Scott Raymond Adams
June 8, 1957
Windham, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Hartwick College (BA)|
University of California, Berkeley (MBA)
|Occupation||Cartoonist, writer, political commentator|
|Dilbert, Coffee with Scott Adams|
(m. 2006; div. 2014)
|Total views||22.9 million|
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
Scott Raymond Adams (born June 8, 1957) is an American artist and creator of the Dilbert comic strip and the author of several nonfiction works of satire, commentary, and business. His Dilbert series came to national prominence through the downsizing period in 1990s America and was then distributed worldwide. Adams worked in various roles at big businesses before he became a full-time cartoonist in 1995. He writes in a satirical, often sarcastic way about the social and psychological landscape of white-collar workers in modern business corporations.
Adams was born in 1957 in Windham, New York, the son of Paul and Virginia (née Vining) Adams. He is of half-German descent and also has English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Dutch, and a small amount of American Indian ancestry.[better source needed]
He was a fan of the Peanuts comics while growing up, and he started drawing his own comics at age 6. He won a drawing competition at age 11.
Adams graduated valedictorian from Windham-Ashland-Jewett Central School in 1975 in a class of 39. He remained in the area and received a BA in economics from Hartwick College in 1979. He moved to California a few months after his graduation. Adams earned an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986.
Adams took Dale Carnegie Training and called it "life changing".
Adams worked closely with telecommunications engineers at Crocker National Bank in San Francisco between 1979 and 1986. Upon joining the organization, he entered a management training program after being held at gunpoint twice in four months as a teller. Over the years, his positions included management trainee, computer programmer, budget analyst, commercial lender, product manager, and supervisor.
Adams did not become a cartoonist by mere happenstance: every morning while working at Pacific Bell he had set his alarm clock for 4 a.m.: he would get coffee and then spend the start of his day trying to create a new career for himself. Cartooning proved to be the successful venture of the many that he attempted in these hours, and Adams created Dilbert during this period of personal exploration; the name came from ex-boss Mike Goodwin. Dogbert, originally named Dildog, was loosely based on his family's deceased pet beagle Lucy. Submissions to various publications of both Dilbert and non-Dilbert comic panels failed to win publication. These included The New Yorker and Playboy. An inspirational letter from a fan, however, persuaded Adams to keep trying.
He worked at Pacific Bell between 1986 and June 1995; the personalities he encountered there became the inspiration for many of his Dilbert characters. Adams first published Dilbert with United Media in 1989, while still employed at Pacific Bell. He continued to draw his cartoons at 4 a.m., maintaining his income. His first paycheck for Dilbert was a monthly royalty check of $368.62. Gradually, Dilbert became more popular and was published by 100 newspapers in 1991, and 400 by 1994. Adams attributes his success to his idea of including his e-mail address in the panels, thus facilitating feedback from readers.
Adams's success grew, and he became a full-time cartoonist with Dilbert in 800 newspapers. In 1996, his first business book, The Dilbert Principle, was released, expounding on his concept of the Dilbert principle.
Logitech CEO Pierluigi Zappacosta invited Adams to impersonate a management consultant, which he did wearing a wig and false mustache. He tricked Logitech managers into adopting a mission statement that Adams described as "so impossibly complicated that it has no real content whatsoever". That year, he won the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, and Best Newspaper Comic Strip of 1997, the most prestigious awards in the field.
Finally, I got the call. "You're number one." I still haven't popped the champagne. I just raise the bar for what would be the right moment, and tell myself how tasty it will be if I ever accomplish something special in my work. Apparently the thing inside me that makes me work so hard is the same thing that keeps me unsatisfied.
A Dilbert TV series ran from 1998–2000, earning a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999. By 2000, the comic was in 2,000 newspapers in 57 countries and 19 languages. On June 29, 2020, Adams told his followers on Twitter that Dilbert had been cancelled because he was white and that the show's network, UPN, had made a decision to shift towards African American viewers, and that in his career, he'd lost two other jobs because of his racial background.
Adams was a fan of the science fiction TV series Babylon 5, and he appeared in the season 4 episode "Moments of Transition" as a character named "Mr. Adams" who hires former head of security Michael Garibaldi to locate his megalomaniacal dog and cat. He also had a cameo in "Review", a third-season episode of the TV series NewsRadio, in which Matthew Brock (played by Andy Dick) becomes an obsessed Dilbert fan. Adams is credited as "Guy in line behind Dave and Joe in first scene".
