Loss Leader Pays Off

I have to say with the current election season I am drawn to the writing of Scott Adams. He seems to be one of the few people that has insight into the persuasion tactics that Trump employs. Since he plugs his book in every blog post I finally relented and decided to read his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

Overall Impression

The book is a lot of anecdotes in the life of Scott Adams. It reads like a funny older dude trying to drop knowledge bombs on someone younger than him. He covers everything from being successful to what makes up a good diet. Some of his stories get a little drawn out like he goes to great lengths and takes many chapters talking about some issues he had with his voice while speaking. I’m not sure I took much away from that. But he’s a funny guy and it comes through in the book. He talks about a lot of his failures and how those ultimately led to him being a success.

As you’ll know if you read his blog posts, Scott Adams has had some training in hypnosis and persuasion. I have to say I get the impression I’m being gamed a bit when I read his writing. All in all it’s a good book if you like his style of writing then give it a go.


I like his assertion that goals are not good and that systems are a better approach. He probably should just use the word habit instead of system but that doesn’t sound as cool. When you set goals you find yourself almost always being in a state of not meeting your goals. Then if you achieve your goal you set another one and again, you’re in a state of being pre-goal. It makes sense. He prefers that you introduce habits into your life that will help you achieve goals that you want.

Like instead of some goal of getting in shape you should try to walk 5 times a week. This reminds me of what has become known as the Seinfeld approach. The idea is that if he would write new jokes every day then he thought he could get better. So he bought a big wall calendar and every day he wrote a joke he drew a red X on the calendar. When he had a few days in a row he would feel compelled to keep it going. It’s a neat idea, instead of having a goal of “write lots of jokes”, he introduced a practice, a habit or a system that would move him towards that.

One thing I do like is his focus on fitness, nutrition and taking care of yourself. Sometimes generosity prevents us from taking care of ourselves. He says you should be more selfish in that regard, that way you can do the things you want to do, be with people who are important to you and be more generous in the long-term.

He points out that the more skills you have then the better off you are. Often times it’s better to be good at multiple things than being the absolute best at one thing. Like what if you’re good at programming and you’re good at understanding human psychology. Or what if you’re good at writing but also speaking. You can understand how the addition of those skills might help you find a niche better than being the absolute best at one skill. It’s an interesting idea to consider.

In chapter 21, The Math of Success he talks about skills that he thinks are important for most anyone. It’s good to think about. But you also have to know that this is one guy talking about what has worked for him.

  • Public Speaking
  • Psychology
  • Business Writing
  • Accounting
  • and many more…

Yeah, good book, easy read, I recommend it.