Boris Smus

interaction engineering

How to Fail at Almost Everything by Scott Adams

(...including writing books)

Let's be clear: this is a self help book. I somehow got suckered into reading it because I liked one of his blog posts. There are very few interesting or original things in the book, and the author comes off as brash and trying too hard to be funny. That said, I liked some ideas:

  • Systems vs goals. Focusing on achievement leads to emptiness after the fact. Instead focus on a system and process.

  • Simplifiers vs optimizers is an interesting dichotomy. Usually it's about optimizers vs satisficers but in this case I can see myself as a simplifier.

  • Don't listen to friends and family feedback on business ideas. Listen to the market.

Most of the rest of the book can be reduced to common sense: eat well, exercise daily. Some of Scott's specific advice is really uninspired and downright depressing. He insists that you should learn to play golf, learn a second language, how to use proper English grammar, how to be outgoing, a good conversationalist and a public speaker. He devotes a chapter of the book to learning a special command voice in order to manipulate people better. Move along!