Conversations #3 - Tiago Forte


A Conversation With Entrepreneur, Productivity Coach, and Writer Tiago Forte—

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Hey Eclectic Spacewalkers!

Last fall (2019), I sat down with coach, entrepreneur, and writer Tiago Forte. He is the creator, which is: “on a mission to radically improve the effectiveness of human beings while making work a vehicle for personal growth.

Tiago is also the Founder of Forte Labs and writer of the Praxis newsletter. His goal is to help people not just survive, but thrive while working in modern times. “Together, we’ll expand the definition of modern knowledge work, experiment with new ways of doing more with less, and explore what it means to fulfill our human potential.”

Along with talking about his personal journey, our conversation mainly revolved around his central-thesis approach of “principles, not prescriptions.” Instead of doling out a stale list of productivity “tips and tricks” that ignore each person’s unique situation, Tiago teaches principles that anyone can adopt for themselves.

This approach comes from Tiago’s extensive study of diverse fields – including design thinking, behavioral science, user experience design, information science, and active learning – to identify both the latest research and the timeless principles that underpin human performance.

We spoke to his personal goal of synthesizing everything he learns into practical methods that allows people to harness the power of technology. “Technology is central to every company in every industry, we need new ways of managing our attention and focusing it where it matters most, instead of reacting to every interruption. Instead of being a constant source of distraction, I believe we can transform technology into a dependable source of learning, growth, and self-fulfillment.”

Our conversation also focused on the future of work, writing, and moving to Mexico City. I thank Tiago for his time, and the wonderful discussion we had.

I hope you enjoy the conversation.

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  • How growing up in a diverse cultural household shaped his worldview. (03:02)

  • Reading and books were always a huge influence on Tiago (04:37)

  • Especially the works of James Michener (06:14)

  • Studying abroad in Brazil, working in microfinance in Colombia, and serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine (09:10)

  • Leaving the Peace Corps and coming back to the US (16:32)


  • The principle of doing more with less (Ephemeralization) and the beginning of Forte Labs (25:02)

  • “Think of your brain as a pipeline of ideas.” (28:01)

  • “My recommendation is to focus on the system for generating insights rather than any one particular insight. This comes back to the principles not prescriptions.” (32:59)

  • Creative principles to try and help minimize the incessant grabbing of your attention (38:31)

  • 10 principles of building a second brain (41:17)


  • Writing influences & history (53:10)

  • A Manifesto on Human Centered Work (56:31)

  • Personal growth is a privilege (01:00:06)

  • Personal growth is REAL work that isn’t just going to happen (01:07:10)

  • Imagination is crucially important for the future of work (01:11:09)

  • The experience of moving from San Francisco to Mexico City (01:16:03)

  • What would you say to the entire world if everyone on Earth was looking back at you? (01:18:55)

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