Dilbert Creator’s Advice for 2015

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big - The Kind of Story of My Life by Dlibert creator Scott Adams

Just in time for the new year, I discovered Scott Adams’ funny new book about business. Tuesday his publisher just released its new paperback edition, and its counter-intuitive advice has already prompted a fascinating argument with the richest man in the world. But fortunately, the rest of us can also enjoy the book’s Kindle edition for just $7.99.

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Scott Adams created the Dilbert comic strip, and last week he used it to mock Warren Buffett’s advice about succeeding by finding a job that you’re passionate about. “Woo-hoo! I forwarded an e-mail!” jokes Dilbert’s sarcastic receptionist, trying to fake enough passion to improve her career. “I have to fake the passion because everything I do in this job is mindless and boring…”

But Dilbert’s creator told one newspaper that there actually is a serious message behind that comic strip — that passion can just as easily be formula for failure. A banker even told him once years ago that he’d never lend you money if you’re passionate. “You’re in business for the wrong reasons, and if things start turning unhappy, you’re going to bail!” Adams said — or even worse, making irrational “passionate” decisions. The Omaha World-Herald cites Adams as saying that whether you’re starting a new business or tackling a new job, “the last thing you want to do is become passionate.

“It’s almost the opposite of what you want to do…”

It’s a mind-blowing challenge to conventional wisdom — and it’s one of many in his new book. Instead of an inspiring ode to hard work, Adams titled his book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.” Amazon’s description calls it a “funny yet serious” book that’s full of Adams own personal stories, saying he shares “the strategies he has used to invite failure in, embrace it, then pick its pocket.” Behind the comic strip is a very smart man who’s come up with his own thoughtful advice.

  • Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners.
  • A combination of mediocre skills can make you surprisingly valuable.
  • You can manage your odds in a way that makes you look lucky to others.

Of course, after all this Warren Buffett still belives in the power of passion — even after hearing about this new critique from the creator of Dilbert. “Having passion for something is far from an automatic guarantee of success, but I think it helps,” he tells the Omaha World-Herald. Buffett is from Omaha, and he told the same newspaper that when he was just 12 years old, he’d already started reading every book in Omaha’s public library about how to succeed in business. And Buffett also offers the newspaper another compelling example. “It’s hard to imagine very many athletes succeeding without a passion for their sport, though obviously many who are equally passionate fall on their face (count me among those).”

I have to admit that the back-and-forth got me to thinking. But finally I concluded that it’s okay to fail if you’re failing passionately (because, since most startups fail, why not enjoy the ride?) And ultimately Warren Buffett gives the newspaper a similar response. “I tell the college students who visit Omaha to try to find the job that they’d take if they didn’t need a job… They may not enjoy wild success but they will certainly enjoy life more than if they go to a job they find uninteresting.

“And, on balance, I believe they will enjoy more success.”

Buffett is actually a fan of Dilbert– and Scott Adams says the feeling is mutual — and it was nice to see both men speaking sincerely on the topic of passion. But I have to declare Warren Buffett the winner of this argument, because of the way he cleverly co-opts Scott Adams’ own example. “Despite what Mr. Adams says, I retain a slight suspicion that he has a passion for delivering important messages in a highly entertaining manner.

And I’d be surprised if this passion didn’t predate his success.”

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Some Geeky New Books for October

Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography      Go and Add Value Someplace Else - a Dilbert book by Scott Adams

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution      Prince Lestat - The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

We all love reading Kindle ebooks, but today I noticed a very special page on Amazon. Their own editor’s had assembled a collection of what they considered the best new books of October. It’s a great selection of brand new books and Kindle ebooks — and a fun way to browser for something new to read..

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Amazon’s editors even broke down their selections into 16 different categories. (There’s the best new biographies, children’s picture books, and even the best new Graphic Novels…) “We’re happy to share with you the unique mix of books that our editors have hand picked as this month’s best,” Amazon says at the top of the page. Here’s a look at some of their picks for the most interesting new ebooks of October.

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
His last book, Steve Jobs, became a record-breaking best-seller (based on 40 interviews between the author and Jobs over the last two years before his death). Now Walter Isaacson looks beyond Apple Computers to the other pioneers — both past and present. Steve Wozniak gets some attention, along with Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Tim Berners-Lee. But Isaacson also looks back to female pioneer Ada Lovelace who in the 1840s wrote about an “analytical engine” proposed by Charles Babbage — and also wrote the very first computer program.

Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
Maybe you remember him from How I Met Your Mother. (Or from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle…) But this Tuesday, Neil Patrick Harris takes his unpredictible personna to a whole new format. “Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened…reads his books description on Amazon. “Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the ” back in ‘aUtobiography’…?” Calling it “a Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative”, Harris has written an entire autobiography that’s written in the second person — all about you!

