October 29, 2013, 12:25 PM — Cartoonist Scott Adams has enjoyed an ascent most of us would envy. He started as an IT cube dweller at Pacific Bell, drawing Dilbert in his spare time, and became rich, famous and someone who no longer had to answer help desk calls.
Best of all - Adams earned all this by relentlessly skewering the people for whom he once worked and corporate life in general.
Harvard Business Review's Daniel McGinn has a great interview this month with Adams, who just wrote the autobiography of his life in business, How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.
Some facts about Adams we found extremely interesting:
He earned his MBA before becoming a cartoonist. Wouldn't you think Adams would have been the last person to hold an MBA? Not so, in fact, he shares how what he learned in business school helped him form Dilbert and successfully manage "the Dilbert empire." "Dilbert was one of the few successful comics to break out in its era, and I would say that at least half of that had to do with my business training," he notes.
He kept his full-time IT job for 5 years while also writing Dilbert. He tells McGinn: "My day job didn’t bother me anymore because I didn’t worry about getting fired so much—I now had a backup plan. My cartooning job was almost ridiculously easy because I was just transcribing my experiences at work."
He's launched several businesses and discovered he is a terrible manager. Given all his experience at Pac Bell - and an MBA - you'd think he'd be the best manager, right? "You can’t be too liked, and I like to be liked, so I’m completely incapable of being a day-to-day manager," Adams says. "So, yes, I was largely incompetent at that and many other things I did."
Click below for the full interview.