Adams in 2007
|Born||June 8, 1957|
Windham, New York, U.S.
|Area(s)||Cartoonist, writer, political commentator|
(m. 2006; div. 2014)
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.
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 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 created Dilbert during this period; 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 had to draw his cartoons at 4 a.m. in order to work a full day at the company. 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.
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.
In 1998, Dilbert began as a TV series, but was canceled in 2000. By 2000, the comic was in 2,000 newspapers in 57 countries and 19 languages.
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.
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 recent years, Adams has had two notable health problems. Since late 2004, he has suffered from a reemergence of focal dystonia, which has affected for lengthy periods his ability to draw on paper, 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 reroute the nerve connections to his vocal cords. The operation was successful, and Adams' 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 in 2006. She has two children named Savannah and Justin Miles. Adams and Miles divorced in 2014. In an October 2018 blog post, he stated that his stepson had died of "almost certainly" an opioid overdose and called for volunteer sponsors to sign up on WhenHub to take calls from addicts in need. Adams is a co-founder of WhenHub.
Adams has often commented on political matters. Despite this, 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". In a blog post from September 2017, Adams considers himself to be "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 correctly predicted Trump would win the Republican nomination and the general election; in the 2016 election campaign's final weeks, except for a temporary reversal in early October, Adams repeatedly said Trump would win.
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 purely out of fear for his own life, stating 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 officially 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 to 65%, and his concerns over Clinton's health. Adams states that writing about Donald Trump ended his speaking career and reduced his income by about 40%.
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, such as:
Today I put Trump's odds of winning in a landslide back to 98%.
I predict Trump wins in a landslide
On election day, should Trump win as I predict, I ask for Trump supporters to stay cool when the predictable riots erupt.
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