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We live in a world where in a matter of seconds, we can access countless pieces of digital information. Anything from our class notes from our college days, our wedding video, or photos of our childhood are all compact in a little device we carry in our pockets. Building a Second Brain delivers those of us who are drowning in a sea of information and transforms us into skilled fishermen who sail the waters and casting their nets.

So what exactly is a second brain? It's a trusted companion that carries all the heavy loads of information we consume, processes that information, and makes it sharable to the rest of the world. The Second Brain frees the human mind to do what fulfill its greatest purpose: create. While David Allen's Getting Things Done aims at giving readers "a mind like water," Tiago Forte equips readers to have a mind like a canvas. Ideas that would otherwise sit in forgotten digital spaces are combined like colors on a pallet for the user to find right in the moment. Scattered ideas become integrated. Like a living body united by bones, blood, and tissue, our digital tools come together to help us produce something worth sharing.

So how does it work? It's by following a framework Tiago calls, "CODE," which stands for capture, organize, distill, and express.


Because it's so simple to capture something to our devices, we tend to collect a lot of information we may never actually use. Tiago runs potentially-useful information through the following criteria:

  • Does It Inspire Me?

  • Is It Useful?

  • Is It Personal?

  • Is It Surprising?

Once a note has been captured, the next step is organizing.


Many productivity frameworks have been suggested for organizing your digital life. But they often are extremely time-consuming and delicate. Forte says, "The truth is, any system that must be perfect to be reliable is deeply flawed. A perfect system you don’t use because it’s too complicated and error prone isn’t a perfect system—it’s a fragile system that will fall apart as soon as you turn your attention elsewhere."

Forte's approach survives our nature to neglect. He calls it the PARA method, which organizes every digital storage space in the following folders:

  • Projects

  • Areas

  • Resources

  • Archives

What's better is that using his framework doesn't require you to block off an entire day or two to start it up. You can begin using it immediately. I've been using his system for over a year and am amazed at how much time it's saved me in finding information.


After a note has been organized, you'll want to boil it down to its necessary components. This is what Tiago calls distilling your notes, and it's the next step in his BASB system. All the articles, podcast scrips, or meeting notes could be left to age in cold storage. But if you don't take the time to boil the data down to what's most important, you'll likely never use it again. Like the first two steps, distilling a note is something you can begin using right away. Tiago has done a whole YouTube video dedicated to this one topic here.


Now that our note has been captured, organized, and distilled, it's time to share it with the world. This is expressing what you've learned. Tiago believes that sharing knowledge is an important key to personal success and experiencing fulfillment. And I agree. Arguably the most beneficial part to learning BASB is having a system both to organize your life and express your creative perspectives with those around you.

Building a Second Brain is not necessarily an advanced-level approach to productivity. It's so simple that the novice will get a great foundation. Yet it's so insightful that it will upgrade the masters of the art. You can find his book on Amazon here.

Have you gotten a chance to read Tiago's book? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Updated: May 28, 2022

My dad and I groaned when my mom got us all together one day and said, "We're going to start eating healthy." We knew what this meant because it was not the first time Mom made this statement: no more Hot Pockets, no more Pizza Rolls, no more Pop Tarts, and no more classic cereals like Cocoa Puffs or Fruity Pebbles. This traumatic experience for ten-year-old me would last a couple weeks or so.

To cope with the new lifestyle, my dad and I would sneak some Oreos. When I visited relatives or friends I binged on all the sugar I could get my hands on. For me the idea of a healthy lifestyle wasn't fun, exciting, tasty, or thrilling. It was gross, sad, grouchy, and painful. No wonder I gained weight during my college years!

But after looking at my spare tire around my waist, I started wondering about the either-or's in my beliefs. Either I could enjoy the foods I love most and look like an elephant with a short lifespan, or I could afflict myself with misery on a healthier diet and lose weight. To me it seemed impossible someone could be genuinely happy while eating a healthy lifestyle that didn't regress to binging. This began my journey to becoming a health coach. I learned how to change my eating habits by changing my beliefs around them. And that's the key!