In 2015, Adams wrote blog posts predicting Trump had a 98 percent chance of winning the presidency based on his persuasion skills, and he started writing about Trump's persuasion techniques. This grew popular, so he started writing about it regularly. Adams soon turned this into a daily video presentation called Coffee with Scott Adams, distributed to Periscope, YouTube, ScottAdamsSays.com, and Locals, where he covers topics which interest him such as current events, politics, persuasion, success. Adams has amassed over 95,300 subscribers and 22,943,004 views on YouTube.
Currently he displays three of his books behind him on each episode:
Coffee with Scott Adams has featured guests such as Naval Ravikant, Ed Latimore, Dave Rubin, Erik Finman, Greg Gutfeld, Matt Gaetz, Ben Askren, Carpe Donktum, Mark Schneider, Steve Hsu, Michael Shellenberger, Carson Griffith, Shiva Ayyadurai, James Nortey Clint Morgan, Bjørn Lomborg.
In 2018, Kanye West shared multiple clips onto Twitter from an episode titled: "Scott Adams tells you how Kanye showed the way to The Golden Age. With coffee." In 2020, President Donald Trump retweeted an episode where Adams mocked Joe Biden, and has retweeted Adams 15 times total. DJ Akira the Don remixed Adams' voice for the song Good vs. Good and Adams listened to it on an episode.
Adams has caused controversy by pointing out coincidences between the Joe Biden campaign and Satan.
YouTube removed video titled "Episode 1213 Scott Adams: Biden COVID Plan, Swalwell's Chinese Spy, Pelosi Still a Steaming Pie" due to advancing "false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S. 2020 presidential election".
Adams offers paid subscriptions for exclusive content on Locals. In 2020, Adams said: "For context, I expect my Dilbert income to largely disappear in the next year as newspapers close up forever. The coronavirus sped up that inevitable trend. Like many of you, I'm reinventing my life for a post-coronavirus world. The Locals platform is a big part of that."
Adams was the CEO of Scott Adams Foods, Inc., makers of the Dilberito and Protein Chef. He sold off his intellectual property in this venture when the Dilberito failed in the marketplace. He also was a restaurateur but exited that business. Adams describes his failures and what he learned from them in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.
In 1996, Adams played an extra role on an episode of American sitcom NewsRadio which mentions Dilbert. Joe Rogan was a lead character and was in the same scene as Adams. In 2016, Adams and Rogan talked about this on The Joe Rogan Experience.
Adams has been a podcast guest on Making Sense with Sam Harris, The Joe Rogan Experience, The Tim Ferriss Show, The James Altucher Show, The Ben Shapiro Show, The Rubin Report, Real Talk with Zuby, The David Pakman Show.
Adams has spoken on Real Time with Bill Maher, Commonwealth Club of California, Fox News, Berkeley Haas.
Adams was interviewed for Mike Cernovich's documentaries Silenced (2016) and Hoaxed (2019).
In 2016, Adams gave a chapter providing life advice in Tim Ferriss' book, Tools of Titans.
In 2018, Adams was invited to meet President Donald Trump at the Oval Office and accepted it. Adams won't reveal the contents of their conversation.
In 2020, Elon Musk tweeted at Adams "There are times when I feel like I’m living in a Dilbert cartoon"
Adams said: "The old me believed that my brain was special, and that it was going to think whatever it was going to think. Unfortunately, what it usually thought all through my twenties and thirties was severely traumatic memories that put me in a state of continuous suicidal urges. Today my thoughts are almost entirely positive and optimistic. The difference is that I learned to crowd out the negative thoughts by manipulating my environment. I tune my body with a healthy lifestyle so it feels good, and that encourages positive thoughts."
Since late 2004, Adams has suffered from focal dystonia, which has affected his ability to draw on paper for lengthy periods. He now draws the comic on a graphics tablet. He also suffered from spasmodic dysphonia, a condition that causes the vocal cords to behave in an abnormal manner. In July 2008, he underwent surgery to reroute the nerve connections to his vocal cords, and his voice is now completely functional.
Adams was trained as a hypnotist. He credits affirmations for many of his achievements, including Dilbert's success and achieving a ninety-fourth percentile on a difficult qualification exam for business school, among other unlikely events. He states that the affirmations give him focus. He has described a method which he has used that he says gave him success. He pictured in his mind what he wanted, and wrote it down 15 times a day on a piece of paper.
