Scott Adams

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For other people named Scott Adams, see Scott Adams (disambiguation).
Scott Adams
Scott Adams.jpg
Scott Adams, June 2007
Born Scott Raymond Adams
(1957-06-08) June 8, 1957 (age 58)
Windham, New York
Nationality American
Area(s) Cartoonist, writer
Notable works

Scott Raymond Adams (born June 8, 1957) is an American cartoonist, creator of the Dilbert comic strip and the author of several nonfiction works of satire, commentary, business, and general speculation.

His Dilbert series came to national prominence through the downsizing period in 1990s America and was then distributed worldwide. A former worker in various roles at big businesses, he became a full-time cartoonist in 1995. Adams writes in a satirical, often sarcastic way about the social and mental landscape of white-collar workers in modern corporations and other large enterprises.

Early life[edit]

Scott Adams was born in Windham, New York in 1957. He grew up a big fan of the Peanuts comics, and started drawing his own comics at the age of six.[1] He also became a fan of Mad magazine, and began spending long hours practicing his drawing talent, winning a competition at the age of eleven.[1] In 1968, he was rejected for an arts school and decided to focus on a career in law. Adams graduated valedictorian at Windham-Ashland-Jewett Central School in 1975, with a class size of 39. He remained in the area and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Hartwick College in 1979.[2] In his senior year, a vehicle breakdown almost forced him to spend a night in the snow, causing him to vow never to see a snowflake again. He took a one way trip to California a few months after his graduation.[1]


Office worker[edit]

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.[1] Over the years his positions included: management trainee, computer programmer, budget analyst, commercial lender, product manager, and supervisor. During presentations to upper management he often turned to his comic creations to add humor.[1] He earned an MBA in economics and management from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986.

Adams created Dilbert the character during this period—the name came from ex-boss Mike Goodwin.[1] Dogbert, originally named Dildog, was loosely based on his family's deceased pet beagle, Lucy.[1] Periodic attempts to win publication with Dilbert and non-Dilbert comic panels alike failed, including with The New Yorker and Playboy (not necessarily with the same comics).[1] However an inspirational letter from a fan persuaded Adams to keep trying.[1]

He worked at Pacific Bell between 1986 and June 1995, and the personalities he encountered 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 had to draw his cartoons at 4 am in order to work a full day at the company. His first paycheck for Dilbert was a monthly royalty check of $368.62.[1] 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.[1]

Full-time cartoonist[edit]

As he became a full-time cartoonist, with Dilbert in 800 newspapers, Adams's success grew. In 1996 The Dilbert Principle was released, his first business book.[1]

In 1997, at the invitation of Logitech CEO Pierluigi Zappacosta, Adams, wearing a wig and false mustache, successfully impersonated a management consultant and tricked Logitech managers into adopting a mission statement that Adams described as "so impossibly complicated that it has no real content whatsoever".[3] 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.[1]

In 1998 Dilbert began as a TV series, but was cancelled in 2000. By 2000 the comic was in 2000 newspapers in 57 countries and 19 languages.[1]

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.[4]
— Scott Adams, The Dilbert Blog

An avid fan of the science fiction TV series Babylon 5, 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.[5] He also had a cameo in "Review", a third-season episode of the TV series NewsRadio, in which the character Matthew Brock (Andy Dick) becomes an obsessed Dilbert fan. Adams is credited as "Guy in line behind Dave and Joe in first scene".[6] Later in the episode, the character Dave Nelson (Dave Foley) hires an actor to play Scott Adams in a trick to bring Matthew back to work at the station.

Adams is the CEO of Scott Adams Foods, Inc., makers of the Dilberito and Protein Chef, and a co-owner of Stacey's Café in Pleasanton, California. Much of his interest in the food business comes from the fact that he is a vegetarian.

On November 16, 2011, Adams announced his candidacy for President of the United States on his blog, running as an independent.[7]

Personal life[edit]

He is a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Adams is a former member of Mensa.[8]

In recent years, Adams has had two notable health problems. Since late 2004, he has suffered from a reemergence of his focal dystonia which has affected his ability to draw for lengthy periods on paper,[9] though it causes no real problem now that he 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. He recovered from this condition temporarily but in July 2008 underwent surgery to rewire the nerve connections to his vocal cord.[10] The operation was successful, and Adams's voice is now completely functional.[original research?]

