Failing and succeeding, the sarcastic comic-strip–artist way.
Dilbert creator Adams has failed where others have succeeded, and he has a chapter to prove it: a 10-page list of mistakes, misfires and entrepreneurial blunders that humbled him time and again. Not every business venture crashed and burned, of course; the massive success of Dilbert is proof enough of that. As the title of the book suggests, Adams’ path to cartooning fame and fortune was uneven, fraught with missteps and largely unrelated to cartooning. Fans of Dilbert will find the author’s less-than-orthodox approach to a “win big” guide to be in keeping with the tone of the comic strip. Some of the themes of the book include “goals are for losers,” “conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way),” and “simplicity transforms ordinary into amazing.” Adams has extensive experience in data-driven office environments, and the long-form writing gives him a chance to examine the many approaches he’s tried to making positive changes in his life and career. Many of the themes are common to this type of book—e.g., the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, the benefits of having a “system” to follow over a long period of time instead of passions or goals that leave you feeling empty as soon as you achieve them. Adams has a funny, refreshingly considered set of ideas about how to find success—and what that success will look like when one gets there.
While Adams implores readers not to consider this book’s suggestions as advice (“It’s never a good idea to take advice from cartoonists”), he does turn the many lemons of his work history into something akin to a helpful guide for young adults stumbling through the early career years.