“You will be born to New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

“Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas…”

Prince Lestat - The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

After more than a decade, Anne Rice returns to her “Vampire Chronicles” series with a new 480-page novel about the vampire prince Lestat. “The newly resurrected, but no less rebellious, Lestat addresses a mysterious twenty-first century vampire genocide,” Amazon writes in their description of the book, “with the same panache, self-absorption, and drama readers have come to know and love. ” The book jumps from the present to the past, and its sprawling story “raises interesting questions about the boundaries of science, conflicting beliefs, and a universal need to belong”. Even more interesting, the book has already become Amazon’s best-selling suspense novels — three weeks before the book is released on October 28th!

Go and Add Value Someplace Else - a Dilbert book by Scott Adams

“Go Add Value Someplace Else: A Dilbert Book” by Scott Adams
Scott Adams will release a brand new collection of Dilbert cartoons in just three weeks (on October 28th). And the Kindle edition is just $8.49. For past collections, at least some Amazon reviewers complained that the cartoons were hard to read on their small handheld Kindles. But comic strips have always looked great on the larger screens of Amazon’s Kindle full-color tablets — so hopefully this collection will find a happy audience of satisfied readers!

Remember, for a shortcut to all of Amazon’s “Best Books of October”,
point your browser to


Dilbert and Doonesbury – exclusive Kindle ebooks!

Dilbert and Doonesbury Kindle ebook anthologies

For the first time ever, you can read Kindle anthologies for two of the most popular newspaper comic strips — Doonesbury and Dilbert! They’re available now for Kindle Fire tablets, though you can also read them on any of Amazon’s Kindle apps. Check out the books at these “shortcut” URLs — tinyurl.com/DoonesburyEbook and tinyurl.com/DilbertEbooks. “These remarkable volumes represent a tremendous body of work from two exceptional cartoonists,” announced the publishing company behind the two books, “and we are delighted to make them available to a new audience.”

These exclusive Kindle editions don’t just include a few of the famous newspaper comic strips — it’s a lot of them! The Dilbert collection includes 2,000 different strips, nearly 30% of all the Dilbert comic strips that have ever been published. And the Doonesbury collection has everything — every single newspaper strip from the last 40 years. (If my math is correct, that means there’s 3,650 comic strips in each of the four editions, or nearly 15,000 comic strips in all!)

The Doonesbury collection is split into four separate volumes that each cover one entire decade, so the first volume starts with the 1970s. (There’s a famous series of strips in 1971 that pokes fun at young anti-war activist John Kerry, 33 years before he became the Democrats’ candidate for President in 2004.) Two more volumes collect all of the strips from the 1980s and 1990s, respectively, covering the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations, and the final volume almost catches up to the present, covering the years 2000 through 2010. (Cartoonist Garry Trudeau titled the collection simply “40: A Doonesbury Retrospective.”)

When the Doonesbury collection was released in print, each edition weighed almost 10 pounds, but the digital editions fit right into your Kindle apps (and each volume apparently takes just one-tenth
of a megabyte.) In a special introduction at Amazon.com, the cartoonist jokes that “I’ve come to appreciate that many readers prefer to forego the risk of herniation while picking up a book – no matter that the risk is slight if you push up from your knees and have someone spot you.” And he remembers the time crooks actually hijacked a truck which had been delivering print copies of the book. “I’ve tried to imagine the reaction of the hijackers’ supervisor when he broke into the trailer and discovered 13,000 pounds of Doonesbury where palettes of hi-def TVs should have been!”

Dilbert’s anthology has more descriptive titles for its four volumes, starting with “The Early Years, 1989 to 1993.” (It’s followed by “The Boom Years, 1994 to 1997,” and “The Dot-Com Bubble, 1998 to 2000.”)
But there’s seven whole years crammed into the final volume –“The Modern Era, 2001 to 2008.” “I tried to find the strips that were the funniest,” cartoonist Scott Adams explains in an interview at Amazon.com, “while also having some meaning, or a funny story attached.” Each strip was personally selected by the cartoonist himself, and it looks like he put a lot of care into the final anthology. In the interview, Adams remembers that “it felt like I was a mother with triplets and someone told me I could only keep one of them!”

He also reveals that he’s hoping for a Dilbert movie (though “A lot of elements have to fall in place.”) And he has big plans, some of which involve the comic strip’s web site, and even distributing the comic strip directly to mobile devices. “It’s an exciting time to be a cartoonist,” But in some ways, Dilbert has already made a very grand entrance for the Kindle. Dilbert himself makes a special appearance on the ebook’s page at Amazon.com — explaining exactly how to read the comic strip on touch screen. (“Hi, Kindle Fire Users,” the strip begins. “Double-tap on any panel to enlarge it…”)

By the end of the strip, Dilbert’s joined by his pet dog — Dogbert — who asks an even more important question…

Dilbert and Dogbert explain Kindle Fire ebook