In addition to his cartoon work, he has written two books on religion, God's Debris (2001) and The Religion War (2004). God's Debris lays out a theory of Pandeism, in which God blows itself up to see what will happen, which becomes the cause of our universe. In God's Debris, Adams suggests that followers of theistic religions such as Christianity and Islam are inherently subconsciously aware that their religions are false, and that this awareness is reflected in their consistently acting like these religions, and their threats of damnation for sinners, are false. In a 2017 interview Adams said these books would be "his ultimate legacy".
Adams married Shelly Miles aboard a yacht, the Galaxy Commodore, on July 22, 2006, in the San Francisco Bay, in a ceremony conducted by the ship's captain. The two had met at a gym in Pleasanton, California, where Miles was an employee and Adams was a customer. By Miles, Adams had two step-children, Savannah and Justin, the latter of whom died of an opioid overdose involving fentanyl in 2018, at the age of 18, prompting Adams to start the service WhenHub. Adams and Miles divorced in 2014, and Adams said the two remained friends, with Miles moving only one block away after their separation.
On Christmas Day in 2019, Adams announced on his podcast that he was engaged to Kristina Basham, and later revealed on the podcast that they had married on July 11, 2020. Basham, a model and baker, has two daughters, and is a vice president at WhenHub.
Adams has often commented on political matters. In 2016 he wrote on his blog "I don't vote and I am not a member of a political party." In 2007, he suggested that Michael Bloomberg would make a good presidential candidate. Before the 2008 presidential election he said, "On social issues, I lean libertarian, minus the crazy stuff", but said in December 2011 that, if he were president, he would do whatever Bill Clinton advised him to do because that "would lead to policies that are a sensible middle ground". On October 17, 2012, he wrote "while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president". In a blog post from September 2017, Adams described himself as being "left of Bernie [Sanders], but with a preference for plans that can work".
In 2015, although Adams stated that he would not endorse a candidate for the 2016 elections, he repeatedly praised Donald Trump's persuasion skills, especially on his blog, extensively detailing what he called Trump's "talent stack", the then-candidate's unusual skill set combination. Adams predicted that Trump would win the Republican nomination and the general election.
Of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, he said the following: "If you're an undecided voter, and male, you're seeing something different. You're seeing a celebration that your role in society is permanently diminished. And it's happening in an impressive venue that was, in all likelihood, designed and built mostly by men." Adams said that he temporarily endorsed Hillary Clinton out of fear for his own life, stating that he had received direct and indirect death threats ("Where I live, in California, it is not safe to be seen as supportive of anything Trump says or does. So I fixed that."). In late September, however, Adams switched his endorsement from Clinton to Trump. Among his primary reasons for the switch were his respect for Trump's persuasion skills over Clinton's, Clinton's proposal to raise the inheritance tax, and his concerns over Clinton's health. Adams stated that being labeled a "Donald Trump apologist" ended his public speaking career and reduced his income by about 40%.
Adams predicted in March 2020 that Trump, Sanders and Joe Biden would all contract COVID-19 and that one of them would die from its effects by the end of the year; in December 2020, when all three men remained alive (although Trump did catch the virus and survived), Politico named Adams' prediction one of "the most audacious, confident and spectacularly incorrect prognostications about the year". Adams further predicted on July 1, 2020 that if Biden were to win the 2020 presidential election then Republicans would be hunted and there's a "good chance" they'll be "dead within a year".
Adams has received recognition for his work, including the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award and Newspaper Comic Strip Award for 1997 for his work on Dilbert. He had also been climbing the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) rankings of the 50 most influential management thinkers, placing 31st in 2001, 27th in 2003, and 12th in 2005, but fell to 21st in 2007. He did not place in 2009.
He received the NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language for his participation in "Mission Impertinent".
Adams has coined or popularized several words and phrases over the years, including Confusopoly (businesses that stay afloat only by intentionally misleading their customers), The Dilbert principle (a variant on the famous Peter Principle), Elbonia as shorthand for offshore work, and Pointy-Haired Boss / PHB and Induhvidual as insults.
Stephen King references Dilbert in his 2002 book on how to write, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. King says: "And if you think it’s all about information, you ought to give up fiction and get a job writing instruction manuals—Dilbert’s cubicle awaits."
Adams appears in the book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Adams wrote a blogpost in 2010 about Steve Jobs' response to Antennagate, in which he says “Apple’s response to the iPhone 4 problem didn’t follow the public relations playbook, because Jobs decided to rewrite the playbook ... If you want to know what genius looks like, study Jobs’ words.” Jobs proudly emailed this around.
In 2018, Elon Musk sent his staff an email which instructed them to "In general, always pick common sense as your guide. If following a 'company rule' is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change."