One Minute Manager is co-author Kenneth Blanchard, Ph. D. and Spencer Johnson, M.D. Dr. Kenneth is a well-known speaker and business consultant and Mr. Johnson is credited for creating the “One Minute System.” Their book has been featured twice on the New York Times Bestseller list and ranked #1 bestseller on The Runway.

About the Book

The authors teach readers the three secrets of One Minute Management, using an easy-to-read story. These keys are necessary for producing great results with great people. Encased in a casual story about a young man on a knowledge quest, readers will find their book very easy and enjoyable to read.

The young business-minded man investigates how great companies can have great results without the expense of their people. During his travels, he’s frustrated that some organizations have one of two extremes. Some managers seemed to get the results while employees suffered. Others were well-liked by their employees, but the organization never really progressed.

So he discovers the “One Minute Manager.” And after interviewing him and his staff, he’s convinced he’s found the secrets of successful management. The three keys are...

#1 Clear Goals

Dr. Kenneth and Johnson call these “One Minute Goals.” They are written on a single sheet of paper and no longer than 250 words. Both manager and employee have a copy so expectations are both clear and indisputable. While other organizations have employees unsure of what they’re supposed to do with their time, One Minute Goals remove all doubt when it comes to expectations.

But not every responsibility gets written down. The authors utilize the Pareto Principle, which states:

Roughly 80% of our results stem from 20% of our efforts.

One Minute Managers set One Minute Goals that focus on the 20%. In other words, no more than 3-6 goals.

#2 Sincere Praise

The authors suggest that people perform best when they feel great about themselves. This axiom is the foundation for One Minute Praising. When an employee is first assigned a project, managers carefully watch everything their employee is doing, but NOT to find fault. Instead, they’re looking for ways to praise. The result is employees feeling great about their feedback and motivated to work harder. Whereas other managers only engage employees when they do something wrong, One Minute Managers try catching their people doing their jobs well.

It’s worth noting that as employees continue to show competency, praising is not as necessary. The authors suggest that there comes a point when employees are capable of recognizing their own good work, and managers need only praise every now and then.

#3 Quick Confrontation

One Minute Managers do not wait until a performance review to blast their people with all the wrongs. They address the problem immediately. The authors call this a “One Minute Reprimand.” The manager confronts the employee face to face and states the behavior the employee did wrong. The manager then expresses how he or she felt because of the behavior. A silence follows to allow the moment to sink in before the manager reaffirms the value of the employee.

This method of conflict-resolution serves multiple benefits. First, the conflict is resolved immediately, which saves resentment for both parties. Second, it focuses on behavior which is measurable instead of attitudes and feelings, which are subjective. Third, this method of conflict doesn’t focus on the employee’s worth, but reaffirms it. It’s easy when engaging conflict to associate behavior with identity, but it isn’t necessary.

In My Opinion...

The One Minute Manager is a practical tool that can indeed be effective. Anything managers can do to clarify expectations, boost morale, and quickly resolve conflict is worth pursuing. However, it’s this author’s opinion that the One Minute Method stands alone. Meaning it takes more than a framework to establish great companies with great people. Managers need character and consistency for the One Minute framework to be effective. While Dr. Blanchard and Johnson had these gems hidden between the lines, it is important readers do not see their book as an “end all” to management. It can, however, be a great foundation.

It is worth noting that the keys of One Minute Management can go beyond management. Teachers, coaches, counselors, and even parents may find that some of these principles can help them as well.

Readers may find the book on Amazon along with newer editions.

Notable Quotes

““Effective managers manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence.”

“People should solve their own problems. Problems should be explained in behavioral terms, not attitudes or feelings. If there is a problem, then the observer should have a desired outcome also explained in behavioral terms.”

“The number one motivator for people is feedback on results.”

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