Adams is a vegetarian and trained as a hypnotist.[11] He credits his own success to affirmations, 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.[12] He has described a method 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.[13]

Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, credits Adams for launching his career as a cartoonist.

Adams married Shelly Miles in 2006, she has two children named Savannah and Justin Miles, but in a February 2014 blog posting he revealed that he is no longer married.[14]

He currently resides in Pleasanton, California.

Adams has often commented on political matters. In 2007 he suggested that Michael Bloomberg would make a good presidential candidate.[15] Before the 2008 presidential election he said, "On social issues, I lean Libertarian, minus the crazy stuff",[16] 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".[17] On October 17, 2012, he wrote "while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president".[18] In 2015, he stated that he would not endorse a candidate for the 2016 elections, but he has been offering praise for Donald Trump's persuasion skills, and predicted that Trump would win not only the Republican nomination, but also the general election in a huge landslide.[19]


In March 2011, Adams posted a controversial, widely-discussed blog post where he wrote, "The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently." He did, however follow that comment with the clarification "I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I'm not saying women are similar to either group. I'm saying that a man's best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar".[20][21][22][23]

In April 2011, he used a sockpuppet account to comment extensively on a Metafilter thread, defending himself under an anonymous alias before identifying himself.[24]



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 Suntop Media & European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) rankings of the 50 most influential management thinkers placing 31st in 2001,[25] 27th in 2003,[26] and 12th in 2005,[27] but fell to 21st in 2007.[28] He did not place in 2009.[29]

He received the NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language for his participation in "Mission Impertinent" (San Jose Mercury News West Magazine, November 16, 1997).

Coined phrases[edit]

Adams has coined or popularized several words and phrases over the years, such as:

"Cow-orker" was a preexisting word from Usenet that Adams popularized through his newsletter. Similarly, "Induhvidual" gained popularity through the newsletter, though it was coined by a reader.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Adams, Scott (2008). Dilbert 2.0: 20 years of Dilbert. Jamaica City: Andrews McMeel. ISBN 0-7407-7735-1. 
  2. ^ "About Scott Adams". Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  3. ^ O'Brien, Tia (1997-11-16). "Mission: Impertinent". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2014-04-14. 
  4. ^ Champagne Moments
  5. ^ Moments of Transition at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Review at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^
  8. ^ Adams, Scott (2008-09-29). "Famous People Lists". Dilbert Blog. Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  9. ^ Sordyl, Samantha (2005-05-10). "Scott Adams, Drawing the Line". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  10. ^ Zachary Kanin (2008-10-29). "An Interview with the "Dilbert" Cartoonist Scott Adams". New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  11. ^ Mentioned in Dilbert: A Treasury of Sunday Strips
  12. ^ Mentioned in The Dilbert Future
  13. ^
  14. ^ Scott Adams (February 18, 2014). "What's the Goal with Robots Read News?". The Dilbert Blog. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  15. ^ Scott Adams (May 16, 2007). "Bloomberg for President?". The Dilbert Blog. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  16. ^ "Commentary: Dilbert guy's economic poll on McCain, Obama -". CNN. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  17. ^ Scott Adams (December 5, 2011). "The Persuasive Candidate". The Dilbert Blog. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  18. ^ Scott Adams (October 17, 2012). "Firing Offense". The Dilbert Blog. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  19. ^ "‘Dilbert’ Creator on How Trump Is Like The Founding Fathers & Jesus". 
  20. ^ I'm a What?
  21. ^ Scott Adams to Men's Rights Activists: Don't bother arguing with women; they're like children.
  22. ^ Teeman, Tim (April 2, 2011). "Dilbert drawn into row over fightback by men's lib". The Times. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ Dilbert Creator Pretends to Be His Own Biggest Fan on Message Boards
  25. ^ "2001 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  26. ^ "2003 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  27. ^ "2005 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  28. ^ "2007 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  29. ^ "2007 Results". The Thinkers 50. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  30. ^

External links[edit]