In the summer of 2018 I sat down with a guy named Conor at the Interval, a trendy coffee shop and bar on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

We were there to attend a conference called iAnnotate, on a niche academic topic called “web annotation.”

I’d had a couple conversations with Conor online, and knew only that he was working on some newfangled database tool called “Roam Research.”

He claimed it would change everything. That prominent scientists and academics were already using it. That it would finally fulfill the grand promises of technology pioneers like Doug Engelbart and Vannevar Bush.

I thought it was a bit of a crackpot notion. I was used to getting pitched on some app or another almost every week, each one promising to “change the world.”

But Conor continued refining his product, and over the next year it slowly spread through tech circles with a reputation for changing how people thought about note-taking.

I myself am a late adopter of new technology – I prefer to be the last one on the bandwagon, when it’s already clear that the bandwagon will be successful. I kept an ear out for news of how Roam was doing, but otherwise stayed true to my Evernote roots.

A year later, in August 2019, I visited San Francisco from my new home in Mexico City. As an excuse to see friends and fans, I organized a workshop and meetup at a local coworking space in the SoMa neighborhood.

Conor was there, and as we wrapped up the writing workshop he insisted that his tool was the exact manifestation of the “networked” approach to writing that I was teaching that very night.

My writing workshop in San Francisco

A small group of us went out afterward to grab drinks and a bite to eat. And Conor and I hatched a plan: we would start an online “beef” that would attract some attention to the fledgling PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) space.

I never could gave predicted how successful that beef would be. It exploded among our tiny niche in raging Twitter battles between our rival factions, in a beautiful display of nerd rivalry.

In the year since then, Roam has exploded in popularity, with an endless list of well-known public figures declaring their dedication or at least interest in adopting it for their own work. It’s been shocking, honestly, to see how quickly it has become a mainstay of the online intellectual world.

I recorded an interview with Conor in December of 2019, so our differing approaches to creating a Second Brain could duke it out in an “idea battle royale.” In that call we floated an idea: a Roam-themed cohort of my course Building a Second Brain.

It seemed crazy at the time. But you never know where life will lead you. Today is the day we make that idea into reality, with a new course on Forte Academy called Effortless Output with Roam, taught by my friend Nat Eliason.

The course isn’t just a “general introduction” without a real purpose in mind. It is focused on making Roam a core part of your creative output, personal knowledge management, and productivity.

Nat has you choose a concrete creative project as a practical experiment for learning how to use Roam, which is exactly how I recommend you do it. You’ll join a “capstone” group where everyone will be using their Roam knowledge to research an area of interest and create something new. Social learning at its finest.

The course can be taken in a self-paced format for just $250, which includes a 7-unit video-based curriculum, 3 bonus units on advanced topics, a dedicated discussion forum on the Circle platform, and in-depth case studies with Roam experts. And of course, as with all our programs, you get lifetime access to future updates.

caption for image

If you want more hands-on support, you can also choose the $500 option (which closes on Sept. 8) and join 5 live implementation sessions with Nat and course alumni. They’ll demonstrate the most effective ways of using the program, answer questions, and connect you with course alumni and other experts who think the way you do.

We’re launching this course in parallel with cohort 11 of Building a Second Brain, so you’ll have the best of both worlds if you decide to do both: the focus and specificity of a course completely dedicated to Roam, plus the community and big picture ideas from the wider Building a Second Brain community.

If you’re new to Roam and interested in learning more, I suggest you check out this video by Nat where he explains what is so great about the program, and why people are raving about it so much:

caption for image

Learn more and enroll on the Effortless Output with Roam website:

If you’d like to receive updates related to Effortless Output in the future, including a new YouTube series called “Tiago Learns Roam,” just subscribe below:

Thanks for reading,


P.S. Nat and I will be hosting a “Live-Writing Workshop” on Friday 8/28 at 3pm ET, where Nat will demonstrate the amazing powers of Roam for quickly pulling together a compelling piece of writing (such as a blog post, email, memo, or website copy) out of existing notes.

Register here to get a calendar invite (we’ll also send out a recording to everyone who registers)