Rules for Reading

We need to develop a set of rules which govern how we read, what we read, and how we choose what we are going to read. If you carefully select what you read, you will be able to acquire knowledge more effectively and improve your comprehension over subjects in which you are interested.

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How to Overcome Writer’s Block

As a writer, I have encountered writer’s block on many occasions. I would go down to start writing, and I wouldn’t be able to start — my mind was empty. Most people attribute writer’s block to being caused by a lack of ideas, but I would argue that the ideas are in your mind, but you just haven’t found them yet.

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Improving Your Mind

The principles of training and routines do not just apply to athletes, they apply to everyone. Each day we should be trying to acquire new knowledge that acts as an update to our internal operating system — something that will help us perform better tomorrow. The true benchmark for mental success is to go to bed smarter than when you woke up.

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Independent Academia

Contrary to what academia believes, you do not need to have a degree to become a researcher. In the past, there have been dozens of researchers who have financed their work independently from traditional institutions. In the 18th and 19th century, independent researchers emerged as a new type of academic — those who were passionate about research, but were not interested in academia.

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Reversible vs. Irreversible

Indeed, having information is the key to making good decisions, and it can take a lot of time to gather all of the quality data you need to make a truly informed decision. However, many people use gathering information as an excuse to delay making a decision. They gather too much information from outside sources, and become less certain in their own judgement.

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JamesG Career Handbook: Risk (1)

But that is no longer the case — we can build our career from anywhere. This transition has made it easier for us to pave our own career paths. There are more potential decisions we can make now: we could start a company; write a book; start a blog or a podcast; move into a remote working job and more.

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There Are No Crazy Ideas

Five years ago, those who followed cryptocurrencies were considered crazy, in many respects. “Bitcoin doesn’t have enough oversight, and will eventually fail” was a sentiment echoed by many people at the time. But today, although cryptocurrencies have not cracked widespread adoption yet, those who took a risk on cryptocurrencies five years ago are seen as smart.

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Thoughts on Careers

Most success comes from doing things over and over again, not doing new things. Every day I try to write an article for work and a blog post. On some days, I write more for work and forget to write a blog post. On other days, I write a few drafts of articles that I don’t feel confident in and that never get published. But the point is that I am writing, every single day.

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Underrated Skills

There are a variety of these underrated skills that we encounter every day that allow us to set ourselves aside and show our character to the world. Most of these skills are difficult to develop but become competitive advantages because most other people are not willing to do the work to cultivate these skills.

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Evaluating Information

However, we often fail to consider whether or not the information we consume is adding any value to our lives. We can scroll through Twitter endlessly — there are billions of Tweets we can read. We can find an article on almost any topic online, and read as much about that topic as we want. Although the information is available, that doesn’t mean that it is adding any value to our life.

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Habits vs. Goals

Habits are mental models that run in the background and work automatically, which means we don’t have to worry about constant maintenance. Goals, on the other hand, require our continuous attention: what do we have to do to achieve our goal, did we do everything we could yesterday?

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Progress Is Slow

But there are no overnight success stories. No great company was built overnight. No great company was saved by something that happened one day, either. These events had dozens of precursors which led to their happening — without past events, perhaps they would have never happened.

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Advice on Writing

As I have published more content, people have continued to ask me how they can become a good writer. Writing is a skill that you need to be good at no matter what business you work in — whether you are an investor, marketer, or developer. Writing is not only a method of communication, though: it is a medium through which you can explore your ideas in more depth.

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Simple Solutions

We like to make things more difficult than they appear because it shows that we have given a lot of thought to something. If we have taken down dozens of notes for something and explored the most complex possible solutions, it makes it look like we have done more work than just thinking through the easiest possible solution.

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Why Great Businesses Die

Great businesses die. Over the last few years, we have seen the fall of General Electric — the company co-founded by Thomas Edison in 1892. Companies like General Electric became known as American icons due to their stature in society. They became a staple of our culture, and embedded into a variety of different technologies that we used each day. Where is General Electric today?

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James Gallagher
Designing Work Environments

One of the things I have recently realized is how many people underestimate the power of a good working environment. Being able to take a step back and think through decisions and actions is a critical part of making good choices, but most work environments are not set up for that kind of thinking.

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Expectations

Why do I ask new writers to lower their expectations? I do this because I believe that too many people set very high expectations and end up giving up prematurely. I know this because when I started this blog, I set very high expectations.

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Risk and Luck

In fact, if you ask a successful founder “do you remember any time when you felt lucky” they will almost always be able to render many responses to that question. The truth is that hard work is a critical component of success — without working hard, we would accomplish nothing — but there is also an element of luck in every decision that we make.

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