Exclusive: Tiago Forte talks the future of courses and the productivity myth you need to ditch
Your most productive self shouldn’t only appear from time to time. In fact, it should be allowed to thrive all the time. And you’ll be able to learn the skills to do just that with an upcoming workshop from productivity expert, founder of Forte Labs, and Teachable creator Tiago Forte.
Tiago, who is most widely known for his online course Building a Second Brain, is a leading expert in the productivity and online knowledge space. He’s devoted his career to educating fellow knowledge workers (aka creators, entrepreneurs, and the like) on the best tools, skills, and frameworks for utilizing technology to help harness their most productive and creative selves.
On Monday, April 19, Tiago Forte is hosting a very special live workshop on Discover, Teachable’s marketplace platform showcasing some of the very best Teachable courses. The workshop, How to Take Digital Notes, will be Tiago’s introduction to the world of digital note taking aka personal knowledge management. The workshop will also cover the best methods for capturing, organizing, and sharing ideas in a systematic way to fuel creative expression and reach peak productivity. Best part: It’s totally free.
In advance of his workshop, we scored an exclusive interview with Tiago to get his history with teaching online, his thoughts on the growing trend of cohort-based courses, and the productivity myth he wishes would go away for good.
A budding brain business
“I created my Teachable account in mid 2015,” Tiago said. “I had a self-paced course, so I did the traditional: pre-record a bunch of videos, plan out the curriculum, deliver it in one package in my school for people to take at their own pace. And I loved that. That was the start of my career. That was the start of my business.”
And Tiago’s course was very successful. That success was what helped him grow his business, become a thought leader and speaker in the productivity space, and educate more than 20,000 people through his programs. And yet, even during the early years of his course’s success, Tiago had an inkling toward the future.
A look into the future of courses
Although we may all be accustomed to logging onto Zoom for work, social hangs, and more nowadays, that simply wasn’t the case back in 2016 when Tiago was envisioning a better way to facilitate his course. After having taken a course that’s curriculum was delivered via Zoom, Tiago knew this type of connection was the future.
“I just realized that there was this interesting intersection emerging, which we now call CBCs, cohort-based courses,” he said. “It was teaching, but it was also facilitation. It was also coaching, also consulting. It was like all these different things intersecting that no one at the time had a word for it.”
So Tiago started DIYing his own version of this in conjunction with his course. Of course today, there’s no hacking or DIYing necessary on Teachable. The ideas of coaching and community learning are more commonplace now. In fact, we believe in this connection so much, we launched our very own coaching feature to make this easier for creators to form a deeper connection with their students, gather feedback, experiment with cohorts, and boost the value of their businesses.
The ABCs of CBCs
Today, Tiago’s course operates in a cohort structure with the 12th iteration starting in less than a month. But for many creators, the term cohort-based course, or CBC, is still relatively new. As Tiago explains it, CBCs are the “first truly Internet-native form of learning” and are “the first to tap into the essential nature of the Internet” in its open-ended and interactive nature.
He breaks down the trend and the various “waves of education” in his very own blog post and explains that those creators who are used to delivering their material via self-paced courses are already primed to expand to a cohort-based course.
“I think some people who have created self-paced courses are perfectly positioned for this. Like perfectly,” he said. “In fact, it’s really hard to make the jump from not having taught at all to doing a CBC.” He explained that with a self-paced course under your belt, you’re already equipped with many of the skills needed to dive into cohorts or coaching.
“I feel like [starting with] a self-paced course is perfect. You get practice developing content, you learn what works and what doesn’t, you get good at design, you get good at filming. You validate the course,” he said. “And if you’re going to put in that much time and effort, you don’t just pick an idea out of a hat. It has to be validated. And a great way to validate is with a lower price, more self-paced content or curriculum.”
Tiago Forte’s tips for creators looking to expand their self-paced course into a cohort-based course
- Develop public speaking and live facilitation skills: Tiago notes that while traditional courses often have the luxury of being detail-oriented with a written curriculum (and can allow for a few outtakes if filming a pre-recorded video at home), the same isn’t true for hosting live. Developing those live speaking skills and adapting to quick scenarios are key for running a smooth cohort session.
- Start small and practice: Tiago suggests hosting Zoom calls, taking free calls, and hosting smaller, lower-priced workshops—just to get your toes wet. Another great option is to include a one-on-one coaching session as an option to your self-paced course on Teachable. This will help you feel more confident and comfortable in the space so you can eventually expand to group sessions and level up your coaching game.
- Join others cohorts and communities: Yep, good old fashioned studying up on what others are doing is essential. Tiago suggests taking courses or workshops from thought leaders and course creators that you admire. “They often have little free workshops or introductory events—go to those and take notes on what they do,” he added. (Tuning into Tiago’s workshop on April 19 is a perfect way to do this.)
- Teach in person (if you can): “If you can teach in person and it’s, COVID-friendly, COVID-safe, that’s really how I kind of cut my teeth,” said Tiago. Tiago taught English overseas when he was just beginning his career as a means to learn teaching skills. Simply getting yourself out there and comfortable presenting and reading a room can be a great place to start.
The evolution of BASB and beyond
With Tiago’s free workshop coming up, the launch of his 12th cohort of BASB on the horizon, and an elusive book deal under his belt, it’s clear the desire for his knowledge on productivity is at an all-time high for creators and entrepreneurs.
“Until now, it’s felt like this has been a very small nerdy internet subculture,” he said. “You know, to even know what a second brain is and why you might want one. And to want one, you just had to be part of such a little niche.”
But, as more and more creators are looking to maximize their output and build their business in an online world, Tiago Forte’s methods are definitely moving from that niche subculture to the forefront.
“I think it’s rapidly becoming more mainstream because everyone is just completely overwhelmed with the volume of information that they have to manage and [they’re] wanting to not just solve that pain—which would be nice—but get that problem and turn it into an opportunity. It’s like: Wait, I have all this information and knowledge and expertise that I could, as you all know very well, monetize or leverage or share or express or turn into some positive thing for me in my career.”
Putting an end to productivity stress
And we couldn’t agree more with Tiago’s vision toward a more customized and responsive way to deliver course content to students. But our talk with Tiago couldn’t end without some words of wisdom to help foster and nurture that hyper-productive self we all crave. So when it comes to the productivity myth he wishes people would simply stop believing, it’s actually quite simple: stress less about the heavy lift.
“I think it’s a myth that to accomplish great things and to do important work, that makes a difference, it has to be this stressful, what I call a heavy lift,” he said. “This big, grinding, heavy, anxiety-provoking, keeping-you-up-all-night heavy lift. I think when people do heavy lifts, it’s because they lack skills and tools such as the ones that I teach.”
Want to learn more of those skills and organizational tools Tiago Forte is talking about? Sign up for his free workshop, How to Take Digital Notes on Discover set for April 19 to become your most productive self.