reading it I've become head of Microsoft in a week. Next week I have an appointment with the prime minister to advise on monetary policy and the week after, I take over the U.N. It's that good.
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on 10 December 2015
I have read this book three times now and still get something g new out of it that I seemed to have missed first and second time around. It's a great read, very humorous and full of great ideas, tricks and tips. Buy it for someone either in University or just starting their first job. All school children should read this and write an essay on it.
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I read this book over a weekend and enjoyed it to start with but I was a little bored with it by the end.
Basically he's advocating flexibility over means and ends, or systems vs. goals as he puts it. He's mostly sensible here, but the book could be summed up in a couple of points:

1) Favour systems over goals (retain some flexibility over outcomes);
2) Treat yourself as a system, check inputs versus outputs (eat right and sleep right);.

It seems a bit underwhelming when you distil it like that, and a bit depressing - not that any of these are necessarily wrong.
I'm just not convinced they automatically lead to success.

Also the book is mildly amusing at points but don't buy it thinking it's a Dilbert/ comedy book.
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on 19 December 2014
I have always liked Scott Adams, and I recall his very amusing and perceptive nine-to-five workday mini-biographies like The Dilbert Principle. In how to fail at almost anything Scott again shines a light on his career but this time thrugh the list of failures he went through before he succeeded in becoming one of the worlds best known cartoonists. There is some really good and sensible advice in this book. Scott makes it plain at the start he is no guru and his anecdotal advice is there to be used or binned at the reader's discretion.

Compered to a lot of the expensive and flamboyant proponents of the self-help industry Scott is subdued and practical. I did find it seemed to drone on a bit after a while and wondered if he could have made it punchier. But all in all it was a worthwhile read.
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on 16 June 2015
This book is more about gentle self-effacing self-help lessons than autobiographical detail, and that's likely for the best. Adams's life is likely no more interesting than the average person's, except for his zeal for diligent experimentation at improving his life. In this book he's really candid about his many failed ventures and the faith he puts in cultivating behavioural routines that will ensure (eventual) success (after inevitable blunders).

Cynics may point out that such teaching has already been done by Stephen Covey and Tony Robbins, but I'd contend that Adams manages to impart his wisdom much more accessibly with his absence of chest-beating and evangelism. You don't get sermons with Adams, but you do get practical examples and a lot of modest sincerity.
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