Growing up in the 90s, I was all too familiar with the famous comic strip Dilbert. However, being an elementary school student at the time, its workplace humor wasn’t as appealing to me as, say, Garfield‘s lasagna-loving antics. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I begin to appreciate Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ humor, mostly due to his connection with cartoonist Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine fame.
Fast forward to 2014 and I was in my mid-20s, prime time for some solid life advice, when I read How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big. Coincidentally, it’s a book by Scott Adams. I was so impressed by his concept of using systems over goals to achieve results that I went out and bought one of his older books, The Dilbert Principle. It, too, was insightful and often humorous – and having some experience in the corporate world at the time it gave me some much-needed perspective on how business management really operates.
One thing I generally like about Scott Adams is his ability to condense complicated theories into easily understandable concepts. He often has a way of putting the way I think and feel into actionable words.
So I was somewhat caught off-guard in 2016 when he entered the public arena to throw a positive take on Donald Trump’s campaign style leading up to that now historic presidential election. It wasn’t so much of an endorsement as it was an honest acknowledgment of Trump’s skills.
At first I resisted Scott’s praise for the presidential candidate. But then, I couldn’t entirely discount his points. From reading his books, I already knew he wasn’t a conservative. He certainly wasn’t a one-sided pundit like Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter. And knowing the circles he usually does business with in the entertainment industry (living in California no less), I had to respect his courage to go against the conventional wisdom that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. It took guts to put his reputation out there like that, to say the least, which I admired.
Lo and behold, he was right. By that November, Trump was indeed duly elected as President of the United States. From there on out, I made it a point to tune into Scott Adams daily videos posted on Periscope. When someone gets a prediction like that right against all the odds, it just seems wise to take any opportunity to pick their brain even from a distance.
That’s not to say I’m a fan of everything Scott Adams puts out. His 2017 book, Win Bigly, was an underwhelming regurgitation of his Periscope talks. Not all of his ideas are winners either. For better or worse, Adams is always thinkings outside the box.
But I always appreciate hearing his view on things, and I still give him credit for at least trying to be as fair and level-headed as possible in his opinions. For example, as much as he might drive some people nuts with his positive spin on Trump’s power of persuasion, he’s talked equally flatteringly of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s talents. He’s also thrown some supportive comments towards politicians Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg. He even joined forces with CNN’s Jake Tapper recently to collaborate on some comic strips for a veteran fundraiser.
We need more objective and unbiased voices in the mix, and Scott Adams comes closer to providing that than nearly any other social commentator that comes to mind.
Which brings us to his latest book, Loserthink. While Win Bigly was more of a book for his fans, Loserthink is a book for everyone. In it, Scott explains how to look at life through a variety of lenses. Being a jack-of-all-trades himself (ex: banker, corporate stooge, restaurant manager, cartoonist, writer, news pundit, etc), he has a lot of life experience to draw from before coming to a conclusion on any topic. While people with discipline in only one field might have several blind spots, those with a background in several fields have a much fuller scope to view from when analyzing any given situation.
Chapter by chapter, Scott effortlessly takes us on a tour through various ways of thinking. He explains how to think like an engineer, a psychologist, an artist, a historian, a scientist, and an economist just to name a few. Scott insists that breaking out of our mental prisons and looking at things from another perspective is the best way to avoid ‘loserthink’.
Reading him write about some topics, such as climate science, will likely be a provocative experience for many readers. But if you can overcome your knee jerk reaction to dismiss anything that challenges your worldview, you will enjoy this book.
I truly believe that Loserthink provides a great roadmap to de-escalate tense and complicated conversations to a healthier and more rational place. You’ll definitely learn how to frame arguments better by the time you finish it, and you’ll probably improve your own thinking habits too.
It’s also a brisk read. You’ll easily finish all 232 pages in a day or two, armed with plenty of knowledge to bypass the many downfalls of loserthink that is so prevalent today.
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